Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):
Eugene: No way! And… wow. A hand. In a jar.
This week, our heroes are not the focus of the story, as we follow the efforts of a young man who just wants to get in contact with them.
Love & Monsters then?
Ahem. This week the Torchwood team learn that a young man, who was always trying to speak to them but was always ignored, has died, seemingly in an accident. Gwen takes an interest to find out what really happened, while the dead man follows her, unknown to her, apparently as a ghost.
This episode is really rather similar to episode ten of the last season of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, for this season of Torchwood, that episode is slightly better than this Torchwood one. It is one thing to use basic ideas from other shows and put a new spin on them, but quite another to retread where the sibling show has been just months before.
However, this is not a bad episode at all; in fact, it is very good. It is just different enough to be worthwhile and has some good Angst and certain strong ideas. For example, the eye is a nice idea, as it acts as a metaphor. But for what? Hope? Keeping hold of your dreams? Or is it the danger of dreaming your life away? Also, it could represent the Earth, the world. (As suggested by the juxtaposition of the swirling patterns of the eye with the image of the Earth in one sequence.) Looked at a certain way, (the eye/the Earth), it can be a thing of wonder, the story says. (This is my interpretation at least.)
Other good elements were the use of songs by Bowie and also Antony and the Johnsons (but not as utterly brilliant as E.L.O. during Love & Monsters!)
The idea of Gwen being sensitive to “the spiritworld” is subtly developed from the previous episode (which makes you wonder: is there a connection there to Gwyneth of The Unquiet Dead?)
The ending, though moving, was slightly odd and WTF – but I didn’t care as it felt right.
Looking back over the nine episodes so far, a pattern has emerged. After the opening duo of episodes which established the team, we have had an episode each week which broadly focuses on one character (with Gwen hovering on the edge of the limelight usually).
From episode three onwards: Owen; Ianto; Jack; Gwen; Toshiko; Suzie; Eugene(!).
This highlights what could be seen as a problem with this episode. With an ensemble show featuring five main characters, to use one episode of your first establishing season to sketch the character of a guest star is perhaps a dubious strategy. We need to know and understand Torchwood and its characters before the writers start playing games. With Love & Monsters, there were forty years of stories and conventions to play with. When you look at Torchwood Season One, nine episodes in, there are really not that many conventions to play around with!
As I described in my review of the opening episode, Everything Changes, the central premise of the show was left tantalisingly vague. Nine episodes in, however, and the vagueness of the central premise remains, but not necessarily in a good way.
So, in summary then, an enjoyable and sometimes thought-provoking episode, but one which is in the shadow of a similar Doctor Who story.