Torchwood season 2 episode 11 review

Torchwood does a pretty decent episode - and it's a Gwen one at that - but sets the conclusion in a plot hole as large as Cardiff Bay

What the rift giveth, the rift taketh away. Actually, by takingeth away, the rift hath more than giveth in plot this week. Because the rift (or ‘hellmouth’) is doing a story that, as far as I can remember, was never done in Buffy.

Hang the bunting! Dance a bit! The miraculous has happened, with Torchwood creating its own storyline. And it’s not that bad a one at that. Jack has been keeping a secret location in the Bristol channel for people that the rift hath – sorry, has – taken away and returned in a not-quite-mentally-all-there state. Gwen discovers this after one 15-year-old boy goes missing. Quite why the police liaison officer didn’t notice that the scores of people going AWOL might be connected to her big sci-fi secret would be a pertinent point, had we not previously established that Gwen isn’t the sharpest leek in the box.

Still, she deals with the problem the best way she knows how: missing dates with Rhys, befriending locals and shouting at people at every given opportunity. Her Strepsils budget is probably the sole reason the show’s CGI is always so ropey.

While Gwen continues in her shouty rut we meet Nikki, whose son went missing at the start of the episode. She sets up a missing persons group (or rather a missing persons’ relatives group, otherwise she would have been rather light on numbers) and then it turns out that loads of people have left Cardiff.

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Gwen, obviously unable to solve this mystery alone, gets a clue from Ianto. Actually, it wasn’t so much a clue so much as the precise solution to her problem in an envelope in GPS form to an island. Even then, the dozy mare needed a policeman to commandeer a boat. I don’t know why she needed Andy – perhaps just in case she felt like she needed to yell at someone.

It’s at this point that the plot is exposed as mental enough to suggest it had fallen through the rift, looked at a dark star and then gotten dropped off on an island in the Bristol Channel.

Jack’s hidden facility threw up more questions than it could possibly solve. How are people returned by the rift from wherever they’ve been flung? What precisely was Jonah doing for forty years? How many have died from wherever they’ve gone?

More pertinent to this particular plot, why was Jack keeping this a secret to himself? There’s no particular reason to keep the rest of the institute out of the loop about the institution. They could even do visits. Owen could run a weekly line dancing class. Tosh could do magic tricks. Jack and Ianto could let inmates walk in on them having vigorous sex and then act all smug about it.

Still, back to directions for the mental plot to go: having kept the facility a secret for so long made an inevitably awkward conclusion. Captain Jack is supposedly trying to protect the island from relatives of those who have returned for their own good, while Gwen is desperately trying to drag Nikki, Jonah’s mother, to see him. Did Jack not think to mention, ‘by the way Gwen, he screams for 20 hours of the day, you are going to cause both of them irreparable emotional damage?’ I’m all for characters being enigmatic – hell, half the plotlines rely on the cast discovering something from Jack’s past – but this is just ridiculous.

Now we’ve got the facility it could certainly prove a nice secondary location to the increasingly dull basement. I suspect it’ll only be a matter of time before one of the people that everyone assumes is somewhat unhinged turns out to be babbling a prophecy. Torchwood has had one original plot this season. We wouldn’t want anyone to strain themselves.

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