by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Greeks Bearing Gifts"

Posted 5240 days ago in by Catriona

In the last five minutes, I’ve had a complicated conversation with Nick about where I fit in the spectrum of things he likes (apparently, I come first, but in a meta fashion, so he can still claim that his Mac products are technically first) and then failed to get Safari to work properly.

This doesn’t really bode well for the live-blogging of this episode. Let’s hope things don’t start crashing unexpectedly during the process.

(On a related note, my parents are visiting, but I doubt they’ll contribute in any active fashion to the actual live-blogging process.)

Somehow, what with this episode being called “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” I’m not anticipating a happy ending. But I am anticipating a giant wooden horse. And possibly some Romulans.

Now we’re in Cardiff in 1812, with a soldier and a prostitute. One of them is hitting the other, and I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which. Oh, wait: now she’s scratched his face, so really they’re hitting each other. But she, running away—and I think we can all agree that that’s the sensible solution—sees a series of bright lights in the sky. When the soldier comes up behind her with his musket, she’s grinning at him. He asks “Do whores have prayers?” and shoots her—and we’re thrown back into the present day.

Where Torchwood turn up at a dig site, to see the same woman, with contemporary clothes, watching from behind the safety lines.

Jack is picking up traces of alien technology—and I failed to notice what happens next while my mother is saying she doesn’t like Quincy. (Quincy, it turns out, after we move through a variety of other names, including “Gareth,” means Owen. I don’t like him, either.)

Wow, Torchwood is unprofessional. And why aren’t Gwen and Owen keeping their affair secret? And why are they being so terribly cruel to Tosh—and the whole giggly “Sorry, private joke” thing is childish and malicious.)

Meanwhile, the blonde woman we saw at the beginning and at the dig site is picking Tosh up at a bar. She’s chatting about Tosh’s history and her work for Torchwood—she says she’s a scavenger, a collector.

Cut to slightly later, where Tosh is quite clearly both quite drunk and intoxicated by the idea that she has someone to talk to, someone who isn’t malicious or dismissive.

Then the woman hands Tosh a pendant and tells her to put it on—and when she does, she can hear the thoughts of the people in the bar. She’s not finding it exciting, because it’s too overwhelming: she can’t block the sounds out, until the blonde woman starts talking to her, telling her to concentrate only on her thoughts—but when she hears the blonde woman thinking about how she wants to kiss Tosh, Tosh freaks out a little and tears the necklace off.

The blonde gives the pendant to Tosh, and Tosh says she’ll show the others, but the blonde says no, she won’t: she’s quite certain that Tosh won’t reveal it.

And, sure enough, Tosh is wearing the necklace and listening to people’s thoughts. Gwen is thinking about Owen and Owen is wondering what Tosh would be like in bed: “Catholic but grateful,” he thinks. Of course, all she can really hear is them thinking about each other, which isn’t something I’d want to hear.

Ianto, on the other hand, is thinking about how this, clearing up after people and brewing drinks, is all his life is, and he’s so full of pain it feels as though rats are gnawing his stomach.

Tosh tears the pendant off.

But when she gets home, Blondie is waiting for her.

Tosh, naturally, is freaking out, because she says these are people who should like her, but she can hear what they really think of her—but Blondie says that it’s not as simple as that, that people do like her, but they’re complicated.

She puts the pendant back on Tosh, and asks Tosh to read her thoughts, which Tosh says are “not exactly pure” and “pretty graphic.” And then they snog. Well, this is Torchwood.

Oddly, the girl-on-girl snogging is not dwelt on to the same extent that Torchwood dwells on boy-on-boy snogging.

Instead, we’re skipping straight forward to Tosh’s post-shagging despair.

But Blondie, after taunting Tosh a little about Owen, tells Tosh to put the pendant back on, to go to a public space and listen for something that she’ll know when she hears it. (She also gives Tosh another name, other than Mary, but I can’t spell it and don’t have time to check.)

And sure enough, Tosh, standing in an open space, hears a brain saying, “I’m going to kill them, I’m going to kill them” over and over again. We follow the man as he heads out to collect his son for a custody visit: he has a reluctant son and an ex-wife who talks non-stop about how much nicer her new man is.

Until her ex-husband pulls out a shotgun, that is.

I remain unconvinced that being shot with a shotgun is “just like falling asleep.” But we’ll never know because Tosh smacks him on the back of the head with a poker.

Back at Torchwood, we find that the skeleton from the dig site (which Owen had indicated was a woman dead from a gunshot wound) is actually a man dead of some unknown trauma.

Tosh, talking to Jack, asks about the person that Blondie mentioned: Philocteces? Maybe? Greek is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, you might say, it’s all (wait for it) Greek to me.

Sorry about that.

Anyway, he was an archer recruited for the Trojan War and then marooned on the island of Lemnos for about ten years. I’m sure that’s metaphorically significant.

Speaking of Blondie, she and Tosh are in a wine bar, and Blondie is first snogging Tosh and then suggesting that she’s not as valued in the Torchwood hierarchy as she thinks she is.

This is clearly not a healthy relationship.

I would recap the next scene with Tosh and Owen (rambling about the skeleton/technobabble), but I can really sum it up like this: I really, really hate Owen. “Go do your computer stuff and think about shoes, okay?” I really, really hate Owen.

Of course, Gwen comes in and, since Tosh is wearing the pendant, she’s rapidly driven out of the room. She stands and stares at the hardware they pulled out of the ground, when Jack comes down and challenges her about hitting the homicidal man with the poker.

Jack, oddly enough, doesn’t believe her story about hearing the homicidal man muttering his plans to himself as he walked.

Jack’s not stupid, you know—he knows there’s something not quite right. And Tosh herself is freaking out, because she can’t hear Jack’s thoughts. There’s nothing there.

So when Blondie turns up that night (with crisps and coffee), Tosh says she’s giving Torchwood the pendant, even though they’ll want to talk to Blondie.

So Blondie reveals her true nature.

MY DAD: Oh my god! It’s the deep booming voice again! She’s going to take her face off now! She’s going to take her face off!

I knew we shouldn’t have let him watch “City of Death.”

But it’s true that she does, sort off, take her face off, to reveal that she’s an alien.

TOSH: So I’m shagging a woman and an alien.
BLONDIE: Which is worse?
TOSH: Well, I know which my parents would say.

Blondie explains something of her civilisation—and explains that the pendant is how her people communicate, since speech is “kind of gross to watch.” (She says this while lighting a cigarette, which seems a little inconsistent.)

Blondie has rather dropped even the pretense of being nice, but she refuses point-blank to go with Tosh to Torchwood, saying that ours is a culture of invasion, not a culture that wants to learn about alien civilisations.

This is balanced by Owen’s determination to learn what killed the man he has on his autopsy table—while Jack stands around on buildings, as is his wont, and Tosh, sitting with Blondie, breaks down under the effects of the pendant. She says it’s like a curse, like something that the gods send.

Owen, meanwhile, is tracing the removal of hearts back through time. He rings Jack and says, “You need to see this.” I say to Nick, “I think if I’m talking to Jack, I’m going to be more specific than that.”

Tosh, meanwhile, has broken down under the pressure of the pendant and Blondie’s conversation, and takes Blondie into Torchwood.

But Jack’s waiting for them, telling a long rambling story about a friend of his who had a sex-change operation—the point of that, he says, is that since then, he’s always been a bit worried when a friend starts behaving out of character.

He explains to Tosh—who is telling the story of how Blondie is a political prisoner, just as Blondie told her—that the transport is a two-man transport: Blondie killed her guard, took over the prostitute’s body, and killed the soldier. Since then, she’s been tearing people’s hearts out.

Tosh is wearing the pendant and she can hear her colleague’s voices—she stops Owen from grabbing Blondie, but Blondie grabs Tosh instead and puts a knife to her throat. Tosh can’t cope with the thoughts and the knife, but Jack projects his thoughts to her, telling her to do nothing until he says so.

He hands the transport over to Mary, but he’s set it to activate, and changed the co-ordinates to the centre of the sun.

JACK: It shouldn’t be hot. I mean, we sent her there at night and everything.
TOSH: You killed her.
JACK: Yes.

Well, that’s Jack for you. He’s more than a little past Chaotic Good in this episode.

But now Tosh has to face the scorn and distress of her colleagues, who are aware that she could read their minds for a couple of days. Owen is furious, but Gwen is less judgmental, because she knows that she’s on shaky moral ground herself.

But she does tell Tosh she should spend more time in love, because it suits her.

I have to say, this is a surprisingly hard episode to live-blog. Lots of talking, not much action.

Tosh and Jack chat about the pendant, and Tosh decides to smash it under her heel, because it’s a curse.

TOSH: Why can’t I read your mind?
JACK: I don’t know.
MY MAM: He doesn’t have one.

Tosh is still struggling with the after-effects of the pendant, but there really isn’t anything she can do about that. She’s just going to have to work through it—as we end the episode with an incredibly long pan out over Cardiff.

My mother tells me I need to point out that she thought that episode was tortured and not very good—she’s quite insistent that I put her opinion on the blog. Feel free to disagree with her in the comments.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Eighty-Two

Posted 5242 days ago in by Catriona

NICK: Why did you get rid of that?!
ME: Because it was revolting, I told you it was revolting, and I asked you to get rid of it ages ago.
NICK: Well, it’s gone now. So it’s almost as if I had got rid of it.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Eighty-One

Posted 5244 days ago in by Catriona

While showing Nick the variety of d20 jewelry I’d managed to find on the Internet this morning:

NICK: Now that is excellent.
ME: Isn’t it? And it’s the coolest one I found, too.
NICK: No earrings though?
ME: Well, not on ThinkGeek. There are earrings on Etsy. But I don’t think I want d20 earrings. I want 2d10 earrings.
NICK: Hehe.
ME: Because if I can roll for initiative with my necklace, I need to be able to deal damage with my earrings.
NICK: Yeah!
ME: Otherwise what use is my d20? I can attack but not damage.
NICK: That’s right. Unless you roll 20 each time. Then it’s auto max damage.
ME: And we know I’m not going to roll 20 with my necklace every time.

Live-Blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: "Fear Her"

Posted 5244 days ago in by Catriona

I would normally begin a live-blogging session with a brief, pithy account of my day thus far. But I can’t. So I shall only say this: I am so, so, so tired, and I haven’t even had a class yet this semester. If I don’t sleep through the night at least once this week, I think I might die.

Also, it’s going to cost me $700 to repair my car. (Which could be worse, I suppose.)

So it’s convenient that I really hate this episode.

And here we are for the London Olympics 2012. It looks to be a normal, if slightly Edward Scissorhands style, suburb, but there are missing-child posters up on telephone poles and a sense of foreboding.

RANDOM MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN: May, are you all right?
RANDOM OLD WOMAN: No, love I’m not.
RANDOM MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN: Do you want me to call a doctor?
RANDOM OLD WOMAN: Doctor can’t help.

Ow! An anvil hurts when it bounces off the top of your head.

Either way, the old woman is begging people to take their children inside, but as we see a young girl scribbling and singing “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,” a young boy disappears out of his own garden.

Then the TARDIS materialises the wrong way in between two shipping containers, so he can’t open the doors—he has to dematerialise and rematerialise so he and Rose can get out and enjoy the 30th Olympiad.

The Doctor is blathering about cakes with edible ball-bearings (they’re called “cachous,” I believe, Doctor), but Rose spots the missing-child posters and makes the Doctor behave himself for once.

Of course, once she draws his attention to it, he’s off down the street without paying her any further attention. Sure, he has great hair, Rose (apparently). But I bet he doesn’t listen to you talk about your day—and God forbid he would do the washing up.

Then Rose helps push a Mini down the street, and I have no idea how this relates to the rest of the narrative.

Nick laughs at this episode, and I tell him to behave himself.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is blathering in the front garden of the boy who disappeared in the beginning, and the father is not terribly impressed. Honestly? I can’t say I blame the father in this instance.

The Doctor claims to be a policeman, but no one believes him.

Instead, the people start eating each other—blaming the council workers who are fixing the roads in preparation for the Olympics. Of course, I assume it’s coincidental that when they say “people like him,” they’re talking to the only Afro-Caribbean character on screen. Doctor Who has done some interesting work with immigration issues in the last couple of seasons, but not in this episode.

Oh, the plot? The Doctor is sniffing things (literally sniffing: Rose asks him if he wants a hanky) and blathering on about his “manly hairy hands.”

The girl we saw in the beginning is still drawing—her mother asks why she drew Dale (the boy who disappeared in the beginning) so sad, but the girl—Chloe—says she didn’t draw him sad: Dale made himself sad, so she’s going to draw him a friend.

The mother tries to distract her with the Olympic torch, but I’m with Chloe on this—the Olympics are dull.

Chloe is drawing Dale a cat, just as Rose sees and tries to befriend a tabby cat. But the cat dashes into a box, and when Rose turns the box up, the cat is done.

The Doctor is thrilled that something has enough power to pull a living organism out of space and time.

DOCTOR: I mean, this baby is like, “Whoa, I’m having some of that.”

What is wrong with me that I’m not seeing the dialogue in this as charming? It could be my general tiredness. This episode just feels distinctly flat to me.

Rose and the Doctor are wandering around looking for clues, and Rose finds a garage door that is banging ominously—behind it is an animated ball of string. Well, no—it’s an animated scribble. We just saw Chloe scribbling frantically on a piece of paper, furious that her drawings weren’t working the way she wanted.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor comes to the same conclusion as I just did. Which wasn’t really a conclusion, because we just saw it.

But Rose remembers the girl she saw in the street: Rose says even her own mother looked scared of her. (Rose’s conclusion is based on an apparent assumption that all children can and do draw, but that’s not Rose’s fault.) Chloe’s mother is not keen to let the Doctor in, but even though the Doctor doesn’t try to persuade her at all, Trish (the mother) lets them both into the house and, in passing, tells them that her husband was a bastard.

(And why would Rose ask why Chloe’s father isn’t involved in her upbringing? Rose of all people is familiar with the concept of a single-parent household.)

The plot? Oh, Rose is hiding in a cupboard and then sneaking into Chloe’s room.

In Chloe’s room, she sees the drawings (and we see that they’re changing, but not changing on camera), but she’s startled by something banging in Chloe’s wardrobe.

Chloe is downstairs: she’s aggressive and says she “tried to help them, but they don’t stop moaning.”

Rose, meanwhile, opens Chloe’s magic wardrobe, but instead of finding Narnia, she finds a drawing of a face of man, a drawing that bathes the room and Rose in red light.

Trish is furious and distressed that Chloe would draw her father. But she won’t accept that Chloe’s drawings are actually moving until the Doctor hypnotises her—or whatever you call that thing he does where he convinces people to trust him even though they’ve only known him for five minutes, and he’s been really rude to them and stuck his fingers in their jars of food.

Oh, wow! He’s doing a Vulcan mind meld on Chloe! That’s awesome. I wonder if Spock taught him how to do that.

Oooh, Shadow Proclamation! I wonder if that will come back at any point?

There’s been some technobabble about what Chloe can do, and now Chloe is whispering about being an alien, separated from her siblings. (Apparently, they’re intensely empathic beings, and they require their siblings and the imaginary worlds they build while floating through space for thousands of years. And this one has been separated from its siblings and its pod—the pod is drawn to heat, which will probably be a plot point later.)

At this point, the wardrobe doors start banging and the man’s voice behind it starts screaming again, but Trish’s singing to Chloe calms both of them down—her daughter and the drawing of the man.

I really don’t think Rose should be lecturing Trish about how she copes with the recent, sudden, traumatic death of her abusive, drunken husband. Rose is, after all, about nineteen. I’d be furious if she lectured me about my parenting.

The alien is looking to replicate her family, and we see a shot of the Olympic stadium as the Doctor talks about the vast number of siblings that the alien would have. But oddly the Doctor doesn’t seem to wonder about whether or not the alien would seek to trap a large group.

Ah! And there, as Rose says to the Doctor he doesn’t know about children, the Doctor says, “I was a dad once.” Oh, we know, Doctor. You were a grandfather once, too. But I don’t think your nineteen-year-old girlfriend needs to know that, do you? Or she doesn’t want to know that, at least.

In the interim, Chloe has drawn the Doctor and the TARDIS into a picture.

Cut to the Olympic torch getting even closer to the stadium.

Rose, on her own, chats to the council worker, asking him if anything has landed in the street—he chats about his lovely smooth road surface, which Rose starts hacking to pieces with an axe, trying to find a spaceship. Which she does, but I don’t think that’s much comfort to the council worker.

Yes, why did Chloe’s mother leave her alone? That makes no sense!

But Chloe has drawn the entire stadium of people—80,000 spectators plus athletes—into a drawing. This wouldn’t have been possible if her mother hadn’t left her alone.

Thankfully, Rose has an axe, with which to chop down a young girl’s bedroom door.

Wait, what?

Chloe is now drawing the entire world on the wall. But the Doctor has managed to add something to the drawing—how? Does his sonic screwdriver have a crayon setting?—and Rose realises that the Olympic torch will provide the heat necessary to restart the alien spaceship.

Wait, what?

The Olympic torch is a beacon of hope and fortitude and courage and love? No. It’s a torch. It’s a bloody expensive torch. And that’s it.

Oh, whatever. Rose throws the spaceship into the torch, and all the children reappear. The Doctor doesn’t, but why not?

Wait, if all the drawings have come to life, that means all of them have—and Chloe and Trish are trapped in the house with the dead, abusive husband. Except this is different, because he wasn’t a real person trapped in a picture, but just a memory and a nightmare.

But apparently he can be banished by a rousing chorus of “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.” As someone largely raised in Australia, I question whether that song has any particular magic to it. But what would I know?

The Doctor still isn’t back, but the spectators in the Olympic stadium are. But the torch bearer is in some trouble. He might be in trouble—well, he fell onto the ground.

The commentator asks whether the Olympic dream is dead. Well, the torch bearer is, apparently.

But, no! The Doctor grabs the torch and—leaping over the dead body of the previous torch bearer—carries it triumphantly to the cauldron. Because the torch is a beacon of hope and love! Except the love that might extend to a man who has collapsed in the street in the middle of a public event and might actually be dead.

I’ll repeat that: the torch bearer has collapsed in the street, but no one cares.

Some blathering about cakes and a reunion between Rose and the Doctor.

ROSE: They keep on trying to split us up, but they never, ever will.

Ow! And I’d only just shaken the headache from the last anvil to hit me.

But the Doctor says there’s a storm coming—and that’s the credits.

Only two episodes left this season, but thankfully they’re both better than this one.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Eighty

Posted 5245 days ago in by Catriona

ME: We forgot to get wine.
NICK: So we did! We just walked out of there.
ME: I wonder why?
NICK: I got cranky in the supermarket and just walked out.
ME: That’s right! And I was too busy trying to calm you down.
ME: Whoa, Nelly.
NICK: Easy there, tiger.
NICK: Nelly?
ME: Tiger?
NICK: It’s all about self-image versus how others see you.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seventy-Nine

Posted 5247 days ago in by Catriona

ME: If you have a lump on your skull, don’t you think you should get that checked out?
NICK: Oh, it’s always been like that.
ME: Really?
NICK: Yep.
ME: Why do you have a lumpy skull?
NICK: It’s to annoy . . .
NICK: The joke would work better if I could remember the name of the people it’s supposed to annoy . . .
NICK: Phrenologists! It’s to annoy phrenologists.

He’s right: it didn’t really work as a joke.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seventy-Eight

Posted 5247 days ago in by Catriona

ME: I have got to read something that doesn’t have vampires in it. To restore my intellectual credibility.
NICK: Steven Brust! Oh, wait. He does.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seventy-Seven

Posted 5247 days ago in by Catriona

While discussing orange juice.

ME: I’m pretty sure we only bought it a fortnight ago.
NICK: Week before last, yeah.
ME: Well, that is the traditional definition of “a fortnight ago.”
NICK: I knew you were going to pull me up on that! I knew it!
ME: Then why did you say it?
NICK: Look, I sometimes just say things for the sake of the flow of conversation, rather than for any overt . . . thing.
ME: How is repeating what I say in a slightly different form contributing to the flow of conversation?
NICK: Just trust me on this.
ME: Why?
NICK: Because.
ME: Is this more flow of conversation?
NICK: No. No, the conversation stopped flowing some time ago.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Countrycide"

Posted 5247 days ago in by Catriona

This episode scared the living daylights out of me the first time I watched it. We’ll see how I cope with it the second time around.

Once we get past Clone, that is. I can’t say the ten minutes I’ve seen here and there have impressed me overly much.

Ah, Captain Jack standing on a building in the promo. Why does he like standing on buildings so much? And the last episode of Being Human tonight. Dammit: I’ve been loving this show.

And here’s Torchwood. It contains coarse language, horror themes, and violence this week. You have been warned.

Prologue. And slow-motion walking.

But here we are on a road: a blonde woman, in a car, driving under a lowering sky and saying she’ll be there as soon as she can, an hour and a half, tops. But there’s a body in the road. And she stops the car and leaps out, which probably makes her a braver woman than I am, though she does take a baseball bat with her.

Listen to the music here, and we see something dash across the road just before we see that the body is a dummy, with a football for a head. But in the interim, the woman’s tires have been deflated and her keys taken from the ignition. And she’s already noted that she’s lost signal on her phone.

And she’s dragged screaming out of her car.


Same road, same lowering sky. But this is the Torchwood vehicle, with everyone crammed into it. Apparently, a number of people have gone missing over the past few months, all in this area, and the bodies never found.

Cue Owen whinging about the countryside and the smell of grass. They’re all eating burgers apart from Tosh.

NICK: Even the immortal man doesn’t want hepatitis.
ME: Especially him, I would have thought.

They’re setting up camp, and Owen is being even more of a total bastard than usual, including totally demolishing Tosh after an innocent double entendre. (And then mocking her again for the fact that he was the last person she snogged.)

Man, I hate Owen.

Of course, Gwen started this game, and Owen’s humiliated by Tosh’s admission, so he tells everyone about snogging Gwen. Then Jack asks if non-human lifeforms are included, and Ianto brings everyone down by telling them that his last snog was with his dead Cyber-girlfriend.

IANTO: Sorry you mentioned it? Or sorry you’d forgotten?
NICK: Well, it only comes up in Chris Chibnell episodes, so that’s fair enough.

Man, I hate Owen so much in this episode. (This is the Gwen and Owen in the bushes scene, by the way.)

Gwen becomes aware that someone’s watching them, and she and Owen split to circle around the person—but the person is gone, and she nearly shoots Owen. Pity she doesn’t.

Then they see what looks like a blood-soaked bundle—and, oddly, is. It’s a flayed body, maybe just a torso, from the size of it. It’s revolting, either way.

The gang debates why the body has been dumped here—and then they hear an engine, which is, of course, the Torchwood vehicle being driven away, and over the tents. It’s all Owen’s fault for leaving the keys in the ignition.

Jack realises that the body dump in the woods was a diversion, and Gwen says that means they’ve been watched since they arrived.

Ianto tracks the car to a small village, where it has been stationery for some time. Tosh says it has the hallmarks of a trap, and Jack agrees, but they all walk down to the village anyway.

NICK: Bloody hell, guys. Fan out a bit.

But no: they walk, shoulder to shoulder, up to an old building: behind its windows, someone is panting in a disturbing fashion.

The team splits into two groups here: Ianto and Tosh to find the car, and the others to head into the pub, where you would anticipate finding people. But it’s silent and dark, though there’s money in the till.

Then Gwen finds another flayed body, and vomits—which comforts me a little, because it seems such a normal reaction. She and Jack flee the room, and head into another building, guns drawn. It looks an ordinary cottage, barring the pool of blood on the floor and the presence of another body.

GWEN: Don’t you ever get scared, Jack? Huh?

But Jack just wants to check the other houses.

Meanwhile, Ianto and Tosh are heading towards where the car is, apparently, parked. Tosh’s equipment is all in the car, which helps explain her anxiety. Tosh noisily kicks some buckets over for no apparent reason, while Ianto leaves her to check around the back of the building. Strange screaming noises have Tosh on edge.

There’s no more sign of life at the back than at the front, and Tosh makes some attempt to kick a door in, but to no avail. Ianto walks up the hill a way.

NICK: Ianto, a cameraman’s behind you! Look out!

By the time he turns back, Tosh is gone. And Ianto finally—finally!—gets his gun out.

NICK: Jack, have you ever considered training your team? Because I swear to God . . .

Back with Jack and Gwen, they’re heading into another cottage, but as they kick the door open, Gwen is shot by a shotgun-wielding maniac. Well, a terrified young boy with a shotgun. Jack and Owen grab her and shove her on a kitchen table, so Owen can examine her while Jack checks upstairs. Apparently, though, the wound is in a good location.

OWEN: Right, do you want a quip about feeling a small prick?
GWEN: No, but thanks for offering.

Owen tells her he has to retrieve the pellets, so she should just lie back and think of Torchwood.

I suppose she’s lucky she’s been shot with a shotgun, instead of a rifle? But, then, I’d rather have bad luck than that kind of luck.

Owen is much less of a total bastard in this scene.

Now, finally, Jack is worrying about Ianto and Tosh. Honestly, Jack! The boy with the shotgun is hysterical, telling Jack that “they” are too strong and not human. But he rejects the suggestion that they should check on Ianto and Tosh.

Ianto and Tosh, meanwhile, are in a basement somewhere. Well, it looks like a basement. Tosh wakes up, and Ianto says that “they” took the guns.

Tosh says she never met a cell she couldn’t get out of. I’ll remember that, come season two.

Ianto’s really not comfortable. But he says to Tosh that the others all share a facial expression, that the danger excites them. Ianto’s not coping with this, at all.

Tosh notices dozens and dozens of shoes, and wonders how many people have been down there and what happened to them. But the question of what happened to them isn’t so much of a mystery after they open the fridge and see the neat piles of flesh inside. They know, then, that they’re food.

Meanwhile, the others are barricading themselves in, to protect the boy. But there are noises and movements outside the house. The boy said they’d come back, and that’s what they’re worried about—especially when the lights go off.

For some reason, they’ve let the trigger-happy teenager have the shotgun again. But they’re not worried about that, because someone is coming up from the cellar, which, apparently, they didn’t bother to check when they barricaded themselves into the house.

Promiscuous shooting.

Keiran (the hysterical teenager) is dragged away. Jack tries to stop Gwen going after him, but she insists. Jack, meanwhile, insists that whatever was in the cellar took three bullets, so he should be able to find out what it is.

Meanwhile, Tosh and Ianto are trying to get out when a woman comes in, asking to see injuries: she says she’s a nurse, but says she can’t help them. It’s the harvest, she says, and it comes once every ten years. She’s been sent to take Tosh and Ianto to “them.”

Jack, in the cellar of the other house, looks for the body of the thing he shot, which he heard fall. There’s a blood trail, but the only body is a man in an anorak, who says he’ll tell them everything if they help him.

Jack tends to combine “helping” with “threatening.”

He successfully threatens the man into telling him everything, just as Owen and Gwen (who is surely less than useless: she can’t even stand up on her own) come across a police car, complete with policeman. But beyond him, they can see the “big house” of the village, where there’s a special meeting, and they make a break for it.

Tosh and Owen, meanwhile, are in another room, where they find a slaughterhouse. Tosh asks the woman who the creatures are, and do they look like us—but a man steps in and says “How else are we going to look?” and snogs the woman.

They knock down and bind Tosh and Ianto, and the man says they’ve found the boy, as well—that’s Keiran.

Tosh asks if he’s going to put them on meathooks, but he says no: he’s holding a baseball bat, and says meat needs to be tenderised first. Ianto manages to distract him long enough for Tosh to make a break for it, but the man chases after her with a machete. She hides in the undergrowth, while he laughs and says he knows she’s here.

Sure enough, as she leaps up to run, he grabs her, and says no one’s coming for him. But she kicks him in a sensitive area and legs it.

Cut to a chase through the woods scene that’s quite hard to recap. Tosh, of course, has her hands bound behind her back this whole time, which makes it harder for her to run. But as the man grabs her and starts choking her, Owen and Gwen come up with the policeman.

Tosh tells them that they’re cannibals, and Gwen tells the policeman to arrest the man—but the policeman says that would be unlikely, wouldn’t it? And he pulls his own gun on Owen.

There’s a brief, tense stand-off, though Nick thinks, and I think he’s right, that Gwen had a pretty clear shot before the policeman even took the safety off his gun.

Either way, Gwen and Owen are caught, and Tosh recaptured. Ianto is still alive, but unconscious—though that might not be a good thing, since they plan to bleed him like veal.

Well, that’s the plan before Jack drives in, all guns blazing, and just—not to put too fine a point on it—shoots everyone.

Oh, he doesn’t shoot his own men, though it might be a close-run thing.

Jack makes a move to shoot the ringleader in the head, but Gwen begs for a chance to question him. She says if she doesn’t find out why this happens, it’s just too much for her.

Gwen’s covered in blood and she asks the man to make her understand. He doesn’t know why she cares, but she says she’s seen things he wouldn’t believe, and this is the only thing she doesn’t understand. But the man simply says, “Well, keep on wondering.”

As Jack moves to drag him out, the man whispers to Gwen, “Because it made me happy.”

Everyone in the village is turned over to the police.

But Gwen, sitting on her sofa with Rhys, can’t cope with it. She says she’s changing, and so is how she sees the world. And as the extradiegetic voiceover turns to diegetic speech, we see she’s in Owen’s apartment, wearing one of his shirts for reasons that soon become apparent.

And that’s a bit of a blow to my love for Gwen.

Next week: Tosh-heavy episode.


Posted 5248 days ago in by Catriona

As I mentioned briefly, I’ve been at the annual conference for the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand for the past couple of days, where I presented a co-written paper called “Ariel and Australian Nineteenth-Century Fiction: A Case of Mistaken Attribution.”

Just in case you’re bubbling over with an uncontrollable desire to know what we were talking about, it was a paper tracing the misattribution of five long serials in the Sydney Mail (an early Australian newspaper) that have become known as the works of Eliza Winstanley, the Australian-trained actress on whom I worked for my Ph.D., when they’re actually the work of another author altogether.

It’s a distinctly old-school kind of academia, attribution studies. And I love it. Though I don’t have the patience for it as a full-time research focus, it taps into that part of my brain that, firstly, likes to think of myself as a collector and, secondly, prefers something concrete and empirical as the basis for my research, rather than theory that is closer to philosophy.

Oddly, though, that’s not entirely what I wanted to talk about. What I was thinking about here was something that showed the split in the conference and in the attendees.

Mind, I don’t think this split was a bad thing. Rather, I think the organisers did a marvellous job of showcasing the two faces of the conference theme: “The Limits of the Book.”

You see, the way it looked to me was this: the conference attendees were either librarians or scholars working in the (admittedly broad) field of literary studies. Of course, the two fields aren’t mutually exclusive and they aren’t impermeable categories (and they met perhaps most explicitly in the character of the scholarly bibliographers)—but they did tend to prompt different but sympathetic approaches to the idea of the limits of the book. Librarians and bibliographers were tending to think in terms of lost and missing books, of variant texts and disputed authorship. The rest of us were thinking of the limits of the book in terms of e-books, blogs, cover art, and blurbs—indeed, paratextual material of all kinds.

An awareness of the way in which paratextual material extends the limits of the book was one of the areas where the two (sympathetic) approaches overlapped most broadly.

But one aspect that intrigued me the most wasn’t really the explicit focus of any of the papers, but came up in more than one discussion session. That was the idea of marginalia.

I’ve never really been a scribbler in books—barring a couple of misguided semesters as an undergraduate, and even then I limited myself to scribbling in my own books.

But marginalia is fascinating on a number of levels. And not least (and I admit, here, that this is not my own insight, but something that arose out of the question sessions for a couple of papers) is this: marginalia is something that slips past the kind of digital scholarship that has made academia so much easier in the past twenty years.

The online MLA International Bibliography, for example, is far easier to navigate than the old physical volumes. OCR issues aside, online journals and newspapers are a far more convenient method of searching than microfilm copies—and have the added advantage of not making me seasick. And online library catalogues make many forms of study—including scholarly bibliography—much easier.

But marginalia slips past online library catalogues. How can it not? Marginalia isn’t always present in the book at the time at which it enters a library’s collection. How can you assess the marginalia of a collection, other than to physically walk up and down the shelves, pulling books down and looking for scribbles and interleaving? And how often would you need to keep doing that, while marginalia continues to be added to the books? How can you assess the extent and scholarly value of marginalia, other than physically reading it?

I’m not denying that digital scholarship aids the preservation of marginalia. Projects such as Early English Books Online preserve the marginalia in the copies of the books that they scan—but they don’t always note the presence of that marginalia in their entries for those books, because they aren’t always interested in what a sixteenth-century collator scribbled in a fourteenth-century text.

(And book-based social-networking projects such as Library Thing are generating their own form of marginalia, which will be of enormous value to future scholars.)

But marginalia is of enormous value now.

One paper I saw in the past couple of days talked about a new twist in the (long, long) history of the understanding of the variant texts of Piers Plowman through marginalia in a forgotten (late) edition.

And consider book historians—particularly those whom Jonathan Rose categorises as “new book historians,” the ones who are not as interested in what people read (through library records and sales figures) as they are in how people read. The personal reading experience of the common reader is notoriously difficult to resurrect after much time has passed, but marginalia tells us how one reader, at least, responded to a text.

I have no idea how marginalia can be more effectively traced and catalogued, though I wish I did.

But I do know that I’m following up two of the books mentioned in question sessions: William H. Sherman’s Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England and H. J. Jackson’s Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seventy-Six

Posted 5249 days ago in by Catriona

NICK: Mumble mumble mumble.
ME: What?
NICK: I said “I know what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”
ME: You do not!
NICK: I do. I am The Shadow.
ME: You’re the what?
NICK: I am The Shadow.
ME: You most certainly are not.
NICK: You don’t know that.
ME: I can assure you that I do.
NICK: You can be reasonably sure, but not certain.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Seventy-Five

Posted 5249 days ago in by Catriona

ME: I have got to stop falling in love with vampires.
ME: Yes. It’s bad for my constitution.
NICK: Did someone else just die?
ME: Oh, no. But, you know, even if these are fictional characters . . .
NICK: Yes?
ME: Well, I just feel bad whenever I fall in love with another man.

A Poor Excuse For An Update

Posted 5250 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve been at a conference today—and, I tell you, you will never see so many male librarians in one place as you will at the annual conference for the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand—and I’m there again tomorrow, presenting a paper that, now I’ve seen the sort of hardcore bibliographical studies that made up today’s programme, I’m more than a little worried about.

So this is a poor excuse for an update, before I go back to my large glass of wine and Sookie Stackhouse novel.

Back in March, we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day, which I marked with a fairly nondescript post to links about Lovelace.

To make up for that, here is Ada Lovelace: The Origin, thanks to John over at The Memes of Production.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: Love and Monsters

Posted 5251 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve developed a tendency to say “I’ll be honest” at the beginning of these live-blogs, so I’ll do that again here.

I’ll be honest: the last four days have been the worst four days all year—and, hopefully, the worst for some time. (Though everyone’s still alive, so it can always be worse.) As a result, I’m tired and jumpy, and I still have a conference tomorrow. Also, I had real problems with this episode last time around.

Be warned.

We start with a man running—it’s Marc Warren, who is occasionally fabulous and occasionally terrible. (Dracula. Shudder.) He comes to a set of warehouses, where he sees the TARDIS. He’s just approached closely enough to put his hand to the door when he hears Rose shouting, “Doctor! Doctor!” from inside the warehouse.

He goes in. We can hear Rose and the Doctor shouting, but can’t see them. He walks slowly through the building (and it is a seriously fabulous location), opens a door—and sees a monster. Well, an alien. But we’ll call it a monster, because of the title.

Cut to the man telling his webcam that if you think that was the most exciting day of his life, wait till you hear the rest.


Back to the man talking to his webcam—and then we’re flipped back into the episode, where the Doctor has appeared behind the monster, distracting it with food, as Rose comes up and throws a bucket of water in its face.

There’s a bit of repartee about her making it worse with the blue bucket, and then there’s a great deal of screaming and running.

Then the Doctor approaches the man, saying, “Don’t I know you?” And the man stumbles out of the warehouse as we hear the TARDIS dematerialising.

Back to the webcam—he says that wasn’t the first time he met the Doctor and it wasn’t the last, but it made a good beginning.

He says he’s going to narrate the story, and now we’re outside with a handheld camera, being operated by Ursula (we only see her hand).

The man, Elton, is telling Ursula about the first time he saw the Doctor (in his tenth incarnation), when he was a boy of three or four, and came downstairs at night to find the Doctor in his living room. He doesn’t know why.

Elton has had an ordinary life, he says—until the new series of Doctor Who started up again.

Well, until the Autons attack, anyway. He survives that, and also witnesses the alien spaceship flying through Big Ben, and the Christmas attacks with the Sycorax. This is the first two seasons of Doctor Who through a bystander’s eyes.

All this, Elton says, is how he met a variety of people we haven’t met yet, including Ursula, and how he realised the truth about the Doctor. (Also? Elton loves ELO. Which is fair enough, but not for me.)

We come back to Elton’s narration with the Sycorax ship—and how he found Ursula Blake’s blog, which included a photograph of the Doctor from Christmas Day. Ursula—who is played by Shirley Henderson, and I’ll be honest here, too: I would kill for her skin. How does she look so young?—is explaining to Elton about a group of people, including Mr Skinner, who are an “inner sanctum” studying the Doctor.

Ursula—“poor Ursula,” he says, and we see a shot of her screaming—was like a real mate.

The other members of the group are Mr Skinner, who they always call Mr Skinner, and Bridget, who lived way up north, and Bliss, who was “ever so sweet” and is a mad artist.

Ursula says they need a name: Elton adds they need a “good strong” team name. London Investigation ‘N Detective Agency: LINDA.

Shirley Henderson is so damn cute.

So LINDA meets up every week and they talk about the Doctor—for a bit. But then they segue into Bridget cooking for them, and Mr Skinner reading bits of his novel. Bridget explains about her missing daughter, who was a drug addict—Bridget comes to London in case she can see her daughter.

And Bliss sings. Then they all start singing. Then they become an ELO tribute band.

I know: it sounds odd to me, too—but it all develops quite organically within the episode.

Then, as Elton says, it all changes. Another man arrives: Victor Kennedy. He doesn’t shake hands because he suffers from eczema—there’s a verbal pun there that I can’t reproduce.

Victor says he’s their “saviour”—he’s bringing them back to the focus on the Doctor, saying that they’ve lost their purpose. He shows them video footage of the Doctor, and the sound of the TARDIS—which triggers Elton’s memory of the night he saw the Doctor. The noise of the TARDIS woke him up, and he went downstairs.

Then Victor gives them homework, telling them the Torchwood files give them access to more information about the Doctor. He gives them all instructions, but keeps Bliss back after the others.

Ursula is chafing against Victor’s rule, but Elton says it’s what they’ve always wanted—and as they walk away, no one hears Bliss scream.

Now they’re all sitting behind desks, with big piles of books—but Bliss is gone. Victor says she’s getting married, but it will never work, because she’s a stupid girl.

At this point, we flash back to the point where we came in, with the warehouse at Woolwich. (My spelling might be shaky, there.) Victor is furious, and makes a move to hit Elton, but Ursula forces him to back down.

So Victor has them search London for Rose, instead—despite knowing nothing about her, not even her name. But someone points him straight to Jackie.

Elton is planning his espionage moves as he sees Jackie going into a laundromat, but, of course, Jackie comes straight up to him, and starts chatting. I can’t really replicate this scene without transcribing the dialogue (“I’ll tell you what, Elton: here we are, complete strangers, and I’m flashing you my knickers!”), but it’s perhaps my favourite scene with Jackie in the entire series.

It’s so strangely banal and yet terribly sad when she says, for example, that Elton should put the television on because she can’t stand it quiet.

So Elton and Jackie sit and chat about Rose, and Jackie’s opening up more than she would normally, though she’s still keeping a tight grip on herself—she insists Rose is just travelling with “friends,” but she can’t stop herself saying how lonely she is and how rarely Rose calls.

Victor is thrilled, but he also asks Bridget to stay back after class. As the rest leave, Mr Skinner gives Bridget a little kiss—Ursula and Elton chat to him about it, as we hear Bridget screaming in the background.

Elton’s now spending most of his time doing little tasks for Jackie—and revealing himself to us as incredibly naive, especially seeing how dolled up Jackie is here, and how short that skirt is. And the Il Divo CD on in the background.

Elton’s fairly helpless in the face of Jackie’s brute force seduction techniques—he’s not even sure what’s going on, to begin with, until she pours a glass of wine all over him, deliberately.

While Elton’s stripping his shirt off, Rose rings, so Elton comes out to a distinctly different Jackie, who’s almost crying, and saying she’s just here alone so often that she goes a bit mad and does stupid things.

Elton’s planning on leaving, but he’s a bit touched by Jackie’s situation, and says he’ll grab a pizza and come back to watch telly with her, just as mates. He says (t us, not Jackie) he does like Jackie, but he likes someone else a lot more—Ursula, obviously.

But as he comes back, he sees Jackie coming out. She’d been slipping a tenner in his jacket, and finds the photograph of Rose. She knows Elton is looking for the Doctor, and she says being left behind is hard, “and that’s what you become: hard.” But she says she’ll never let Rose and the Doctor down. Poor Jackie. She’s so fragile in this scene.

And Elton can’t cope any more. He’s railing at Victor about what’s happened to the group since Victor arrived. He says they’re all leaving—and he makes a pass at Ursula on the way. Such a lovely husky little voice she has, Shirley Henderson.

So they’re all planning on walking out, though Victor asks Mr Skinner to wait—Victor says he has numbers for Bridget and they can track her down. We hear Mr Skinner screaming as they walk away—but Ursula has left her phone behind, so they head back in.

Victor is hidden behind a newspaper, but they can see his claws, and they can hear Mr Skinner screaming from somewhere, a muffled scream. Mr Skinner’s face is on Victor’s abdomen, and we can see Bridget’s face on his shoulder. (Bliss is there too, but the less said about that, the better.)

Ah, the Blue Peter naming competition joke.

Ursula says he needs to let those people go, and threatens him with the walking stick—Victor pretends to be craven but only long enough to start absorbing Ursula. Elton tries to pull her away, but she shouts at him not to touch her, since the absorbing process occurs through touch. And there’s Ursula’s face on Victor’s chest.

Elton begs him to return the people, but Victor says no—the process can’t be reversed. But Ursula says he can read Victor’s thoughts, and Elton is next, since Victor can’t risk anyone else seeing his true form.

Cut to the running portion of the evening’s episode.

But Elton can’t run for long—he doesn’t have the will. He says everything he wants has already been absorbed. But as Victor is about to touch Elton, the TARDIS materialises, and the Doctor steps out—followed by Rose, who is furious that Elton upset Jackie.

Apparently, he’s from the twin planet of the Slitheen home planet, but I can’t spell the planet names.

Victor threatens to absorb Elton if the Doctor doesn’t just hand himself over, but the Doctor tells him to go ahead. But the Doctor also talks to the people inside Victor, and they start pulling against Victor—who drops the cane, which Elton snaps over his knee, so that Victor just falls apart.

What’s left of Victor is sinking into the paving stones, and we see a shadow of Ursula’s face and hear her say, “Goodbye, Elton.” Rose asks who she was, and Elton says, “That was Ursula.” Rose embraces him.

ELTON: And that’s it. Almost. Because the Doctor still had more to say.

Seriously? The episode should have ended about then.

But the Doctor explains that the night Elton saw the Doctor was the night his mother died—there was a living shadow in the house, an elemental shade, and the Doctor stopped it, but couldn’t save her. And we see the dead body of a woman from the perspective of a three year old.

Cut to old home movies of Elton with his mother.

Elton says he’s had the most terrible things happen and the most brilliant things, but sometimes he can’t tell the difference—they’re all him.

And he says the Doctor might be amazing, but he remembers the special little gang that was LINDA, and they were all destroyed. He says it wasn’t the Doctor’s fault, but maybe that’s what happens when you touch the Doctor, even for an instant.

Then we hear Ursula’s voice, saying he still has her, and we see the Doctor doing something.

What he’s doing is preserving Ursula’s face sticking out of a paving stone.

I’ll just let you think about that for an instant, shall I? Come back when you’re done.

And Elton doesn’t care what anyone thinks—he loves her. And he says the world is so much stranger, darker, and madder than they tell you when you’re a kid—and so much better.

And that’s the episode. Next week: “Fear Her.” No holds barred for that one, I promise you.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Small Worlds"

Posted 5254 days ago in by Catriona

Now, the first time we watched this, this was the first episode that I genuinely thought showed what the programme could do.

Actually, does that syntax make any sense? It’s been a long, odd, and confusing day—sometimes sessional academia involves being able to sleep in quite late on a weekday, but other times, it all goes completely haywire in the blink of an eye.

Hmm. I hope the episode starts soon. I have a feeling I’m making no sense. I need the taut script-writing abilities of Sapphire and Steel creator and primary script-writer P. J. Hammond to give my writing some structure.

Of course, nothing’s due to start for another four minutes, so I think I’ll stop rambling now.

And here we are, with the opening monologue.

Yes, yes: outside the government, beyond the police. Or maybe the other way around. Who knows?

We start in the woods, with a woman claiming to be returning to “the same spot.” “I do hope they’re here,” she says. She’s moving carefully, so as not to frighten “them.”

We hear a fluttering, and she says “they’re here.” We see fluttering shapes—Victorian-style fairies, bird sized, fluttering around a stone circle. The woman takes some photographs, but as she turns away, there’s a discordant noise, and the fairies appear as sinister, human-sized figures.

Cut to shirtless Captain Jack, asleep, and having nightmares about a time when he was a soldier, seeing his comrades lolling dead with rose petals falling out of their mouths.

Jack wakes, and finds a rose petal on his desk. And Ianto’s there, catching up on some paperwork.

Jack asks what Ianto has, and Ianto says “funny sort of weather patterns.”

Children are leaving a school, and a young girl with pigtails seems to have attracted the attention of a man in a silver car. The girl’s looking for someone—and we see a man saying he didn’t see the time, because he was on the phone. He gets into his car, as the woman with him frets and says she should call the school.

But Jasmine leaves to walk home, and the man in the car—who is being watched from afar—pulls up and says Jasmine’s mum told him to fetch her. Jasmine, not being daft, tries to walk past, and as the man grabs her, he’s thrown around by some kind of force that’s whispering “Come away, human child.”

Jasmine, totally unfazed, skips away.

Meanwhile, I spill an entire glass of wine all over myself and my rug, but not on my computer. I am cold and smell of alcohol.

On screen, Jack and Gwen are wandering up to see an old friend of his, who is talking about what shy, friendly creatures fairies are, but Jack says she always gets it wrong. Apparently, she and Jack have always disagreed about fairies.

This is the woman who was photographing fairies in the woods.

The man who tried to abduct Jasmine is walking along a street, with muttering voices around him, mopping at his bloody nose. He starts running from the noises, knocking into bystanders. And then he’s choking, and starts vomiting up rose petals.

I always though that fairy tale about the girl who was polite and so roses and diamonds fell from her lips when she talked was uncomfortable at best and fairly revolting at worst. This scene is definitely revolting.

He tries to climb into a police car, and is arrested.

Jasmine is brought home by her stepfather—“You’re not my father,” she says, when he chastises her—and her mother tells her never to walk home alone. But Jasmine says no-one can hurt her.

Meanwhile, Jack and Gwen are at his old friend’s house—where Gwen finds a photograph of Jack. But Jack says that, no: that’s his dad, and he and Estelle used to be inseparable, until the war parted them.

Estelle doesn’t know anything about Jack’s father these days, but Jack says to ring them if she ever sees fairies again, night or day. Jack doesn’t call them “fairies,” though: he says they’re something from the dawn of time, and you can’t put a name to them. He says they’re not aliens: they’re part of us, but we can’t put a name to them, can’t even see them. They’re part of the spirit world, like something we can only see out of the corner of our eyes.

Jasmine is sneaking out of her garden, into a wilder part of the country. Her stepfather says there’s something not right about her, as we see her skipping away, and hear the fluttering noises. Again, the voices are saying, “Come away, human child.”

Back in The Hub, we’re now looking at photographs of the Cottingsley fairy photographs—Owen points out that Conan Doyle believed in them (I have his monograph on the fairies, somewhere on my shelves), but Gwen says the women admitted that the photographs were faked, when they were old.

The man who attacked Jasmine is admitting his attraction to young girls and begging to be locked up somewhere safe.

Gwen and Jack are out in the woods, and Gwen’s pushing on the subject of Estelle, again. Owen natters about the mystical elements of the wood and its unsavoury reputation, as we hear more fluttering.

And in the police cell, a winged creature darts down on the man who tried to attack Jasmine, who screams.

Jasmine’s mother sneaks up the stairs to see what her daughter is up to: we can hear her talking and laughing, but when the mother opens the door, she’s on her own, in bed. She’s distant and withdrawn.

Now Gwen and Jack are in the police station, talking about the man who attacked Jasmine—who is dead, of oxygen deficiency, says Tosh, looking at the symptoms. But why isn’t Owen dealing with this? Why is he a folklore expert and Tosh suddenly has the medical degree?

Regardless, Tosh pulls a rose petal out of the man’s throat—and then another, and another.

Jack says he’s seen something like this before.

Estelle, meanwhile, is sitting with a variety of semi-precious stones and candelabras, saying, “Oh, let me find them again.” And sure enough, we hear fluttering noises, just before her kitchen window smashes in.

Jack’s talking about the torments dished out by these “creatures,” in protection of the “chosen ones”—generally children.

And then the phone rings, and it’s Estelle. She says they’ve come to her, and she’s clearly terrified. Jack says they’re on their way, and she’s to stay where she is. But she wanders back through the house, to where she has the candles, and she hears her cat wailing, as though scared or tormented. She calls to him through a crack in the back door, but when he doesn’t respond, she heads out into the garden. We can hear the fluttering and then the door slams shut. And it starts to rain. Hard.

Estelle is driven from her feet by the weight of the rain, which is just on her location—her cat, a short distance away, is unaffected.

Torchwood pull up outside Estelle’s house, but there’s no response—when they dash around the house, she’s lying dead in the back garden, drowned. (Though this time it is Owen who confirms the death.)

Jack just embraces Estelle. And Gwen whispers to her that she knows it was him who was in love with Estelle, not his father. He says that they vowed that they’d be with each until they died. (Which raises questions about Jack’s continuity, though I have a theory about that.)

Jack, over a large drink, tells Gwen about how he and Estelle met.

And Gwen asks how he knew about the petals in the mouth, and was that during the war? But he says no: it was long before that. And he goes on to narrate the events—he says he and troops (on a troop train, long before the war) were too noisy, too happy. They hit a tunnel, and could hear the fluttering. But then came the silence, and when they came out of the tunnel, everyone was dead but Jack. All dead, with petals falling from between their lips.

Gwen asks why they were killed, and Jack says about a week earlier some of them, drunk, had driven a truck through a village, and struck and killed a child. The child, he says, was a chosen one.

And we cut to Jasmine, still looking withdrawn. Jasmine’s mother, still locking up the house, hears the fluttering noises, but locks the back door.

And Gwen, coming home, finds her apartment trashed, with rose petals layered over everything.

Jasmine, heading to school, isn’t excited about her forthcoming party: she says she’d rather play down the bottom of the garden. Her stepfather says he’ll put an end to it, and taunts her about her lack of friends and about her father leaving when she was a baby.

But back at Gwen’s apartment, Jack is strolling around while Gwen frets about her lack of safety in her own home. She wants to know about the “chosen ones”—Jack says all of the fairies were children once, from different moments in time, going back millennia. He says they’re here because they want what’s theirs: the next chosen one.

Now we’re back with Jasmine, who is being tormented by two other girls, while roaring winds develop in the playground—to the tune of “Lord of the Dance,” which one of my favourites.

Jack hears about this from Tosh, and dashes out.

The children are freaking out, and the teacher’s not much happier—but Jasmine is just grinning and grinning as the teacher shields the two children who tormented Jasmine with her own body.

But now it seems the creatures have another purpose, as Jasmine’s stepfather starts nailing up the gap in the fence through which she passes to get to the woods.

Jack and Gwen are at the school, and Gwen flees as she hears the fluttering. The teacher mentions how odd it was that Jasmine was untouched.

Meanwhile, here we are at Jasmine’s house, where the party is building up. Her mother is trying to talk to her about her “friends” from this morning, but she can’t really follow what Jasmine is saying.

The stepfather BBQs, while the mother suggests that Jasmine could have invited her friends to the party. The discussion becomes more and more disturbing for the mother.

Jasmine, wandering outside, sees the fence boarded up—when her stepfather grabs her, she kicks him. But he slaps her—he’s screened behind the shrubbery, so no one sees. But we hear the bad weather building up, and Torchwood are on their way.

The stepfather starts making a speech about Jasmine’s mother and their desire to have their own children—when Jasmine steps out from behind the bushes and the fairies, no longer invisible or benign, leap into the garden. The stepfather, standing out in the garden, is vulnerable, and one creature shoves his hand right down his throat and, seemingly, crushes his heart, while Jasmine watches, smiles, and leaves through the hole that one of the creatures smashed in the new fence.

The stepfather’s mouth is full of rose petals.

Torchwood were too late to save the stepfather, but they follow Jasmine—she says they’re walking in a forest, an old forest, in which she wants to stay forever.

Jack says the child isn’t sure, and that they should find another chosen one, but Jasmine says she is sure, and the fairies say she is the chosen one, and that she lives forever.

Jack asks what happens if they make the child stay, but Jasmine says they’ve promised to kill many, many other people. If she doesn’t go, she says, the whole world will die.

Gwen wants them to save Jasmine, but Jack says no: he tells the fairies to take her, and Jasmine says, “thank you” as she skips off into vapour. Gwen is distraught, but Jack says they have no choice.

That’s not a great deal of comfort for Jasmine’s mother, and the rest of the Torchwood team look pretty shattered, too.

This is what happens when your leader is aligned Chaotic Good, guys.

Back at The Hub, Gwen takes a closer look at the Cottingley fairy photographs, and sees that one of the fairies has Jasmine’s face.

And that’s it for this week.

Beware of next week—and don’t watch it in the dark.



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