Saturday, 2 February 2008

World Bore I

Episode 2.03 'To The Last Man'
TX date: 30/01/2008

A staircase. People who talk posh. It must be The Past. They have proto-gadgetry and seem to be tracking something. They’re in a hospital. A nurse walks into the corridor, “Oh, I thought you were ghosts!” she says. Does she see ghosts often? She's seen three today, apparently - in the ward. Now we are informed that this is St Teilo's Military Hospital, 1918. [Through a caption. I hate when programmes have to tell you where they're basing the action. If the writing was any good, you should be able to work out where it is. - Carrie] When the soldiers get better, they will be sent back to the front. Modern day parallel? [Drink? - Carrie] Then there is noise and light and stuff, and Tosh appears with a soldier in pyjamas called Tommy. He demands that they take him, "So I can be here now". I’m just guessing here, but I think they were probably inside some kind of rift in the time-space continuum. So, of course, they march off to (a slightly younger) Tommy's bedside and demand that he goes with them. "Who are you?" *smug look* "Torchwood". Titles! [Disappointingly, we didn't get enough time to see if they were dirty bisexuals too. - Steve]

At this point, I just have to say that I don’t like the way this episode is going. Time travel plots never work. There are always gaping plot-holes, unless you don’t think too hard about the workings of linear time. Not that Torchwood fears plot-holes, obviously, but it’s not a good start. Aside from that, you must be kidding me - like there weren't more important people to fight in 1918 than aliens and various supernatural gubbins? Conscript their asses! Meanwhile, back in Cardiff...

Tosh's flat. Morning. It looks like an Ikea showroom. [It looks like a ruddy coliseum. How much do these people get paid? - Steve] Has she moved since last series? Tosh seems to be putting a lot of effort (more than usual, we’re supposed to deduce, although I suspect Tosh makes an effort every day just in case Owen gets a bit horny) into getting dressed. To a soundtrack of Moby. As she leaves the house, we see she has ringed Friday the 20th in her calendar. I can only assume it’s the first day of the Ikea winter sale.

Torchwood Three. They seem to be preparing for the annual arrival of Tommy and argue about how old he is - 20 or 114. Jack: “I know which one I'd choose.” I'm not sure I even know which one Jack would choose anymore. Owen remarks on the fact that Tosh arrives in a dress - some kind of shapeless purple sack. It's not what I would choose for my once-yearly date. Ah, Tommy is in the vault. Owen does some doctory stuff in his lab coat [fuck it, I'm not afraid to use cliche - because HE IS A DOCTOR - Carrie]. Ianto says they’re defrosting Tommy to "check he still works". Dopey Gwen is the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on or why. (Even though she would have been at Torchwood last year when they did this.-Joel) Jack: “One day we're gonna need him”. Everything doesn’t go to plan and Owen has to crank up the defibrillator and shout for no real reason – presumably to remind everyone that he is a Doctor [in his WHITE LAB COAT - Carrie]. Tommy wakes up panicking, but Tosh calms him down. He knows he's in Torchwood - and why wouldn't he? They probably conduct guided tours. In fact, I think we saw Ianto doing just that last week. Tosh asks Tommy how he’s feeling. “I could murder a cup of tea.” Gosh, he’s so British. Stiff upper lip and all that. [As long as all he murders is a cup of tea, he'll be Torchwood's best-behaved houseguest ever. - Steve]

Torchwood tea-room. "Don't expect the best china," says Ianto. Tommy notices Tosh's dress and asks whether she's wearing trousers underneath because it's cold outside. "It's the fashion this year," replies Owen. Sorry, but trousers with a calf-length dress? When was that in fashion? [Not since Katy Hill left Blue Peter at the turn of the millennium. - Steve] Anyway, how would he know? Tommy reminisces about the fact that, "In 1968 they were wearing miniskirts", thereby male-bonding with Owen in the course of a few sentences. Tosh is inwardly like, “D'oh! I knew I should have dressed more slutty.” (Well, slutty isn't necessary, but it would have been a good idea not to put on maternity wear if you want to catch someone's eye.-Joel) Gwen still doesn't get why Tommy's there. Jack repeats: “One day we're gonna need him,” which: not that helpful.

Owen takes some blood samples [while wearing his WHITE LAB COAT - Carrie], because he is A Doctor. Tommy is used to the procedure – he’s been doing this every year since 1918. Meanwhile, Tosh checks that he remembers who he is. His parents ARE DEAD, because he is IN THE FUTURE. Maybe he could enter The X Factor.

Jack's office. Gwen is still bugging him because she has to know absolutely everything that is going on all the time, so she knows how to screw it up most effectively. Jack explains that in the hospital in 1918 there was “a time shift, a fracture in the rift ... two slices of time were erupting into each other", but they don't know what slice. When the rift opens, pieces of 1918 will start to appear in the hospital, then all over the country, then all over the world!! OMGZ! Tommy is the only person who can stop it. Torchwood 1918 left them sealed orders in a wooden box. Gwen tries to open the box. (Stupid cow. SEALED orders. If the boss isn't allowed to look why the hell should you be?-Joel) Jack looks smug. It's locked. A temporal lock. It will only open when the rift opens. [Because heaven forfend they should be prepared or anything. Even WWI Torchwood couldn't get anything right. - Steve]

Tommy is dressed, and Gwen thinks he looks like a film star. Tommy: “Who, Charlie Chaplin?” Because he is FROM THE PAST! Gwen asks if they’ve got any more hot young soldiers locked in the freezer. She’s always on the lookout for a chap to cheat on Rhys with, even if she has to defrost him first. Stupid cow. [Aaaaaand the liking I felt for Gwen last week has now vanished completely. I knew it was too good to be true. - Steve] Jack tells her that Tosh saw him first – quite right too. (Also, you're engaged. And when you cheat on Rhys you feel guilty and then tell him and then rape his brain with Retcon pills to make yourself feel better. But you could just not cheat on your fiancĂ© in the first place.-Joel) Gwen doesn’t get the man for a change.

Cardiff exterior. Tommy only has one day and he wants to see everything, wheeeee! If they wake him up every year, surely Cardiff hasn't changed that much? Tosh hasn't been up to anything since she last saw him – “work mostly”. She leaves out the part about shagging lesbian aliens. She didn't learn to play the piano, like she told him he was going to, but she did buy a book. She has to explain the term “24/7”, which is also new since 2006. Tommy judges her a bit for not having a life.

Torchwood Three. Gwen and Ianto drool over pics of Torchwood 1918. Gwen decides she's off to the hospital. Wouldn’t want anything supernatural going on without her being there to get in trouble, after all.

Tosh explains pool in the pub. Didn’t they have pool in 1918? Or at least snooker or something. Tommy asks if she's got a boyfriend, which: duh. She asks if he had a girlfriend in 1918. He says he did, and he had “courted her” for two years, but he dumped her when he was home on leave because, "The war changed me. I couldn't just carry on like before."(I'm surprised the war didn't make him bisexual.-Joel)

Gwen is back at the hospital. It is deserted. Except it isn’t. An amputee ghost appears and starts limping towards her, faster and faster, until... Gwen backs into a wall and the injured soldier disappears. [Even more idiotically, the bit of wall she backs into is RIGHT NEXT to a huge gaping corridor. Run down that, you stupid cow! If your self-preservation instincts are that weak, how are you not dead yet? - Steve] Gwen runs along a corridor for no apparent reason, and looks around another room. The lights flicker. That’s always a bad sign. Remember the alien from last week? She made that happen. [It always happens in Supernatural as well. I wish I was watching Supernatural instead. - Steve] Then some builders turn up and say, "Are you alright, love? You look as if you've seen a ghost." Ha.

So, it turns out the hospital is being knocked down. Jack has turned up, obviously having sent Gwen on ahead in case anything bad was about to happen. "In 1918 this hospital was full of wounded soldiers," Jack says, almost gleefully, and reminisces about the war. Because he was THERE.

Torchwood Three. Owen is in charge of all the shiny screens of power, but he's no good at that sort of thing and wants to call Tosh. Jack won’t let him. We all know she really needs to get some. He’s just thinking of what’s best for everyone.

Back in the pub, Tommy has learned how to order drinks. Whoop! I’m virtually certain there were pubs back in 1918. He sees news footage of tanks. "It seems like there's always a war somewhere." Ooh, social commentary! World War I was supposed to be "the war to end all wars", but then there was World War II. Tommy seems to be having a bit of an existential crisis. “Do you never wonder if we're worth saving, the human race?" Tosh: “Yes, I think we're worth saving - warts and all.” Then - oh my God, I can hear the violins swelling in the background – apropos of nothing, Tommy say, "I was just thinking I'd do anything for you. All you have to do is say, ‘Tommy, you're my brave, handsome hero and I need you'." I may have vomited. Does anyone else think this might have great significance later on? Then Tommy has a bit of a headache and Tosh looks worried.

The hospital. It is being knocked down, but apparently Torchwood are still allowed to wander inside. They must be beyond the builders’ union as well as the police and government. Team Torchwood split up. Have they never seen a horror movie? Or earlier episodes of Torchwood? Jack sees a nurse and soldier in a wheelchair, singing [and he doesn't join in? Would have thought West End Leading Man John Barrowman would have demanded that be put into the script, like Hugo Speer demanded a guitar-playing scene in this week's Echo Beach - Carrie]. He shines a torch at them (maybe that’s why he gets to be in charge of Torchwood?), but they don't seem to be bothered. Gwen seems fine, for a change. I think that’s about to change as she walks into a dark room and switches on a spooky flickering strip light. See, she doesn’t get a torch. She sees ghosts too, a man and a nurse. The nurse can see her now. Gwen looks behind her, but doesn’t reply, perhaps thinking the nurse is talking to someone else. Nurse: "I see you! Why won't you leave us alone? You shouldn't be here." (I often find myself saying that to Gwen. Are we sure that nurse was a ghost?-Joel) Then it’s not dark anymore and the nurse is gone.

A pier in Cardiff. Tommy chases Tosh, catches her and kisses her. Tommy: "What?" Tosh: "Nothing. Thanks." Tommy: "Thanks?" Tosh: "You just caught me out. It doesn't matter." Jesus Christ. Is there a Moving Wallpaper-style behind-the-scenes-of-Torchwood show, where we get to see how the show turns out such laughably terrible scripts? Tosh says she’s a bit older than Tommy, but he whinges that he’s “old enough to die for my country but too young to give you a kiss. You daft lass. What goes on in that head of yours?" You’d think Tosh might not like being patronised, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Tommy says he might be young, but he's seen a fair bit in his time, and then propositions her: "We could go back to mine but there's only room for one and it's bloody freezing." Ha ha. They’re on their way back to Tosh's shagpad when her phone rings. It's Jack. Tosh: "We're on our way." [That Jack. Such a damn cockblocker. - Steve]

Torchwood. Apparently demolishing the hospital is what triggers the timeshift. Two times can't exist simultaneously. You have to be in 1918 or now, not both. Duh. Tosh: “So when 1918 becomes fully manifest...” Owen: “It's really going to screw us up.” Jack screws up a piece of paper to demonstrate linear time going all skewy. The box of orders still doesn't open. Tosh and Owen are sent to the hospital to do "readings" or something. Gwen goes through the files. She ought to be kept in the office more often. Tosh doesn't want to be parted from Tommy, but work comes first.

The hospital. Owen and Tosh are sticking things to take readings all over the walls. Owen warns Tosh to "be careful" about being close to Tommy, because Owen can tell she's fallen for him. When did he start to give a shit? [At some point between series one and series two, apparently. He's been a lot nicer to her recently, but it's just a classic piece of unexplained offscreen character development - par for the course on this show. - Steve] Tosh says she can be herself with Tommy. Owen says he didn't think she had a fetish for defrosted men or anything (although I am not so convinced), he just doesn't want her to get hurt. Gwen sends Owen down to a different wing because of something she read in the old report. Gwen conjectures that the timeshift might have started, but maybe it doesn't complete until years in the future. But no, Owen sees what is described in the report - it's a car insurance advert. Owen, in serious voice: “It's not years in the future. It's now.”

Back in Tosh’s wing of the hospital, the readers are beeping a lot and an alarm goes off. What can this mean? I’m pretty sure it’s not good.

Torchwood Three. Jack is doing some paperwork when the box opens and some Pullman-style Dust comes out. He takes out a handwritten letter. Ianto: “Instructions? Jack: “Yeah, for Tommy... and Toshiko.” I don’t think she’ll have to sacrifice her life or anything, though.

Torchwood Command Centre. They have worked out that in 12 hours’ time there will be a brief moment when both eras co-exist. Tommy can step through to 1918 and close the rift. Then he will be back where he belongs - for good. You didn’t think Tosh would get a happy ending, did you? Jack: “You're the only one who can do this. Your life will be like a thread stitching time back together.” Tommy: “A stitch in time.” Ho ho! They have a rift key to close the door in time. It’s fortunate that they have all these useful gadgets lying around, isn’t it?

Jack's office. He reveals that Tommy dies three weeks after he goes back, shot by a firing squad. He was suffering from shellshock - Torchwood froze his memories, which is why he doesn’t remember this – and he was executed for cowardice. Jack gets dewy-eyed over the “more than 300” soldiers who were executed. Naturally, Tosh doesn't want to send him back. Jack: ”He trusts you... to help him save the future. It has to be you!” Torchwood 1918 drew a picture of her, which is how he knows. Then again, what if someone else could do it? This is where the whole time-travel thing gets a bit iffy, isn’t it? [I note that Jack doesn't particularly care if people from history die when he's finished with them - the real Captain Jack was probably court martialled for that very public gay kiss they had just as he was vanishing, but as long as Jack got his rocks off, that was FINE, right? - Steve]

Ianto has got Tommy's old clothes from the archives. Tommy: "So I'll be saving the world in some pyjamas? How daft is that?" I’m sure Ianto would have lent him a jaunty three-piece if it wouldn’t be anachronous.

Jack to Tosh: "I know you. You're strong enough to do this." Tosh:”Does Tommy know what happens to him?” Jack: “No.” Tosh: “If he asks me, what do I say?” Come on, Tosh, you’re smarter than that...

Tommy asks what time it is now, and the answer is ten to nine. The timeshift isn’t due until the morning. Tommy: “What do we do till then?” Team Torchwood look blank. Tommy: “You don't know, do you?” He seems to be judging them. I think Tosh has an idea. [And I'm fairly sure the rest of Team Torchwood are willing her to GET ON WITH IT and get some. - Carrie] Tommy says that in the trenches they used to play cards and have a drink, which Team Torchwood agree to do, but he doesn’t want to play with them because they’re not going over the top with him. Tosh: "He can come home with me. He's not our prisoner. He doesn't have to stay here, does he?" Jack: "No, if that's what you both want."

Tosh's flat. She tells Tommy to come in, although he already has. Tommy: “It's very neat.” Tosh: “Well, it's only me here (and I am an anally retentive freak with no mates).” Tommy: “And me, just for tonight. Then I'll be gone. I won't even be able to write to you.” Tosh: “I worried you'd see me getting older...” Bleurgh. Snoggage. It is MIDNIGHT. Tosh must live miles from Torchwood HQ if it took them three hours to get back to hers. [Either that, or her front door is really nearby, but her living room is three hours away. It is a very big flat, after all. - Steve]

Torchwood Three. Jack: “This time tomorrow he'll be back in 1918. Ianto: “His own time. Would you go back to yours if you could?” Troll. Jack: “Why - would you miss me?” Ianto: “Yep.” Aww, he is adorable. Jack: “I left home a long time ago... blah blah blah. I’ve seen things I never dreamt I'd see and loved people I'd never have known, and I wouldn't change that for the world.” Snoggage! (I've given up any hope of them explaining when Ianto went from 'you murdered my Robot Bikini Girlfriend' to 'I love you, Cap'n Jack' but it still bugs me.-Joel)

Tosh’s flat. They are post-coital sleeping. They were, anyway. Tommy: -“What did he tell you? What happens to me?” Tosh: “They send you back to France. Tommy: “Do they find my body?” Tosh touches his face. Tommy: “That's something.”

Aerial shot of Cardiff! There haven’t been many in this episode, have there?

Tosh's flat. Morning. She is already up. It's time.

Hospital. Team Torchwood have boxes with flashing red lights on. Jack: “We can't be here when it happens.” An alarm goes off. We hear some distant chanting. Jack: “We're safe for now.” The nurse ghost appears again. Tommy runs after her, but she's gone. "Where is she? In 1918." He is hearing things. He remembers that Torchwood 1918 took him and runs off. Tosh chases him. Tommy doesn't want to go back, but Jack says he has to. Tommy says they'll send him back to the front and Jack is just like the generals sending him over the top. Tosh says he has to. Tommy: “All this time I've had, it means nothing!” Tosh looks upset. Jack goes to talk to Tommy, with little success. Tosh asks him to leave them alone, and Jack does: “You've got two minutes.” Tommy shrugs Tosh off him, but she tries to sweet-talk him: “You're a hero, do you know that? Because you stop the timeshift and save everyone. You save us all.” Tommy: “I can't do it.” Tosh: “We need you.” Tommy: “I don't wanna be a hero. I want to stay here, with you.” It gets suddenly windy. They hug each other. Now they’re in 1918, in the scene we saw at the beginning. Tosh tells him to tell Torchwood 1918 what to do, because he's the only one who can stop it. Obviously, he tells them to take him. Bright light. They are back in 2008. Tosh: “Remember the rift key. Use it.” More kissing. Tosh: “You've got to get back into bed like you've never been away. Remember. It's nearly time.” It gets windy again, and Tommy walks into the rift. More bright light, and Tosh crying.

1918. Tommy is in a supply cupboard. The nurse tells him he shouldn't be in there.

2008. Team Torchwood run away.

1918. Gerald and Harriet [of Retro Team Torchwood - Carrie] tell Tommy they’re going somewhere safe. Tommy sees himself being taken away by Torchwood, but his earlier self doesn't see later him. That can cause all kinds of temporal problems. The nurse makes him go back to bed. Nurse: “Still warm at least. You’ve not been gone long.” Little does she know.

2008. Torchwood Three. Sirens. Gwen: “What's happening?” Tosh doesn't know. She has an aerial map of Cardiff on her monitor. Drink! It shows “chunks of the past erupting into the present” because Tommy hasn't used the rift key. Jesus, you train a guy up for 114 years, and what do you get? Jack wants to go back, but Owen has an idea of somehow going into Tommy's mind. Sorry, I’m a bit hazy on the details, perhaps because it sounds completely ridiculous. Tosh wants to do it because Tommy trusts her. The sirens have stopped now. It ruins the atmosphere when Owen is doing doctory things.

1918. Tommy is in bed. Tosh appears on his bed, but he doesn’t recognise her. Tosh: “I'm here to help you. Is this (the rift key) yours?” Tommy: “No.” Tosh: ”Do you know what it is?” Tommy: “It's a key”. Tosh: “You have to use it.” Although before she was talking simultaneously back in Torchwood, she isn't now, so the rest of the team don’t know what’s happening. Tosh: “You're not a coward.” Tommy: “What am I fighting for?” Tosh: “For the future. For me. Because you're my brave, handsome hero. Tommy, use the key.” He turns it. Some Dust comes out. More bright light.

Torchwood. Tosh tells them she did it.

Later, Tosh is folding Tommy's clothes away - for Ianto to put back in storage, I presume. Do these people never throw anything out? [Gwen's still there, isn't she? - Steve] Owen comes in as she seals them up. Jack comes over and is all, “Hey. Thank you.” I, for one, think he could have been a bit more effusive in his praise. Tosh nods and leaves.

Cardiff exterior. It’s raining. Owen has come out to talk to her, because he is New Man Caring Owen. Tosh: “He trusted me right to the end.” Owen: “Because you were strong. All of this is still here because of you.” Tosh: “Because of Tommy. Let's hope we're worth it.” Moby kicks in on the soundtrack again. Tosh smiles as she walks away. She’s probably thinking, “At least I got some."(Props to Naoko Mori here - the fluctuating between happy and sad was really well done.-Joel)

So, that’s it for this week. I think I got the short straw, because that may have been the dullest episode of Torchwood ever. Where was the humour? Gah. Next week - a car crash. Rhys. Gwen lying. Alien meat. Rhys in on it? A chained up alien. No Richard Briers yet. It’s bound to be better than this week, though.

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