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Gwen: All right, I’ll give them a call. Put out an A.P.B. “Woman posessed by gas knobbing fellas to death.” [That’s an actual quote from the episode.]
Stop her before she shags again! That is Torchwood’s mission this week.
With the first episode Everything Changes, there was a mystery as to what the Cardiff Torchwood organisation is and what it does; the second episode ignores this ambiguity. An alien that disintegrates people through having sex with them is on the loose, and it’s up to the team to stop it. With the previous “case” of the glove, Torchwood were happy enough to mess about with alien technology rather than solve it – so what has changed? Gwen seems to be guiding them to help people instead of tinkering with the products of the Rift.
To remind us that the first episode of Torchwood was post-watershed (and NOT Doctor Who), there was copious amounts of violence; this episode has copious amounts of sex. The scene in the club toilet was very much a statement of intent for the show.
It’s a popular idea for Sci-Fi/Fantasy shows to have Dancing as a theme for the second episode (note Angel: Lonely Hearts and Star Trek TNG: The Naked Now) – the producers probably think onscreen sex is a boost to initial viewing figures. It also allows the writers to have a subtext that their intended audience can understand on a base level, and for 25 minutes at least, the Torchwood episode seems to have a coherent subtext. Up until halfway through, the episode seemed to be saying something about our 21st Century Western society with its saturation of sexual images (note the scene where the alien/girl strides through a mass of steamy advertising), combined with a message regarding the hollowness of one-night-stands?
By the time we are confronted with mass disintegrations in a sperm bank, the idea of episode-as-metaphor disintegrates too. Angel and Star Trek TNG tried with their second episodes to have a subtext that their intended audience could understand. What is Torchwood trying to say, that it thinks its intended audience is a bunch of wankers?
While intriguing for the intentionally unsympathetic character sketching of Owen, a surprising step down in quality from the great season beginning.