Torchwood s1:4 review

Our faintly nostalgic Torchwood season 1 reviews continue as Danny takes on the Cyberwoman...

In my last Torchwood review, I predicted that that Owen would continue his recent stint of acting like “a selfish tool”. Guess I was wrong, as it was Ianto’s turn this week to be inexplicably daft by keeping a half-woman/half-Cyberman hybrid in the basement of Torchwood Three. And surprisingly, it was absolutely brilliant – a mini-tragedy of sorts about secrets, obsession and corruption that finally gave both Gareth David-Lloyd something interesting to do and the series some much-needed focus. Plus, they totally played a Mogwai song! How often does that happen on television?

The Cyberwoman Ianto was keeping alive in the Torchwood base was Lisa Hallett, a former employee of Torchwood One that had cyber-components grafted onto her during the Battle of Canary Wharf before being rescued by Torchwood Three’s support man. Now, love makes people do stupid things – I once sent a letter to an ex with a picture of Julian Clary, for example – but bringing in a cybernetics expert to help an artifact of a genocidal line of cyborgs breathe on its own? Oh, love is blind et cetera et cetera.

The promising set-up was not squandered for once by any of this Gwen-snogging-people-nonsense – okay, that’s a bit of a fib. To remind us that the Torchwood team is a hotbed of sexual activity, Gwen and Owen ended up kissing one another – just the thing you do when you’re this close from becoming a Cyber-play-thing . Owen explained his actions as wanting “a last kiss for a dead man”: code being that he’s a bit of a pervy shit. Jack’s kiss with Ianto made some sense due to his breathing-life powers; the second of two occurances that outed our Captain from the Closet of Immortality – progress, it seems.

And even if Jack didn’t die, there was plenty of pow! and whack! to go around this episode, most importantly from Ianto. Growing some backbone, he punched Jack and told him that “One day, I’ll have the chance to save you… and I’ll watch you suffer and die!” So what if he went on to get owned by the good Captain a minute later? It’s all good character development, hinting that there may be something dramatically interesting in this new-found animosity.

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Although there were slight niggles – Lisa’s final words left me wondering whether Cybermen can actually eat cheese toasties rather than focusing on the drama – this episode was a step in the right direction. Tension, good acting, tight scripting, some good laughs (Owen to Jack, post-Cyberattack: “You should be dead!” Jack: “I’m the stubborn type!”), up-to-par FX, Toshiko giving Owen a Glare O’ Death (Toshiko episode NOW, PLEASE) and a pterodactyl trying to eat someone. Basically, everything I could have wanted from a Torchwood episode. Things just got promising.