‘Now who are you and what do you want?’ Another episode that feels rooted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and specifically Dawn’s sudden appearance in Buffy’s life at the start of Season Five. Adam’s purpose is – in some respects – even sadder. He can only exist if he’s remembered, and so he has to insert himself into Torchwood’s memories, in the process detaching great chunks of their real memories like melting icebergs.
The problem is, the script doesn’t really know what to do with this idea, and so ends up doing everything. There’s a rom-com element as Owen and Tosh swap places (represented by who’s wearing the specs), so Owen hilariously becomes a lovelorn geek and Tosh the confident one. There’s tragedy, as Gwen forgets Rhys and must learn to love her fiancé all over again. There’s horror, as Ianto begins to discover the truth of Adam, and is given false memories of being a serial killer. And there’s a sci-fi backstory for Jack, who’s dark secret is his failure to save his brother Gray during the invasion of the Boeshane Peninsula. Through it all, Bryan Dick gives a strong performance as Adam, but it’s hard to really feel anything for him as he drifts between the four stories without much purpose except to be.
Which all sounds like I’m down on the episode: I’m not, I think it’s good, but counter-intuitively it’s less satisfying than Tregenna’s previous script Meat. It has less of a through line, and the Gray plot feels like a clumsy bit of “arc” business when Jack’s already got a mysteriously missing two years’ memories that are a better fit for the premise. It’s good, but it shares the same problem as Out of Time: the episode would have been stronger had it focused on one story.
Next Time: Reset