Torchwood 2.3: To the Last Man review


To the Last Man

Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):

Wordbuilding  World-mapWorld-mapWorld-map
Gore                Weevil-chomp
Dancing           CarysCarysCarys
Angst               Tear-stained-pizzaTear-stained-pizzaTear-stained-pizza
Aliens              Philoctetes

On Angst.

“…tiny amount should do it…”

(Owen describing his plans this episode to use Tommy’s blood for a DNA-time-travel-psychic-projection-plot-resolution.)

Season 1 of Torchwood had much Angst. The team over the course of the Season became quite antagonistic towards each other, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Part of the “re-imagining” of Torchwood for 2008 and Season 2, is less conflict within the Torchwood team, the production team have implied in pre-broadcast interviews. (For example, Owen is now Mr. Sensitive rather than a Mr. Sarcastic, but he did go on an “emotional journey” last Season.)

Perhaps the Angst has been toned down too, partly as a result of the newer, happier team, as this episode in which Toshiko was ordered by Jack to manipulate her boyfriend to ensure his demise seemed curiously bland, with Toshiko seeming only slightly more miffed than if she’d been asked to put together some paperwork for UNIT.

For any Angst or emotional turmoil to be effective drama in Torchwood, it has to be played against a fantastical fictional world that has some sort of internal logic and consistency. With this episode, there were some great sparkling science-fictional ideas that were dulled by unexplained elements (why exactly did Tommy have to be removed then returned to the same bed after 90 years? If the idea was Torchwood created the Tommy problem and thus the Time-shift in the first place, that wasn’t explored. Also, why would he lose his memory and become shell-shocked again?) The part of the plot that really jarred though was the the DNA-time-travel-psychic-projection-plot-resolution. At least two episodes ago with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang when Owen whipped out his blood-samples from his fridge it made some sort of sense. DNA as magic is now sadly a tradition in the world of Doctor Who, though writer Helen Raynor doesn’t quite match the lows of her Doctor Who: Evolution of the Daleks – at least there wasn’t magic lightning too.

Episode Quality-rating: GrinGrin

Possibly the greatest Torchwood pre-credits teaser ever, the thrill of Steampunk Torchwood-1918 (with their clockwork PKE meter) is dissipated by the blandness of the rest of the episode.


4 Responses to “Torchwood 2.3: To the Last Man review”

  1. Zaphod Says:

    On the whole I agree with you. I still enjoyed the
    episode though, and I felt that it was a lot better
    than most episodes of Torchwood.
    The DNA gimmick is silly though, and the projection
    of Toshiko back to 1918 was going too far.
    Still, reasonably enjoyable.

  2. Artillery Man Says:

    I don’t think Torchwood caused the rift – wasn’t it explained as a kind of natural disaster, like an earthquake. I personally didn’t find this ep bland at all and actually found it to be one of the most enjoyable so far – because it was pretty much coherent, had some atmosphere and treated all the characters with respect for once. I think Tosh gave up Tommy without too much complaint because out of the lot of them she seems to be one of the more professional and more willing to ‘do the job whatever it takes’ a la Spooks

  3. John Nor Says:

    Zaphod, you said:
    “…I felt that it was a lot better
    than most episodes of Torchwood.”

    In many ways it was, but not as a whole. If Owen’s fridge didn’t resolve the plot, and the central characters were slightly more energetic, I think this would have been a very good episode.

    Artillery Man, you said:
    “I don’t think Torchwood caused the rift – wasn’t it explained as a kind of natural disaster, like an earthquake”

    I’m not sure if they did or didn’t cause the Time-shift. It seems to me perhaps they did, although no-one said this did they? It wasn’t fully explained why Tommy was central to it all, was it, or why he had to return? (There was some sort of vague explanation.) I suppose it’s one of these Doctor Who: Blink-style “closed loops” in which they took 1918-Tommy because 2008-Tommy told them to because they took 1918-Tommy because 2008-Tommy told them to because… and so on.

    (By the way, Zaphod, Artillery Man, welcome to planetzogblog both of you.)

  4. Artillery Man Says:

    Thanks, it’s good to be here. I know what you mean about the Owen’s fridge thing but to be honest it didn’t really bother me that much this week. I just didn’t like the whole psychic projection thing in general – it’s the only jarring note in the episode – and there were so many ways that they could have avoided it. My review’s at

    But on the evidence of the three episodes so far I think Torchwood is shaping up for a nice little run this year. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for them to totally screw it up

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