Torchwood 1.11: Combat review

Review

Combat

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

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

On Angst.

Gwen: You can be such a wanker sometimes Owen, you know that?
Owen: As a matter of fact, I do.

With this episode Torchwood find out that some other shadowy group know about the Weevils and are abducting them from the streets: but why?

Following on from Out of Time, which split screen time equally between Owen, Gwen and Jack, this episode focuses primarily on the character of Owen. This last episode to do this was Ghost Machine.

The obvious roots of this episode is the film Fight Club, with dissatisfied nihilistic young men fighting out their aggression in an underground club. At this point in the season, Owen is dissatisfied and nihilistic too, still feeling the effects of being abandoned by his lover Diane (in the previous episode). He ends his affair with Gwen then moodily haunts the style-bars of Cardiff. (Again.)

Gwen has her own plotline in this episode which is separate really from the rest of the episode as she examines her life post-Owen. There is some great acting from Eve Myles as she pours her heart out to Rhys, and also when she goes back to an empty Hub. Much Angst.

As Owen delves deeper into the mystery, exploring the hidden side of Cardiff, the dark side, an idea of what the cells beneath the hub could be seen to represent became clearer to me.

In the first episode Suzie complained “How come we [we being either Earth or the programme Torchwood depending how you read the line] get all the Weevils and bollocks and shit?”. Torchwood, compared to Doctor Who, is more ready to examine the more unsavoury aspects of life. The snarling Weevils locked in the cells, hidden away, can be read as a metaphor for the hidden subconscious aspects of human experience, the rage and anger.

Although Owen’s episode, this story brings to the surface an underlying theme of the show that has been running through most episode: a theme that is central to the exploration of Jack’s character. Whenever Torchwood have killed (Day One, Cyberwoman, Greeks Bearing Gifts, They Keep Killing Suzie) Jack steps up and makes the decision to do it. In other episodes (Small Worlds, Out of Time) he decides when he shouldn’t save people. Suzie has already discussed with Gwen (in They Keep Killing Suzie) the notion of who gave Jack the right to decide, but here Owen asks him directly – who made Jack judge and jury?

There is a great ambiguous scene where you can read whatever you want in Owen’s snarling grin. I think: he has his zest for life back, but drawing strength from the dark places, the buried rage, the loss and the hurt. Out of the bad can come some good.

Episode Quality-rating: GrinGrinGrin

In summary then, another excellent episode which rises above its unoriginal roots to build upon the themes of the season in a thought-provoking way.

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