Torchwood episode 20: Dead Man Walking (20/2/2008)

‘I’m not the same, Gwen. I came back different. Hollow. Like I’m missing something. And I do not want to be like this.’ Series Two’s riff on Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues with an episode that’s two parts Bargaining and one part Killed By Death. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not like the show hasn’t played with supernatural fantasy (as opposed to science fiction) before, but this is essentially a fairy story with Death defeated by a man with nothing to lose.

Bits of it play like The Satan Pit, particularly Owen’s black-eyed possession speech as something reaches out from the darkness through him – unsurprising, given both are by Matt Jones. At one point it even looks like the Weevils are going to play the part of the Ood, acting as the villain’s army – but instead it becomes clear that’s just a side effect of Owen’s undeath, to be picked up again at a later date. There are hints, too, of End of Days, with a monster out of myth returning to feast on the living, and being defeated when it drains one of the Torchwood team of their supernatural energy.

Other bits pull on Torchwood’s own mythology: the existence of a second resurrection glove was always implicit, and Suzie Costello warned of something waiting in the darkness of death. This is a pleasing sequel. It advances Owen and Tosh’s relationship and gives Barrowman and Gorman some great material as they bond in a police cell, the immortal and the dead man wondering if he’s farted his last fart. The Death creature is mostly very well done – a skeleton shrouded in shadow – although the CGI isn’t entirely up to it in the final battle (which, perhaps deliberately, looks like a dance of death).


In between all this, Freema Agyeman gets a thankless spare tyre role doing typical Doctor Who companion things like being attacked by an animated glove and being aged to within an inch of death. I feel had she not been in it, Gwen or Ianto would just as adequately filled the role of peril victim. I understand why she couldn’t just disappear, but they should have given her something interesting rather than just allowing her to fade into the background.

Next Time: A Day in the Death


One comment

  1. Pingback: Torchwood episode 19: Reset (13/2/2008) | Next Time...

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