Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "From Out Of The Rain"
Posted 20 November 2009 in Doctor Who by Catriona
I have no idea what’s happening on Hyperdrive right now. Of course, I don’t much care, either, so there is that. And I probably won’t figure it out in the thirteen minutes we have left of the episode.
Heather has come along for the live-blogging again, and Michelle as well this time, which I think is a first. Ooh, Heather’s going to be annoyed if there aren’t any carparks in this episode. And I don’t think it’s the most carparky of episodes.
So tired. I hope this live-blogging makes some kind of sense.
I will say that the spaceships in Hyperdrive are kinda sexy. That one was a bit like a Siamese fighting fish. Or an enthusiastic goldfish, maybe.
Opening monologue. Also some shouting at the computer for misbehaving, which confused my guests briefly.
We open in the past, judging from the costumes, as people walk out in a field, past flaming torches, to a circus, complete with even-creepier-then-usual clowns and a ringmaster with a sinister moustache.
A young girl accepts a ticket from the ringmaster, and runs into the circus, as her mother hearing a noise behind her, glances back over her shoulder. When she glances back, her child and the entire circus are gone.
Credits. No one is surprised to see that P.J. Hammond wrote this episode.
A young man in glasses is watching old newsreel footage in his home, surrounded by dangling strips of negatives. But in the middle of a random scene, he see the ringmaster beckoning him—even when the newsreel stops running.
In the Hub, Jack comes in to see Tosh, telling her that he heard an old sound, like a pipe organ. Did she hear it? No, she says.
Where’s Ianto? he asks. Ianto would know. But Tosh says that Ianto, Gwen, and Owen have gone to an old cinema with history of rift activity, to check it out. When she turns back, Jack is gone.
It may be for work, but Ianto is very excited about visiting the Electro, which is a beautiful, beautiful building.
The man running it wants to know where his “useless son” is, because he’s the one with the film. And, sure enough, that’s the boy from the earlier scene.
HEATHER: Why is the boy splicing things in a warehouse/Unabomber-style hideout?
NICK: Because he couldn’t find a carpark.
This is, to Gwen’s apparent disappointment, an educational film, and a deliberately anachronistic evening, complete with cinema pianist.
But it doesn’t stay educational for long: the circus footage first flickers in and out of the footage of Hope Street, but soon the circus footage takes over, and you get, as Gwen says, the same pictures over and over again—even though the projectionist has turned the projector off.
And there’s Jack! Ianto sees footage of Jack flickering up on screen, but no one else does. And then the footage turns into the beckoning ringmaster, before flickering away into nothing. Gwen tells Ianto to come on, but he sees sinister flickering shadows as he walks out into the foyer.
Jack has arrived at this point, and he and Ianto stand in the empty cinema, while Ianto explains what he saw. And Jack says that cinema might have preserved their images, but it killed the travelling shows.
Of course, it hasn’t quite killed this travelling show, because here are the ringmaster and a mysterious woman in a beanie, walking through the rain towards a young woman stranded at a bus-stop. They try to give her a ticket to the travelling show, and it’s interesting, because when the little girl took the ticket in the beginning, Michelle was wondering out loud if this was before the days of “don’t take things from strangers, little girl.” Well, it’s past those days now, because this girl tells them to sod off—but the ringmaster touches her mouth and, as she coughs up some sparkling silver smoke, catches it in a bottle.
Jack is interrogating the projectionist when Tosh says that there’s been a burst of rift activity at the Electro and then again in a small street off Hope Street—where Torchwood find the girl from before, her mouth all puckered and dried, sitting at the bus-stop staring at nothing.
Owen says that she has a heartbeat but she’s not breathing: they’ll have to get her to hospital.
The ringmaster and the woman have moved onto a small cafe where, when the owner opens the door to tell them to go away, they repeat their earlier process, draining the liquid out of her.
The cafe owner has been brought into the hospital where the bus-stop girl is being held, as Owen tells them that she’s been completely dehydrated, and shouldn’t still be alive.
Torchwood stride down the corridor as Jack says for them to still be alive under these circumstances, their life force must have been separated. It must be held somewhere, but they don’t know where, because the two victims were chosen at random.
Back at the Hub, Jack and the team are looking at old footage of his travelling-show days. His was just an ordinary travelling show, but, when he was part of it, there were ghost stories about another, more sinister show, who came from out of the rain, performed only in the dead of night, and left sorrow wherever they went.
Jack’s telling Gwen about the deaths of the travelling shows, as Ianto wants to see the film frame by frame. And, as he does, he notices that the girl from the water tank and the ringmaster have disappeared off the film altogether.
As Jack says, the travelling shows were trapped on film forever—but when the film was played at the Electro, they were released. So Torchwood have to track them down.
JACK: Ianto, you’re with me. I need your local knowledge.
GWEN: Oh, it that what you’re calling it these days?
HEATHER: Gwen is so jealous.
Jack tells Ianto that he was sent to join the travelling show on the orders of someone whom he chooses not to name: he was chasing rumours about the night travellers.
And, speaking of the night travellers, here we are back in the past, watching the ringmaster talk about the girl in the beanie, telling people that she’s the closest thing they’ll ever see to a living mermaid.
And in the Hub in our time, Tosh says she’s registering the ocean—the ocean in the middle of Cardiff. Of course, Cardiff is a port city, isn’t it? But I don’t think that’s a good thing. [Edited to add: I mean, despite the ambiguity here, that I don’t think it’s a good thing that there’s an ocean in the middle of the city. I have no particular problem with Cardiff being a port city, despite what my syntax might imply.] At that point, we see a man suddenly brake his car, telling his wife that he thought he saw ghosts. She tells him not to be so stupid, until she looks out the car window and sees the ringmaster.
The ringmaster and his girl are currently hanging around an abandoned swimming pool, as the girl rants about rain and water, and they both hold the ringmaster’s mysterious bottle up to their ears, listening to the “last breaths forever.”
But the girl isn’t entirely satisfied: she wants to bring the other people out of the film, to travel with them again. The ringmaster agrees.
Heather makes an observation that I can’t possibly put on the blog because it would skew my search results too far.
At the hospital, Jack and Ianto look at the catatonic bodies of the two boys who were in the car, but when Jack says, “They came from out of the rain,” the nurse says that she’s heard those words before, from Christina, a woman in a psychiatric unit who was terrified of stage performances.
Jack tells Ianto that he thinks they’ve just found their first witness. And Christina tells them about the time the night travellers came to her village—as well as telling Jack that his eyes are too old for his face, which mean he doesn’t belong.
Back at the abandoned swimming pool, the mermaid woman walks slowly across the cracked concrete to a changing room: she creaks the door open, to see a row of silent people, standing and staring forward.
Christina, meanwhile, is telling Jack about the time that the ringmaster asked her if she’d like to join his show, and be in his audience forever. She says he wanted to take her breath and hold it in a flask. She says people disappeared from the village that night.
Jack, at the Hub, realises that if he can find the ringmaster’s silver flask, he can save the people whose breath has been stolen.
The ringmaster, of course, is looking for the rest of his film, to bring the others back to life, which is why it’s a worry when the young projectionist from the Electro comes home to find a mermaid in his bath. But she doesn’t harm him: they’re only looking for the film.
Still, he’s scared half to death, and rings Jack immediately: Jack sets off with Ianto in the Torchwoodmobile. But though the bath is still full, the people have gone by the time Jack gets there.
And when Bernard’s parents arrive at the Electro, they hear organ music. They wonder if Bernard has come in today, after all? But, no: they’re greeted by the mermaid, holding a lantern and saying, “This way, please.”
At the warehouse, Jack comes up with a complicated plot to destroy the ringmaster and the mermaid: he says that they’ve been trapped in the film for so long that they’ve become part of it. But what, he asks, would happen if they filmed them?
I think that would result in a bootleg copy, but what do I know?
This is a complicated plot.
At the Electro, Bernard’s parents are frozen into their seats, because, of course, the circus needs an audience. And as the film plays, the characters begin to step out of the screen, beginning with the strongman and the fire jugglers, then the clowns.
Jack, meanwhile, is crouched behind the seats, secretly filming this, while Owen tries to open the projection room. The ringmaster grabs him, but Owen, of course, doesn’t have any breath. As the ringmaster dashes past, Ianto manages to grab the flask, but the ringmaster catches up to him, and grabs the flask back.
As Jack pulls the film from his camera, and the ringmaster disappears when his image is exposed to light, he throws the flask away—and, with the lid gone, the last breaths of the victims escape into the air.
And the victims gasp and die.
Ianto runs, to grab the flask, but by the time he grabs it, there’s only one breath left in it.
It belongs to one of the small boys from the car, so Jack is able to at least save him, while Ianto, looking on, cries.
JACK (to small boy): Welcome back.
MICHELLE: Your whole family’s dead!
NICK: We’re Torchwood—we only save five percent of people.
We pan over Cardiff, as Jack delivers a speech about how the night travellers might still be somewhere, on another piece of film, a speech that Nick interprets to mean “Preserving the past is bad.”
And, sure enough, a man and his son buy, at a flea market, a reel of film that, when the boy drops it, releases a small burst of sideshow music . . .