In brief: What happened next”¦ run!
John Fay has perhaps the uncomfortable position of following on from the, dare I say it, explosive series opener. Now all the pieces are in play, how does he proceed?
We can’t really expect massive new revelations to come screaming at us from our television sets just yet”¦ it’s only the second episode. So that said”¦ well… he fares a damn sight better than I might have otherwise expected.
The Torchwood team have been torn to pieces. Quite literally (like what I did there? No? Anyone? Damn). Gwen stumbles away, and there’s some nice quick cuts of her own perception”¦ muted sound and shaky vision. She’s held back from the site though by two seemingly concerned paramedics who pull her into an ambulance saying to themselves “No witnesses.” The following sequence shows quite nicely Gwen’s current state of mind.
Ianto meanwhile, literally stumbles out from the wreckage of the Hub. And I mean, wreckage. I do wonder exactly how badly the Hub was destroyed mind because I didn’t see much that reminded me of the set. More generic girders and rubble. But then I’m not a keen Torchwood watcher. Please feel free to correct me! The dust covered and worn Mr. Jones then has to promptly make a run for it as a sniper starts taking shots”¦
As for Jack”¦ well”¦ it’s not spoiling much to say that he lives through this death. But as one character notes, given the way he comes back and what he has to go through, perhaps he would have been better staying dead”¦
Splitting up the team like this works. It provides ample material to keep this hour running quite nicely. The main story on the approaching alien menace, the 456, and the kids’ eerie possessions does take a back burner for most of the hour though. This is no big loss as it gives the plot time to twist and turn as the Torchwood team scramble to protect themselves and their loved ones from the female assassin Johnson, nicely portrayed by Liz May Brice, and her armed soldiers. Her introduction in the previous episode, particularly her cold dispatch of a junior officer, was just enough to get us interested, but her attempts here are downright vicious. What she does to Jack is smart, and the way she says it, sinister. We know our heroes’ are in peril”¦
That said, the tension from the main alien threat still permeates throughout the hour, thanks to the cuts back to London and the government department being overseen by John Frobisher. In particular, when the children announce that the 456 will be here “”¦tomorrow”¦” and the government continues to prepare for their arrival according to some very specific instructions”¦ you can hear more pieces of the puzzle slotting into place. Some very important questions are then brought to our attention by Lois Habiba, the charming and apparently very quick study secretary for said department ““ just who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys?
Thanks to some well written and performed moments, there is good humour present throughout the whole. It’s never enough to completely dismiss the bubbling tension, but it is enough to keep us interested and aware. It makes the characters more human and relatable. Rhys is used to fine effect as a comedic foil to Gwen’s more serious, intoned understandings of the situation.
I think Ianto still wins with his “Underappreciated ones” lines, mind!
I suppose it helps the episode starts grim and fraught, moves out into slightly warmer territory, dives back into the tension, and then back to the warmth. There’s enough to keep you involved and keep you watching.
As Gwen and Rhys launch a hastily planned assault of their own, I did have to keep my tongue firmly in cheek as I pondered the chances of their action (oh so difficult being vague!) and by the time all hope is lost, and Ianto shows up to save the day in a fantastically crowd pleasing moment that reminds you exactly who’s the parent show of this young pup”¦ I was properly entertained!
Good effects, good make up (a few particular examples, see Jack, which reminds you exactly why this show isn’t Doctor Who) and nicely simmering music all thrown into the mix, and you have here a very nice continuation of the first episode.
The team have been blown apart, hunted, and have now regrouped. It’s a slightly slower and contains less new set up for later episodes piece (the 456 and their natures aside!), instead encapsulating on what came before and building upon it (and I very much liked the short cuts back to Jack’s daughter Alice and her son. I wonder where that might be going”¦), but I refuse to call it filler because it didn’t feel like filler. This was necessary for what came before and what must now come after.
It was an extremely solid and worthwhile continuation of the first episode”¦ however”¦ could we commence with the ass kicking now?
3 and a half JCB trucks out of 5.
See you”¦ “tomorrow.”