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Torchwood 2.6: Reset

February 20th, 2008 (11:01 pm)

And suddenly we are in an action-adventure series, with characters fixed to their terminals or out investigating in pairs, being assertive without going to pieces emotionally.

J.C. Wilsher is a catch for Torchwood. Those regretting the absence of names like Steven Moffat and Paul Cornell from the writers' list in the first series, might be entitled to see Wilsher's arrival as a boost to Torchwood's credibility. Wilsher is the creator of an acclaimed series himself, the police drama Between the Lines (1992-1994) and while its often despairing tone might be out of place in Torchwood, Wilsher knows how to write people and teams. (Other series to which he's contributed, Wikipedia tells me, include The Bill and New Tricks.) He is the right person to develop the theme of how far Jack has bonded with his colleagues, begun in Adam and continued through Reset. The focus is initially on Jack's comradeship with Martha and helps tie up the loose end of how Jack has become a less troubled person in this second series by bringing in the only person who shared that missing year when Jack and Martha played their roles in removing from power the man in Whitehall alluded to in Jack's first encounter with Copley. The script makes Copley a memorable antagonist; utterly focused on his work and convinced that the end justifies the means, however protracted those means are, and that he is empowered to defend his goals by maximal coercion.

Those looking for continuation of the Christian parallels mentioned in my review of Adam will be satisfied, if not necessarily happy. The convention that 'the Doctor' is never mentioned as such in Torchwood is continued, as Martha and Jack allude to him by pointing upwards, as if to God. When Martha is captured and used under duress as an experimental subject by Copley, she is laid out, as we see in an overhead shot, on a metal cross. The Doctor (and I've been avoiding accepting the existence of this process, as some of you will know) is undergoing a process of deification in the RTD Who-verse, borne aloft by flights of angels in Voyage of the Damned, and delivering the Earth as the focus of prayer in Last of the Time Lords; now his companions are his sons and daughters, whether having last suppers of their own, or being crucified at the moment they show that they are not as other mortals.

Owen has been allowed this year to be much more at ease with himself; Adam allowed us to see a flipside of his character which exposed the social ineptitude normally covered up by cynicism. In fact, when Tosh reveals that she was asking Owen out, Owen is flattered. Owen is brave and resourceful, finally, in this episode, and it's genuinely affecting to see him killed just as he is realising his potential. This isn't the end of Owen, of course, just a change in his status which will give him a perspective on existence which is a reflection of Jack's. Torchwood is settling down now as a mythological story, comparable to Doctor Who in that it takes folklore elements and dresses them up with science fiction props. 2.7, Dead Man Walking, will further develop this idea of the Rift as the mouth of Hell, though a more figurative one than its parallel in Buffy, to which the homages continue.


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 21st, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)

I admit I missed the crucifiction reference (twice), perhaps because I expected this imagery to be confined to Jack.
I think the pointing up whan referring to the doctor is less signifcant, after all, space is up there as well.
But then again, like you, I am trying to deny that any of this is being done to the story :-)


Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 21st, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC)

If I look for references, I tend to find them, intentional or no...

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 21st, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)

it's genuinely affecting to see him killed just as he is realising his potential

I didn't find it so; my thought process went, more or less "Doh, of course he's for the chop; Toshiko just asked him out on a date". I felt much worse for Tosh than for him; I knew he'd be back.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 22nd, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)

I really seem to fall for these devices, however contrived they may seem to other people...