Torchwood - They Keep Killing Suzie
For the second time in as many episodes, Torchwood bests its previous episodes. For want of a better term, this one is a fucking belter.
Shortly after we've been informed by the usual dramatic voice over that Torchwood is a highly super-secret agency above and beyond the Police, the team arrive in their usual discreet fashion (speeding up in a blacked out landrover with their name stamped on the side, walking in slow motion in a big line tapping their futuristic earpieces and wearing matching fucking sunglasses) at a murder scene where loads of Police *know who they are*. This jarring inconsistency behind it, the episode quickly gathers pace, with the team discovering their name daubed in blood on the wall above the gruesomely post-watershed cadavers. Dead people on Torchwood always seem to have splodges of blood that look a bit like stab wounds on their clothes with no corresponding rip in the fabric, or wound revealed underneath. It's as if once the victims and their convincing injuries were ready and in place, Russell T Davies skipped onto the set singing "we're on at ten o'clock, we're on at ten o'clock" with a tube of fake blood in each hand, spinning round and making everything more "adult" and "dramatic".
With Torchwood, the pace and pomp of the episode pulls you along and dumps you after forty five or however many minutes feeling a bit exhilarated and entertained, but as soon as you start to think about what you've watched, the whole thing goes to mince. I mean, is the idea that everyone knows who Torchwood are, but not what they do? If so, why did they make out that Canary Wharf was full of like, other stuff, whatever's in there. Offices or banks or a cotton mill or whatever it is. Or are people starting to suspect because of the big Dalek vs Cyberman ruck? Would it be too much for a throwaway bit of expository dialogue to explain this? It could take the place of one of the bad cock jokes, or the ninth time we get told that Torchwood is "a top secret organisation nobodys heard of, above the government, behind the police, etc, etc".
Anyway, after cursory investigations throw up no leads, the resurrection glove from episode one is hauled out of storage and used to boink the corpses back to life for long enough to implicate recently deceased Torchwood employee Ms. Suzie Costello in proceedings, necessitating literally moments of soul searching before bringing her back to life too. Only, unlike the other resurectees, she won't go dead again. She's stuck in a wheelchair with a blanket rapped around her gaping head wound, creeping everyone, including me, the fuck out. The way the mystery of the killings slowly unravels and reveals the extent of Suzie's orchestration is some of the nicest plotting that's been seen in Torchwood, beating the usual THIS HAPPENED THEN THIS HAPPENED THEN THIS EXPLODED THEN I HAD SEX WITH IT nature of the episodes.
It is starting to grate however that each week a large part of the plot revolves around one of the Torchwood team doing something fucking soft and endangering the world. I'm still struggling to get over Ianto holding onto his job after threatening to shoot everyone and letting his insane android girlfriend go on a murder spree around their headquarters, and this week Gwen drops the ball by driving Suzie to see her dying father, which proves to be a massive whoopsy - the resurrection glove has created a permanent bond between the two of them, and Suzy is slowly sucking all of the life out of Gwen and replacing it with her gunshot wound to the head. Once again the episode ends with Torchwood solving a problem entirely of their own creation, by smashing up some alien technology that really they ought to be using to arm the planet, if they were doing their sodding jobs. Then standing round making let's-fuck eyes at each other.
There are some nice little bits of dialogue scattered throughout the episode. Captain Jack gets to be very awesome, threatening to shoot people left right and centre. Suzie reveals that there's absolutely no afterlife, which is an unusual sentiment to hear expressed in a Whoniverse usually so pre-occupied with saying lovely, comforting things about the human race. In a supernatural adventure series, one thing you can't really afford to be without is witty quips and pithy one liners - and for once we don't have to be. This script is the only so far to be credited to two writers, and the level of complexity apparent in parts of the episode and quality of the dialogue gives the impression that one was re-writing the other. It's certainly something the Torchwood staff might want to think about doing more regularly, as this is one of the few episodes that it's not absurd to suggest would be enjoyable to rewatch.
Anyway, there's not much else to say about this one - neither the good or bad episodes of Torchwood as yet are as rife with ideas as Who, and sustaining this series of episodic reviews feels a little like a waste of time, given that it's an honour we don't bestow many shows, including far superior ones. Any idea that Torchwood was building up in quality was decimated by the subequent shitfest of an episode (in case a full review never materialises, it was a Love & Monsters rip off and entirely boring and absurd and nonsensical and shit), but knowing that the series does have the capacity to achieve this level of quality when it's in the mood has whetted my appetite for the season finale.