Torchwood: Episode guide

BCN 87 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 87, September 2007

Episode by Episode guide

So, what makes Torchwood different from Doctor Who. “It’s not so much which stories are available or forbidden; it’s the intensity with which you tell them,” Davies says. Torchwood is here, and it’s for grown-ups. You can tell because they say “fuck” a lot.

The first episode of any show has a lot of work to do. It must introduce its characters and its major plotlines. It must introduce us to its style and show us what makes it tick. And it must entertain us enough that we’ll tune in again next week (or, in the case of this first airing, immediately afterwards). The Torchwood method of exposition is the oldest trick in the book – the introduction of a new character to an established group; we learn as she does. Admittedly, most shows don’t spill the beans all at once and then spike your drink with an amnesia pill, but there we go.

Everything Changes
Gwen: My boyfriend says it’s a sort of terrorism, like they put drugs in the water supplies, psychotropic drugs, causing mass hallucinations and stuff. Jack: Yeah, well, your boyfriend’s stupid. Gwen: Oh, you’ve met him?
PC Gwen Cooper is working at scene of a murder. She’s not been there long before Torchwood arrives at the scene too, and take over the investigation. Gwen is a nosey bugger, far to interested in the mysterious Torchwood for her own good. She infiltrates the hub (using the cunning ruse of pizza delivery) and quickly leans more about the work that they do. Captain Jack is forthcoming with information about Torchwood, and, after Suzie’s death at her own hands, offers Gwen a job.

Day One
Jack: Put your trousers on and get out. NOW! It almost breaks my heart to say those words.
There’s a woman on the loose! Okay, this woman has been possessed by an, erm, über-horny alien gas thing and now she’s seriously up for it, running round Cardiff like a number of ladies of my acquaintance on a Saturday night. UHAG-Girl, as luck would have it, works for a fertility clinic (where better to feed on the orgasmic energies of unsuspecting men?) Fear not, though, because it’s Torchwood to the rescue.

Ghost Machine
Gwen: I don’t even kill spiders in the bath!
Jack: Nor do I, not with a gun.

After a chase through the mean streets of Cardiff, the team get their hands on a piece of alien technology containing a quantum transducer, a device which transfers the aura of a place or incident from the past to the present day, to be felt by the person by whom the device was activated.

Cyberwoman
Jack: “We’re a secret organization hunting alien technology from an underground base, and you want a rota for who drives.”
Oh dear, oh dear. Ianto’s got a girlfriend. Well ‘girlfriend’ is a bit strong. Homicidal half-human-cyber-thing might be more accurate. In a nice bit of Doctor Who continuity, Lisa, his love interest from series two episode Doomsday, turns up. Who fans will know that Lisa was partially converted into a Cyberman. What they don’t know is that Ianto has been hiding her in the Torchwood basement, in the vain hope that a ‘cure’ for her condition can be found. Things do not look good for our heroes.

Small Worlds
Jack: We’d once made a vow; that we’d be with each other until we died. I need a drink.
Fairies at the bottom of the garden? Mysterious deaths in prison? Extreme, but localized, weather conditions? Torchwood are on the case. Jack’s on very good terms with the fairy hunter, too. He’s seen this happen before – and he knows just what to do.

Countrycide
Owen: When was the last time you screwed all night? When was the last time you came so hard and so long you forgot where you are? Doesn’t happen with him anymore, does it? You’re too familiar. Where as you and me, we aren’t cozy at all. We’d be amazing. And that scares the shit out you.
Ah, the Welsh countryside. Home of sheep, hills, and cannibalistic beardy-weirdies. While researching a chain of disappearances and deaths in a small village, the Torchwood team get split up. It’s Tosh and Ianto that finally find the killer, but nothing ever ends as neatly as all that…

Greeks Bearing Gifts
Toshiko: So. I’m shagging a woman and an alien.Mary: Which is worse?Toshiko: Well, I know which one my parents would say.
Tosh receives a gift from a stranger in a bar who seems to know an awful lot about her. Mary, her new found friend, is not all she seems though – she’s desperate to get inside the Torchwood hub. Meanwhile, Tosh’s new toy is proving to be less helpful than she expected.

They Keep Killing Suzie
Owen: You know, we never gave it a cool name.Toshiko: I thought we called it the Resurrection Gauntlet?
Owen: Cool name.
Ianto: What about … the Risen Mitten?

Suzie Costello shot herself in the first episode. It would have been better for all if she’d stayed dead. She’s back though, and she seems to be manipulating Gwen. But to what end? The resurrection glove is in use again, and so many of the people it is used on are linked to Suzie. Suzie has got a score to settle, and she’s willing to go to any lengths to do it.

Random Shoes
Eugene’s brother: He may have been able to square the root of the frigging root, but he couldn’t cross the frigging road.
Eugene Jones has woken up dead. This is never a good start to the day. It appears he has been killed in a road traffic accident, but still Torchwood must investigate. What of the mysterious alien artifact Eugene owned? Gwen delves into his past, and discovers all is not as it seems.

Out of Time
Diane: Thing about love is, you’re always at it’s mercy.
It has come to out attention that what Torchwood requires is a good ol’ love story. Three people in a plane have fallen through the rift from 1953. They have a choice – they can set up a new life in a new century, or they can try going home. Owen falls in love with the pilot of the plane, and the course of true love never did run smooth.

Combat
Gwen: You can be such a wanker sometimes, Owen. Do you know that?
Owen: I do, as a matter of fact.

The first rule of Torchwood is: you do not talk about Torchwood. The second rule of Torchwood is: if you must rip off a huge Hollywood blockbuster, shove in a monster and no one will notice. There has been a number of Weevil appearances and disappearances all over Cardiff, and Owen is investigating. He finds no evidence of alien abduction, but his research leads him to a group of violent business men who have their own agenda.

Captain Jack Harkness
Ianto: Jack needs me!
Owen: In your dreams, Ianto. In your sad wet dreams, when you’re his part time shag maybe.

It’s 1941, and Jack and Tosh find themselves trapped in time. In the same building, 2006, Gwen searches for them. Back in 1941 Jack has met an American Airman who goes by the name ‘Captain Jack Harkness’.

End Of Days
Jack: You wanna be in charge, Owen? You’ve got to have significantly bigger balls!
The rift beneath the Torchwood hum is cracked, and the worst of history is seeping through it. There are English Civil War soldiers, victims of the bubonic plague, and, worse still, the dead of the teams’ past appearing, suggesting that the rift be fully opened. Is Billis Major, the sinister caretaker from Captain Jack Harkness behind this? Jack knows that only he can save planet Earth.