(Index to all Torchwood posts here.)
So, let’s talk Torchwood.
Plot: (standard spoiler warning)
Last episode ended on an adrenaline high as Gwen learned that her husband, mother, and baby are being held hostage in exchange for Jack. This episode is the fallout. When it comes to Jack vs her child, there’s no contest. Gwen kidnaps Jack, and most of the episode consists of a flip back and forth between Gwen and Jack, and events from Jack’s past that we assume must be relevant to his current status as ransom.
In 1927, Jack meets a young immigrant, Angelo Colesanto, as both try to enter New York illegally at Ellis Island. Jack’s on a mission for Torchwood, but he likes Angelo’s style. Getting Angelo out of jail, they get an apartment together. As the moody lighting and sad music has keyed us up to suspect, Angelo turns out to be gay and attracted to Jack. Jack, of course, is attracted to everyone, so they go to bed and have moody sad sex. Jack decides to let Angelo into his life and gets him involved in his Torchwood mission. They get into trouble with the police, and Jack gets shot and killed. Angelo believes him to be dead, until he gets out of prison and sees Jack on the other side.
Angelo is understandably freaked, but seems willing to accept Jack’s peculiar undying status. In truth, though, it’s a bit much, and Angelo’s conflicted Catholic upbringing takes over, leading him to think Jack must be the devil, tricking him into sin. He kills Jack again, and Jack resurrects in front of the distraught Angelo and their landlady. The secret is out, and everyone has to see it: the man who dies and comes back to life. Jack is strung up in a meat locker and killed over and over again. The landlady and her family and friends regard this as a miracle, but their zealous response seems more fueled by blood lust. At some point three sharply dressed men come to see him and seem to agree on a deal to purchase him together. Fortunately, Angelo can’t take the violence and frees Jack, but Jack can no longer trust him, and leaves him behind.
Meanwhile, in the present, Gwen and Jack see a little bit of each others’ steel – Gwen will kill Jack if it protects her family, and Jack will do whatever it takes to survive. Fortunately for them both, Esther has finally levelled, having killed the Big Bad of the previous episode. She notices the extremely obvious fact that Gwen is spooked and thinks to check the cached messages on Gwen’s contact lenses. She then works her awesome computer skillz to save the day.
But not before they get to meet the people who wanted Jack, and they tell them the name of the person who wants to see him… Angelo Colesanto.
In many ways, this was excellent, in some ways it was disappointing. The main difficulty is that everyone else on screen is acting the crap out of John Barrowman (Jack). Eve Myles (Gwen) has been consistently strong all season, and the tension between her and Jack is a test of wills where she’s undoubtedly the winner. With the history they have, Barrowman performs passibly well, but the main storyline of the episode – in the past – requires a level of nuance and passion that he struggles to rise to. It’s an interesting and engaging tale that demanded a level of subtlety that Barrowman’s big bold style just doesn’t sit well with.
All season they’ve been front-loading Jack’s homosexuality at the expense of his omnisexuality. It felt like the writers needed to make sure that new viewers understood that Jack likes men over Jack’s the biggest flirt in all the worlds. The writing this week (ignoring the unlikely good fortune of the first guy he meets in New York being a gay guy who fancies him) lurched back to a treatment that was much more sympathetic and deep. Daniele Favilli (Angelo) rises to the occasion, but it’s just not Barowman’s style.
Oh well, can’t have everything. The conclusion of the storyline in 1927 New York is startling and awe-inspiring. The scene in the meat locker – music, writing, concept – is powerful and probably deserves awards. Eve Myles also deserves something for her absolutely stunning performance that is never less than spot-on. I love the writers for giving her such lines, and I love them for making her the sort of badass that is such because she knows to properly tie up a man who’s bigger and stronger than her, to think with her head to do what her heart requires. You may recall me mentioning the conversation I had with a friend who was concerned that Gwen’s separation from her daughter would not be treated with sufficient depth. Well, they’ve done more this season for strong mothers who genuinely care for their children than any other show I can think of.
And now all I can do is wait for next week and SPECULATE. I’ve gotten over my The-Silence-Are-Behind-It theory. I think it may even be true that no aliens are involved. Can’t help but notice that Angelo must be a very old man by 2011. I also recall an old woman taking a sample of Jack’s blood as a sort of relic. And let’s face it, Jack may have escaped, but he’ll have left a lot of his blood behind in that meat locker. Wanna bet that those three gentlemen made the best of what was left? And let’s not forget that this all started with a mass-release of Torchwood files that called Jack back to Earth. Angelo knew about Torchwood and Jack’s wristband. Knew he’d be in the future. Is this all just an elaborate booty-call?
Who knows? But we’re starting to see the pieces of the bigger picture. Hurrah.
Oh, and as a special GEEKGASM aside, did you recognise this lady at the end:
That’s FREAKIN’ Nana Visitor, whom you may also know as KIRA NERYS of Deep Space 9:
Torchwood is rocking the sci-fi alumni! Keep up the good work!