by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Something Borrowed"

Posted 13 November 2009 in by Catriona

I would like a dog.

No, that has nothing to do with tonight’s episode. Why do you ask?

Tonight’s episode contains coarse language and violence, but no nudity. Dammit, Torchwood! Pick up your game!

Opening monologue.

We actually have a short flashback here to the scene where Gwen says she’s getting married to Rhys because no one else will have her. Then we flash forward to Gwen’s hen’s night, which is about as crass as they’re supposed to be.

Gwen is two hours late for her own hen’s night, because she’s been chasing something through a subway station. Something that eats people. She shoots a nice man in a conservative business suit, who turns out to be some kind of shapeshifter.

We cut forward to Gwen, at her hen’s night in a feathery cowboy hat and novelty T-shirt, being surprised by a stripper.

Then back to two hours earlier, where she’s being attacked by the shapeshifter.

Back to the hen’s night, and girly chat in the toilets.

Back to the shape shifter, who is biting her, before being shot by Jack.

Back to the hen’s night when she says it’s just a scratch.

And forward to the wedding morning, where Gwen is suddenly nine months pregnant. That’s going to be difficult to explain.


Owen says that Gwen is nearly full term, and at Gwen’s response, Jack points out that the shapeshifter must have passed the eggs through the bite. Owen says that she’s carrying some kind of alien egg, and Jack starts waffling about immaculate conception.

Gwen freaks when she hears that the wedding will need to be postponed. “Do you know how much a wedding costs?” she asks.

Jack says that she’s not carrying the baby Jesus in there, but she says that Owen pointed out that if something had gone wrong, she would be dead, so that she’s getting married anyway, and then she can worry about things afterwards.

Back at the Hub, Owen and Jack tell Tosh and Ianto that Gwen’s getting married anyway (Tosh will act as bodyguard, while Ianto will buy a “bigger” wedding dress). Gwen is, at the same time, telling Rhys that she’s pregnant. Well, pointing to her belly, which is sufficient.

Meanwhile, in the wedding salon.

IANTO: I’m looking for a wedding dress. For a friend.
SHOP ASSISTANT: Of course you are, sir. Don’t worry. We’re quite used to people buying dresses for their . . . friends.

Rhys is quite keen on postponing the wedding, but Gwen breaks down in a rather lovely speech (which I don’t have time to recap) about how much she wants to marry Rhys.

At the Hub, Tosh is all dressed up and looking lovely—Owen, rather sweetly, tells her that she’s “drop-dead gorgeous, and I should know.” Tosh convinces him to come to the wedding, while also telling him that it’s not a date.

Gwen is telling her parents—her father, adorably, calls her “duckling”—that she’s pregnant. Of course, they’ll be a bit shocked when there’s no grandchild, but what else could she do?

Apparently, as we realise at the hotel, Gwen’s parents and Rhys’s parents don’t get on well: as Rhys’s parents arrive, Gwen legs it rather than let her see them pregnant.

Gwen confronts Rhys, who suggests that perhaps they should tell the truth. Gwen tells him not to be ridiculous, but Rhys, rather angrily, tells her that lies don’t work: she’s already tried them. And when Jack rings to say that Tosh will arrive soon, Rhys takes the phone and says that they don’t need Jack at all: he’s already done enough to ruin the day, Rhys says.

The guests begin to arrive.

RHYS’S BEST MAN: I’m Banana. I guess you can tell why?
TOSH: You come up in spots and go soft quickly?

Then she tells him that bananas make her vomit.

Tosh has brought with her the new wedding dress, which Jack has sent over. Tosh, incidentally, has very, very pretty legs. Tosh and Gwen have a conversation about how Tosh will marry one day. We’ll leave that there, I think.

Jack-Ianto flirtation. But it’s interrupted by Owen, who has found a [technobabble], which means big trouble. Oh, okay: it was a proteus gland. No, I don’t know what that means.

In the interim, Rhys’s groomsman, Mervyn, is being seduced by someone who Tosh realises—having found a spot of black blood on a cocktail napkin—is actually the shapeshifter. She’s also Jack Davenport’s ex from Ultraviolet. Tosh manages to track the shapeshifter down, but it’s too late: she’s already eaten Mervyn.

Back at the Hub, Owen explains that the problem is that the shapeshifters, which are called Nostrovites, mate for life: the male was killed, but the female is out there, looking for its baby to mature, so that she can rip the surrogate mother open and pull the baby out.

Jack, Ianto, and Owen roll out, with Owen bringing the singularity scalpel—the item that he saved Martha with, having blown up a number of other people along the way.

JACK: What is it with you? Ever since Owen died, all you do is agree with him.
IANTO: I was brought up to never speak ill of the dead.

Gwen dresses, and then breaks down in front of her mother, especially when her mother says that a baby is God’s gift and a blessing. By the time her father comes in to walk her down the aisle, she breaks down and tells him that the baby is not Rhys’s.

Outside the hotel, Rhys’s father tries to convince Rhys not to marry Gwen, to which Rhys responds furiously.

Gwen’s father is, obviously, not impressed to hear that there’s another man, and even less impressed when Gwen says she’s actually been impregnated by an alien. He really has trouble with dealing with this.

GWEN: Don’t ask me to explain. I’m pregnant. Rhys is not the father. It’s an alien. It’s an alien.

Tosh, meanwhile, is in some kind of web, strapped tightly to Banana, who begins screaming, until Tosh make use of what minimal movement she has to shut him up. (His other alternative is singing in falsetto.)

Gwen walks down the aisle in a flurry of whispers about her unexpected pregnancy. But we can hear the baby’s heartbeat strongly, and so can the Nostrovite.

Torchwood, meanwhile, are chasing the wedding down, while Jack rants about how getting married in the middle of nowhere shows an inner conflict.

Just as the minister gets to the “speak now or forever hold your peace” bit, Jack, of course, bursts into the church, to stop the wedding. Owen and Ianto track down Tosh.

Jack explains, over Rhys’s fury, that he’s trying to save Gwen’s life, because they’ve only just realised about the female Nostrovite.

Outside, the bridesmaids are speculating about the baby being Jack’s.

Gwen, inside, is saying that she’s marrying Rhys regardless, because of how much crap he’s had to put up with since she joined Torchwood. But Rhys says it’s his wedding, too, and he gets a say.

Around about then, a bridemaid finds Mervyn’s body, and runs out screaming. Jack sends Ianto after her to contain the situation.

GWEN’S MOTHER: The problem seems to be an American with no sense of timing. Or fashion.

The bridesmaid bursts in on the guests, screaming, and Ianto has to reveal that the situation is “uncontained.” But Tosh can identify the Nostrovite, which leads to some shooting and screaming, but no actual fatalities.

Inside, Owen is planning on using the singularity scalpel to remove the foetus, but Gwen is not thrilled by all this. And when Rhys’s mother comes into the room, Owen runs out after the shapeshifter.

But when he sees Jack, Jack points out that the alien is a shapeshifter, which leads to a scene in which Jack gets punched in the face by Rhys. Of course, the alien has taken the role of Rhys’s mother, but she’s outside, not inside.

The Nostrovite grabs Gwen’s mother, and Gwen approaches very slowly, until the Nostrovite calls out to its child, whereupon Gwen shoots it with the gun concealed in her bouquet.

Owen tells Rhys how to use the singularity scalpel, because, as he points out, Owen doesn’t have two working hands.

As Gwen waits inside, Jack comes to her, and Gwen talks a little about how she feels about him. But, of course, it’s the Nostrovite, and Gwen nuts him.

Good on you, Gwen.

At that point, Owen and Rhys burst in, and Owen shoots the Nostrovite while Rhys drags Gwen across the grounds. The Nostrovite goes to bite Owen, but, as a carnivore, it’s not really about roadkill.

When Real Jack and the others show up, Owen points out that their guns don’t work.

JACK: We’re going to need a bigger gun, then.

Rhys and Gwen end up in a barn, with the Nostrovite beating down the door, and Rhys trying to operate the singularity scalpel . . . successfully, as it works out.

Then the Nostrovite bursts through the door, in the guise of Rhys’s mother, and as he’s just about to go for her with a chainsaw (can anyone say Oedipal?), Jack blows her up with a really, really big gun.

Jack admires Rhys’s “Evil Dead” look, and tells him that the good guy always gets the girl, but only after giving Gwen a bit of a squeeze.

Not like that!

Then Rhys and Gwen get married, even though everyone now knows about aliens.

And, at the reception, Owen asks Tosh to dance with him, while Rhys and Gwen dance, and Jack, sitting on his own, cuts in.

JACK: Mind if I cut in?
NICK: Jack, you’re always bloody cutting in.

Jack tells Gwen to enjoy the honeymoon.

GWEN: What will you do when I’m gone?
JACK: The usual. Pizza. Ianto. Save the world a couple of times.
GWEN: Will you miss me?
JACK: Always.

Aw. Then Ianto cuts into the dance, and he and Jack dance, though Jack casts one last look over at Gwen.

Towards the end of the reception—and we can tell it’s the end, because they’re playing Soft Cell—everyone falls asleep. Because Jack has mixed level-six retconn into the champagne. Wow, I hope they don’t interact in an unfortunate way.

Jack offer the same cocktail to Rhys and Gwen, but Gwen says no: no secrets in this marriage, she says. She and Rhys head off, while Torchwood shift into clean-up mode.

IANTO: That’s what I love about Torchwood. By day, chasing the scum of the universe. Come midnight, you’re the wedding fairy.

Back at the Hub, Jack, alone, looks at a wedding photograph of himself and a woman in a fetching, nineteenth-century dress.

Well, now: that was relatively light-hearted, surely? I’m positive that won’t last.

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven

Posted 13 November 2009 in by Catriona

A follow-up to this morning’s conversation:

NICK: (standing on the Wii Fit balance board): Aw.
ME: (reading on the sofa, not wearing my glasses, and therefore unable to see the television screen): What?
NICK: It says, “Someone told me earlier that your posture is improving.”
ME: Aw, that is nice.
ME: What’s it saying now?
NICK: It says, “I can’t tell you who told me that, but I’ve sensed that about you as well.”
ME: That’s not what it told me! The lying git!
NICK: It’s playing us against each other!

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Six

Posted 12 November 2009 in by Catriona

This is perhaps the strangest conversation I’ve ever had.

WII FIT BALANCE BOARD: Good morning! Did you sleep well?
ME: No.
WII FIT BALANCE BOARD: It’s Friday! Have you made any plans for the weekend?
ME: (preserves a dignified silence)
WII FIT BALANCE BOARD: By the way, what do you think of Nick’s posture?
ME: The hell? (Picks “Is improving” from the limited selection)
WII FIT BALANCE BOARD: Oh. Well, in a certain sense, you might be right!

Imagine if your exercise equipment could dob you in to your partner! Well, that’s only one of the special advantages of Wii Fit.

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Five

Posted 11 November 2009 in by Catriona

In which I am ungrateful:

NICK: I’m about to buy your birthday gift
ME: Oooh! Really? Hurray!
NICK: Yes. Hoping you’ll like it.
ME: I love birthday gifts.
NICK: I may get something else as well.
ME: Oh, god—it’s not online storage space, is it?
ME: No, seriously.
NICK: Though I could get that too.
ME: No! Thank you kindly, but that’s all right.
ME: It’s just not a birthdayish thing, you know?
NICK: Yeah, that’s true.

He’ll probably get it for me for Christmas, now.

The Wishbone

Posted 10 November 2009 in by Catriona

Nick was making a pasta bake out of last night’s leftover rustic pasta with lentils, carrots, and celery, shredding part of a roast chicken to put over the top, when he found the wishbone.

“Let’s pull it and make a wish,” I said.

He came out on to the back verandah, and we wrapped our fingers around the bone. But it slipped out of Nick’s grasp. We tried again, and it slipped out of my grasp.

“I’ll dry it out and we’ll try again,” he said.

“No,” I said, “that’s a bit revolting. We don’t need to make wishes. We do okay.”

“I think we won a moral victory,” he said.

“I think the wishbone won a moral victory,” I said.

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Four

Posted 10 November 2009 in by Catriona

In which I become cranky while doing the washing up.

ME: Yes, that’s an excellent dance, Mr I Leave An Enormous Mess For My Girlfriend To Clean Up, Even Though She’s Marking And Going Insane.
NICK: Isn’t it?
ME: That’s exactly what someone wants in a boyfriend.
NICK: I’ve heard this.
ME: Tell me. When you heard this, did it sound as though it was in your voice?
NICK: It did, now you mention it.
ME: And you didn’t think that was questionable?
ME: Why not?
NICK: When I hear words of wisdom, they’re usually in my voice.
ME: Of course they are.

I’ll give Nick this much credit: he knows enough not to engage with the crazy.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "The Sound of Drums"

Posted 9 November 2009 in by Catriona

No preliminaries this time: I fell asleep after dinner and have only just woken up in time. Or been woken up, more accurately.

Blame Nick. I do.

We open with a wormhole, through which fall the Doctor, Martha, and Jack. Jack says they’re lucky: they seem to have landed on 20th-century Earth, but the Doctor says that it’s wasn’t luck. It was him.

Martha says that the Master has the TARDIS: he could be anywhere in time and space. The Doctor says no: he’s here. And although Jack points out that the Master has regenerated—clearly the first time Martha has heard of such a concept—the Doctor says he’ll know him when he sees him.

There’s a drumbeat behind that dialogue.

And Martha points out that they’ve missed the election, right as the Prime Minister Harold Saxon appears on the television.

The Doctor says that’s him: the Master is Prime Minister of England. “The Master and his wife,” he adds, as the Master kisses a pretty blonde woman next to him.


We come back to see the Master at Number 10, with his wife telling him she’s so proud of him, as we see Tish, newly employed by Number 10.

The Master walks into the cabinet room, and accuses his ministers of not having a sense of humour as he throws his papers everywhere.

MASTER: You ugly, fat-faced bunch of wet snivelling traitors.
CABINET MINISTER: Yes, very funny.
MASTER: No. No, that wasn’t funny.

Then he gases them all to death, beating a drumbeat out on the table as they die.

Back at Martha’s flat, Jack is showing the Doctor the Harold Saxon websites, while Martha deletes an excited message from Tish saying she has a new job—“as if it matters,” say Martha.

Back at Number 10, a highly determined journalist pushes her way past Tish to insist on an interview with Lucy Saxon. She’s gushing and excited until she manages to push Tish out of the room—despite Tish’s attempts to stay—and then she tells Lucy that she believes Harold Saxon is not what he seems.

In Martha’s flat, Jack is showing the Doctor testimonials on Saxon’s website. And in Number 10, the journalist is saying Saxon’s entire life is a fake—until eighteen months ago, just after the downfall of Harriet Jones. Ah, maybe the Doctor shouldn’t have brought down England’s Golden Age, then? And at the same time as Saxon came to life, they launched the Archangel network.

Lucy, on the other hand, is real: a good family, Roedean, not especially bright but genuine. But Lucy, though she seems a little hesitant, says she made her choice, for better or for worse.

“Didn’t I, Harry?” she asks, as we see the Master standing behind her.

“My faithful companion,” he says.

She asks the Master who he is, and he says he’s the Master—“and these are my friends,” he adds, as several glowing spheres appear out of nowhere, and attack the journalist.

The Master and Lucy dash out of the room to the journalist’s screams—and the Master opens the doors several time, to hear her still screaming, which seems a little odd, playing a gruesome death for laughs.

Back in Martha’s flat, the Doctor explains that he locked the TARDIS, so it can only travel between the year one trillion and the last place the TARDIS landed, with maybe an eighteen-month leeway. And Martha says she was going to vote for Saxon, but she can’t explain why—though, as she speaks, she’s tapping out the same drumbeat that we heard behind the earlier conversation.

The Master appears on television, speaking to the nation to tell them that’s he’s been contacted by aliens. The aliens describe themselves as the “Toclafane,” which causes the Doctor to snort. He says that everyone will benefit from the new knowledge that the aliens can give them, even medical students.

And at that, the Doctor spins the television around to see a bomb behind it. Though they manage to get out of the flat, Martha is worried about her parents.

Her parents are being monitored by Saxon’s forces, and, when they’re arrested, and Tish, too, Martha drives out to find them. But her parents are being loaded into a van, and they tell Martha to drive—which she does, in a hail of bullets.

NICK: They’re lucky that car is bulletproof.

Under Jack’s orders, Martha ditches the car, and rings her brother, to tell him to stay in Brighton, where he’s been fortuitously staying.

But the Master is monitoring her phone calls. He taunts Martha until the Doctor grabs the phone.

DOCTOR: Master.
MASTER: I love it when you use my name.

The Master asks where Gallifrey is, and the Doctor says it’s gone, and the Time Lords, too. The Master explains that they brought him back because they thought he was the perfect warrior for the Time War. He was there when the Dalek Emperor took over the Cruciform. But he was so scared, and he ran, and made himself human, so that he’d never be found.

DOCTOR: Don’t you see? All we’ve got is each other.
MASTER: Are you asking me out on a date?

The Master won’t have it, though—and he points out that England is the most surveilled country on Earth. He can see them, and he has control of the citizenry in a way that the Doctor can’t explain. We can tell it’s a subconscious control, though, because the people around the Doctor are drumming their hands as he speaks to the Master.

He tells the Doctor to run, and the Doctor does, with Martha and Jack with him.

Back in Downing Street, the Master is giggling at the Tellytubbies, which, for those old-school fans out there, is a lovely, subtle throwback to Roger Delgado—the original Master and, in Nick’s eyes, the best—whistling along to The Clangers. The Toclafane tell him that they need to hurry, because the time of darkness and cold is coming.

In an underpass, the Doctor tells Jack and Martha about Gallifrey, and Nick and I cry a little. Seriously, this flashback to Gallifrey—and this is the first and, I believe, the only time we’ve actually seen Gallifrey in the new series—always makes me cry. I think it’s the collars. Do you think they’ve been keeping those in the BBC costume department for all those years?

Basically, once I’ve dried my eyes, he says that the Master was driven mad in a Gallifreyan coming-of-age ritual.

Since this is a happy, sharing time, Jack tells the Doctor that he’s working for Torchwood, which, obviously, doesn’t please the Doctor. But Jack says that the old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf, and when Jack helped rebuild it, he did so in the Doctor’s honour.

I still don’t think that the Doctor would approve of half of what you do, Jack.

I’m really, really finding it hard to keep up with the plotting in this episode. Too dense.

The Doctor, though, has figured out that there’s code in the Archangel mobile-phone network, which the Master was the minister in charge of implementing. And he can cancel it out by borrowing technology analogous to the TARDIS chameleon circuit.

DOCTOR: Because the TARDIS is designed to blend in. Well, sort of.

Now, the Master’s TARDIS had a working chameleon circuit, and yet, somehow, he’s the bad guy. That makes no sense!

At the airport, the Master—who has now decided to give up any pretense to sanity—meets the American President, who says that UNIT, not the British Army, is in charge, and that the meeting with the Toclafane cannot take place on any sovereign soil. Instead, it will take place on the UNIT aircraft carrier the Valiant.

Ooh, UNIT have got a bigger budget than they used to have, don’t they?

And, as we see the Master standing on the runway, his coat flaps open so we can see the red-silk lining, and Nick and I are temporarily distracted by how much like Jon Pertwee’s outfits the Master’s clothes look.

The Master seems to see the Doctor, Martha, and Jack, standing off to one side under the individual cloaking devices, but he’s distracted by the arrival of Martha’s bound—but not gagged—family. And the Doctor uses Jack’s arm device to transport the three of them to the Valiant—which is an aircraft carrier, but an airborne one, not a sea-going one.

The Master taunts the president a little more, but he also tells Lucy, in passing, that, as Minister for Defence, he helped design the Valiant. Every piece, he says.

On the Valiant, Martha wants to looks for her family, but the Doctor is distracted, because he can tell that the TARDIS is nearby. But that’s not going to help them, because the Master has cannibalised it: it’s now a paradox machine, set to trigger at two minutes past eight, when first contact with the Toclafane is set for eight a.m.

In the meeting room, as the president sounds anxious, the Master offers Lucy a jelly baby. Now, do you suppose that it’s deliberate that he’s not just cannibalising the TARDIS, but also the Doctor’s past regenerations?

The Doctor has a plan: he wants to get his cloaking device around the Master’s neck, which will cancel out his hypnosis effect. But it’s hard to sneak up, he says, when everyone’s on red alert.

The Toclafane appear, but they won’t listen to the president: they want the Master. And the first thing that the Master does is order them to kill the president.

The Doctor wants to carry on with his plan, but the Master has his people grab the Doctor: as if, he says, a perception filter will work on him.

He has them grab Martha and Jack, though not for long, because he kills Jack, apparently just for fun.

MASTER: Laser screwdriver. Who’d have sonic?

There’s some technobabble there, leading back to “The Lazarus Experiment,” which leads to the Master artificially aging the Doctor one hundred years. Between that and the fact that he brings her family in, the Master basically ensures that Martha can’t do anything, either. All three are helpless.

And with that, it’s two minutes past eight, and the Master, thanks to his paradox machine, tears a hole in the universe, and six billion Toclafane pour into our world.

Here’s how the next bit went the first time I saw this episode:

MASTER: Shall we decimate them? That sounds good. Nice word: decimate. Remove one-tenth of the population.

Were we applauding the decimation or the correct use of the word? You decide!

The next few minutes are mostly screaming and running, as the Earth burns—but in the middle of it, the Doctor whispers to Martha, and she teleports away from the Valiant with Jack’s device, pausing only to look back up and say, “I’m coming back” before running off towards the burning city.

MASTER: So it came to pass that the human race fell, and the Earth was no more. And I looked down on my new dominion as Master of all. And I thought it good.

Man. That’s one hell of a cliffhanger.

This Space Marine Says Sorry

Posted 9 November 2009 in by Catriona

See, doesn’t he look apologetic?

Sure, last time I used a picture to apologise for the tardiness of my updates, it was a duck. Ducks are soothing. But I thought a space marine might be soothing in its own way—for a start, it might soothe any tendency to mumble, “Man, why doesn’t she just update regularly?”

It’s marking season, as my earlier photographs showed.

But I’ll be live-blogging Doctor Who tonight—the second-last episode of the season—and I promise I’ll blog about books again, soon. As soon as I have a chance to read any.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "A Day in the Death"

Posted 6 November 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, lord: I’ve just realised there are six episodes of this season left. I’m not sure I can manage another six episodes! The nihilism! The angst! Oh, but wait—I’ve just remembered some stuff that’s still to come. Okay, I can wait for that.

In other news, Hyperdrive has just included the line “There was a time when men said that climbing Ben Nevis was impossible,” which made me laugh and laugh.

And in other, other news, I walked into a door earlier and severely whacked my elbow. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that, though I hope it doesn’t prevent me from doing my Wii Boxing tomorrow morning.

I do so love Wii Boxing.

I repeat the Ben Nevis joke to Nick, and he asks, “Is that another football reference?”, which leads to the following conversation:

ME: Why don’t you know anything, Nicholas?
NICK: I know lots about lots of stuff, just nothing about anything you find remotely interesting.

That’s not quite true: I always ask Nick if I want to know who produced an episode of Doctor Who from the ’70s or ’80s.

Never fear: we’re up to the actual episode. This one contains adult themes as well as violence. Still no sex and nudity, though.


Owen is standing in the middle of a pedestrian mall, saying that he is Dr Owen Harper, and this is his life, a life full of violence and—oh, my brother just rang, and even though I’m not talking to him, I miss the rest of that monologue. When I come back, he says he comes to work and everyone is doing the same things, but he’s not. [Edited to add: Owen says that, not my brother. My brother, for the record, is not currently a zombie.]

OWEN: Three days ago I died. And they think I’m fine. But they’re wrong.

And we cut away from a shot of Owen screaming underwater, unable to drown, as he sits on the edge of a rooftop and asks the woman next to him, “So, are you ready to jump?”


We come back to the woman on the rooftop, and Owen trying to talk her out of jumping by saying helpful, Owen-type things like, “What, your man dump you or something?”

When she tells him to sod off, he shows her the gaping bullet hole in his chest.

She is completely and utterly freaked out to find out that he’s a zombie. I agree with her on this stance, I have to say.

WOMAN: You’re obviously dead, and that’s shit and all.

She asks him what she has to look forward to, and he says nothing: darkness. I say again: most nihilistic show on television. And then she asks why he’s here, on the rooftop, if he’s dead, since he obviously can’t jump and die again.

And we flash back to Jack relieving Owen of duty—taking his security pass and his gun—while Martha takes his position (temporarily? Isn’t she seconded to UNIT?) while they run tests to make sure he’s safe.

OWEN: And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
JACK: Well, we always need someone to make coffee.

Ianto, in the background, looks horrified. But we cut to Ianto showing Owen how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Owen can’t make the machine work, and he goes a little nuts, while Jack watches, disturbed.

OWEN: It’s like you finally won.
IANTO: I didn’t realise we were in competition.
OWEN: Oh, come on: even Tosh had more of a life than you. And now you’re out on missions all the time, you’re shagging Jack, and I’m making the coffee.
IANTO: It’s not like that: me and Jack.

Martha’s tests show that Owen is 100% human, that as long as he exercises every day he won’t atrophy, and that there’s no sign of rigor mortis.

But then Martha is called to the conference room, where they all sit looking at pictures of Richard Briers—sorry, Henry Parker, from when he was in The Good Life—sorry, a young man.

Owen wanders around serving coffee, and breaking Ianto’s heart by claiming that Tintin was shagging his dog, Snowy.

No, seriously.

Henry Parker is a reclusive collector of alien artefacts, by the way. Let’s just keep the plot running along, shall we?

Back on the rooftop, Owen is telling the woman how many people worldwide commit suicide, and she asks, “What are you? Some kind of suicide junkie?”

Back at the Hub, Owen is complaining to Martha that he’s making the coffee. She tells him she’s not after his job, but he says he’s fine: he’s human, he says.

She points out that he’s cut his hand open on the scalpel he’s been throwing around, and never even noticed. It won’t heal, so he’ll have to stitch it up again every week.

Back on the rooftop, the woman asks why he pushed Martha away when she was offering to help. And he says he’s sorry: he doesn’t follow social niceties now he has a hole in his chest.

She asks if he did before, which makes me think she’s met him before.

Owen asks if her cheery personality is why her man dumped her, and she says no: he died. He says he’s sorry, and she says he’s not:he doesn’t give a damn about her or anyone else.

He says she doesn’t know the half of it, and we cut to Owen begging for something to do. Jack says he knows he can’t be given any work, and that Owen should go home. Owen does, but only after a last slap at Jack, about Jack getting to live forever while Owen gets to die forever.

In his flat, Owen cleans out the fridge, but he really doesn’t have anything to do after that.

Then the doorbell rings, and it’s Tosh. She asks Owen if he minds if she eats, because she’s starving. Owen says no, but asks Tosh if Jack sent her get Owen to open up about his problems.

But no: Tosh starts talking about how bad her day was, and Owen tunes her out.

On the rooftop, the woman says that they sound like an old married couple, and that Brian used to tell her that she talked too much. She says it’s her wedding anniversary—the anniversary of her perfect day.

They’d been married an hour, and she was still picking the confetti out of her hair, when the car crashed and her husband was killed.

Owen asks why she waited for her wedding anniversary to kill herself, and she says because she believed people when they said it would get better.

WOMAN: So what do you think, Doctor? Is it going to get better?

We cut silently back to Owen’s flat, where Tosh’s mouth moves silently as Owen blocks her conversation out entirely.

And then he demolishes her. He just strips away every single illusion she might have, or he might think she has, about herself and about their possible future.

He says he’s broken, and maybe that’s what she wants, someone as broken as her. Then he snaps his finger, to show how broken he is.

He leaves the apartment and he runs, runs, runs through the city until he throws himself in the harbour. But he can’t drown himself, because he doesn’t need to breathe. When he pulls himself out of the harbour, Jack is there with his stopwatch (!), saying he’s been underwater for over half an hour.

OWEN: You were watching?
JACK: Guy in tight jeans runs into water? I was taking pictures.

Back at the Hub, Ianto hasn’t quite managed to work out what’s causing the energy spikes they have been observing at Henry Parker’s place, but they can’t get in, because he has a security system that detects body heat.

Owen to the rescue!

Owen, to give him credit, does seem to try and apologise to Tosh, but she just tells him that she turned his telly off and hands his keys back.

The woman on the rooftop tells Owen that she doesn’t care about him or alien artefacts or anything: she just wants to jump. So he pulls her to the edge of the building and then taunts her for being scared.

Owen, she said she wanted to jump. She didn’t say she wanted to be chucked off a building by a chronically depressed zombie.

At Parker’s house, Martha reminds Owen that any injuries he receives will not heal. He says he knows: he’s made of glass.

He heads towards the building while Gwen fakes a phone call to tell the security guard that his wife was in an accident. This gets Owen through the gate and past some greenhouses that my brother and father would kill for.

As he reaches the generator, he’s grabbed by a security guard, but the security guard is slightly freaked out when Owen reaches into the generator (protecting his hand with a Tintin T-shirt that Jack had given him) and turns the power off by electrocuting himself.

Sadly, Parker’s personal generator hasn’t been affected, which Tosh says means they’ve had some work done. But it’s true that Owen’s not setting off the heat sensors: he says he’s “literally too cool for school.”

He’s confronted as he walks up the stairs by a security guard, as we hear the music we heard last week when Owen was grasping Death by the forearms, holding him back by sheer strength of will, but Owen says that the guard won’t shoot him. He delivers a short monologue about what a bullet does to the human body—it’s not like a knife through butter, he says, because the bullet rotates—and then he knocks the guard out with his own gun.

And he walks through the house as the music swells louder—I love this piece of music, just causally—to find Parker in an enormous bedroom.

Parker is actually Richard “Sugar-Flavoured Snob” Briers—and if you don’t recognise that quotation, you need to watch the episode of The Young Ones where Vyvyan rants, “I hate it, it’s so bloody nice. They’re nothing but a couple of reactionary stereotypes confirming the myth that everyone in England is a loveable middle-class eccentric”—and he recognises Owen as Torchwood.

OWEN: I’m a doctor.
PARKER: You’re a very violent doctor.

Parker says they should have sent Tosh—“that Japanese girl”—because she has pretty legs, and he explains he should be dead, but he has this alien artefact, which he calls the Pulse.

The Pulse is what’s sending out the energy signals, but Owen says it’s not what’s keeping Parker alive. Its energy isn’t going into Parker.

Parker asks what is keeping him alive, and Owen says it’s hope.

Parker, not surprisingly, is furious at this, saying that Owen knows nothing about life or death, and that he, Parker, is better off dead. He hands the Pulse to Owen, and says he’s alone, alone in the dark.

He wants to hear about Torchwood, about the aliens. He says he needs to know there’s more out there than just this. He asks Owen to come back and tell him everything, once he’s dropped the Pulse off. Owen says maybe—but then Parker goes into cardiac arrest.

This is where Owen not breathing would be a disadvantage, I would think.

Nick becomes quite furiously angry at this point, saying that as long as Owen can breathe in and out, he can perform artificial respiration. I make a mild-mannered suggestion that it might have to do with oxygen exchange, but Nick mocks me.

As Owen is (in the present) explaining to the woman on the rooftop how many people he’s killed and (in the past) leaning over Parker’s body, Tosh says that the Pulse’s energy signals are off the scale. It’s going to explode.

Owen says he’ll absorb the energies, but Tosh says he can’t survive.

He’s not worried about this, and he send messages to each of the members of Torchwood, telling Jack never to try and bring him back and Tosh that he’s sorry.

Tosh says she loves him, and he leans over the device as the energy brightens.

(In passing, the Pulse looks like nothing so much as a fluorescent bicycle helmet.)

Back on the rooftop, the woman asks Owen what happened. And he says we all expect life to be shit, but it’s not, necessarily. He pulls the Pulse out of his bag, and she asks what it is.

He says it’s a reply to all the messages they sent out to alien civilisations unknown in the 1970s—not that they know who it’s from. She asks what it did, and he said it sang to him.

Back outside the Hub, Martha is packing her bags and leaving, as Owen is restored to his position in Torchwood. She says goodbye to everyone, and snogs Jack, who looks a bit shocked.

MARTHA: Well, everybody else has had a go!

In the blue-lit Hub, Tosh asks Owen to promise not to tough it out any more, but to tell her when it’s hard for him.

He says he’s scared: he’s scared he’ll close his eyes and get stuck. She says she’s there for him, and tucks her hands through his arm. After a brief pause, he pats her hand.

And walking away from the Hub, he sees a photograph flutter to the ground at his feet, looks up, and sees the woman on the rooftop. And we’re back at the present.

The woman says she thought he came up here to jump, and he says no: he came up here to help.

He asks her name (she says Maggie) and he says if she still sees no glimmer of hope in the darkness—as he holds the Pulse out, and it send ribbons of light out over Cardiff—then she should jump.

She doesn’t.

Though this being Torchwood, I was pretty sure she would.

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Three

Posted 3 November 2009 in by Catriona

ME: Aren’t you glad I talked you into buying “She Sells Sanctuary”?
NICK: It didn’t take much convincing.
ME: No, but you didn’t have it already.
NICK: I probably have it somewhere.
ME: Unless it’s on that Goth three-disk collection, I doubt it. You don’t have any Cult albums, except for Pure Cult. And it’s not on that.
ME: It sounds like it should be a best-of, Pure Cult.
NICK: It’s just lucky it didn’t go out . . .
ME: . . . with a typo in the title. Yes, yes, yes.

Here endeth the gratuitous Spaced references for the night.

Moon, Moon, Moon

Posted 3 November 2009 in by Catriona

(I’m listening to The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” as I upload these. True story.)

I Make My Own Fun

Posted 2 November 2009 in by Catriona

I spent much of yesterday completing a job-application package and occasionally tweeting about the process, as follows:

Selection criteria are sent to try us. Is it too much to ask that someone just give me a job without my applying? Oh, wait: yes. Yes, it is.

Still, I think academia should have the option to just “discover” an academic, maybe in a library. You know, like a model in a coffee shop.

I mean, how great would that be? “Excuse me, Doctor. I see you’re reading up on Victorian literature. Have you considered academia at all?”

“Here’s my card, if you want to give academia a try. Don’t worry: it’s a real university. Bring your research assistant, if you’d rather.”

“I mean, I’ve seen a lot of potential academics come through this library, but your brain’s really unusual, you know? That’s hot right now.”

“Let me guess: your father was a Leavisite, but your mother was part Marxist—New Historicist, maybe? Yeah, yeah: I can see that, now.”

“It’ll just be a couple of Tier 2 journals to begin with: can’t expect the big time straightaway. Seriously, Doctor, take my card. Call me!”

More Moon

Posted 2 November 2009 in by Catriona

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Utopia"

Posted 2 November 2009 in by Catriona

So here we are for the first of the three-parter that concludes season three of Doctor Who. Hurray! And also sigh. This means a long, long wait for the next full season, though we do have “Waters of Mars” shortly—middle of November in the U.K., so hopefully not too far behind on the ABC.

Yeah, I know: not up to my usual pre-live blogging rambling, is it?

And now I’m just sitting here, staring at the computer screen and yawning. That doesn’t bode well for the liveliness of the live-blogging, does it? Though, actually, by the time I was finished typing that sentence, I was actually watching the presenter from the Triple J television programme tormenting a cat. Sure, I don’t think he actually killed it, but that was still one seriously peeved cat.

Hmm. Wolfmother + Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” = one slightly cringing nineteenth-century scholar/Kate Bush fan.

I wonder how many songs are based on nineteenth-century songs? Poll in the comments!

Ah, there you go: I’m back to normal. There’s a relief.

Oh, lovely: caterwauling. Just what you need at this time of night.

The TARDIS materialises in Cardiff, much to Martha’s screeching surprise. Seriously, that was a screech.

And here comes Captain Jack! Haring through the streets of Cardiff, with his back pack, throwing himself at the TARDIS as it dematerialises. So we have a connection to the end of season one of Torchwood.

Bits of the TARDIS explode.

NICK: Learn about fuses, Doctor.

The Doctor says the TARDIS is hurtling to the end of the universe—and Captain Jack is clinging to the outside.

Somewhere, heavily tattooed people with extravagant dentition raise their heads to say, “Hoo-mans. Hoo-mans are coming.”



Oh, hey, it’s that guy from The Bill! But he’s been spotted by one of the people with extravagant dentition. He begs them to let him go, but they start screeching.

Hey, it’s Derek Jacobi! C-C-C-C-Claudius! And his lab-coated insectoid assistant who, while he drinks coffee, is happy drinking her own internal milk. Professor Yana (Jacobi) says that’s quite enough information, and I agree with him.

As his assistant explains to a disembodied voice that their calculations are coming along nicely, Professor Yana comes over all dizzy, with beating drums in his head. As his assistant rouses him, they see the signal of the TARDIS’s arrival.

The Doctor says that this is further than even Time Lords usually come, he says they should leave—but, of course, he’s too keen to see what’s outside in the year fifty trillion or so.

Which is dead Jack.

DOCTOR: I think he came with us. Clinging to the outside of the TARDIS. All the way through the vortex. That’s very him.

Jack comes back to life, though the Doctor doesn’t seem terribly keen to see him. The Doctor asks if Jack’s had some work done, and Jack’s says, “You can talk!” Jack then asks whether Rose actually died in the Battle of Canary Wharf, and the Doctor tells him about the parallel universe. The two share a manly cuddle, and Martha sulks.

Jack explains how he managed to get away after he was killed by the Daleks, and the Doctor is scornful about Jack’s method of travelling.

DOCTOR: It’s like I’ve got a sports car and you’ve got a space hopper.

Martha and Jack share stories, and the Doctor is not thrilled about the suggestion that he just leaves his companions behind.

DOCTOR: We’re at the end of the universe. The end of all knowledge. And you two are busy blogging!

Hey, nothing wrong with blogging.

There are some significant looks between Jack and the Doctor as the Doctor reveals he knows that Jack can’t die—though Jack has actually pretty much said exactly that—before they spot the human hunt from earlier, and hare off down the mountainside to save the human, as Jack, in the rear, shouts, “Oh, I missed this.”

They save the human, but they can’t get to the TARDIS, because the enthusiastically toothed pursuers are in the way. So they hare towards the silo they spotted earlier, where the soldiers guarding it let them in, after they’ve shown that they have ordinary teeth.

Professor Yana is thrilled to hear that there’s a doctor just arrived: he asks the disembodied voice is it’s a doctor of medicine, and the voice says that “He says ‘of everything.’”

Yana assumes that this means he’s a scientist, and I get a little annoyed. But only a little, because it’s Derek Jacobi.

We see dozens and dozens of humans, looking like refugees, huddled in the corridor, as the hunted human is reunited with his mother, and Jack is prevented from chatting up a pretty boy.

And, of course, the Doctor opens a hatch he’s not supposed to open and sees the massive rocketship waiting to take these people to “Utopia,” wherever that is. But before we can do more than gape at the scale of the ship, Yana turns up and grabs the Doctor, bubbling away with excitement about the Doctor’s presence.

Jack is stopped from chatting up Yana’s blue assistant, and Martha is more than a little freaked out by the fact that Jack is carrying the Doctor’s disembodied hand in a backpack.

The discussion about the Doctor’s ability to grow a new hand prompts Yana to ask what species the Doctor is.

DOCTOR: Time Lord, last of. Legend? Anyone? Not even a myth. Blimey, the end of the universe is a bit humbling.

He asks Yana what they’re doing here with this rocketship that, sadly, the Doctor can’t help him get working, and Yana asks how he doesn’t know about Utopia: all humans know about Utopia, he says. The Doctor says he’s a bit of a hermit.

YANA: A hermit, with friends?
DOCTOR: Hermits United. We meet up every ten years. Swap stories about caves. It’s good fun—for a hermit.

Yana tells the Doctor about the message they received: “Come to Utopia,” over and over again from far across the stars. And the Doctor, being who he is, manages to get the rocketship powered up with just his sonic screwdriver. Who dissed the sonic screwdriver, eh? Oh, that’s right: it was Jack. But then he died. So it all evens out, especially since he got better.

The disembodied voice tells all passengers to prepare for immediate boarding, and Martha makes friends with the little blonde boy—girl? No, boy—who showed them around everywhere.

But, as the blonde boy heads into the rocketship, we see the key plot point that I completely forgot to mention earlier: one of the Futurekind (the enthusiastically toothed people from earlier) has snuck in among the humans. That can’t be good.

The Doctor and Yana work on the final configurations for the rocketship, but the Doctor realises that Yana is staying behind (with his insectoid assistant, who refuses to go without him). Just then, luckily, a deus ex machina turns up—literally, in the form of the TARDIS, and the Doctor says that he has a way of getting Yana out as well.

Yana’s headache comes back, and he tells the Doctor that it’s the sound of drums, which he’s suffered all his life.

There’s a cute scene there with Martha and the insectoid assistant, which I’m running too far behind to recap.

The communication system goes down, and Martha offers to help. So we have Martha, Yana, and the Doctor standing around the monitor, watching a man manually doing . . . something. I’m not sure what, but it involves radiation. And despite Jack’s best efforts at keeping the radiation levels even, they lose power, because the Futurekind saboteur is destroying every piece of wiring she can get her hands on, before being shot by soldiers.

The man who was communicating with the man in the radiation chamber yells at him to get out, but he’s incinerated by the radiation. Jack tries to jumpstart the cables, to bring it back under their control, and is killed.

This works quite well to everyone’s benefit, because Jack can’t die. (Of course, Martha gave him mouth-to-mouth before she realised this, which allows Jack to wake up saying, “Was someone kissing me?”)

Jack, about to head into the radiation chamber, asks the Doctor how long he’s known, and the Doctor replied, “Ever since I ran away from you.”

Martha tells Yana that she doesn’t know why Jack can’t die, because the Doctor travels through time and space and picks people up like stray dogs. This strikes Yana like a tonne of bricks, though Martha, who has her back turned to Yana, can’t see this.

The Doctor and Jack talk about how and why he is as he is, revealing the Doctor’s prejudice against fixed points in time and space, which is what Jack is now.

Jack says the last thing he remembers from when he was mortal was facing three Daleks, and the word “Dalek” reverberates through Yana’s head.

Then the Doctor explains that the last act of the Time War, Rose’s absorption of the Time Vortex, meant the bringing of life, and the word “Dalek” is replaced in the reverberations in Yana’s head by “Time War.”

Yana is crying by this point.

Jack wonders if he’s out there himself, somewhere, and Doctor says that would be good—the only man Jack would ever be happy with. Jack says this regeneration is a little cheeky, and the word “regeneration” reverberates through Yana’s head.

But Yana’s assistant sees now that he’s crying, and asks why. He says it’s the idea of time travel: he’s always been fascinated by time, he says, and he pulls out a watch, just like the watch that the Doctor had in “Human Nature”/“Family of Blood.” The watch that contained the Time Lord’s essence when the Doctor became human.

Martha backs away slowly, and runs down as fast as she can to find the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t know whether to be thrilled or horrified, but then he realises that the professor can see the watch now, now that Martha has brought it to his attention.

And we see Yana staring at his watch, and we hear Roger Delgado speaking and Anthony Ainley laughing.

Back down below the rocketship, Martha reminds the Doctor of the Face of Boe’s dying words: You Are Not Alone.

And the Doctor just happens to be staring at the word “Yana” as he hears this—or should we say the acronym “Yana.”

Yana, standing in front of the TARDIS, turns around slowly, and we see that this is not Yana. Not the Yana we’ve been seeing—especially not when he destroys the base defenses, letting the Futurekind in, as the Doctor, Jack, and Martha race through the compound.

His assistant tries to stop him, even drawing a weapon. But Yana simply says that now he can say he was provoked, as he picks up a sizzling cable, one of the ones that Jack electrocuted himself on. He asks why, in all this time, she never thought to ask about the watch, never thought to set himself free.

She calls him “Professor,” and he says that that’s not his name: the professor was an invention, he says. She asks who he is, and he says, “I am the Master.”


Three years I waited for the Master to come back. I knew he wasn’t dead. I knew he wouldn’t have gone back to fight and die in the Time Wars. Not the Master!

Then he kills his assistant, as the Doctor is beating on doors and begging Yana not to open the watch.

But Yana’s assistant still has her gun, and she shoots him. He stumbles into the TARDIS, complaining about being shot by an insect, and a girl insect at that.

The Doctor begs him to open the TARDIS doors, saying it’s only the two of them now, and they have to stick together. But the Master has a better idea: regeneration. And the Doctor watches the light of the regeneration from outside the TARDIS, while Jack and Martha try desperately to hold the main doors shut against the Futurekind.

Then the Master wakes up as John Sim. He’s not really comfortable with his new voice, which Martha says she recognises, but that doesn’t stop him from making the Doctor beg—and admit that he knows that this is the Master—and then from just taking off in the TARDIS after all, though the Doctor seems to be doing something with his sonic screwdriver.

Oh, how will our plucky heroes ever get out of this one?!

Strange Conversations: Part Two Hundred and Twenty-Two

Posted 2 November 2009 in by Catriona

ME: You only have to put the roast mushrooms on half the pizza if you like. They still have that mushroomy texture you don’t like.
NICK: Actually, I find marinade makes everything better.
ME: It’s quite sharp. There must be some lemon in it.
NICK: I love lemon. Lemon makes everything better.
ME: No.
ME: No.
NICK: I suppose lemon makes most things better but not everything?
ME: Yes. Case in point: papercuts.
NICK: True.



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