Out of Time
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Owen: Let me get this straight. You expect equality and chivalry?
Diane: I don’t see why they should be mutually exclusive.
With this episode the team encounter an airplane that has flown through the rift from the 1940s. They try and help the three occupants adjust to life in the 21st Century.
The last four of the season, they were all transmitted around the festive Christmas period (this episode one week before Christmas, hence the tinsel in the supermarket) are more strongly linked than any other grouping of Torchwood episodes so far, and you could almost categorise them as one long four-parter: with one character playing the key role.
“No puzzle to solve. No enemy to fight.” Jack verbalises in this story both a strength and weakness to this episode. A strength, as the whole of the screentime can be devoted to some great character development, but a weakness when viewed as part of the season as it contributes the continuing impression that as a supposed secret organisation hunting down alien technology, Torchwood is pretty aimless.
Screentime is divided equally between Gwen, Jack and Owen and their associated refugees from the past. Gwen is given the task of explaining 21st Century sexual morality to Emma-Louise, which shines a light on the conflict she feels over her affair with Owen, without directly referencing it. There is a great scene with Gwen’s wonderfully expressive face providing an ironic commentary on Emma-Louise’s naive questions about Rhys.
(As an aside, in the Doctor Who episode Rose the idea of working in a shop is looked down upon slightly, but here it is presented as a great adventure for Emma-Louise. There is Torchwood and the real world Gwen says, and her young charge is only too keen to opt for the latter.)
As well as the comedy of Gwen’s story, there is tragedy with Jack and John Ellis. Jack can relate to this “man out of time.” A subtle but effective reminder of Jack’s humanity is his finding of just the right radio station for this bewildered man. The scenes of John Ellis visiting his son in the old folk’s home are very moving, as is the comfort Jack provides in a controversial scene.
Owen’s story builds upon his rather callous attitude to the ladies by having him fall in love. Louise Delamere as Diane does a wonderful job of portraying the headstrong pilot (and looks a knock-out in the red dress.) After the slightly incoherent use of sexual images in Day One, sex (Dancing) here is used as an integral part of the drama.
All three plotlines as well as being satisfying tales in their own right also cleverly add to the ongoing character-based plotlines of Gwen, Owen and Jack.
The “central tone” that I referred to in my review of Greeks Bearing Gifts is reinforced here, as we visit another style bar, one of the few seeming constants in Torchwood as although aliens, mystic wraiths, or disturbed welsh villagers come and go, there will always be some stylish nightlife! This is one of the few anchors of the show, bizarrely enough.
So, in summary, an excellent episode that takes the opportunity of a more relaxed pace to substantially add to the character development of the three leads.