5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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Oh, good God.
Itís not a bad beginning. Itís very funny, for one thing. And it has PC Andy in it. If this character were any more adorable you could put a zip in his stomach and keep pyjamas in him. Not that we want him to fill one of the Torchwood vacancies, because putting a character with even a passing acquaintance with reality into the Hub might make the universe explode, but can he please pleasepleaseplease PLEEEEEEEZE have lots more to do next year? The scenes between him and Rhys were priceless.
Unfortunately, after that any contact this episode has with reality is very definitely missing in action.
The whole thing is so silly that to dignify it with a detailed review is giving it too much credit. Whatís the point of discussing how Jackís coat survived two millennia in the ground when nothing else, including the big stuff, makes sense either?
Did we like Spike any better this time? Nope, but then how could we when weíre asked to swallow that all the taunting and evilness from before was just on somebody elseís orders? Not only is this ridiculously unbelievable, but itís no answer either. It wasnít a defence at Nuremberg and itís not a defence here. But then appropriate consequences for actions has never exactly been Torchwoodís strong point.
And the big reveal about Jackís brother? Uh. Picking an actor on looks doesnít guarantee heís going to be able to do the job, and this plotline needed a hell of lot more firepower to save it than Lachlan Nieboer was able to provide. To be fair, though, we donít think anyone could have sold us on the idea that all the brooding and plotting and stuff was a reasonable consequence of Jack having accidentally let his brotherís hand go. Revenge stories are boring at the best of times, but revenge thatís barely motivated is terminally dull.
And then thereís all the other stuff. Plot after plotís unfolded and given a hasty wave at the camera before being unceremoniously stuffed back into its box. Honestly, why put all that in there when you donít have time to either develop it or explore the consequences? Nuclear power station. Explosions. Weevils. All of that, and Cardiff carries on totally unscathed. As usual.
Whatís more, itís impossible to believe any of itís happening when itís all so dumb. One lonely scientist (scientist? Where are the engineers?) tries to stop the meltdown, and happily scarpers when Owen turns up even though she has no clue whether he knows what heís doing (and he doesnít). Gwen tells a small handful of coppers to ďcover the cityĒ, and is dubbed a hero for telling them to inform the long-suffering populace not to panic. Gwen and Ianto, despite being armed and knowing Weevils are loose in the basement, just stand there and let them surround them. The horrific buried alive plot fizzles out into nothing when Jack emerges completely unaffected and makes some offhand reference to him deserving it. Jack pops his brother into the fridge despite the fact that this is going to have absolutely no effect on his homicidal urges and also despite the fact that Bro's been responsible for (presumably) large-scale slaughter of innocent Cardiffniks. (See above re appropriate consequences.)
And the deaths. If you have to mow down half your cast just to make some sort of impact on the audience, your show is really in trouble. Yes, the deaths are sad, but mostly because of the tragic wasted opportunity they represent. We canít say weíre that surprised to see Owen go: the writers have been giving the character CPR all series long, but in our opinion he died long before the official carking date. Even his death was mishandled: spending two episodes dealing (not very well) with the emotional consequences of his being dead, then ignoring it, then giving up and getting rid of him fur realz is just bizarre. We have the strong impression that theyíd painted themselves into a corner: couldnít redeem the character and couldnít take the dead thing into a new direction either. Pulling the plug was the only avenue left.
As for Tosh, weíre kind of sorry to lose her, because weíve always thought she had potential, but given how that potentialís been wilfully wasted in episode after episode itís probably time to throw the towel in. With the constant moping after Owen and the other doomed affairs being her chief characteristic, itís probably a merciful release. Naoki Mori never did a less than stellar job with what sheíd been given; itís just a shame that she was given such a pile of junk.
We suppose we should be encouraged, because Fragments and Adrift show that good Torchwood isnít just a mythical beast. On the other hand, the number of bad episodes this season shows that statistically speaking weíd probably have better luck finding a unicorn. Letís see how they do next year.
MANY RIVERS TO CROSS
Why in Godís name would they divert the coolant into the bloody control room?
IN FACT, SHE MIGHT AS WELL HAVE STAYED IN THAT UNIT CELL
Jack showed Tosh all the wonders of the universe? When? We thought she spent her entire life in the basement.
PIGS IN SPACE
Yes, the Dr Sato retcon was a nice touch.