Remember when Torchwood was unwatchable nonsense? I do. It sure made reviewing it easy. Just a few bitchin’ comments – Gwen has man’s hands, Jack is wasted, the plot was drawn by monkeys – and the job would be done.
Well, that’s blown out the window. Apart from Gwen having man’s hands, as that’s not going to change any time soon. Instead, we got to see the programme exploit its limits to its emotional potential – namely, kill off a character and see him die instantly, then slowly, then quite possibly not at all.
Last week I spent a fair little while eulogising Owen, the team’s doctor-cum-rapist. Well, I shouldn’t have bothered. The Torchwood team, unable to cope with the grief of losing a vaguely close work colleague (remind me what makes them better than the rest of us at dealing with emotional deelies?) decide to resurrect him. But the resurrection glove used to bring him back also makes him Death, or something like Death, in the same way that Doctor Who brought back the Devil but not the Devil, in case Christian fundamentalists start gathering outside TV Centre.
It’s quite useful being able to bring dead characters back. We can watch the rest of the cast say goodbye at least once a week, creating an avalanche of emotion. Plus the schtick of bringing Jack back once an episode has worn very thin, so hopefully this might be permanent.
Still, bringing Death back from the ‘dead’, or wherever Death has been hiding, means that the local hospital gets to test out their special Torchwood alarm to evacuate patients in case of supernatural incidences. This means that the team can storm into wards announcing who they are as an authoritative means of getting people out. What happened to their secret identities? They might as well start wearing neon jackets like construction workers to alert the public to their function. Namely, drawing attention to themselves as much as possible, while simultaneously sighing about how hard it is to keep a life outside of your favourite Welsh spooky institute.
Apart from Tosh, of course. While I was mid-eulogising last week I noted how sad it was that Tosh and Owen could never get together. Well, now they can! Owen survives, and he helps to save leukaemia victims at the same time! Well, the child he saves was either a leukaemia or alopecia sufferer. That debate is never entered into.
But the important thing is that Owen is sticking around. The opening credits don’t need refilming on Cardiff’s finest car parks, at least for a while. Owen has a bit of time to work out whether he’s dead or alive. And Cardiff has time to decide whether Torchwood is a secret institute that they have never heard of, or a run-of-the-mill service that many as well rename themselves ‘Weevils Meals on Wheels’.