Torchwood episode 10: Out of Time (17/12/2006)
‘There’s no puzzle to solve, no enemy to fight. Just three lost people who have somehow become our responsibility.’ Essentially the Star Trek TNG episode The Neutral Zone reimagined with three people brought from the past to their future and trying to make sense of their place in this strange new world. The implications are sensible, the story has some touching moments, but it has the slight whiff of American syndication television.
I suppose they’d never have allowed this much sex in TNG. Diane pretty quickly leaps into bed with Owen, who’s besotted with her, and this love story is sweet enough (Riker would probably have got it in TNG), but rather than using this as an opportunity to explore Owen’s relationship with Gwen, which seems to have fizzled out at this point in the season, it just sort of starts then stops. Neither would TNG do anything as bleak as John’s suicide having met his senile son in a nursing home. This strikes me now as being grimdark for the sake of it, because Torchwood can be.
Then there’s Emma and Gwen who have a girly night out until Gwen stars playing the protective older sister and Rhys glowers. I suppose this casts Gwen in a different light – controlling and interfering rather than sensitive and dogged, and increasingly quick to lie to Rhys – so is interesting. But apart from an entertaining scene in a supermarket and some culture shocks around dating, male grooming and smoking none of this really goes anywhere and the focus on three separate plots tends to mean none of them seems like anything more than a vignette. The episode would have been stronger had it focused on one story (probably Owen and Diane’s relationship).
Next Time: Combat