Torchwood episode 6: Countrycide (19/11/2006)

‘When was the last time you came so hard and so long, you forgot where you are?’ Very much The X-Files: Our Town in the style of Dog Soldiers, as cannibalistic hicks pick off visitors. The typical theme of these things is “metropolitan folk” confronted with an older, harder way of life and having to rediscover their own capacity for savagery in the process, and there is a bit of that here, as Owen disparages the countryside and Gwen struggles to comprehend strange, rural rituals. But mostly it’s just running round in the dark shooting guns and screaming.

Which isn’t actually a bad thing. I like Countrycide much better than Chibnall’s previous episodes. It’s a straightforward horror thriller with some good gory moments, a reasonably effective atmosphere and a twist that humans can be as incomprehensible and deadly as any invading alien. It has some pretensions towards folk horror (‘our tradition once a decade’) which are undercooked and don’t land, but its heart is in the right place.

TW Countrycide

It’s pretty derivative: the structure of the team losing their van and becoming separated as they explore a deserted town could be from any number of American horror movies including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – which is a big reference point (the dead animals hanging around the place; the meat hooks and fridges full of butchered flesh; the night-time race through the woods as Tosh flees a machete-wielding maniac). But again, these films are popular for a reason and this is a decent TV translation.

The bits that don’t quite work are, ominously, the most Torchwoody elements: the big discussion about snogging, and Gwen’s weird sexual tension with Owen; Ianto challenging Tosh ‘how long you can survive before you go mad, or get killed, or lose a loved one’; Jack bursting in at the eleventh hour for a slo-mo shoot out. Evan’s reveal, ‘It made me happy,’ isn’t nearly as profoundly disturbing as Chibnall seems to think. In the end, this is a big dumb horror episode, and as such I think it works fine.

Next Time: Greeks Bearing Gifts

2 comments

  1. Pingback: Torchwood episode 5: Small Worlds (12/11/2006) | Next Time...
  2. rocketpilot

    One lasting irritation with this episode is that large parts of the plot could’ve been avoided if Gwen, gun in hand and in a tactically superior position had taken a shot when the clear alternative was her own capture of death. But in the years since I’ve seen it I’ve had more complicated reactions – shooting someone even to save your own life is psychologically quite a hill to climb, after all. On the other hand Torchwood itself plays very loose with realistic human psychology.

    So, long story short, I guess my main complaint with the show is how inconsistently it treats the tension between realism and escapist action.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s