Torchwood episode 22: Something Borrowed (5/3/2008)
‘Get back, you ugly bitch!’ The season’s comedy episode sees aliens crash Gwen and Rhys’ wedding, with the twist that Gwen’s heavily pregnant with one of them. The ensuring farce balances between comedy and soap opera, with an unwelcome return of Jack and Gwen’s unlikely romance plus Tosh’s tentative relationship with Owen, Thematically, it’s very loose – “relationships” include a cheeky hook-up with an alien shapeshifter, and Tosh having to bat away the unwelcome advances of Banana Boat.
When it’s funny it’s great – like Jack bursting in on Rhys’s mother (Nerys Hughes) and accusing her of being an alien – but it isn’t quite funny enough, and the soap opera bits don’t work as effectively as they might because we don’t know either Gwen or Rhys’s family well enough. 21st Century Doctor Who, with its emphasis on families, could pull this off much better – did, in The Runaway Bride.
But the thing that makes this a success is the focus on Gwen and Rhy’s relationship. The second series, and the show, has been at its best when it’s foregrounded these characters, and between this and Meat there’s a plausible alternative version of the show that really did focus on Gwen’s attempts to lead a normal life while fighting aliens in the day job. Writer Phil Ford makes Rhys the hero here, and Jack is reimagined as a disruptive, unwelcome presence – halting the wedding vows and testing Gwen’s resolve to marry. That the show opts for a happy ending – at least for now – for Gwen and Rhys is absolutely the right decision. This might not be the best episode of Series Two, but it’s the most likeable.
Next Time: From Out of the Rain