‘That’s worth coming back for.’ I half wonder whether the impetus behind doing this was that Indira Varma is so good the production team were kicking themselves they’d done away with her in the first episode. She’s spectacularly good in this, lifting the piece beyond some of its cliches, like the “life vampire” plot, the second Hub lockdown this series, and the standard SF “ominous warnings” dialogue about ‘something moving in the dark and it’s coming.’
Varma and Eve Myles carry the piece (although Mori gets one good moment where Tosh sourly reflects that Suzie’s behaviour somehow dishonoured the job), their brief relationship in the first episode is re-examined as they go on a strange road trip for Suzie to confront her own demon. Though in theory it could work, there would have been no point doing this with some random ex-Torchwood member we’d never met, because the story itself is Suzie and Gwen.
Sticking with the notion of wasted opportunities, Yasmin Bannerman is given a nothing role that really ought to have led to a recurring part: her police inspector makes a great antagonist for the team, and she’s another super actor that could have burnished the series.
This feels like the first Torchwood episode written by people who’ve seen the show. In one sense, it means it’s packed with little continuity references like the Resurrection Glove, the nature of retcon, the wall of the fallen and Jack’s mysterious immortality. Whereas Cyberwoman operated in the backstory of Doctor Who and the Army of Ghosts, this is rooted in Torchwood Cardiff’s history. It’s not the best episode so far, but it’s the first one that really establishes Torchwood as its own show with its own mythology, and the one that points the way to the themes developed in the second series, of the price of immortality and the horror of what waits after death. As such, it’s possibly the linchpin episode of Series One.
Next Time: Random Shoes