Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Alien (I)ant(o) (f)arm

Episode 2.02 'Sleeper'
TX date: 23/1/2008

We begin this week with a montage of Cardiff and Team Torchwood in action, as Captain Jack VOs to remind us what it is that his rabble actually do. Remember, kids, the 21st century is when it all changes - and Team Torchwood are ready. [Well, they're, erm, there. - Georgi]

Cut to a darkened bedroom, and a polka-dot duvet cover. A couple are asleep and snuggled up, until a noise awakens them. The man reaches for a cricket bat, which is underneath the bed, while the woman rings the police. A fight ensues. We see the chaos that has been created, and we hear the screaming of the victims, but we don't see what happens. Coo, what are the chances? [I just assumed it was Owen trying to rape them, as per. - Steve]


Team Torchwood are at the scene of the crime, and immediately decide that there is evidence enough to conclude that this should fall under their jurisdiction. Captain Jack has reasserted his authority, and nobody seems all that disgruntled. He sends Owen and Gwen off to the hospital to talk to the couple who were being burgled and to observe the one surviving burglar; he and Tosh head up to the flat to inspect the evidence, including a burglar corpse and a broken window. A regular policeman is already up there, and he posits the opinion that the husband was the one to stab the burglars, because he was armed with a cricket bat in his bedroom and was therefore looking for a fight. Jack makes innuendo about hockey sticks in his bedroom. (Clearly a paddleball joke would have been better.-Joel)

The hospital, and Owen and Gwen are talking to the couple, who engage in affectionate domestic bickering. Owen notes that neither of them have blood on their hands, and says the wife did it. [I give him full points on his Occam's Razor exam, but deduct points for missing the chance to mention it. - Georgi] Gwen says the husband did. Jack rings and tells them to stay in the hospital to continue with their observations, and Owen passes on the message to Gwen. [Hasn't Owen learned by now that Gwen can't be trusted with *anything* by herself? - Georgi] She's happy to stay put, and in Ianto's absence, she sends Owen on a hot beverage run.

Gwen settles herself in a chair next to the injured burglar, and dozes off, plastic coffee cup in hand. She drops it, and it clatters to the floor, waking the burglar, who is terrified, and tells Gwen that it was the woman in the flat who attacked them, then promptly dies.

The woman from the flat, whose name is Beth, is in Torchwood Three with the gang. Jack is interrogating her in aggressive style. She demands her legal rights of a lawyer and a phone call, but Beth, if the laws of science aren't obeyed along that rift line, why on earth should the laws of the land be? Jack thrusts pictures of the murdered burglars in front of her, and she denies having anything to do with it, as well as denying that she is covering for her husband, Mike. As Jack isn't getting anywhere, Gwen tries the gentle WPC touch, but is similarly unsuccessful; Beth maintains she doesn't know what happened in the flat, but it wasn't her.

Ianto mocks Jack's fierce interrogative skillz [and Steve mocks John Barrowman's facial expression when he does those scenes - Steve]; Tosh does techy things; Gwen explains to Beth that she needs to have blood samples taken. Beth seems fairly unruffled by this, and is more concerned as to why there are no windows in the building. Gwen says they wouldn't be much of a top-secret organisation if people could peer in all the time. Yes. Quite. [Beth appears to be the only person left in Cardiff who hasn't heard of Torchwood. - Georgi] Ianto interjects to ask Beth not to sniff some odd piece of equipment. They tie her to the medical chair, and of course this is the cue for Owen to appear in his white medical coat, because he is a DOCTOR. He readies his sharps to take the samples, but as he tries to insert them into Beth's arm, the needles snap, as does a scalpel blade. Jack gets his anger on again and demands to know where Beth is from, because clearly she is an alien. She scoffs at him, telling him there are no such things.

They take Beth down to see the weevil in the cells, which, obviously, scares the hell out of her. The weevil makes a weird noise, and Jack does not know why. (Although you'd think the fact that it is bowing down and hiding in the corner would indicate pretty strongly it's scared of her. Torchwood really are spectacularly stupid.-Joel) Beth is desperate to prove she is not an alien, which turns out to have been a rash thing to say, because Team Torchwood's next plan is to tie her to a chair and strap on a mind-probe. Not before an aerial shot of Cardiff, however.

Jack is dead set on doing this mind-probe, even though Ianto reminds him what happened last time - the subject's head exploded, and just to emphasise his point he does a little impression thereof. Beth asks them not to kill her. Yeah, wouldn't get your hopes up, Jack's in an absolute fouler of a bad mood today. While she's undergoing the mind-probe, Ianto will be giving her water, proving his versatility - he's good with the cold drinks too. Jack explains how the mind-probe works, and confirms to Beth that it will hurt. Tosh will be operating the probe; Owen is being a DOCTOR and keeping an eye on Beth's vital signs; Ianto is of course in charge of the water; and Gwen will just be sitting and watching. Seriously, what is the point of her? (She is the HUMAN HEART of the show. We are supposed to identify with her, being out of place in this weird environment. ALthough I refuse to identify with rancid bitches, so...-Joel) Anyway, the probe starts up, and Beth screams in agony. She continues to insist that she doesn't know who killed the burglars, and that she is human. Jack tells Tosh to make the probe go further - still Beth sticks to her story. Again - and again - and Beth is still in excruciating pain, but there's something bugging Jack today [Not getting any? -Georgi] and he's not going to show any mercy. The lights are going mad; an electromagnetic field is going all haywire around Beth; and then something odd happens to her arm - it lights up and beeps. Well, that can't be good.

What has happened? Why, she has a buried compartment, and every question Jack asks is met with a response of her name, rank, and serial number. That's all she will say, and Jack is sure of this because he knows who she is and where she comes from. Gosh.

Time for a Torchwood team meeting, and Jack tells his minions that Beth is a sleeper agent, sent to infiltrate the planet to gather intelligence prior to a takeover. [Ianto: "She knows more about this place than I do. Nobody knows more than I do!" - Georgi] She has been given false memories in order to blend in as a human, and she has no idea that she is an alien. [Although, having claimed to know who she is and where she comes from, Jack doesn't get any more specific than "She's a sleeper agent." - Georgi]

Beth is locked in a cell and watching the footage of her interrogation. She's not happy. Gwen reassures her that her love for her husband is REAL and gives us a brief philosophical soliloquoy about the nature of humanity. Because, of course, Gwen knows all about what love and humanity are. Jack says that they can't make her fully human, and Beth asks the reasonable question of will they kill her. [I'd almost be more concerned about being kept in a mouldy concrete cell beside the weevil for the rest of my life. - Georgi] Gwen says no; Jack responds with a characteristic impenetrable stare. He continues to be really horrible to Beth, which is kind of unreasonable bearing in mind he's just SAID that she has NO IDEA she's an alien. Beth cries. Honestly, I'm even liking Gwen more than I like Jack today; that's what a tosser he's being. (Srsly. Stop yelling at the poor confused woman who's just discovered she's an alien killing machine. You jackass.-Joel) [It doesn't help that subtle dramatic acting on the small screen really isn't John Barrowman's strong point. Eve Myles and Nikki Amuka-Bird are acting him right off the screen without even breaking a sweat. - Steve]

Tosh does her techy thing and suggests freezing her, while Owen indulges in a bit of gardening and demonstrates his own new-found empathy by expressing his concern for Beth's husband. Goodness. Could this be...character development?

Beth has flashbacks to the apartment, which are obviously distressing, and just to make her day even better, they tie her to the medical table. White-coated Owen does his doctor strut, and Beth begs to be killed if she can't be made human. Gwen won't kill her, but Jack will.

Ooh, it's CARDIFF! A middle-class English-accented couple are sitting in their apartment drinking wine. The man is called David, but he is AN ALIEN. His arm lights up and beeps, and then he's in full-on alien mode, breaking his wife's neck on his way out of the flat.

A paramedic is treating a patient, but he is AN ALIEN too with AN ALIEN ARM. So is a young mother with a pram, and as her arm lights up and beeps, she lets the pram roll away into the road, where it is crushed. Nice.

Back in Torchwood Three. Beth is frozen. Owen is pensive. Gwen scurries down to the vaults, where Ianto locks Beth's body away, and is then pounced on by Gwen, who takes his arm as they walk meaningfully away. As they leave the room, we hear a clanging from the chamber, which evidently they can't hear. ZOMG Beth isn't frozen! Who knew? The alarms ring! The chamber is open! Where has Beth gone? Ianto mulls over the possibility that maybe the building needs its locks changing. I'd suggest you need to review your entire security system, sweetie, but it's a start. Gradually it dawns on the team that though Beth's vital signs may have been zero, they've been tricked. Owen realises that "everything about her is a lie!"; Tosh realises that it's no wonder there was so much energy surrounding her; Jack realises that Beth has another agenda.

Yes, she's gone back to the hospital to see her husband. She loves him. He loves her. She says she has to go away and can't tell him why, for his own good, but she still loves him and always will. Mike begs her not to leave him. They cry and embrace, and suddenly he groans. Oh NOEZ, Beth's arm has turned into a big old blade, and she has stabbed her beloved. [And herein begin the Terminator 2 references. - Georgi] She screams. Jack and Gwen race in and take her away. Then the doctors and nurses turn up. Hospital staff, when even bloody Torchwood are quicker off the mark than you, you know you need to reevaluate your emergency drill.

The alien Englishman turns up on the doorstep of a nice-looking family. ["Sarah Connor?" - Georgi] He stabs people. The alien paramedic puts an explosive device on a [liquid nitrogen? Oh, sorry - Georgi] petrol tanker and blows up the hospital. But for why? Well, there is an underground fuel pipeline for emergencies, operated by the military; and we discover that the father of the nice-looking family was Patrick Granger, the leader of the council. Ianto explains that Granger would know the procedure for emergencies, such as alien invasion. Tosh and Owen don't understand how Ianto knows that. He tells them he knows everything. "And it says so on the bottom of the screen." Heh, Ianto is brilliant this series.

The young mum blows up the telecoms centre. Jack is angry and snapping at Beth, like it's all her fault [when actually it is Torchwood's fault for bloody activating them all - Georgi], and Gwen tries being nice, asking her if she could trace the other aliens. Oh, what a surprise, she can. Whoop! Into the Obviousmobile! [Also, now I think about it, those alien arm panels are a bit Predator too. - Georgi]

The alien Englishman is driving round looking malevolent. Back at Torchwood Three, Tosh is trying to explain to Owen that the phones are down. All phones. Landlines and mobiles. All phones. DOWN. Ianto is adorably snarky again. [Does this count as character development for both Owen AND Ianto then? Now we just need them to flesh out Tosh and this will be the BEST EPISODE EVER. - Steve] Jack beeps in on some kind of walkie-talkie to tell Tosh where they are going, and then is rude to Beth again. The alien Englishman drives through a roadblock, and into a military testing zone, prompting Tosh to hack the military security system in a matter of milliseconds. Why, the zone is used for nuclear weapons storage! The aliens don't need their own heavy weapons, they can use OUR OWN WEAPONS AGAINST US! Jack describes himself as a dashing hero, and Ianto agrees. Team Torchwood think it's the end of the world. Owen: "Let's all have sex." Ianto: "And I thought the end of the world couldn't get any worse." [Tosh, meanwhile, has stripped down to her undies and strewn Torchwood Three with rose petals and candles. - Georgi]

The alien Englishman drives on. The military guards order him out of his vehicle, and when he doesn't respond, they shoot him. He is entirely unbothered, and stabs the soldiers. Team Torchwood in the Obviousmobile are close behind, and see the alien Englishman open the security system to the military centre, unlocking all the areas. What do you do when someone is impervious to bullets? Why, run them over, of course, because that'll work. Strangely it does. The alien Englishman is hindered by the Obviousmobile's impact, and Jack and Gwen rush to his side. Inevitably, he stabs Jack, who DOES NOT DIE. "We know who you are, Jack Harkness, and we know all about Torchwood." So does everyone else in the world and all others, alien-boy, so don't get cocky. "You'll be factored into our plans." Jack isn't interested in the alien's plans, and shoots him. The alien has one last trick, though - the explosive device in his hand. My notes for the next sequence read thus - RUN! LOOKIT! SPECIAL EFFECTS! [Plus we probably haven't heard the last of this lot. Jack: "When are the rest of you coming?" Alien: "They're ALREADY HERE!" Sinister. - Georgi]Oh, Torchwood. You did really well in the first half with the emotional dilemmas of finding out you're an alien. Then you went zoom zoom bang bang and it was shit. Also, why did those other two die? 'They're totally invincible with a micropore forcefield. Except for explosions.--Joel

So the world is sort-of saved, at least for the time being. We're back in Torchwood Three, and Tosh looks a bit like a strumpet, bursting out of her blouse. Gwen tells Beth they're ready to freeze her again, and Beth wants to know what will happen to her when she tries to harm them. She asks Gwen about her homelife, and on learning that she has a fiance, asks if she has ever hurt him. [Where to start? - Georgi] When Gwen confirms that she has, Beth asks her to imagine that guilt multiplied by a billion all the time, every second of the day. Beth doesn't want to die as an alien, and asks Gwen to remember her as Beth. Oh, and then her arm becomes a big old blade again, and she takes Gwen hostage. Team Torchwood aim to shoot, despite Gwen telling them repeatedly that it's a trick [I'd have called her bluff. It's a sacrifice worth making - Georgi], and as Beth draws her arm back as if to stab Gwen, our ace gunslingers shoot! Bang bang bang, and Beth is dead.

Gwen reiterates that Beth wanted them to shoot her - it was her last shred of humanity. Owen says that Beth must have known they wouldn't take the chance on Gwen being harmed, and Jack says that she made the decision easy for them. Gwen sits by the corpse and holds her hand. [I really liked Gwen this episode. Why can't she be this sympathetic more often? - Steve]

Cardiff! Jack is at his desk. Gwen asks him if they have stopped it. [Steve's PVR stops here, because the damn show didn't start until 9.03pm. SORT IT OUT, BBC2. - Steve] Jack tells her they know nothing, and she completely disagrees, listing all the stuff they do know, which for some reason prompts Jack to do a Cornish accent, then ask about her wedding plans. Bored after about two sentences of Gwen's wedding-related twitter, he sends her home, and remains in his office, a solitary figure, surveying the alien arm-blade [or possibly wondering if it would make a nice addition to his cabinet of sex toys - Georgi].

Next week! Tosh has a storyline! [And it is about The War again. Torchwood is like school history lessons. - Georgi] Don't miss it!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Back to Jack

Episode 2.01: 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang'
TX date: 16/01/2008

Previously on Torchwood, there was series one. (Which we'll probably get around to covering at some point, but probably not until after series two has finished.) For those who didn't catch it, here's what happened: Jack was mysterious and immortal, Owen was creepy and kind of a rapist, Gwen felt that no one could possibly understand what it was like to be her, so she sought to fix this by shagging Owen and then mindraping her boyfriend to make herself feel better. Ianto hid his misogynist plot device partially cybernised girlfriend in the basement; Jack killed her, and Ianto swore he would never forgive him, but clearly forgave him offscreen at some point as otherwise this would get in the way of the gratuitous shots of men kissing. Suzie died twice, and it sucked because she was awesome. And Toshiko did get a storyline at one point, so she could get in her arbitrary bisexual moment, but didn't really get to do a lot else. We left everyone shortly after Jack vanished in the Tardis and it looked eerily like notorious incompetent Gwen was set to take charge. Let's see what happened.

Cardiff. [Drink! - Carrie] Night. A nice old lady (played by Menna Trussler, who you might recognise as one of the many not-gays that Daffyd is forced to share a village with in Little Britain) walks down the street and presses the button on a pelican crossing, despite an obvious absence of traffic. That is, until a blowfish in a sports car turns up. (Hmm. I know the production team have said that Buffy and Angel were the touchstones for this series, but did they really have to draw inspiration from season six, with the anthropomorphised aquatic creatures? And that's before James Marsters has even shown up). The blowfish irritably gestures to the old lady to cross the road, and she does so. The second the lights change, the blowfish floors it, leaving a slightly nonplussed old lady on the pavement. The familiar black SUV pulls up, and Gwen rolls down the window, asking the old lady if she's seen...yep, a blowfish driving a sports car. The old lady points wordlessly into the distance, and Team Torchwood zooms off. Old lady, watching them go: "Bloody Torchwood." I see their undercover skillz haven't improved since series one, if even mild-mannered pensioners know about them.

Inside the SUV, Tosh is babbling technobabble, while Gwen frets about Owen driving too fast and hitting a child. Owen says that if they're out this late, they've got it coming. I hope he's not talking about rape. There's some to-and-fro about what they'll do when they catch up with the fish, as well as some exposition to remind us that Jack is still missing. Gwen spots the blowfish in the distance, and Owen floors it. The blowfish, in its sporty little number, makes an impressive last-minute turn which Torchwood's ridiculous vehicle can't imitate. Hee. Owen pulls off some fancy drivin' and gets back on the blowfish's trail, and there is high-speed driving porn aplenty. Owen gets Gwen to hold the wheel while he...hangs out the window like an ass and tries to shoot the blowfish's tyres. I suspect this is meant to make Owen look like a big macho maverick, but to be honest, it just makes him look like even more of a blowhard. [Also, whose foot was on the accelerator? - Georgi] Anyway, Owen gets in a lucky shot and Team Torchwood pulls into a rainy cul-de-sac. Using their crack detective skillz, they follow their fishy foe to a nice suburban house, where he's already got a gun to the head of an innocent bystander.

Tosh scans the fish while Gwen and Ianto draw their weapons and Owen tends to an injured man, and Tosh announces that the blowfish is on cocaine. Okaaaay. [How does that even work? - Carrie] [The BLOWfish, geddit? - HA HA HA - Georgi] The blowfish launches into some hugely contrived exposition about how their leader's gone (did they issue a press release or something? Seriously: worst secret agency ever), and the kids are unattended. Essentially he tries to summarise them all as a bunch of inept stereotypes (easily done), going on about how they're lost and afraid without Jack, while emasculating poor woobie Ianto by claiming that he doesn't have the stones or the skills to shoot the blowfish, because the blowfish is a smooth mover and keeps swapping his own position with that of his captive. We keep focusing on poor trembling Ianto with his trigger finger set to go, and we're all hoping he'll grow a pair and just shoot the damn fish to make him stop with the clumsy exposition, until a gunshot rings out and the contents of the fish's head are all over some unassuming family's ugly curtains. But it's not poor Ianto who shot him, of course: it was Jack, appearing out of nowhere and grinning inanely. ["Hey kids, did ya miss me?" Ugh. - Carrie][Me: "Oh fuck off, you smug fucking git!" - Georgi]

Titles! I keep hoping to see Indira Varma's name popping up again, but no joy. Damn, I miss Suzie.

After some fleeting Cardiff porn, we're in Torchwood Three, with Tosh checking to make sure nothing else came through the rift. They're all functioning fairly well in Jack's absence, but Gwen appears to have assumed the role of Number 1 in Jack's absence, despite being the shortest-serving employee and probably the biggest liability of the lot of them. Jack looks on, impressed, but his flippancy frustrates Gwen, who slams him rather limply into a wall and berates him for leaving. Jack is typically enigmatic about where he was, admitting only that he found "[his] Doctor". "Are you going back to him?" woobies Ianto. [Aw. Ianto is jealous! - Carrie][Iealous? - Georgi] Jack tells them all that he came back for them, but keeps quiet about the fact that the main driver was his concern that they'd probably have locked themselves out after two or three days without supervision. An alarm signals more rift activity, and at the top of a multi-storey car park somewhere we see James Marsters emerge from the rift, having apparently looted Adam Ant's wardrobe on his travels.

He catches sight of a struggle on a nearby car, with some lowlife type threatening to cut another guy's neck. James Marsters cockily strides over and identifies Knife Boy as a bluffer, before grabbing him by the neck and dropping him off the side of the car park because he is BADASS. "He's dead!" duhs the pretty-faced victim, who promptly gets grabbed by the neck himself and dangled over the side for his troubles. He is spared, however, on the proviso he doesn't tell anyone what he saw. ["You ain't seen me, roight?" Hehe. - Carrie]

Cardiff porn: photosensitive epilepsy edition. James Marsters walks into a bar, and starts leafing through the clientele (switching off the PA system's music with a button on his wrist-strap - damn, I have to go to get me one of those) getting the pretty ones to stay and making the "ugly" ones leave, even though this is TV so none of them are really ugly at all. The bouncers head over to deal with him, but he pulls out two badass-type guns and the patrons, entirely sensibly, flee of their own accord. He cackles.

At the bottom of the multi-storey, Team Torchwood arrive to investigate the body. Tosh senses energy from the rift, which Jack identifies as being the result of a rift-traveller grabbing and pushing him. Jack commands that they return back to base to mull over the evidence, prompting a crabby comment from Gwen about him taking charge again. Fucking prima donna. Note how none of the other staff, who are more senior than Gwen is, have a problem with this. This is because Gwen is a hateful cow. Gwen heads over to the police barrier and proceeds to talk to Andy, the regular police guy, like he's something she just scraped off her shoe, because Gwen is a bitch with an unearned sense of entitlement (see above). Andy makes a sarcastic comment in the direction of Gwen's stuck-up departing back. I sense that Andy and I are destined to be lifelong friends.

As Team Torchwood attempts re-entry to the Obviousmobile, Jack's wrist strap beeps, which is a sufficiently unprecedented occasion to draw comment from both Ianto and Jack, and a Star Wars homage hologram erupts from Jack's wrist. James Marsters cops to his role in the dead body on the pavement and tells them where he is, because he wants to move the plot along as much as I do. Before disappearing, he mugs "help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope", which: yeah. We already got what you were doing there, Mr Chibnall. You didn't need to whack us all on the head with a broom to make sure we were paying attention. Jack tells the team not to follow him, and zooms off in the Obviousmobile before the others can get in. Owen crabs about Jack "swanning back in" and assuming control, which is less annoying coming from him given that he's a complete misanthrope anyway. Tosh cheerfully offers to track him with her scanner, while enterprising Ianto hails a taxi.

Jack arrives at Bar Reunion to find James Marsters drinking alone. There's a pastiche of a saloon-gunfight as Jack enters and the two men square up, but because this is Torchwood, they march up to each other and start swallowing each other's tongues. And also because this is Torchwood, immediately afterwards they start punching each other. Words to the wise: never hire these guys to plan your wedding. Fight porn to the theme of 'Song 2', and it's all very macho if you like that sort of thing. [, yeah, I do. - Carrie] There is a great bit where James Marsters grabs Jack by the scruff of the neck and slides him down the bar face-first into a long line of shot glasses. I half expect Jack to scream "My face! My valuable face!"

Team Torchwood follows in a taxi, all wondering what the fuck is going on. True to form, Ianto's primary concern is that Jack recognised the alluring stranger, while Gwen continues to bitch about Jack's behaviour, under the misapprehension that anyone cares what she thinks. Gwen finishes by hissing that it drives her crazy that Jack won't tell them anything about himself, and there's an uncomfortable pause before Ianto murmurs, "It is more fun when he's around, though." Heh.

The fight grinds to a halt as the two men pull their weapons on each other (ew, not like that, although I can understand why you leapt to that conclusion). Jack identifies himself as Captain Jack Harkness, obviously (since we all know it's an identity he stole, so it would make sense that even if he knew this guy, he'd still have to provide his name), and James Marsters tells us that he's Captain John Hart. I hope you're all prepared for a torrent of double entendres, because they start here and they pretty much don't stop until the end of the episode. Jack: "I worked my way up through the ranks." John: "I'm sure the ranks were very grateful." And then they both put down their weapons and grab a drink. James Marsters demonstrates impressive control of his gag reflex as he downs a bottle of spirits, while Jack amusedly asks him how rehab was. John has apparently been to rehabs, plural, for drink, drugs, sex and murder, but claims to be clean of everything now. Jack asks him how the Time Agency is, and John dolefully responds that the Agency has closed, and there are only seven of them left now. Hands up everyone who thinks that's going to be part of this year's plot arc? Yep, me too. "It's good to see you," says John, a tad wistfully, and I'll just take a moment here to point out what an awesome job James Marsters is doing with this role. He's such a good fit for this show, because he can sell both the sleazy one-liners and the more emotional stuff. It's a shame he's not a full-time cast member, really. Jack tells John that he doesn't want him on his territory, to which John takes exception and starts shooting at windows. It's not because he's mad, though, it's because he knows Team Torchwood is lurking there. These guys really need to go on some kind of covert ops awayday. Does Torchwood have a personnel development programme? It really needs one.

John is delighted by the arrival of Jack's bitches, and endears himself to me even further by referring to Tosh as a "pretty little one" while totally ignoring Gwen. Yay! John asks if they have a team name, because he loves team names. "Torchwood," snaps Jack. "Oh. Not Excalibur?" replies John. Jack introduces the team to John, and John grandly tells Team Torchwood that he and Jack were partners. "In what way?" asks poor, insecure Ianto, and the answer is of course "every way, and then some". Jack claims it was for two weeks, but John points out that those two weeks were spent in a time-loop, so it was actually five years, adding "it was like having a wife", which prompts them to have a queeny fight over which one of them was the girl. Oh dear. Tosh plants herself in the familiar position of third wheel by flirting abortively with John, while Jack demands to know what John's doing there. John grudgingly reveals his wrist strap (which is, of course, "much smaller" than Jack's, but "lasts longer", and I'm not sure how many more knob jokes I can take tonight) and outs Jack as a fellow Time Agent, prompting a collective "wtf is a Time Agent?" from Team Torchwood, complete with Gwen pulling a bitchface.

John's wrist emits a hologram of a phallic-shaped (natch) metal object and relates the story of a sexy woman he was working with who got shot in the line of duty, and told him about radiation cluster bombs as she was dying. Said bombs got swallowed in a rift storm and ended up in Cardiff. John relates that they need to be tracked down and neutralised before they infect lovely Cardiff. Jack sceptically asks what's in it for him, to which John not entirely-convincingly replies that he's carrying out a dying woman's wish. He's also relying on Team Torchwood's local knowledge to help him find the bombs, because he doesn't know where to look. Tosh comes up with a plan, causing John to identify her as "the brains and the beauty", which makes me wonder why they really need any of the others. Although I suppose Ianto is key through the supply of hot beverages, Owen's got important medical knowledge, and, well, there'd be no one there to sulk all the time if Gwen didn't do it. Jack grudgingly agrees to let John work with them, and John is excited to see Jack's house.

"You live in a sculpture?" asks John, outside Torchwood Three. "Could you be any more pretentious?" Well, someone had to say it. There's another "whoops, vicar" joke about the tourist entrance, and Jack and John are lowered in front of some indifferent CGI. Ianto looks extremely displeased at the ex-girlfriend's entrance into the marital home and takes great joy in carting off John's weapons.

"He's a compulsive liar," snits Gwen as she and Jack march through the corridor. "Why is he in the building?" Well, it's never stopped you before, you adulterous mindrapist. Jack points out that they have to assume he's being truthful in case the city really is in danger. Gwen asks him what a Time Agent is, and once again Jack totally evades the subject. Gwen gets her bitch on again and demands to know where Jack disappeared to, even though last time I checked he wasn't under any obligation to tell her, so she can take her intrusive questions and fuck right off. Jack babbles on about dying lots of times, and seeing the end of the world, and how when that was over all he wanted was to come home to Torchwood and/or Gwen. [When, exactly, did Captain Jack fall in love with Gwen? He's supposed to be in love with the Doctor. And Ianto. Could someone explain to me why Gwen is so irresistible? - Georgi] He gropes her hand and notices an engagement ring. He asks what it is, and Gwen makes a characteristically snotty "duh" retort. Apparently Rhys proposed while Jack was away. "And you said yes?" Jack asks. "Well, no one else will have me," replies Gwen, who apparently didn't watch series one and doesn't get why she isn't allowed to make comments like that. God, I hate her so fucking much. (I feel so sorry for Eve Myles, who's clearly doing her best to make Gwen a likeable character, but it's the mother of all uphill struggles.) There's a moment of awkwardness before Jack congratulates her and kisses her cheek.

Tosh has spotted three disruptions in the rift, so John suggests they send two people to each location. Jack is unimpressed at John taking command, so Gwen, eager to make her own point here, starts toadying up to John and flirting with him, prompting Ianto to roll his eyes hard enough to power a small turbine. Hee. Gwen splits up the teams thusly: Tosh and Owen will go north, Ianto and Jack will go west, and she and John will go to the docks. Jack, quite rightly, gets up in her fries about her giving orders, and Gwen's all "you have a problem with this, bitch?" By rights, she should be so fired by now. Everyone sets off to leave, but Jack demands a word with Gwen in private. He asks her what she's doing, and Gwen reveals her super-genius plan of flirting with John to get him to drop his guard, a plan of such unrivalled genius that no other woman has ever attempted such a feat before. Well, I guess now we know why she was the one in charge. There's a bit of an "I'm the boss" "No, I AM" moment before Jack hisses three rules to Gwen: never trust a word John says, keep him in front of you at all times, and never let him kiss you. "As if I would!" snorts Gwen indignantly. Wow, she really didn't watch series one, did she?

Dramatic Cardiff porn! Gwen and John are looking through containers at the docks. Gwen asks about the woman who told John about the bombs, and John tells her they were in love, it clearly being something of a touchy subject, so Gwen relents. Gwen's phone rings: it's lovely Rhys, calling to engineer her ultimate downfall by telling her he's got a new job. This is our only sighting of Rhys tonight, folks: enjoy it while you can. Gwen hangs up only to discover John has vanished, naturally. He appears out of nowhere and Gwen pulls a gun on him, primly telling him to walk in front of her. John crabs that she's so untrusting, but mentions that with a boss like hers it's understandable. He drops more hints in Gwen's mind about Jack being a conman, and opens a container: lo and behold, there's one of the canisters. Gwen, in firm possession of the Idiot Ball, forgets rule 2 and runs in to grab it, leaving John free to saunter up behind and kiss her. Gwen spazzes out and falls to the floor, as John in true evil-villain style tells her he's wearing paralysing lipgloss. I don't know quite how one can wear paralysing lipgloss without infecting oneself, but if I ever want to finish this I'm just going to have to start handwaving stuff like this. John also informs her that if she's not found within two hours, her vital organs will shut down. Hooray! (Also: so, what, just being found is the antidote to the paralysis?) John departs with the canister, leaving the parting shot that Jack won't stay with her/them. I'm not quite sure if the show's trying to comment on some kind of Jack/Gwen UST, but come on: she's engaged, she's already had Owen, and now she's getting moist over Jack? Having a healthy and open approach to sexuality is one thing, but these people need to stop trying to shag their damn colleagues already. John locks Gwen in the container. Gwen's eyes look suitably alarmed.

Cardiff porn takes us west to Tosh and Owen, also in possession of some serious UST. Owen bemoans their lot in life, and Tosh is about as subtle as a iron skillet in saying that surely Owen would normally be out on the pull at this point. Owen says that he's done all of that before, and needs a proper woman, who he has something in common with. Tosh's eyes light up, but thankfully she's got her back to him. He asks Tosh if she's seeing anyone, and Tosh says much the same: it's hard to find someone who can understand what she goes through. Owen lucks upon the second canister, which is the cue for John to emerge from the shadows. Tosh immediately spots that something's amiss due to Gwen's absence, and gets a Glasgow kiss for her trouble. [Presumably John has run out of paralysing lipgloss by this stage. - Georgi] Owen draws his gun, but John's already got his ready and threatens to shoot Tosh if Owen doesn't put his gun on the floor. Owen, perhaps a little surprisingly, readily drops his gun and tries to talk to Jack on the comms system, which John has, of course, already disabled. Damn, he's good. [To be fair, Team Torchwood - not that difficult to outwit. - Carrie] Owen threatens John that he'll kill him if he harms Toshiko again, and tries to stand his ground. John umms and ahhs between shooting Owen or battering him with a cricket bat (it's like Sophie's Choice) before finally opting to shoot him.

Jack and Ianto in an office. Apparently, offices make Jack horny, but then what doesn't? Ianto tries to keep things on course, but Jack keeps changing the subject, and tells Ianto how while he was away, he was thinking maybe once this was all over, maybe they could have dinner, go to a movie. "Are you asking me out on a date?" asks Ianto. "Interested?" Jack replies. Ianto splutters adorably before stating "as long as it's not in an office." Okay, that was cute, but I get a feeling we'll never get to see that date onscreen. I hope I'm wrong, though. Getting back down to business, they realise there's still a lot of ground to cover, so Ianto decides to cover the office ("don't want you getting too excited") while sending Jack up to check the roof. "You're good on roofs." Heh. Most self-deflating meta humour, please! That's the sort of thing that gets me onside.

Searching the office, Ianto hears the ping of the lift and draws his gun warily. He walks slowly out into the corridor, where the lift remains open for what feels like an eternity, despite the fact that any normal lift would've been closing even as the occupant was still getting out because that's what lifts do. Ianto approaches it warily, before pouncing...only to find an empty lift, and a gun to the back of his head. "Into the lift, Eye Candy," John tells him, taking his gun. John tells him that his friends are dying. Ianto tries to contact the others on the comms system, but is denied, of course. John tells Ianto to start running when he gets to the ground floor and see if he has time to save them, and that if he tries to come back up and save Jack, he'll be shot on sight. Ianto asks John why he's doing this, and John goes on about cosmic jokes, before stating "the jokes, the sex, just go to cover the fact that nothing means anything", which could easily be another meta-statement about this show, but is also a set-up to reveal that the only thing John cares about is that coldest of all mistresses: cash. He sends Ianto back into the lift. Ianto looks thwarted.

Atop the roof, Jack is surprisingly not looking thoughtful and gargoyle-like, but has located the final canister. John approaches from behind him making another pity comment about Jack's arse. John calls Team Torchwood "pretty, but stupid", which: word. Jack asks if they were really supposed to believe the canisters contained radiation cluster bombs, and John turns it back on him by saying that they were stupid enough to fall for the scam either way, since the dim pretty minions did all the hard work for him. He invites Jack to join him, saying that together they could rule the world (didn't know he was a Take That fan). Jack refuses, claiming that he's never really been tempted by John's invitations. Things get bitchy as they each try to claim the other one's looking old and haggard [which: having had less Botox than the Barrowman - not necessarily a bad thing - Georgi], and Jack refuses to hand over the canister, instead throwing it over his shoulder with a "whoops!" John, unimpressed, delivers his own "whoops!" as he pushes Jack off the roof to his obvious (albeit not to John) non-death. Jack lands on a double-fronted bench, the backrest of which serves all the better to sever his spine. Funny how there's always one of those handy for someone to fall off a building onto, especially when it appears to be the only one around for miles.

Cardiff porn. Ianto's in the Obviousmobile, trying to locate the others. Paralysed Gwen can't answer her phone, of course. Tosh is tending to Owen's wounds just as Ianto arrives looking for them, and they both fret about Gwen's failure to answer. I wouldn't, in their shoes, but it's impressive loyalty that they do, I suppose.

John strides out of the main door of the office block and picks up the discarded canister, before walking over to Jack, who kind of looks like he got paralysed in the middle of doing an exercise video. John steals his watch strap to gain access to Torchwood Three, and paws Jack's face a little bit. [I was waiting for Jack to bite John's finger. So to speak. - Carrie]

Docks. Ianto, Tosh and Owen are looking for Gwen. Ianto tries her phone again and can hear Gwen's suitably eerie ringtone in the distance. (Sidebar: Gwen has the same eerie ringtone as my university housemate who once vanished for a week, and who several of us thought might be lying dead in her room. The fact that we could hear her eerie ringtone in there whenever we tried to call her just made us all more convinced of her apparent doom. Bizarrely, she turned up a few days later, having been staying at Claridges and spent the whole week shopping in London. Did I mention she was insanely rich?) Ianto finds the phone on the floor, but no Gwen. Tosh, in her continuing role as the Applied Phlebotinum manager and claims that if Gwen received a call she can use a scanner to triangulate its location off the network. Which she does in about two seconds flat. Handwaving, moving on. Tosh finds Gwen in the first container she looks in (handy!) and a quick toxicology report reveals she's been poisoned. Handily, Owen has an anti-toxin kit. What are the odds? (Perhaps John should've clarified earlier that you don't just need to be found within two hours, but found by a qualified doctor who habitually carries a wide selection of antidotes. Those pesky loopholes.)

Torchwood Three. John is fishing out a metallic pyramid from the blowfish's trouser pockets, which is apparently the key to unlocking the three canisters. Not asking why, moving on. Just as he's about to drop it into place, there are four guns locked and loaded and pointed right at him. Well, if he will insist on sauntering everywhere, they probably did have time to catch up with him. Gwen tells him that whatever he tries to do to them, they'll always find a plot hole way to come back stronger. John tries to tell them that Jack is frozen in the world's most permanent star-jump, only for the man himself to stride back into the room. Sure knows how to make an entrance, doesn't he? Jack's all "oh, btw, I can't die. Sorry, forgot to mention that." John asks him what the psychological cost of constantly being reborn into such a mess is like, just so we're all sure that we know about Jack's personal torment, and Jack tells him that it's worth it for "these people, this planet. All the beauty you'll never see." He's probably talking about Ianto's bum. Gwen asks what's in the canisters. John reveals that the woman he mentioned was in possession of an Arcadian diamond, and just when he'd caught up with her, she generated her own rift storm. Tosh points out that he said it was a dying woman's request, so he clarifies that it was: he's the one who shot her. Doh! He threatens to split it 50/50 with them.

In Jack's office, John slots the triangular holder thingy (what? I don't know what it's called) over the pyramid, which he claims should reveal the location of the diamond. Sure enough, another hologram appears, of a sexy lady. The lady congratulates him for travelling so far to find her riches, but points out one flaw in his plan: there is no diamond. The pyramid then transforms into a nasty looking limpet mine and attaches itself to John's chest. Sexy Lady reveals it to be an explosive device which attaches itself to the DNA of whoever killed her. It'll be exploding in 10 minutes, and it'll explode if anyone tries to remove it. Which is pretty bitchin', but...why the 10 minutes? Why not just explode as soon as it attaches, rather than giving someone just enough time to figure out a way out of it? Oh, right: Applied Phlebotinum. [Also, you have to question the wisdom of spreading a rumour that you have some big diamond, thereby attracting the attention of people who will kill you in order to steal it, jsut for the satisfaction of outwitting them from beyond the grave. - Georgi] Moving on. Ianto gets out his stopwatch [hooray! - Carrie] and starts counting down the ten minutes with an unmistakeable air of glee. Heh. Team Torchwood is pretty smug about this turn of events, and starts idly speculating about getting John out of the city. "You've got to help me," John pleads. "Why?" asks Jack, and John responds by grabbing Gwen and handcuffing himself to her. Yay! Take her out with you! No complaints here. The handcuffs are made from hyper-steel, impenetrable unless you have the key - which he promptly swallows. Gwen, unsurprisingly, is a tad miffed. Now John has leverage, because Team Torchwood feels compelled to save Gwen's life, even though they'd be far better off just letting her idiot ingrate ass blow the hell up. Gwen asks Tosh if she's perfected the Rift Predictor Program - if there's anything in the next few minutes, they can jump into the rift and keep the city safe from the explosion - although of course, she and John won't be safe from it. Yeah, not seeing the problem there. Anyway, Gwen's being all martyred hero about it, and Tosh says that the rift is still active in the car park where John arrived. Gwen manhandles John out of the hub, with Tosh and Ianto in quick pursuit, while Owen grabs Jack and they run off to do something of obvious immediate importance with a bunch of sample bottles, one of which is labelled "Ianto Jones".

On the way to the car park, John is using his final five minutes of life to realise what Jack sees in Earth and the many beauties that inhabit it, including a moment of icky sexual attraction towards a poodle. [This was brilliant. "It's GORGEOUS!" Captain John must stay. - Carrie] The Obviousmobile rolls up to the carpark in broad daylight (even though it was pitch dark when John pushed Jack off the roof, which can't have been more than a couple of hours ago) and Gwen, Ianto, Tosh and John alight from the vehicle. Gwen starts heading towards the rift, while John (who's obviously read the script) wonders aloud where their last-minute rescue is. Gwen turns back to the team and gets as far as "tell Jack I l-" which: gross. How about a message for your fiance, you horrid woman? Anyway, right on cue, Owen and Jack roll up in the sports car, and Jack tackles Gwen and John to the ground. Jack stabs a needle into John's chest and John howls in pain, while Ianto continues the countdown which is now on 30 seconds. There's a general commotion as Jack and Owen wonder why nothing appears to have happened, and the countdown continues, so Gwen gets her noble on and says she has to go. Pulling John to his feet, the limpet mine suddenly disengages and falls out of John's chest, although is clearly still set to explode. Jack grabs it and lobs it into the rift, and Team Torchwood+1 lunge out of the way of the resulting explosion with a bit more indifferent green-screening.

As they get up from the debris, it's night-time again. Gwen spots this and asks why; Jack replies that the rift has reset time to the moment John arrived, so it's like he was never here. [Where are the men who were on the roof when Captain John first arrived, then? - Georgi] Which seems to be a bit of a pointless use of the Reset Button - it's not like anything happened that warranted the resetting of time. Jack crabs that now they'll have to avoid themselves, which gives them a short sense of how the rest of Cardiff probably feels. Gwen asks what was in the syringe, and Owen explains it was Torchwood DNA: samples of the five of them (what, no Suzie?) fused together and injected into John's heart, enough to confuse the mine. [I don't pretend to know a lot about DNA, but am really not sure that would work. I shall wave my hands dismissively also. - Carrie] [What kind of emergency were they keeping vials of Team Torchwood DNA for anyway? - Georgi] Jack tells John he wants him gone, and Gwen points out that they need to get the handcuffs off first. John retrieves the key from the lining of his throat (old Artesian trick, apparently), and tells Gwen that she was his passport to survival, at which she promptly lamps him viciously.

John returns Jack's wrist-strap and tries to wangle an invite onto the Torchwood staff, but Jack declines, presumably because John's a little too proficient at things like walking in a straight line and remembering to turn the lights off at the end of the day to ever truly fit in. John kisses Jack goodbye and jumps into the residual rift energy to get away. Just before he leaves, he gives Jack this parting shot: "By the way: I found Grey." Extreme close-up on Jack's face, shot of a hand slipping out of another hand. I suspect this will prove meaningful later. John departs, and Gwen asks: "who's Grey?" (Interesting that she didn't say "what's Grey?") "It's nothing," replies Jack. "Let's get back to work."

Coming up: more sexy alien hunters. Richard Briers [even Richard bloody Briers knows who Torchwood are. And he's been self-sufficient in suburbia for the last 30 years. - Carrie]. Giant bugs. Weevils. My boyfriend Andy. Explosions. Lots of snogs. More Captain John [yayz! - Carrie]. Martha Jones! Alan Dale [Jim Robinson! - Carrie]. The possible end of the world. Ianto announcing the end of the world, Owen suggesting they should all have sex, Ianto realising that the end of the world could be even worse than he assumed. A shot of Gwen at the docks which appears to be from tonight's episode. Hmmm. Jack standing ON A ROOF. See you next week.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Paralysing LIPGLOSS?

Hello, children.

As a stop-gap measure until the lovely Steve writes up the full recap, I present to you, Torchwood 2.01 Abridged.

Fishman: Grr!
Torchwood: *whimper*
Jack: *bang!*
Gwen: Why is you not tell us where you be!?
Jack: Shut up.
John: Lol, murder!
Jack: Mmm, snog.
Torchwood: oh noes!
John: There are be bombs!
Torchwood: oh noes!
Gwen: I is boss now.
John: Here is da bomb! Also, lol, I is have paralysis lip gloss.
Tosh and Ianto: We is setting up possible Gruesome Twosome.
John: Gief bomb! *bang* lol!
Jack: So I here you liek going on dates?
Ianto: Maybe. You done kill my girlfriend but that's okay.
John: Gief bomb!
Jack: Noes!
John: You die now!
Jack: *dies*
Ianto: I is be da hero.
John: I gets me diamond. Not actual bomb!
Torchwood: Noes!
Gwen: We is invincible.
John: And I is actually invincible.
Diamond woman: Haha! No diamond! Actual bomb. Lol the irony.
John: I is blow up this woman too!
Gwen: I will go in rift before blow up Beautiful Cardiff.
Owen: I is be doctor so can understand medicine and make complete bullfish about DNA.
John: Yay, my bomb is gone.
Jack: Oh, look, for no reason that makes any sense we are now back to where John came in. We are now 12 hours behind ourselves for ever, but that's okay.
John: I is go in rift now! Bye! Also, I found Grey!
Jack: Wuh?
Gwen: Who be 'Grey'?
Jack: Shut up.