‘So, End of the World Survivors Club.’ Martha Jones arrives in Torchwood and the dynamic shifts. Suddenly Jack is a little closer to his cheeky Doctor Who character, Owen gets excited that he has another doctor to talk to, and everyone else has to take a slight step back to give her some space in the plot. Her background is handled in a strangely coy way: I can accept that there were Torchwood viewers who didn’t watch Doctor Who, but if anything the cryptic hints and winks at the audience about ‘a bad experience with a politician recently’ and ‘we were under the same Doctor’ are surely more annoying than a brief recap of the events of Last of the Time Lords, particularly as Martha’s TARDIS travels and consequent ‘really quite extraordinary’ lymphocytes are so important to the plot.
These reservations aside, Martha’s inclusion works well with no real adjustments to her characterisation here. Her medical experience taken alongside Owen’s death at the end of the episode might have left audiences expecting her to be the natural replacement medical officer, although it’s harder to envisage this working. But everything about this screams that they’re writing out Burn Gorman, from sudden progress in the Owen/Tosh relationship (he agrees to go on a date), to Owen’s struggles to get an alien ‘singularity scalpel’ to work in time to save Martha’s life. His senseless, random death at the hands of a human being not some alien monster fits neatly with the general downbeat nature of the show.
It’s a very solid episode, with an intriguing hook (assassinations linked to a clinic with a cure-all treatment that can clear up HIV). The Mayfly aliens might be a bit Alien, but as they’re hardly the main threat in the episode it doesn’t really matter. Again, they’re being exploited by unscrupulous people for financial gain – just like the space manatee in Meat. Is ‘this woman from UNIT’ who recruited Martha Jones actually Kate Stewart?
Next Time: Dead Man Walking