‘So, I’m shagging a woman and an alien.’ Tosh becomes the last of the regulars to lead an episode, and that becomes almost a statement. Even more than Ianto, she’s the one who’s just there doing technical support – the IT department of Torchwood. I like that the episode plays with this, leaning into the disparaging perception of the rest of the team and notably not concluding with a rousing endorsement of Tosh’s importance to the group (which would have been the Star Trek: TNG Reg Barclay approach), but banishing her again to the margins.
I’m a bit less impressed by the story around this. Toby Whithouse has obviously seen the Buffy episode Earshot: the centrepiece sequence – a telepathic Tosh “overhearing” a killer plotting – is lifted directly, and elsewhere the scenes of Tosh hearing what other people think of her replicates Buffy’s experiences. It’s less good than Earshot, though, because these scenes are almost incidental, and play out in a fairly predictable way. There’s no twist on the identity of the killer (it’s exactly who Tosh thinks), and no wider insight – as in Buffy’s case into teenage isolation and self-doubt. Just a horny lesbian who turns out to be a horny lesbian alien, and is dispatched not by Tosh, whose agency is confined to deciding to destroy the telepathy necklace, but by Jack.
If anything, the episode diminishes Tosh. She’s seduced and played by Mary; rejected by Owen, who she’s been crushing on all series; pitied by Gwen, and gently reprimanded by Jack. I come away from it feeling more sympathy for Tosh, but not really feeling like we know her any better, or that this has been a turning point for her. There is one glimpse of potential – Tosh experiences the rest of the team as fatuous children, while she’s the one actually making material progress at learning about alien technology – but it would have been good for her to take charge at the end, and to be the one who unmasks Mary and dispatches her. The end result is a pleasant enough episode, but eminently missable.
Next Time: They Keep Killing Suzie