Golly. Well. That was a bit of a busy episode. To observe good spoiler etiquette I’ll leave the post mortem on the ending until further down the page, in case anyone’s accidentally opened this and doesn’t want to know. So let’s waffle about Martha Jones and Alan Dale for a bit to create something of a visual barrier.
Yes, Martha’s back and she’s qualified as a doctor. Apparently upon qualification she received a ‘feisty’ upgrade, seeing as she’s now full of sassy backchat to anyone and everyone. That’s probably the result of taking a character that was previously part of a double act and making them go solo. It’s not… bad, but it does take a bit of getting used to. Actually, this is the third time that someone has been introduced as a sort-of extra team member this series and made it better – James Marsters, Rhys, and now Martha (not Adam. That was just silly).
Still, Martha’s in town to investigate a series of suspicious deaths in South Wales between which no-one can find an obvious connection (never let it be said that the BBC is losing its topicality. Or respect for the dead.) It soon turns out that Alan Dale – I’m NOT doing Jim Robinson jokes as I genuinely feel quite sorry for the man that he never seems able to shake the eighties off – is running medical trials with an ominously-huge-but-surprisingly-weak insect. Isn’t it a generally accepted fact that an insect our size would be able to lift up the Canary Wharf tower with one leg?
Even with that left out the episode, the plot developed such a massive arch that I was very surprised that this wasn’t a double bill – there’s a wonder drug, Martha goes undercover as a medical test subject (secretly creeping around the medical facility at night in the LOUDEST SHOES EVER MADE), lots of people start exploding with insects, and she’s potentially next. All a bit predictable, but competently done. For Torchwood.
Still, it seems odd just last week, shots of the mayfly were being trailed inside BBC Two idents. Perhaps we’re going to hear more from the medical labs later in the series, considering how it also wasn’t explained why they were so powerful, nor why they have so many aliens to hand.
On an unrelated side note, I used to live with two people who underwent medical trials in South Wales. I haven’t heard from them in a bit. Torchwood may potentially need reclassifying to the Factual section of iPlayer some time soon.
THE MAHOOSIVE ENDING
Of course, this was all just passing the time before Alan Dale accidentally killed off the wrong Torchwood member. Gwen’s about four metres to the left, Al! What a blunder – and actually a loss to the programme. Tosh and Owen were finally coming to an end of their period of faff and get it together. Owen and Martha were working and clashing quite nicely on medical stuff. Indeed, bringing Martha in this week showed that having two people doing the same thing actually works quite well, rather than everyone bringing their own severely delineated niche to the Torchwood table.
Of course, by the nature of the programme, death is hardly final. But at least this shows that the peripheral comings and goings to the Torchwood team might stick as something more permanent – which, as something to mix up the characters, is much needed. It would be good to get Owen back. And more time agents. And give Rhys a full-time job. And let Alan Dale come back from the dead to shoot Gwen properly.
Read the previous week’s Torchwood review here.