Interesting fact: the character of Rhys was originally supposed to be played by a CGI version of the dragon on the Welsh flag, voiced by Tom Jones.
Not 100 per cent true, but Rhys is the Welsh heart of the show (did you know it was set in Cardiff?), so it was perhaps inevitable that he was brought into Torchwood proper. Gwen, or ‘Man’ for short, has now spent almost a series and a half keeping Rhys in the dark – possibly literally, as Rhys so far has been so dumb that flicking the light switch would probably just send him to sleep. Still, it’s difficult to work for Torchwood and have a personal life. The programme might have snuck that one past you, seeing as they hardly ever mention it.
Setting aside their personal lives – because they’re hard to balance with working for Torchwood – Rhys discovered an alien being cut up while still alive, and became the inside man to a lucrative market of growing kebab meat. With all the Rhys business we didn’t really get much ‘plot’ this week, although there may have been a battery chicken morality lesson. There certainly wasn’t an economics one – can you really employ six men, source industrial quantities of ketamine, pay off delivery men and still make a tidy profit from cheap meat? (No.)
Rhys himself is actually rather entertaining, approaching everything with invigorating gusto. Should he join the team proper then I doubt he’ll be a bit too daft to be good at the moody walking in arrowhead formation, but he is a darn sight more interesting to watch. (Interestingly, if the BBC get on and add the programme to iPlayer, skip forward to 10 minutes in when Gwen tells him about Torchwood. Gwen has man’s hands! Actual man’s hands! She doesn’t really have much room to accuse Rhys of being ham-fisted, you know.)
The team might actually start working if Rhys is brought in to divert Gwen from being, well, Gwen. Our teeny tiny baby bird Tosh is lusting after Owen in the most wide-eyed way possible. The preview of next week’s show wasn’t crystal clear but there was a lot of throwing of people onto beds. Which is lucky, considering she’s about two eps away from just rubbing her bare breasts against him while he disinterestedly does some ‘science’.
Ianto, meanwhile, has come out the mood he’s been in so far this series, and become the useful quipper. During a dark discussion about the regenerating alien, Tosh suggests “We could feed the world”; he suggests “We could release a single”. He’s still getting in his essential two distant knowing glances with Jack, but he’s now proving useful to pierce the unnecessarily sombre tone that often creeps in.
Besides, if Rhys comes into the programme, then Jack can spend all his time making cheap innuendo at his receptionist. Her face in response to some inference about his ability to last all night was like Ruth Madoc channelling a seaside postcard. Especially if Rhys stays in the trucking business, there’s no end to the innuendo possibilities: I’ve been grabbing the stick but it’s not responsive; I’ve got a problem with the lorry and need a hand to pump the Jack; let’s go and have Welsh sex in a truck. Heck, there’s a fully-fledged Torchwood spin-off in there.
The big finale in the warehouse was daftly mawkish, and could have done with a few cracks from Ianto. It’s always impossible to care about CGI characters, really, especially when you’re just feeling a bit hungry because they won’t stop talking about pies and meat. It was just all a bit Star Trek IV to care about a big anonymous blubbery mammal. Heck knows it hasn’t worked with Gwen; it’s not going to start here.
Read the previous week’s Torchwood review here.