‘Rex doesn’t like men in their forties acting like they’re twenty.’ The first proper indication that this was going to be a slow burn compared to Children of Earth. Luckily, it’s by Jane Espenson, who’s good enough to make something of an episode which, in itself, is a shapeless connector between the first two episodes and the rest of the series. It suffers in the same way as many later Buffy episodes: you can’t simply Friends-title it “The One With…”. After “The One With Torchwood Reuniting” and “The One With the Plane” this is… the one where everyone wanders about chatting, or hides in a derelict building and uses the video contact lenses like in Children of Earth.
It’s not that there’s no sense of progress – Friedkin is revealed as an asset of big pharma company PhiCorp; Danes throws in his lot with them thanks to their devilish representative Jilly; the sinister-looking Soulless in their blank, uniform masks (well done whichever company got those to market in time for societal collapse). However, this is largely bubbling along in the background, adding some more insight to the conspiracy than the earlier episodes without advancing things too fast.
Instead, Espenson focuses on establishing this group of characters as a plausible New Torchwood. Jack and Rex (AKA the New Owen) vie for leadership, Gwen and Esther (AKA the New Tosh) bond over the hilarious differences in British and American idioms (crisps are chips, who knew…), Jack implausibly picks up a hot barman and has sex (this is probably the most Torchwood thing about the episode). Danes goes to a diner and nearly gets lynched. Intense guitar music plays. The highlight of the episode is Jack’s meeting with Danes, which further shades Danes’ character by having him wistfully describe his murder of Susie Cabina, and Jack perceiving he longs to be executed.
Next Time: Escape to L.A.