Torchwood 1.6: Countrycide review

Review

Countrycide

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

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

On Gore.

Ianto: You’re used to this, aren’t you?

This week the Torchwood team are stranded in a country village, stalked by a unknown enemy – with gruesome results. Once again the tone of the show veers wildly off in a completely different direction.

Recent cinema trends appear to have influenced the style of this episode. Apparently there is now a “new wave” of cinema inspired by earlier gore-fests such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Though I haven’t seen any of this gore-fest new wave.) Blood and guts are what we have here. Buckets of them. I don’t know whether the makers of Torchwood think they are tapping into the interest around these “gore-fest new wave” films, but although there are some fairly extreme images I guess they have reigned themselves in for a more ’70s film feel with the Gore. We only ever see the gory end products and never the actual process, thankfully.

The ongoing character development B-plots which sometimes surface alongside the weekly A-plots are economically covered in a single “truth or dare” chat early on. Owen reminds us of Owen and Gwen’s snog in the mortuary drawer two episodes ago; Ianto reminds us of his simmering resentment about CyberLisa, again from two episodes ago; and judging by the “next week” preview at the end of the episode, Toshiko’s sexual timidness is set up for next week.

Of these three strands, the Owen/Gwen plotline is furthered in this episode, with their lust/hate sexual tension explained. Sure, the “hate” part has been clear so far, as Gwen’s antagonism towards the laddish Owen was established in the first few episodes. Their clinch in the episode Cyberwoman was bizarre and was hard to understand at the time, but it is now explained here in the context of Gwen’s and Owen’s mutual attraction.

The best scenes in this episode are to do with Gwen and Owen; the scene in the forest; the scene on the table with Owen tending to wounds (even though it is a cliche); and the final scene of the episode. These scenes are effective as they build upon the intensity of the surrounding horror. These visceral shocks are put to a storytelling use: to underline this B-plot. Without this element this episode would be floundering with little to recommend it.

The motif of “Nasty Jack” continues as there is a disturbing scene where he threatens torture, and hints at a “darker” back-story as he reveals that he has been trained in these techniques. It’s hardly the “fun rogue” Jack of The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.

This is the first episode where the police are visibly called in to mop up. How do Torchwood and the police interact? I now think this aspect of the show will continue to be left frustratingly fuzzy for the rest of the series, unfortunately.

Episode Quality-rating: GrinGrin

Interesting B-plot with Gwen and Owen but the general goriness is tedious without an interesting A-plot.

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