In brief: Torchwood “2”. Steal. Tension”¦ tension”¦ more tension”¦
Well that first half hour was fun! Second half”¦ tense fun!
Now that the gang are back together, plus Rhys (!), they start to pick up the pieces and while they don’t quite get down to my requested ass kicking from yesterday’s review, they do go on a more ingenious form of offence by gathering intelligence and working on coming back from being one step behind the government.
It’s very entertaining as the gang enters their new base of operations, Torchwood “2”, and start to appropriate the necessary equipment and supplies ““ think “Hustle” on the small scale. My particular delight was Ianto’s swooping in on a customer sat a small table, cut on cheek and still getting away with it.
Once suited and booted (for Jack a big deal) they crack open the Torchwood server on the internet and start to use the software on there to work out exactly what’s going on (does that work? Can people do that? How clever”¦). The team dynamic is genuinely warming as they banter and work; perhaps another nod towards its parent show?
Regardless, all this good humour would be without purpose if there wasn’t some alien threat still brewing in the background and oh it so does brew. It’s surely a nod to the testament of the writing and plotting of this series that I found it bloody brilliant that almost bang on the two and a half hour mark, the 456 make their arrival in style in a column of fire, straight into Floor 13 and the tank of gas that the government has been building for them. That is exactly halfway through the episode, through the series.
And it’s this second half hour where the fun and humour dissipates away and it becomes more about ramping up the tension. I didn’t expect to see the 456 immediately after their arrival in the tank, but I was still on edge as Frobisher approached the tank, those dark shapes just hovering outside of view. I was a little disappointed in the gunk thrown at the inside of the walls which reminded me a little too much of old Saturday morning kids tv shows, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to know just what the heck was in there!
And surely, for those last twenty minutes”¦ it’s a very, very hard balancing act to keep ramping up the tension, whilst cutting back between two different location scenes in which repeating dialogue is shown, which we as the audience have just seen a split second ago, whilst throwing in the occasional comic aside (oh Ianto. Gwen. Rhys. Never leave J), effectively showing us a tank full of gas and a shadow”¦ and it working. It occurred to me that it shouldn’t be working, by all accounts, I should be exasperated that I’m watching Ianto repeat exactly what the 456 just said, but it works! I couldn’t stop watching, waiting, wanting to know what the 456 want!
And now we know. We definitely know. We sort of knew. We suspected. But now we know. We just don’t know why.
This tension teased throughout the episode, and then ramped up in those last 20 minutes, was nicely developed. For example, when Jack’s daughter, Alice, walks outside her house and you just realise that she knows something is wrong, it’s brilliant. It’s a short sequence. Only about 3 minutes in length, but as she grabs her son, and arms herself, and tells him to play a game she taught him when he was younger”¦ it’s quick, it’s clever, it gives her some history as we know a certain someone must have prepared her”¦ and her “showdown” of sorts with assassin Johnson is brilliant. In a few short lines I hated Johnson, couldn’t understand her motives or attitudes, and was surprised by her frank honesty.
And Alice makes one believable threat against her.
Or how about the scene where Jack, suddenly understanding exactly who else the people were that were killed on the same day Johnson tried to kill him, drives off in a rush”¦ and the next we see him he’s standing inside Frobisher’s house”¦ near his family”¦ followed by that phone call to the man himself. It’s a well-written scene. And both Barrowman and Capaldi do very well with it.
And as for Frobisher… Brave man. Smart man. Foolish man. He’s doing what he genuinely believes he has to do, and I suppose he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. But exactly what are his motives? Why is it Frobisher? Is it just because he is a middleman that he’s involved? Or has it always been planned by the government that a middleman would have to be in charge? So many questions!
The children. Loved the scene on the council estate as Ianto’s husband in law makes the most of a government curfew on kids not being allowed outside. Loved how every child in the world announced the 456’s arrival with words, and by pointing straight at Britain. You’d think a few heads would be turning now so of course”¦
Loved the showdown in government between American general and British Prime Minister. How proper. How necessary.
Honestly, I’m not sure what just happened. This episode wasn’t at all what I was expecting”¦ and yet it was! It was exactly what I needed to see rather than what I wanted. How exhilarating!
The only big disappointment I had was the ending, which I could see coming”¦ I just hoped they would do something else with it. Perhaps Clem freaking out but then maybe the softly softly approach works better and they’ll capitalize on it more with Day Four.
It’s an episode where nothing particularly new or revelatory was had (ending aside”¦) but what it did with what it had was brilliant. What it built upon was nice.
So, what on EARTH will happen next? And more importantly, Jack, just what the heck did you think you were doing?!
Director Euros Lyn, writers Russell T. Davies and James Moran. Awesome. Thank you.
3 and a half hidden cameras inside contact lenses out of 5.