by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Dead Man Walking"

Posted 30 October 2009 in by Catriona

We’ve just had the following conversation:

ME: Well, I’m quite hurt, and offering Tim Tams won’t change that.
NICK: Would other kinds of chocolate change that?
ME: How would you get other chocolate?
NICK: I could go get some.
ME: But I have to live blog and I don’t know how to turn the television on!

Seriously. You’d think I’d have learnt by now, but, somehow, living with a geek means you end up with a terribly complicated audio-visual system.

Then the conversation segued to this:

ME: Life never used to be this complicated!
NICK (in the living room): Mumble mumble mumble.
ME: I heard that!
NICK: I didn’t say anything you shouldn’t have heard!
ME: Oh.

So, sometimes that technique backfires. It’s still worth trying.

So, where were we? Oh, yes: Owen was dead.

Tonight’s episode contains violence, but still no sex or swearing. What’s up with you, Torchwood? Slacking off a bit, are we?

We open on Owen’s body, covered with an autopsy sheet, but only to the waist, so we can see the bullet wound over his heart. Martha is doing the autopsy. Oh, Owen is 27? Is it a sign of the approaching apocalypse that I’m older than even the protagonists of “adult” television?

Just as Martha is supposed to make the first incision, Jack leaps into the room and says that no-one is to touch Owen until he gets back. He goes to see a creepy child with Tarot cards, who says she’s been looking forward to seeing the Captain again.

He asks her if she knows where it is. She says she does. Jack asks if it’s in a church, and she says no: when people realised what it could do, they built the church on top of it.

She asks if Jack will reconsider, and he asks, in return, if she knows the answer to that. She says she does, and we see, in the foreground of the shot, that she’s holding the Death card.

The church is full of weevils, by the way, as Jack rummages through such various items as a flag-emblazoned guitar.

But when Jack returns to the Hub and the others ask what he has, we see he’s holding the pair to the Resurrection Mitten.

Gwen says he can’t use it, not after Suzie. But he says he’s using it. He’s bringing Owen back.


Gwen says she thought the glove didn’t work for him, but Jack says it’s a different glove and different circumstances. It has to work, he says, so if they have anything to say to Owen, say it now.

Owen wakes, freaking. And Gwen is horrified, but less so than Martha, who has never seen this before. Owen, unlike the other victims, copes quite well with being brought back to life. Gwen goes to say goodbye, but Owen says that, no offense, he only has two minutes. Tosh tells him she loves him and always has. And Jack . . . Jack asks for the code to the alien morgue, because Owen is the only one who knows it.

Damn, Jack. That’s cold. Even for you.

He does tell Owen a little about what death is, but, this being Torchwood, it’s not comforting.

Owen dies again.

Tosh is weeping. Ianto looks shell-shocked. Jack looks devastated, and grips Owen’s hand, until Owen says, “I’m really going to need that hand, you know.”

Cue general disturbance.

Owen says maybe he wasn’t meant to die, but, in the foreground, we see the glove wiggling its fingers slightly.

Owen puts his pants back on, which, this being Owen, I imagine would do much to reconcile him to life, as Martha tells him that he can’t lead the investigation, because he’s the subject of the investigation and, also, he’s dead.

They determine that Owen is not, unlike Suzie, draining his energy from Jack. [Ambiguity! Suzie wasn’t draining her energy from Jack, of course, but you get the general idea.] Martha gives Owen a device to wear that will monitor the effects of the glove, which are spreading out through his body, changing its composition.

Martha asks Owen what death is like—after he’s asked why she’s stopped flirting with him, and wondered if it’s necrophilia if he’s conscious—and he first tells her he saw pearly gates, and then tells her he saw nothing. He says Suzie said something else, that there was something in the darkness.

Then he falls into a distorting darkness, where something is waiting for him. He screams for Martha, and when we come back, Martha is screaming his name and calling for Jack, saying that Owen collapsed.

In the Hub, Tosh tries to talk to Owen about what she said to him, and he tells her it’s fine: he knows it was just a grief reaction, and she didn’t mean it. She tries to tell him she did mean it, but he blows her off.

Then he slips back into the darkness, where he hears something that I suspect is supposed to be Latin. Or might actually be Latin. All I know is “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

But as he comes back, he’s speaking the same language, and his eyes are all black. Well, the irises and pupils are black. Nick tells me at this point that this is the same writer as “The Satan Pit.” Figures.

Owen disappears from the Hub, to general consternation.

Martha chews Jack out for not telling UNIT that he could bring people back from the dead. He says it’s still Owen, but Martha says that Owen’s only 50% human, and that 50% is dead.

Ah, video-clip montage.

When we come out of that, Owen is in a night club, being snogged by a girl wearing feathery wings and then trying to beat Jack up.

They’re both arrested, and when Owen tells them that he works for Torchwood—special ops—Jack says, “Special Ops? Special needs, more like it.”

They end up in the same cell, where Jack tells Owen not to kick things, because his ankle won’t heal.

Then there’s a sequence that I don’t think I’ll recap. I’m with Jack on it being the most revolting thing I’ve ever seen.

Though, as Nick points out, how can Owen talk, if he can’t metabolise things?

Never mind.

They discuss Proust. Owen asks if Jack’s read Proust, rather skeptically, and Jack says, “Yes. Well, no. We dated for a while. He was really immature.”

So what we have here is a dead man talking to an immortal man. Owen is cherishing every last minute, even the feeling of the bricks under his fingers, because he doesn’t know when his body will give up for good, while Jack says that when you live forever, you don’t even notice the feel of the bricks.

Jack says he’s had enough, and gives the police his Torchwood authorisation code.

Gwen says that Jack has found Owen, and Tosh asks if he’s himself again. When Gwen asks what she means, Tosh says she’s been watching CCTV footage of Owen, which Gwen, rightly, points out is a little like stalking. But she shuts up when she sees the creepy eyes/Latin combo.

Meanwhile, Jack and Owen are surrounded by weevils. Jack tells Owen to leave, because they’re after him for stealing the glove from them. But Owen doesn’t.

Heather! Carpark!

Wow, that’s a lot of weevils. All in their complimentary weevil boiler suits. Jack and Owen end up on the top story of a carpark, but, as Jack tells Owen to get behind him and pulls his gun, the weevils all kneel and, seemingly, pray.

And Owen has the creepy eyes and Latin happening again.

Tosh uses her secret translation device on Owen’s weird Latin ranting, and they hear him saying, “I shall walk the earth, and my hunger shall know no bounds.”

When Jack returns to the Hub with Owen, Gwen shows them early woodcuts of Death, who is associated with Death. The legends come from five-hundred years back in Cardiff’s history, when a little girl died of the plague and, when she was brought back, brought Death with her. Death killed twelve people, needing thirteen souls to cross over permanently.

They decide that Owen is becoming a gateway: that’s what the changes to his body are doing. So he tells them that they need to embalm him. They need to inject formaldehyde into his veins, to shut his brain down.

OWEN: It’s the only way to be sure.
ME: No. You could always nuke the planet from orbit.

Gwen asks Owen if he’s sure, and I offer my “nuking the planet from orbit” option again. But Owen says yes, he’s sure: he can’t sleep, drink, or shag, and those are three of his favourite things. He’s ready to pass over.

So they dress him, oddly, in white scrubs, and he walks through the Hub, past Ianto. Gwen walks with him. Martha, Tosh, and Jack are prepping the medical room.

And as Jack asks if Owen is ready for the first injection, the Resurrection Mitten goes nuts, leaping straight for Martha’s throat. Martha screams, which is not something I associate with Martha, but then it is a sentient gauntlet. That would throw anyone.

The next scene, in which they spread out looking for the glove, Nick says is an Alien reference, but it reminds me of nothing so much as the last time a huntsman spider got into the house.

Well, until the gauntlet leaps out and hugs Martha’s face. That’s definitely an Alien reference.

Then Owen shoots it—well, not, obviously, while it’s still on Martha’s face—despite Tosh’s warnings that this might be the end of Owen.

Then we hear Gwen gently saying Martha’s name, and we see that she looks about eighty.

NICK: Oh, the Doctor’s going to be so pissed at you, Jack.

Jack says that the glove did this to Martha, while we see the shadowy figure of Death, as a cloud of smoke, leave Owen’s body and kill Jack. But not temporarily.

They take Martha to the hospital, where the doctor says it’s very lovely of them to look in on their elderly neighbour and collect her pension, but that she’s got to be, what, eighty? So they need to accept that she’s going to die.

Jack tries to send Owen back to the Hub, saying he’s not safe. But it’s too late: Death is at the hospital with them. They can tell, because there are weevils everywhere outside. And, sure enough, people are starting to die.

They evacuate the hospital, but there are multiple Code 4s (heart attacks) in intensive care, and there’s at least one boy who has his headphones on, so he hasn’t heard the evacuation code.

Death seems to have killed eight people, leaving five to go. Of course, the Torchwood staff number five. If you count Martha but not Owen.

IANTO: I’ve searched on the term “I shall walk the earth and my hunger shall know no bounds,” but I keep getting directed to Weightwatchers.

Low blow, Torchwood.

This is all reminding me less of Alien or Aliens at the moment, and more of that episode of Buffy where she had the flu. That might be because a small boy is being stalked through the hospital by Death. Tosh and Owen grab the boy and run.

Gwen says that Death now has twelve victims. Which twelve? There were only eight before, and the hospital had been evacuated. So where did the other four come from, if they aren’t the Torchwood staff?

Never mind.

Turns out that the answer is a puzzle. They knew that the priest stopped Death at twelve souls through “faith.” And it seems now that the little girl who died of the plague, the one who started the whole process, was Faith.

Owen realises that she had nothing to lose, because she was already dead.

And he pushes Jamie—the little boy—out of the room, after a pep talk about how he can survive the cancer, and pushes Tosh out, too, despite her protests.

Tosh screams and and beats on the door as Owen taunts Death, asking him how long he can survive in here alone with only twelve souls. “No one here but us dead men,” he says. “Owen Harper’s soul has left the building.”

And he grabs Death, and holds him by the wrists until he fades.

But Owen is still walking.

Ianto, left out of the excitement, asks plaintively over the comms, “Jack? Jack? Anyone?” He’s less than thrilled when the “anyone” turns out to be the newly young Martha, who grabs his shoulder.

Back at the Hub, Martha says he’s absorbed an intense amount of energy, and she doesn’t know how long it will take to dissipate. Until it does, he’s a walking dead man.

He asks Jack if he can keep working, to make up for the fact that people died because Jack brought him back to life.

Jack says they’ll see.

Now that’s an uncommon approach to the death of a primary character, you have to admit.

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

Posted 26 October 2009 in by Catriona

I’ve not been looking forward to live-blogging this episode. I admit it. It’s not that I dislike it: I don’t. I adore it. And that’s part of it: I’d really rather just like to watch it. But my other concern is that this will be very, very difficult to live-blog. It’s so visual, for a start.

Still, we’ll give it a go, shall we?

In the meantime, have I mentioned how irritated I am by this Triple J programme? There’s just such a surfeit of smugness. Sigh: it’s difficult being too old for Triple J television.

The storm seems to have passed over—and what a lovely, lovely storm it was, except for that one lightning strike, which was a little too close for comfort—but we’re still surrounded by lightning and thunder. If one can be surrounded by thunder. Or, for that matter, lightning.

Wow, the ABC has many, many adverts now.

We open on a wrought-iron gate over which a very, very pretty girl is climbing, ignoring the “Danger: Keep Out” signs.

She’s heading into a deserted house, to take photographs. I’m typing slowly, because I have to keep glancing at the screen.

She pulls some wallpaper off the wall, to reveal the messages “Beware the weeping angels,” “Duck,” “No, really,” and “Sally Sparrow, duck now.”

She ducks, and a rock comes in through the window.

When she looks out, she sees a stone angel, with its hands over its eyes. Heading back to the wall, she pulls off more paper, to see the final message: “Love from the Doctor, 1969.”


Sally Sparrow, walking up the stairs calling for Kathy, sees the Doctor on the television, telling her never to turn her back, to look away. He says they’re faster, faster than she can imagine. And whatever she does, not to blink.

As we pan back, we see the Doctor’s on more than one screen.

Sally calls her friend Kathy, to reveal that she is in Kathy’s kitchen, making coffee. Kathy says Sally’s about to meet her (Kathy’s) brother, who pops up to say he’s not sure, but he really hopes he’s wearing pants.

Sally says no.

The next morning, Sally (Sparrow) and Kathy (Nightingale)—who, as Kathy points out, sound like girl investigators (“A bit ITV,” says Sally)—break back into the deserted house.

Sally, looking at the weeping angel, says it’s closer to the house than it was last night.

Just then, someone knocks on the door. Kathy says she’ll stay back, just in case it’s a burglar. (“A burglar who rings the doorbell?” Sally asks.)

But it’s not a burglar; it’s a man in a suit who has been charged to deliver a letter to Sally at this place and this time.

Kathy hears a noise, and heads out. She glances at the angel, and when she turns her back, we see that the angel has moved its hands away from its face.

Kathy steps back into the house, and, behind her, we see the angel has moved closer.

Sally proves her identity to the man in the suit, and behind Kathy, we see the angel, now in the hallway, with its hand outstretched.

The man in the suit says he has a letter for Sally, from Kathy. Sally turns away to ask Kathy if this is a joke—but Kathy is gone, and the angel is back in the garden.

Indeed, Kathy isn’t in London any more. She’s in Hull. In 1920. This man in the suit is her grandson, who has been charged by her with delivering the letter. Kathy died twenty years ago.

Sally leafs through the letter and the accompanying photos, and tells the man that this is sick. She runs upstairs, calling for Kathy, and if she’s not frightened to see the hallway full of angel statues—who move their hands away from their faces when Sally turns her back, and move them back up when she turns back—we are.

She sees a statue holding a key, and grasps it—when she hears the man in the suit leaving, she runs downstairs, narrowly avoiding the out-stretched hand of an angel. As Sally leaves the house, we see the angels watching her from the windows.

Sally sits in a cafe and reads Kathy’s letter, then stops by Kathy’s grave—noting in passing “You told him you were eighteen? You lying cow!”—and walks off, watched by one of the stone angels.

Sally heads off to tell Laurence, Kathy’s brother, what happened to her. She heads into the back room of the video store where he works, and there’s the Doctor on the screen again, seemingly speaking directly to her.

She tells Laurence—who has remembered where he last met Sally, and covered himself—that Kathy has had to go away for work, and that she loves him. Laurence is slightly freaked out by this.

The Doctor starts talking again (his pause button slips, apparently) and Sally asks what he is: Laurence says he’s an Easter egg, a hidden feature on seventeen unconnected DVDs. Laurence says he and the guys are trying to work out what it means.

SALLY: When you say you and the guys, you mean the Internet, don’t you?
LAURENCE: How did you know?

Then the Doctor starts responding to Sally. The first time could be coincidental, but when she says “It’s as though you can hear me” and he says, “Well, I can hear you,” that’s not so coincidental.

As Sally leaves the video store, the clerk is shouting at the screen he’s watching, telling the heroine to go to the police. “Why does no one ever go to the police?” he asks.

So Sally goes to the police, where she sees the angels on the building opposite. Slowly, slowly, she blinks—and they disappear. She says to herself that she’s going mad, but when the camera pulls back, we see the angels are outside the police station.

She meets a terribly sweet policeman called Billy Shipton, who says he can’t talk to her right now because he has a thing—until he looks up and actually sees her.

Billy asks Sally to have a drink, and she asks if he’s on duty, but he says he clocked off before he took her to show her the cars that have been found at the deserted house. Well, many cars and one TARDIS.

She asks why he did that, and he says, “Because life is short and you are hot.”

She agrees, after some banter, to give him her phone number, and when he asks her name, says “Sally Shipton. Sparrow! Sparrow!”

He says he’ll call her, and she says he’d better, all the while blushing and saying “Don’t look at me!”

Billy says “I’ll call you, gorgeous girl!” but when he turns around, there are four stone angels surrounding the TARDIS.

Slowly, slowly, Billy blinks.

Outside the police station, Sally realises that Billy told her nothing would open the TARDIS, but she has this mysterious key. She heads back into the parking garage, but Billy is gone.

Because he’s in 1969, while the Doctor and Martha explain that, well, firstly he’s in 1969, but it’s all right, he’s going to really enjoy the moon landing, and, secondly, that the angels are psychopaths who zap you into the past and let you live to death while, in the present, they feed off your potentiality.

The Doctor says he needs Billy to take a message to Sally, and he’s sorry, but it’s going to take Billy a long time.

Back in 2007, Sally gets a phone call from Billy—who is in a nursing home.

BILLY: It was raining when we met.
SALLY: It’s the same rain.

The Doctor’s message is that Sally needs to look at the list, the list of DVDs. And Billy explains that he didn’t stay a policeman: he got into publishing, then video publishing, and then DVDs. It was he who put the Easter eggs on.

He tells Sally that the Doctor told him Sally would understand one day, but that he, Billy, never would. Sally says she’ll come and tell him all about it, but Billy says no: they have only this one meeting, the night he dies.

BILLY: Ah. Life is long, and you are hot.

Sally says she’ll stay with him, and he says he has until the rain stops.

Later, Sally stands at the window in the sunlight, and looks at the list—and she realises something. She rings Laurence, and tells him that she knows what the seventeen DVDs have in common: they’re all the DVDs she owns. She tells Laurence to bring a portable DVD player to the deserted house.

And that’s when she realises that all the random things that the Doctor is saying are actually a conversation he’s having with her from thirty-eight years in the past.

He can’t hear her, he says, but he knows what she’s going to say, because Laurence is writing Sally’s answers into his transcripts of the Doctor’s words.

The angels have the phone box! That’s Laurence’s favourite bit. You and many other geeks on the Internet, Laurence: we checked about thirty seconds after this episode ended, and there were about forty T-shirts with that on.

The Doctor explains that the weeping angels are quantum locked: they don’t exist when they’re being observed. That’s why they cover their eyes: they can’t risk seeing each other. But once you blink or look away, you’re dead.

And then the Doctor points out that the transcript ends, and he knows the angels are coming for her. But she has to get the TARDIS to him. And the DVD ends.

Laurence says he’ll rewind it, but Sally realises that neither of them are looking at the statue—which is looming over them as soon as they look at it.

Laurence stands and stares at the statue as Sally frantically tries to open doors, but he blinks—and the statue is right there when he opens them.

The doors are locked, and they flee downstairs, looking for a delivery hatch, though Laurence has to take his eyes off the statue to follow her. The other three angels are downstairs, standing around the TARDIS. Sally keeps her eyes on them as she heads towards the TARDIS. But Laurence’s angel follows them and starts the lights blinking.

This scene is amazing and almost impossible to live-blog. But as Sally frantically tries to open the doors, the lights blink on and off, showing the angels ever closer and in more menacing positions each time.

The DVD that Laurence carries is a time key, though, valid for one journey: as the angels frantically rock the TARDIS, it dematerialises—right away from Sally and Laurence, who scream and cower in a circle of angels.

But the angels are looking at each other, from where each was standing on one side of the TARDIS. They’ll never move again.

Sally and Laurence are in the shop, and Laurence asks if she can’t let it go, as she rifles through a folder of material to do with the angels. She says she can’t, because there are unanswered questions, such as how the Doctor got the transcript.

But as Sally looks up, she sees the Doctor and Martha, with bows and arrows over their shoulders, leaping out of a taxi. She accosts the Doctor, but he doesn’t know who she is. She realises that she is the one who gave him the transcript in the first place: she does so, telling him he’ll need it when he’s stuck in 1969.

He’s not quite sure what’s happening, but he’s charming.

DOCTOR: Gotta dash. Things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things, and a lizard.

Laurence arrives and boggles, but the Doctor leaves to deal with his swarm, and Sally, putting her arm around Laurence, walks back with him into Sparrow and Nightingale: Antiquarian Books and Rare DVD’s [their apostrophe].

And we flash through various statues on various roofs, as the Doctor exhorts us not to blink.

Man, after the first time I watched that episode, I nearly had a panic attack every time I had to walk past a public building. Bless you, Steven Moffat!

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Reset"

Posted 23 October 2009 in by Catriona

Well, I didn’t manage to finish my novel today, as I promised everyone on Twitter that I would do. But I did manage to write somewhere around five thousand words, so I am feeling a little smug.

Of course, I should have been finishing an article on the construction of the mid-Victorian penny weekly as a commodity between 1862 and 1897, but I didn’t.

Still, a productive day.

I worry a little that the nature of the novel might have suffered, since it’s supposed to be light and whimsical children’s fantasy, but I wrote most of today’s chapters while listening to The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, to drown out the sound of construction next door and the whimpering of the neighbours’ new and neglected dog.

It’s a fab soundtrack, but not really suited to whimsical children’s fantasy, wouldn’t you say?

And that’s probably enough nattering on about my day, especially since the episode doesn’t even start for another eight minutes.

Oh, I thought of something else I wanted to say. After all, I haven’t had my usual Friday-night whinge. I completely destroyed Nick at Wii Boxing the other day, and my arms are still sore.

Eye of the tiger, arms of the squirrel, apparently.

Ah, but here we are with the actual episode. This one contains violence. But no sex or swearing, apparently.

Opening monologue.

Here’s a weevil running up towards a warehouse. Always with the warehouses. It’s wearing its complimentary weevil boiler suit and being chased by Torchwood.

Owen tracks it down, but it runs off and he stumbles across a dead body. No, not literally. Metaphorically.

Someone wanders into Torchwood, and Ianto tells them they’re closing, until she flashes a badge, and he leaps up with a “Sorry, ma’am.” He tells Jack that his V.I.P. visitor has arrived—and it’s Martha.


They embrace. Of course they do: it’s Jack. He cuddles everyone—well, except Donna. I never did figure that out.

Owen asks what Martha’s doing there, and she says she’s there to complete his autopsy. Jack says she’s UNIT, and Gwen asks which one UNIT is. Jack says that they’re the “acceptable” face of alien research, but that Torchwood are better looking.

While I type that, there’s a fair bit of discussion about what ties all the victims together, but I miss most of it.

Afterwards, Jack and Martha chat a little about surviving the end of the world, and Jack asks about her family, because, of course, they remember the events at the end of the world, as well. He asks if she misses the Doctor, and she says a little, sometimes. But it seems that the Doctor recommended her to UNIT.

Then Jack asks if she can get him one of those red caps, for recreational purposes—he thinks Ianto would look good in it.

Gwen asks how long Martha has known Jack, and Martha accidentally gives the impression that they slept together. Gwen says she hasn’t either, and they bond over the fact that they must be the only two people on the planet who haven’t.

Then I miss some more complicated technobabble, about an alien device that Owen wants to use for medical purposes, except he keeps blowing things up instead.

A patient shows up who has the same markers as the wave of victims, and Torchwood are off.

Ooh, medical montage. How CSI of them!

Now it’s Owen turn to ask about how Martha knows Jack. She first tells him that she knows Jack “forwards and backwards,” which just sounds filthy if you don’t know he’s a time traveller, and then tells him that they were “both under the same Doctor.”

NICK: Wishful thinking on both their parts, really.

But in the interim, they suggest that the attacks are not only designed to kill, but to obliterate something in the victims’ bloodstreams, which would explain why their medical records have been wiped and why they’re using some form of bleach to attack them.

Based on a new victim, Martha suggests that the attacks are more like assassinations.

And the victim who survived, Marie, is now suffering some sort of attack at the hospital, so Torchwood are off again, thinking she has some kind of parasitic infection.

While Owen and Martha are at the hospital, Ianto and Gwen are talking to Barry’s best friend. (Barry’s the latest victim, the student found in the woods.) And his best friend says that Barry had just been “cured” of diabetes: the best friend thinks there’s nothing weird about this, at all. Did he think that diabetes could be cured?

So, back at the hospital, Owen questions Marie, who says that she used to be HIV+, until she went to the Pharm, for a medical trial for something she calls “Reset.”

Then she dies.

And—oh, ew! Some kind of swarm of things comes out of her mouth to fill the room, but they die almost instantly.

Basically, it’s an alien larvae gestating in a human body. They left Marie when she died, looking for a new host, but Owen and Martha were wearing masks, so they all died.

Owen then heads into some hardcore technobabble, but, basically, it’s like anti-viral software for the human body, assuming that anti-viral software came packaged with deadly alien parasites. The wholesale cures are a side effect of the alien trying to find a healthy host for the larvae.

Hey, the Pharm’s director is Jim Robinson! Jim! Isn’t he doing well for himself?

Torchwood just bully themselves through the gate, where Jim Robinson patronises Jack and pretends not to know his name. He also denies outright that he knows any of the victims, or that they ever took part in any clinical trials.

And then Jack tells him that Marie died from a parasite of alien origin, which seems poor policy, frankly.

Owen tries to talk to Jim Robinson doctor-to-doctor, but he won’t have a bar of it. And even Jack’s “I had a boyfriend once whose nostrils flared when he was lying” doesn’t get a rise out of him.

Then I notice that Jack’s eyes are actually quite green, and I’m distracted slightly.

But Jack notes, via some fancy technology, that the Pharm has the highest concentration of alien lifeforms this side of the Rift.

Still, even if that’s true, they’re incapable of getting into the Pharm or of hacking into their mainframe. (Do we still say mainframe?) But Ianto says they’re looking for volunteers, and Martha offers herself.

Owen pulls Jack aside and tells him he can’t send Martha in on her own, but Jack says he’d depend on Martha if the world was ending—and, in fact, he did.

There’s a gorgeous conversation between Martha and Ianto, when she says that Jack asked her to get Ianto a UNIT cap, and he says red is his colour. So she asks what’s going on with them, and he says they “dabble.”

What’s his dabbling like? Martha asks. And if you’ve ever wondered, Ianto says it’s “innovative.” Indeed, almost “avant-garde.”

He’s so adorable.

So they set Martha up with a fake identity, and some contact lenses that will allow Torchwood to watch what she watches—and, if you keep watching, you’ll see those come up again in a much less comfortable situation.

JIM ROBINSON: I see you’re a postgraduate student at the moment.
JIM ROBINSON: Studying what?
MARTHA: Creative writing.
NICK: Oh, clearly a disposable candidate!

We kid!

Martha lies her way into the Pharm as a test subject, and Jack chats about his past relationship with Christopher Isherwood: “It’s not the getting in that matters, it’s the getting out.”

Tosh tries to ask Owen out on a date, but begins by talking about how he fancies Martha, which seems a bad start.

OWEN: Plus, I think if I try anything, Jack’ll have my kneecaps.
NICK: Owen, Martha will have your kneecaps.

But once Owen realises that Tosh is asking him out, he agrees to go. He doesn’t sound terribly enthusiastic, but he isn’t being a total prick, either, so that’s a step up for Owen.

Meanwhile, Martha is wandering around the Pharm at night.

Tosh is helping Martha through a locked door—honestly, shouldn’t Torchwood have a night shift and a day shift? And why has this never occurred to me before now?—as security guards head down the corridor towards her.

But she’s into Jim Robinson’s office, to try and open up the computer system.

Jack is as anxious as I am, because he knows that this is always the part of the narrative where the heroine is caught.

But she manages to get Tosh remote control of the computer, which means Martha can get out of the office. Well, she should be able to get out of the office. Jack tells her to get out, saying that they can download it all to Torchwood, so she should leave.

But as she wanders back through the buildings, she hears an alarm that tells her that something—something terribly dangerous—has escaped.

Back at the Hub, Jack realises that the Pharm is running their own hitman, which, as he points out, is unusual for a medical-research facility.

Martha’s trying to get out of the Pharm, but the gates are locked. She hears again the warning that the creature is highly dangerous. And, hearing a noise behind her, she turns, into a radiation surge that knocks out the contact lenses. Behind her is a giant insect, but before she can run far, she’s knocked out with a tranq dart.

Owen wants to go in after her, but Jack says that she’s been in worse situations than this. Owen asks if he’s sure about that?

Well, yes. She was the last person to escape before the burning of Japan, remember? Oh, wait: you don’t remember any of that.

Gwen and Ianto prevent an assassination, but Martha isn’t as lucky, as she wakes up strapped to an operating table, as Jim Robinson says her test results show she’s very special.

Back at the Hub, Jack is using a weevil as an interrogation technique. I’m pretty sure that’s against the Geneva Convention.

Back at the Pharm, Jim Robinson is explaining that he knows that Martha has travelled in time and space, and her unusually effective immune system, a result of this travel, makes her an ideal test subject. They inject her, but not, luckily, through the eyeballs, which is how he’s been killing people.

At the Hub, the hitman that Ianto and Gwen grabbed starts bleeding from the mouth, and Owen, trying to grab the giant parasite inside him with the alien surgical tool from earlier, explodes him instead. Everyone takes this in their stride. Except the hitman.

Parasites are incubating inside Martha.

Torchwood uses the hitman’s body to get into the Pharm, by tying him behind the wheel of a car. Ianto is the only person to have an even vaguely normal response to this suggestion.

When Torchwood burst in on Martha, it seems she has survived the larval stage—the first test subject to do so—and only the strongest of the larvae they implanted in her is still alive. Jim Robinson is thrilled about this, but Jack less so.

The rest of Torchwood—Gwen, Ianto, and Tosh—find that the Pharm are holding dozens of different aliens captive, and using them as test subjects. Apparently, you can get some pesticides and a rather powerful chemical defoliant from weevils.

Or was that exfoliant?


Jack says he’s closing the Pharm down. Jim Robinson says no, but Jack says yes: they’re in control of the Pharm’s computers, and they’re wiping the records as they speak, never mind actually destroying the buildings.

Then Owen uses his creepy alien surgical tool on Martha, and kills her—but only slightly and for a short while.

She gets better.

Owen drags Martha out of the building and tries to get in her pants, but she says she has a boyfriend. He says yes, but did he save her life like he just did? She says yes.

So there’s that.

Then Jim Robinson pops up with a gun, still in his labcoat.

Owen steps in front of Martha, and Jim Robinson shoots him.

Man, shot by Jim Robinson. How embarrassing!

Jack shoots Jim Robinson in the head, but it’s all just revenge now, because Owen is dead.

We pan back from Owen’s body.

Well, that’s an unusual take on the victim of the week, isn’t it?

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "The Family of Blood"

Posted 19 October 2009 in by Catriona

The more I see of Triple J TV, the more irritated I become with absolutely everyone involved in it.

Sigh. I suppose I’m just not the Triple J demographic any more, am I?

Good thing I never listened to Triple J, or I’d be really depressed by now.

And I’m fairly sure everyone knows this already, but it’s worth repeating: even if you’re a rock star, wearing your sunglasses inside just makes you look like a prat. (Unless you’re blind, of course.)

In today’s Wii Fit news, as we await the second part of the Doctor Who two-parter, the chirpy balance board told me today that I’m 32, though it still suspects that I trip over a lot while walking.

I am 32, of course, so I’m quite stocked by this—especially since it estimated my Wii Fit age as 44 yesterday.

Ah, here we are with a brief recap of the first part of the two parter, with the Doctor explaining how he became human. And Lattimer explaining his precognition. And we end up in the dance hall, with Baines threatening Martha and the Matron, and leaving the Doctor a difficult choice.


The Doctor, struggling to make his decision, is spotted by Lattimer, who opens the watch, just enough to distract the the Family (spoiler!), enough for Martha to grab the gun and to take Jenny (Mother-of-mine) hostage. Baines thinks Martha won’t pull the trigger, but she’s scary enough that they let Matron go, and Martha tells the Doctor to get everyone out of the hall.

He hesitates a little over Martha, but Martha tells him to take his lady friend home.

He sees Lattimer outside, but Lattimer tells him to stay away, that he’s as bad as the Family. He runs.

Martha backs away, but a scarecrow grabs and disarms her: she runs out, telling the Doctor, still lingering outside, to run: “You’re rubbish as a human!” she tells him.

The Family spilt up: the farmer (Mr Clarke) to follow Martha’s scent to the west to find what she was hiding (the TARDIS) and the others to the school, where the Doctor has sounded the alarm.

Martha objects to the Doctor arming the students, but he says that they’re cadets, trained to protect king and country. The Headmaster objects to the boys taking up arms, but only because he didn’t order it: as the Doctor and Matron explain that Baines and the others are coming here, the Headmaster agrees to arm the boys, but heads out himself to find out what is happening.

Martha objects, but, of course, she’s only a servant, so he doesn’t listen.

Sister of Mine (the balloon girl) skips through the school, to find a way in.

The Headmaster heads out to talk to Baines, and Baines is terribly creepy in this scene, mimicking a schoolboy—at least until he asks for “Mr John Smith and whatever he has done with his Time Lord consciousness.”

Baines says that they are the Family of Blood, but he’s not frightened of the “tin soldiers”: he asks the Headmaster what he knows about the future, whether he thinks his boys, dying in the mud in World War One, will thank him for teaching them that it was glorious.

Then Baines shoots Mr Phillips, the Headmaster’s companion, and sends the Headmaster scurrying into the school to arm his boys.

The upperclassman we saw tormenting Lattimer in the first part is directing the boys to barricade the house, and he pulls Lattimer out of his hiding place, calling him a coward and telling him to do his duty with the others.

The scarecrows advance.

But then the red-balloon girl tells her Family to hold the soldiers back, that the Time Lord is playing some kind of trick. Her Family tell her to locate him.

Martha, meanwhile, is searching frantically for the watch, and explaining to Matron that the Doctor is actually an alien.

MATRON: And “alien” means not from abroad, I take it?

Matron asks some delicate questions about Martha’s relationship to the Doctor, but she really loses faith in Martha’s story when Martha tells her about training to be a Doctor. Not someone of her colour, says Matron, to which Martha responds, “You think?”

Matron says that she may not be a doctor, but she’s still the boys’ nurse: she heads out to help them. The Doctor tries to stop her, but she challenges him to tell her about Nottingham, where he grew up, but all he can tell her are facts that sound as though he read them in an encyclopaedia.

Mr Clarke finds the TARDIS. Whoops.

The upperclassman tells Lattimer that what they’re doing may be the difference between life and death for them, but Lattimer says not for them: he’s seen them, together, in battle. Not this battle: another one. So he knows that they will survive this. And he wonders whether he’s been given the watch for a reason—and he runs.

Upstairs, he is confronted by the red-balloon girl, but he frightens her off by showing her the Doctor inside the watch. Unfortunately, the Family now know that all they need to find is the watch and the boy.

They attack.

And this sequence is insanely hard to watch: the boys—they’re only babies, these boys!—are shaking and crying as they wait for the scarecrows to break down the gates, and we watch these children shooting the scarecrows from behind their sandbag barricades as the boys’ choir (from the opening shot of the school) swells behind them.

But the scarecrows are only straw, and the boys are thoroughly relieved that they’ve killed no one.

But the red-balloon girl shows up, and despite being told that she was with the Family in the village, the Headmaster invites her into the school. She shoots him.

The Doctor, who has been increasingly uncertain through the attack of the scarecrows, orders the boys to put their guns down. And the Family take the school, working through the students one by one to find Lattimer. They’re planning to kill the ones who don’t have the watch when Lattimer, hidden upstairs, opens it and distracts them.

Martha, Matron, and the Doctor escape.

Outside the school, Mr Clarke calls for the Doctor, using the TARDIS as bait. Martha says to him, “You recognise it, don’t you?” But he says that he’s never seen it before in his life. Martha prompts him to remember its name, and Matron—who really wants him to be John Smith, not the Doctor—says that she’s sorry, but he does know it: he wrote about it, the blue box.

But the Doctor breaks down. He doesn’t want to be the Doctor: he wants to be John Smith, with his name, and his job, and his love. Why can’t he be? he asks. Isn’t John Smith a good man? He is, says Matron, but Martha says that they need the Doctor.

Matron takes the other two to a cottage—the Cartwrights’ cottage, she says. The red-balloon girl has taken Lucy Cartwright’s form, and Matron assumes that she came home this afternoon . . .

Sure enough, the tea things are cold.

The Doctor still resists becoming the Doctor. He asks Martha what she did for the Doctor, why he needed her, and she says because he’s lonely.

“And you want me to become that?” he asks.

At that point, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s Lattimer with the watch. Matron asks why he kept it all this time, and says because it was waiting—and because he was scared of the Doctor. Because he’d seen the Doctor and, in a speech that I’d love the transcribe if I could type faster, he says that the Doctor is terrible and wonderful.

The Family start bombing the village.

The Doctor holding the watch, starts talking like the Doctor again, and it frightens him half to death. But he won’t become the Doctor again—he doesn’t understand why Martha couldn’t stop him from courting Matron, and she says she didn’t know how to stop it. The Doctor left a list of instructions for her, she says, and that wasn’t on it.

What kind of man is that? asks the Doctor. That falling in love doesn’t even occur to him?

Martha tells him why the Doctor is so important, why she loves him—and how she hopes he won’t remember her saying this.

Why can’t he give them the watch? he asks. Why can’t he stay as he is?

But Matron, flipping to the end of the journal, says that the Family would multiply and destroy everything. She asks Martha and Lattimer to go outside, while she tells the Doctor that he needs to do this.

She holds the watch, and says it’s silent for her. The Doctor puts his hand over hers, and their whole potential life flashes before them: their marriage, their children, their grandchildren, down to the Doctor’s death in bed as an old man.

The Matron says that the Doctor is the stuff of legend, but he could never have a life like that.

But he could, says the Doctor.

And the Doctor comes to the Family, babbling and frightened, and he hands the watch to them, telling them that he doesn’t understand, but he’ll give them the watch anyway.

They push him away, and he slaps a series of buttons as he falls. And when they open the watch, it’s empty—which is the Doctor’s cue for some seriously fabulous technobabble.

He tells them that if there’s the one thing they shouldn’t have done, they shouldn’t have let him push all those buttons.

Nick says if there’s one thing they shouldn’t have done, they shouldn’t have pissed him off.

And then we cut to Baines’s voiceover about the cold, cold fury of the Doctor.

He wrapped Father-of-mine in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star.

He tricked Mother-of-mine into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, to be trapped there forever.

He still visits Sister-of-mine once a year, every year. He trapped her inside a mirror, every mirror. If you ever think you see something out of the corner of your eye looking into a mirror, Baines says, that’s her.

And Baines he trapped in time and put to work standing over the fields of England as their protector, for ever—in the guise of a scarecrow.

He ends, “We wanted to live forever, so the Doctor made sure that we did.”

And I can’t transcribe the next scene, between the Doctor and Matron—wow, this is a hard episode to live blog. So complex!

But she asks him where John Smith is, and he says somewhere inside him. She asks if he could change back, and he says he could. So she asks if he will, and he says no. And she tells him that John Smith was a better man than he is, because he choose to change, but John Smith chose to die.

He asks her to travel with him, but she says she won’t—because John Smith is dead, and the Doctor looks like him.

As he leaves, she asks him one question: if the Doctor had never hidden here, had never come to this village on a whim, would people have died?

As Martha and the Doctor head to the TARDIS, Lattimer comes up to them, still carrying the weight of what he saw in the watch, which the Doctor presents to him, now that it is only a watch again.

Lattimer watches the TARDIS dematerialise—and we cut forward to World War I, as the Doctor gives us a brief (very brief!) account of the causes of the war, and Lattimer tells Hutchinson (the upperclassman) that now is the time, as he pushes Hutchinson to one side to avoid the incoming bomb, and then thanks the Doctor.

I would say that this scene makes me a little tingly, but it makes me feel too much like a Tory.

Then we cut forward again, as Martha and the Doctor, wearing poppies in their lapels, come back to our time, and watch Lattimer, an old man, still holding his watch, attend a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Next week: “Blink.” Oh, yes.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Adam"

Posted 16 October 2009 in by Catriona

Oooh, I’m running ever so slightly behind time on this: I’ve come in right at the end of . . . actually, that sit-com with Nick Frost, with the space ship, what is that called? Hyperdrive! That’s it. I’ve come in right at the end of Hyperdrive, but that’s okay, because I watched the entire first season, or at least a fair slab of it, and I admit it didn’t really grab me.

Not like original Red Dwarf, anyway.

Still, here we are with the opening monologue, and—hey! Who’s that blonde guy? We’ve not seen him before!

Clever, clever programme.

Now Rhys and Gwen are wrestling in bed, and she seems much happier now he knows the truth.

Adam? Who is Adam, and why is he claiming he’s worked for Torchwood for three years?

Ah, Gwen, who has been in Paris with Rhys, doesn’t know who Adam is—until he touches her, anyway. And then she suddenly has a raft of memories about her past working life with him.

Nick’s impressed that Adam does all this through touch—I just wrote “through Tosh,” which tells you what’s happening on the screen right now—because he thinks it shows a strong awareness of how unprofessional the Torchwood team is.

Adam is also manipulating Tosh through touch (in more than one way, as it turns out), while Owen, wearing his glasses, is not his usual self: he’s suggesting that there shouldn’t be so much kissing at work.

Oooh, he’s wearing a cardigan, too! And trying to please Tosh with little toys.

Suddenly, this is all becoming creepy.

And even more so when Gwen gets home, and completely freaks out when Rhys touches her, demanding to know how he got into her house, and drawing a gun on him as she rings Jack.

She tells Jack to hurry, because Rhys is a nutter.

And, sure enough, Torchwood come haring into the flat, with Gwen still holding a gun on Rhys as she lets Jack and Adam up to the flat. Gwen is seriously freaking out, saying that Rhys must have put photographs of them up all over the flat during the working day.

Jack says no: he’s her boyfriend. They’ve been together for years. He tries to get Gwen to give her the gun, but she’s seriously freaked, and even more so when she realises she’s wearing an engagement ring.

Rhys is so, so distressed—and he won’t believe Jack when he says that he didn’t do this.

So Jack has a talk with Rhys, recording his memories of meeting Gwen and the other important moments of their relationship, while Gwen watches on web-cam. Gwen says that she “sort of” remembers it: she can see what he’s saying, but she can’t actually remember any of it. Adam touches her, and tells her that Rhys is her fiancee, but she still doesn’t look convinced.

Meanwhile, Tosh and Owen are checking out a mysterious object that came through the Rift at some unspecified time in the recent past—and I should have mentioned earlier that Jack, down in the prison area earlier, saw a mysterious boy dressed in alien clothes, so Gwen is not the only one whose mind is playing tricks on her.

Ianto brings Gwen back home, and she grabs Jack and begs him not to leave. But he does—only to see the same small boy, standing next to a streetlight, as he and Ianto head to the car.

Jakc says he’ll drop Ianto off, then go and check out a report about the sewers. Ianto says he could go with Jack: he says it’s been a while since they hunted together, but Jakc says he’ll be fine on his own.

Back at the Hub, Owen and Tosh share some beer, while Tosh says that she and Adam have been together for one year today, and that she still gets the shivers when he touches her. She asks Owen if he knows what that’s like, but he says he doesn’t, while we get a lovely shot of Tosh’s legs in the foreground.

Jack, down in the sewers, is hunting a weevil, but instead he gets a vision of his father, who tells him to get out while he still can. Running out of the sewer, he sees Adam, and his momentary confusion about how Adam came to be there is wiped away when Adam touches him and says that he came with Jack.

He asks Jack what he saw, and Jack says, “My past.”

Which are pretty weighty words from Jack, Intergalactic Man of Mystery.

Rhys worries, back at home with Gwen, about what this will mean, that she can’t remember them.

But Jack, listening to Adam’s insistence—as Adam, again, touches him—says that his memory is one that he buried over 150 years ago. He can’t afford to remember.

But Adam pushes him.

And Jack flashes back to the Boeshane Peninsula, his home in the 51st century. He says they lived under the threat of invasion—and they came without warning. He says people thought they’d pass over them, as they had so often before, but they didn’t.

Adam asks what they were, and Jack says the most horrible creatures you could imagine: their screams travelled before them. Jack’s father sends him and his brother Gray off, while he himself goes back to find their mother.

But somewhere alone the line, Gray lets go of Jack’s hand, and he doesn’t even know where. He ran all the way back home, where he found his father’s body—but, though he looked for years, he never found Gray’s body. He says that it’s the worst memory of his life, and he doesn’t want to remember it.

Wow, Tosh—there’s a little bit of banter here about Ianto’s diary, and what he writes in it—is looking much more bosomy this episode. Owen is trying to explain how he would cherish Tosh and never let her out of his sight, if they were a couple, because he loves her.

Tosh says what? And Owen goes on to say that he always has—that, in fact, he aches for her, that he just wants to reach out and touch her when they’re in the same room.

Oh, wow: I actually feel sorry for Owen here. Especially since all Tosh says is that he’s being completely inappropriate and, anyway, he’s not her type. She storms out.

Rhys and Gwen are in the shops, and Gwen says maybe she should be on her own today. But Rhys says no: she’s not the only one who has lost something, because he’s lost his girl and his best friend. Then the cashier walks away, and Rhys starts ranting, which reminds Gwen about their earlier relationship—she starts laughing, but it’s not that far from crying, and Rhys leads her out of the store.

But Ianto, back at the Hub, is reading his diary—and Adam isn’t in it. Why would that be, when Adam has been with Torchwood for so long?

Adam says that he can fill Ianto’s head with fake memories until his brain explodes, because that’s how he lives—and, sure enough, he fills Ianto’s brain with vivid, horrifying memories of a fake life as a serial rapist and murderer, until Ianto is left screaming and crying in a rainy street next to the body of one of his imaginary victims.


What a bastard.

Jack, high on a rooftop somewhere, flashes back to his father’s body in the Boeshane Peninsula of the 51st century, and this time his mother comes running out, weeping over his father’s body and then, as Jack confesses his horror that he let Gray’s hand go, weeping for her lost son.

Back on their flat, Gwen says that she’s “getting there,” though she still doesn’t really remember. She says they found it once and they can find it again, but Rhys says that he worries that she settled for him: because, he says, if she met him now, with all that’s going on in her life, she wouldn’t look twice at him.

And Rhys kisses her, and it’s sweet and awkward and a bit sexy, because Gwen says it’s like the first time.

But now Tosh and Adam are snogging back at her place, and this is not sexy at all: this is creepy, because now we know exactly what he’s capable of doing. And he asks Tosh how far she would go for him: would she die for him? And Tosh says yes.

At the Hub, Ianto is confessing his fake crimes to Jack, begging him to lock him in the vault, because none of them are safe while he’s around.

Aw, Ianto! I’d like to give you a cuddle, but Jack’s already doing that.

Jack wants to know what’s happened to Ianto, and Ianto says he’s a monster. So Jack straps him to an alien lie detector, saying it’s the best lie detector on the planet. And Ianto confesses to his first murder, which reads as truth. But Jack says he doesn’t believe it.

Ianto does, though. We’re seeing his memories as he talks about the murders, and they’re vivid, though all we see on his face is strain and conflict.

Ah, but luckily, Adam didn’t think to erase the security camera footage. Now why wouldn’t that occur to him? Does he think he can just control people so fully that if they find the footage, he can erase it from their minds? Or has he just not had time to get around to it? Has he just not been around for long enough? After all, says Ianto—to whom Jack has shown the footage of Adam manipulating him—Adam’s blood sample was last updated twenty-four hours ago.

The next morning, Tosh comes in to a bunch of flowers and an apology from Owen. And Gwen has come into work, though Rhys didn’t think she should. Adam pulls everyone into a group hug, and taps Ianto on the arm while telling him that he “could murder a coffee.”

But then Jack pulls a gun on Adam, asking him who he is, and why he feels nothing for Adam, despite the fact that they’ve been team members for three years.

Jack plans to take Adam to the vault, until Tosh draws a gun on him, and has to be forcibly restrained and disarmed.

Adam, in a cell, begs Jack not to kill him. He says he has to make himself part of their memories, in order to survive. Jack says he changed them, but Adam says it was for the better: all Owen’s cynicism is gone, and Tosh has never been more confident.

Jacks asks why he came here, and Adam says he was drawn by the uniqueness of their experiences, especially Jack’s.

So Jack puts his team in the conference room, and asks each of the members to think of an early memory that defines them.

Gwen remembers sitting in the college canteen, with Rhys sitting opposite her, telling stupid jokes.

Owen remembers his tenth birthday, where his mother spent the entire day screaming, “I love you because you’re my son, but that doesn’t mean I have to like you.”

Tosh thinks of the reassuring nature of maths.

Ianto thinks of falling in love with Lisa.

Gwen thinks of kissing Rhys in the supermarket.

Owen remembers his mother packing his bags on his sixteenth birthday: the nicest thing she’s ever done for him.

Tosh remembers her first flat, but she doesn’t have a flat warming—there’s no one she wants to invite.

Ianto remembers Lisa dying.

Gwen says she loves Rhys, but not like she loves Jack.

Tosh says there must be someone out there who will see that she’s special—Jack says he saw.

Owen thanks Jack for giving him something other than his mother’s abuse.

Ianto says that Torchwood—that Jack—saved him, and Jack kisses him on the forehead.

There is, as Nick says, something truly religious about that sequence.

Jack gives each of them a short-term amnesia pill, so they can forget the last forty-eight hours, forget Adam.

Tosh is the most resistant, because she remembers how much she seemed to love Adam, but Jack says he forced it on her: so she says goodbye to Adam, and takes the pill. Each member of the team falls asleep, and Jack settles them comfortably on the table before heading down to the cells, to tell Adam that he, too, will be taking the short-term amnesia pill.

Adam says he can give Jack a gift: the last good memory of his dad, a long-lost memory.

And we flash back to early evening in the Boeshane Peninsula, just Jack and his dad—but, no. At Adam’s prompting, we realise that Gray is there, too. And as Jack chases after the ball, there’s another boy there.

It’s Adam.

He’s got the ball, and Jack shoves him over. But Jack’s dad helps Adam to his feet, and tells Jack that if Jack won’t share, then they’re going home. Jack’s dad and Gray walk away, as Jack says no: they played more, until it got dark, and they lit a fire, and their mother came down to join them.

So Adam has taken the last good memory of Jack, his father, and Gray—and he’s ruined it.

I’ll say it again: what a bastard.

But as Nick says, you don’t play that game with Captain Jack.

Jack lifts his amnesia pill, and Adam says if he takes it, Adam will destroy every memory of Jack’s father, so that he will cease to exist.

Jack takes the pill.

And as Adam dies, the adult Jack is left alone in the sandstorm that is his memory of the Boeshane Peninsula, shouting for his father and Gray.

When the Torchwood staff wakes up, they realise that they’ve lost two days, and have no idea what happened. All they have to go on are the apology flowers from Owen, but Owen says someone’s winding her up: he doesn’t do flowers and he definitely doesn’t do apologies.

And to think I was feeling sorry for him.

There’s some nice banter between Jack and Ianto about tape measures, but as Jack starts to walk out of the room, the mysterious box they’ve been faffing with all episode opens.

It’s full of sand.

Hey, next week we have both Martha and Jim Robinson! Wow.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Human Nature"

Posted 12 October 2009 in by Catriona

I’m going to skip the traditional “dear lord, I’m so tired” whinge at the beginning of this blog—especially since I did the last live-blogging tipsy, and still feel a little guilty about that.

But I will say that I have just been wondering how long I’ve spent marking today, and came up with eleven hours.

Take that as you will.

Is it sad that I check out my new followers on Twitter to check whether they’re spambots or pornbots? Or is that just social-networking self-preservation?

We open with Martha and the Doctor dashing into the TARDIS, followed by gunfire—and the Doctor grabs Martha and demands to know whether “they” saw her face. She says they couldn’t have. But whoever they are, they’re following the Doctor with stolen Time Lord technology. He says he’ll “have to do it,” and it all depends on Martha.

She has to take this watch, because this watch is—

And we cut to the Doctor waking up in bed, as Martha comes in, dressed as a maid, with a breakfast tray.

She apologises to Mr Smith, saying she can come back when he’s dressed, but he says she should come in.

He starts telling her about the extraordinary dreams that he has, about being a space adventurer, with Martha as his companion. He says the dreams are set in the future, but Martha says she can prove that’s impossible: it’s 1913, and he’s completely human.

Yes, says the Doctor, that’s him: completely human.


Cut to the raising of the Union Jack to a rather beautiful chorus of young boys’ voices, as students in rather awful pin-striped pants walk into what’s obviously an expensive public school past a mortar-boarded Doctor, whom they all address as “Sir.”

After what seems to be a history class, the Doctor walks past Martha and another maid, who are scrubbing the floors.

As Martha and the other maid giggle, two upperclassmen wander past, and tell the maids that they’re not paid to have fun, and to put some backbone into it. Then one of them asks Martha how, with hands like those, she can tell when something is clean.

What a little . . . prig.

The other maid says that in a few years’ time, boys like that will be running the country, but Martha, staring off into space, says, “1913 . . .”

In an upper hallway, the Doctor flirts with Matron Jessica Stevenson, who carries some of his books for him. She asks him to call her Nurse Redfern—or Joan—but I think I’ll stick to calling her Matron.

Matron asks the Doctor to come to a dance with her at the local hall. She says it’s been ages since anyone asked her to a dance, and he starts blathering and backing away until he falls down the stairs.

Matron is binding the Doctor’s head up in his study, when Martha comes haring in, demanding to know whether he’s okay and whether Matron has checked for concussion. Matron tells Martha that she knows more about it than Martha does, and Martha remembers her role, and starts tidying the study.

The Doctor tells Matron that he often dreams that he has two hearts, but she checks with her stethoscope, and he only has one.

So he is human.

He’s been keeping a “journal of impossible things,” which he shows to Matron—beautifully illuminated with dark pen-and-ink paintings surrounded by dense, scrawling handwriting.

Aw, the Doctor’s so sweet and plaintive in this scene, pondering what might happen if he were actually himself.

Matron asks Martha what it is about the Doctor, why he always seems as though left the kettle on, as though there’s something important he’s forgotten. Martha says it’s just the way he is, and reveals that the Doctor “inherited” her from his family, which is why he found her employment at the school.

Matron warns Martha to remember her place and not to be too familiar with the Doctor.

Cut to upperclassmen, including the two who were tormenting Martha before, now tormenting an underclassman, who reveals that he sometimes has flashes of telepathy, or some sort of precognitive ability, anyway. One of the boys leaves to get his stash of beer from the woods.

Martha and her friend Jenny, the other maid, sitting outside at the pub, talk about how Martha only has another month before she’s free. They see a bright light flash across the sky, a bright light that comes down on Matron in the woods, but leaves her free to run to the pub, where she meets and is escorted back to school by the Doctor.

Martha asks Jenny where the light came down, and Jenny says near Copper’s field—whereupon Martha legs it, followed by Jenny.

Where it has come down is right near the beer-collecting schoolboy—who is the fabulous Harry Lloyd (also the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens, as it happens). He follows a light through the wood, and manages to make his way into a cloaked space ship.

He talks to the people inside, introducing himself as Jeremy Baines (probably spelt wrong, but near enough), and begging them to reveal themselves. When they say that soon, very soon, they’ll look so familiar, he starts screaming and screaming.

Baines comes back to school, but while he can still pull off the arrogant public-school boy persona, it’s not quite as flawless as it was when he actually was an arrogant public-school boy: he’s now sniffing, and holding his head on an odd angle.

He is fabulous in this.

Martha, meanwhile, cycles out to where they’re keeping the TARDIS, to whom she gives a cheery “Hello!” before flashing back to the pre-credit anxiety in which the Doctor told her that it all depends on her.

But now the dialogue advances, the Doctor saying that the watch is him. What are chasing them are hunters, and, with the Doctor being unique, they can track him across all of time and space. But they haven’t seen him, so if he uses the chameleon arch to rewrite his DNA, to change every cell in his body, they can hide out until the hunters die.

The TARDIS will find a place for him, but not for Martha, who will have to improvise. The Doctor says he should have just enough residual memory to let her in.

Martha asks if the chameleon arch will hurt, and the Doctor says, “Oh, yes” before we cut to him screaming.

The Doctor has left a series of instructions for Martha, telling her things like, “Don’t let me hurt anyone. We can’t have that, and you know what humans are like,” “Don’t let me abandon you,” and “No getting involved in big historical events.”

But, most importantly, he says to open the watch if anything goes wrong, to bring him back. He’s put a perception filter on it, so the human him won’t think it’s anything but a watch.

But when the precognitive boy who we saw cleaning the upperclassmen’s shoes earlier wanders into the Doctor’s study to collect a book, he knows there’s something about the watch: he can hear it whispering, and he steals it and opens it.

Not only do we hear the Doctor’s voice whispering, “You are not alone” and see images of the monsters in the Doctor’s past, the whiff of Time-Lordness sets of Baines’s senses. He speaks silently to someone, telling them to activate the soldiers.

Oh, no. The soldiers are sentient scarecrows. These are the single most terrifying thing in this season of Doctor Who—well, thus far.

They attack a farmer and kidnap a small girl, who is skipping along the road holding a red balloon—but even considering those factors, she still doesn’t deserve to be kidnapped by a sentient scarecrow.

The boys are practicing target shooting at school, where the sound of the bullets sends Latimer (the precognitive boy) into a vision of himself as a soldier.

Since he’s holding up the class, the upperclassman takes him off to give him a beating, with the Doctor’s permission.

Matron wanders down to where the Doctor is standing near the guns, and she tells him she was thinking about the day her husband was shot. They wander down through the village, and while Jessica Stevenson rather suits the Edwardian costuming, David Tennant looks even taller and even thinner in that coat.

He manages to save a baby from being crushed to death by a piano—using only a cricket ball—while I’m pondering the costumes. Then he asks Matron to go to the dance with him.

They wander past an askew scarecrow, and, as the Doctor ties it up straight, Matron asks him where he learned to draw. He says, “Gallifrey,” but when she asks if that’s an island, he can’t remember. He tells her about his father Sydney and his mother Verity, and both Nick and I get a little teary.

Then he takes Matron back to his study, draws her portrait, kisses her, blathers a little, and is interrupted by Martha, who dashes back to the TARDIS to ponder the frustrations of the Doctor falling in love with a human other than her.

As Latimer opens the watch again, Baines is joined by the farmer and by the red-balloon girl. They sniff in unison, which is strangely creepy. And as Jenny, Martha’s friend, cycles home through the lanes, she’s grabbed by a gang of scarecrows.

Jenny, in the cloaked spaceship, weeps and tells her captors—Baines, the farmer, and the red-balloon girl—that this isn’t funny. But Baines, telling her to “cease and desist,” tells her that “Mother of mine” needs a shape, and hers is adequate, if a little grim.

He tells his mother to “embrace” her, which basically involves letting a green gas out of a snowglobe.

Martha greets Jenny, who comes in sniffing as Baines did. Martha, though, is suspicious: she asks Jenny if she would like some gravy in her tea, or some sardines and jam, and when Jenny says yes, Martha legs it.

She dashes into the Doctor’s study, and demands to know where his watch is, because the aliens have found them. The Doctor whispers to Matron that these are “cultural differences.” and tells Martha that this is simply a story.

So Martha slaps him.

Well, she slaps him because she wants to snap him out of his human-coma, but she should probably have slapped him anyway, because he’s being a patronising git.

The Doctor dismisses her from his service, and she leaves. As she runs away, Latimer grabs her arm and sees a vision of her in her usual guise, but she runs away as he tries to stop her.

The Doctor and Matron head to the dance, Matron telling the Doctor that Martha is infatuated with him, and that he’s a dangerous man. Meanwhile, the hunters are stripping the Doctor’s study bare, until the farmer finds the flier for the dance. Luckily, Jenny says, the red-balloon girl is already there.

Martha heads down to the dance, where Matron says, “Oh, no: not again.” Martha talks briefly to Matron, and says that the awful thing is, it doesn’t even matter what Matron thinks or wants, but Martha is sorry for her, because she’s nice.

Then, as the Doctor comes up, fulminating about Martha stalking him—though that term would be anachronistic, so it’s a good thing he doesn’t use it—she holds out the sonic screwdriver.

But before he can recognise it, the hunters come in. (In passing, the Crimean veteran on the doorstep asks them to spare a penny, and Baines says, “I didn’t even spare you,” before shooting him.)

Martha tells the Doctor to forget everything: he’s John Smith.

The hunters realise that he is the Doctor and, unfortunately for them, he’s also human. He’s no good to them in that guise.

So they grab both Martha and the Matron, and offer him a choice. Which does he want them to kill: maid or matron? His friend, they ask, or his lover?

Now that’s how you do a cliff-hanger.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Meat"

Posted 9 October 2009 in by Catriona

See, here’s the thing: an old friend and colleague is heading off a fellowship on the other side of the globe, so . . . well, there’s no good way to put this.

Basically, I’ve been at the pub since 4 p.m.

Consider that an explanation for what is about to happen.

Oh, and also? I have ordered pizza. I think it’s compulsory when you’ve been at the pub for four hours. So there may be a brief hiatus when that turns up. And also when Nick comes home, which should be in about an hour.

But look what a dedicated blogger I am! I’m here, blogging, despite the urge to stay at the pub!

I have a feeling I’ll regret this particular live-blogging come tomorrow morning.

Ah, but here’s the opening monologue. Oooh, and the pterodactyl.

We open on Rhys in a car, singing along to the advertisement for his own company, and very responsibly pulling over to answer his phone. Apparently, there’s been an accident, and it involves one of his trucks.

Oh, dear: that doesn’t look good. The driver is dead, and the policeman asks Rhys for some personal details. Of course, the driver is married and just had a baby. We’re lucky he wasn’t two days away from retirement.

The policeman says that there’s something suspicious in the back of the truck—and, on cue, here’s Torchwood, with slow-motion Gwen looking fierce in her slim-cut jeans and leather jacket.


Jack points out that there aren’t any bones, just dense meat. Owen says it isn’t like any meat that he’s ever seen, and I refrain from making the obvious joke. Jack says that since there haven’t been any giant cow sightings, they have to treat the meat as suspicious.

Back at the Hub, Owen points out that the firm knows it’s dodgy, since the official vet stamp—the one that marks the meat as fit for human consumption, and that’s so loaded, in a British context—is fake.

Gwen says there’s no way Rhys is in on it, because he’s the straightest man she knows.

So Tosh rings him, and pretends to be the police, finding out that Rhys has neither an address nor a contact phone number for the haulage company, with whom he’s only been working for two months.

Ianto locates the driver, just as Owen shouts that the scan shows it is definitely alien meat—and people have been eating it in pies, pasties, and so on for months.

Owen says it has no detectable diseases, and Gwen asks if he would eat it. Owen realises that he’s probably been eating it for months.

Gwen dashes home to “check on” Rhys, and he tells her about the accident—whereupon she proves herself to be not the most attentive of girlfriends.

This whole scene is filtered through the fact that Rhys knows Gwen was at the accident, but Gwen is still lying to him and pretending to be working for the police. So Rhys is pushing at her, quite gently, and Gwen is stalling without actually answering his questions.

She tells him to go and have a pint to calm down. Can you “calm down” from seeing the dead body of one of your football buddies by having a pint? That doesn’t seem likely.

Gwen meets up with Jack, who asks her to accompany him to the slaughterhouse.

GWEN: Have you ever eaten alien meat?
JACK: Yeah.
GWEN: What was it like?
JACK: Well, he seemed to enjoy it.

Occasionally, this is the filthiest show on television. And I mean that as a compliment.

Rhys is trailing Gwen: she trusts him—she’s told Jack that he knows nothing about it—but he doesn’t trust her, and, in fact, he shouldn’t.

The other Torchwood members are at the slaughterhouse, as well. But, when Rhys rings Gwen on her phone, she won’t answer. Still, Jack and Gwen see him, as he’s talking to one of the people involved in the scam. Of course, they assume that he’s in on it, prompting Jack to call off the raid—and to pin Gwen up against a wall, because Jack is nothing if not an opportunist.

Of course, Rhys doesn’t know anything, and he’s not exactly in the safest situation.

Inside the warehouse, we can hear something bellowing, as people walk through with slabs of meat, while someone else tells them that they should have waited for a ketamine injection before harvesting that.

Rhys tells the two men in charge that their driver is dead, and that he took all the meat off to be incinerated. He asks them if he can take up where the dead driver left off. And the men in charge ask what he knows, but when he reveals that he knows nothing, they just basically show him everything.

Oh, honestly: does no-one takes basic classes in super-villainy any more?

But it’s to our benefit, because they take him into the warehouse, where we see an enormous alien, just a giant slab of meat that, they say, just keeps growing no matter how much they cut it.

And it’s keening.

Rhys is nauseated by this, but one of the men in charge says that you get used to it.

Outside the warehouse, it looks to Gwen and Jack as though Rhys is deep into this.

So Gwen marches into her home, demanding to know what Rhys was doing at that warehouse, and Rhys turns on her, telling her that he’s sick of her lying to him. He asks, too, if she’s sleeping with Jack—and it’s a good thing that he didn’t ask about Owen, isn’t it?

Gwen does tell him that she’s been lying about the special ops. But Rhys is really hurting here: he refers to himself as a “big dumb animal,” so we know that it’s only partly his hurt and partly his empathetic pain about the animal he saw being tortured.

RHYS: So what do you do?
GWEN: I catch aliens.
RHYS: Piss off.
GWEN: No, you piss off.

Still, Gwen says that she’ll prove what she does to Rhys, and she takes him to the Hub, as I slide straight past another awkward and heart-breaking attempt on Tosh’s part to attract Owen’s interest.

Jack is waiting at the bottom of the lift to greet Rhys, and Gwen is just giddy with the delight of introducing Rhys to the work to which she is so committed. Rhys is impressed with the pterodactyl.

Jack attacks Rhys about the fact that he blundered into the warehouse, and Rhys, bless him, refuses to back down.

TOSH: If we understood how it worked, we could feed the world.
IANTO: We could release a single.

Best line of the episode!

Oh, well, until Rhys stands up to Jack, and Jack says, “This is quite homoerotic.”

Jack agrees that Rhys can take them into the warehouse, but Gwen is not impressed. She doesn’t want Rhys involved, but she also doesn’t want him to go in without her.

TOSH: Then we put the creature out of its misery.
JACK: No. We save it.

Oh, Jack. Jack, you optimistic fool. Have you watched any of this season, so far? My money is not on the victim of the week, frankly.

Cut to more awkward flirting between Tosh and Owen: well, Tosh flirts, Owen doesn’t. She brings him sandwiches [pizza arrived! But I shall put off eating it, in order to finish this], and there is a gorgeous shot where it seems as though she puts her hand on his back, but, when the camera spins, we see that she’s still half a foot away from him.

Also? I tried to convince the pizza boy to watch Torchwood. I don’t know it I succeeded, but I admire his willingness to pretend to be interested in what the tipsy lady was saying, and I tipped him accordingly.

[This is me on Saturday morning, clarifying that statement: I didn’t invite the pizza boy in to watch Torchwood with me right then. I wasn’t that tipsy. I merely encouraged him to watch it on his own, when he had a chance.]

While all this is happening, the team are heading towards their planned raid on the warehouse. So, good timing on the pizza, really.

It occurs to me that I should at least put the pizza in the oven on a low heat, and I miss some of the details on how Rhys goes about getting everyone into the warehouse.

But here they are: Owen with his gun out, and Ianto looking suave in his wool trenchcoat—and Jack, Tosh, and Gwen coming in to the room where the alien is tied up and keening.

And then we see a man with a trolley walk into a hole carved into the creature’s side, and just—well, there’s no subtle way to describe it. He just hacks chunks off it with a cleaver, while its keening changes to high-pitched gasps of pain.

It sounds almost a like a whale, and they did describe it as a space manatee.

Jack speaks to it, and it responds with yet another sound, prompting Tosh to gasp, “It’s sentient”—and then we pan up from Jack standing in the hole carved into the creature’s side, almost but not quite touching the raw flesh, so we can see the whole scale of the creature.

At which point Owen tells us that the staff is armed, and Jack warns Gwen not to go after Rhys.

Rhys is trying to get his delivery away, but one of the managers tells him to wait while they load more meat, and they take both Rhys and Ianto (running to see if Rhys is safe) captive. Ianto tells them that he and Rhys are the only two in the building.

The managers bring Rhys and Ianto into the warehouse at gunpoint—they know there’s more than two people around, and when they threaten to kill Rhys unless the others show themselves, Gwen leaps out automatically.

She lies, and says that she’s the only other person there.

But another of the managers is up on the walkways, and he can see Jack and Tosh, who are drawn out by threats.

That only leaves Owen, but I admit he has been more bearable in this episode than normally.

Oooh, phone call. Sorry!

Okay, I’ll be honest: I totally cheated then and paused the episode (bless you, TiVo), so I could take a phone call from my friend who is heading off for three months.

And then Rhys got shot.


Also? The creature is breaking free, so they desperately need Owen to come up with a sedative. The others can’t move, because the creature will crush them. But the man who was babbling about ketamine before says a sedative will do nothing once the creature has broken free.

Oooh, action-hero Ianto, all “Pray they survive” and tasering people! I could get used to that kind of Ianto.

Owen injects the creature with something, but Jack says he’s making it worse.

And he is.

He killed it.

He calls it a mercy killing, and I don’t think he had a choice at this stage—especially not since he needs to head over to Rhys, who is bleeding to death.

But the whole time that we hear Owen giving sensible instructions to Gwen about keeping the creature alive, the creature is keening and dying—and Owen, leaving Gwen to staunch Rhys’s wounds, walks over to it, and says, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He lets Tosh grasp his shoulder, even putting his hand over hers.

Back in the Hub, Rhys is fine, but the men will never be prosecuted—they’ve been given amnesia pills, so that they remember who they are but not what they did.

And the creature has been incinerated.

Vale, victim of the week. Your keening actually broke my heart, a little.

Jack says that Rhys needs to forget, too, and Gwen asks whether she can at least give him the pill at home. She slides it into her back pocket, which at least gives us a close-up on her bottom, for you Gwen fans at home.

Rhys, meanwhile, is insisting on eating ice-cream, and babbling about his secret knowledge of aliens.

Gwen fingers the amnesia pill as Rhys walks away, talking to a mate on the phone.

And then Gwen walks into the Hub, saying she will not drug Rhys. They tell her she has to—but she says none of them have any idea what she means, because none of them have anyone outside Torchwood. She won’t take Rhys’s bravery away from him, or his knowledge that he did what he did because he loved her. She says if she has to be ret-conned and sacked, that’s fine: she won’t drug him.

And Jack asks if she could go back to her old life before Torchwood. She says she wouldn’t know any different, but he says he would: he tells her to give Rhys his love, and he’ll see her tomorrow.

And we close on Jack’s face—not quite in tears, but not far off.

Next week: Adam.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Forty Two"

Posted 5 October 2009 in by Catriona

If it’s Monday, it must be time for me to complain about how tired I am before live-blogging.

But, for the record, here was how my day went up until now:

  • an hour answering two student e-mails.
  • marking.
  • coffee.
  • marking.
  • marking.
  • marking.
  • long conversation with my mother about her incipient osteoporosis.
  • marking.
  • marking.
  • more e-mails.
  • marking.
  • bullying Nick into packing for the web-developer conference he’s heading to tomorrow.
  • sewing the buttons back on Nick’s trousers.
  • more bullying about the packing.
  • debating whether or not Nick has already read Wil McCarthy’s Collapsium, and why he shouldn’t take it down to Sydney with him.
  • live-blogging.

So, how was your day?

See, that’s what I like about this blog: it’s the dialogic aspect.

Sadly, the more I watch this Triple J television programme, the more I dislike the primary presenter. Does that make me a bad person? I just find him so smug and annoying—and I can tell it’s getting bad when he’s making a number of “ironic” comments about football (well, he said “soccer,” but I knew what he meant), and I found myself answering him.

Oh, dear: I’ve started blogging too early again, haven’t I?

I dissuade Nick from setting the TiVo for Afro Samurai just in time for Doctor Who to start.

And the Doctor is just setting “universal roaming” on Martha’s phone when he gets a distress signal—and, of course, he locks onto it. Wherever they are, it’s intensely hot—and, just in time, since three crew members come haring around the corner and demand that the Doctor and Martha close their door.

We have “impact projection” in just over forty-two minutes—so we have both episode title and forty-two minutes before the ship crashes into the Sun.

Or is that the sun?

Either way, it seems like a good time to go to the credits.

Apparently, the new Doctor Who logo will be announced tomorrow morning, U. K. time. So keep an eye out for that, won’t you?

The Doctor tries to dash back through the door behind which he’s parked the TARDIS, but the temperature has gone up 3000 degrees in the last few minutes, and no one can get in there.

Easy, says the Doctor: they’ll fix the engines and steer the ship away from the Sun. But someone has done a number on the engine room, which is in a right mess. Also, the Captain is apparently using an illegal form of engine, though she’s reluctant to talk to the Doctor about it.

Someone needs to get through password-protected doors to fix the engines, and a boy called Riley volunteers—but he says it’s a two-man job, so Martha goes with him.

Meanwhile, the Captain is called up to the sick bay. There, we find the Captain’s husband Korwin, who has apparently sabotaged the engine room, according to his companion Ashton. The Doctor suggests they shove him in a stasis tube.

Back with Riley and Martha, they’re attempting to open the doors: each is protected by a randomly generated question that the crew thought up collectively while they were drunk one night.

Korwin, in the sick bay, is under heavy sedation, according to the ship’s doctor, but it doesn’t seem that heavy to me, judging from the movement of his fingers.

Martha and Riley get stuck on some question about mathematics, but the Doctor jumps in ranting about “prime numbers” and “happy prime numbers” and why they don’t teach people recreational mathematic any more.

But when they get to a question about who had the most pre-download number ones, Elvis or The Beatles, the Doctor can’t remember.

DOCTOR: Now, where was I? “Here Comes the Sun.” No.

Best line of the episode.

So Martha rings her mother, and asks her to look it up on the Internet: she tells her mother that it’s a pub quiz, and her mother says that using her mobile is cheating.

In the sick bay—or the med centre, I should call it—the ship’s doctor tells the Doctor that Korwin’s readings are starting to scare her, just before Korwin gets up from his sick bed. He walks towards the ship’s doctor, saying over and over, “Burn with me,” before he opens his eyes and we see that they’re glowing like the Sun.

The ship’s doctor screams loudly enough that everyone on the ship can hear her, just as Martha’s mother is telling her that they need to talk. Martha says she needs to go, just as the Doctor, the Captain, and another crew member dash into the sick bay—to see Korwin gone, and the ship’s doctor merely a burn mark on the door.

The Captain is freaking out, and it’s not helped by the fact that the Doctor says her husband’s body is being taken over by some kind of parasite, and that they need to find him before he kills again.

But, of course, the stroppy engineering chick gets annoyed when Ashton tells her to come back to the main centre with everyone else—and, just as Nick says, “Oooh, perimortem character development,” she’s killed by Korwin.

No one hears her screams, though. I guess the ship’s doctor was still hooked up to the comms when she was killed.

And now Ashton is alone, because Erina, who was bringing him tools, has been killed—apparently, for being stroppy. Now things aren’t looking so good for Ashton, either—and, sure enough, he walks in wearing the same kind of mask that Korwin has been using to disguise his creepy eyes.

Ashton comes up to Riley and Martha, who frantically hide from him—in an airlock.

An airlock? Really? That’s not a good idea, I’m thinking.

Even less of a good idea is the fact that the escape pod has been jettisoned—Riley manages to hold the jettison, but Ashton reactivates it from outside the door. Riley holds the jettison and stabilises the escape pod, again.

Back in the engine room, the Captain and the crew member whose name I haven’t heard yet realise that the engines have been sabotaged. Again. Anonymous crew member says he’ll never be able to jump-start the engines now, but Korwin walks out of the shadows, and tells the Captain that it’s all her fault.

The Doctor makes it to the escape pod, just as Ashton manages to start the jettison process again.

Back on the engine room, O’Donnell (the previously anonymous crew member) freezes Korwin—which also sends Ashton mad.

But the escape pod is being jettisoned. The Doctor, at the window, shouts, “I’ll save you!” over and over again, but Martha can’t hear him, and we switch between Martha watching him and him watching Martha—still shouting, “I’ll save you!”—as the escape pod slowly fall away from the ship.

Lovely, lovely shot.

The Captain is mourning her apparently dead husband as the Doctor calls for O’Donnell to head down to where the escape pod was jettisoned.

Riley says they’re doomed: they’ll fall into the Sun long before the Doctor can do anything.

But Martha believes in the Doctor. And the Doctor believes in Martha—we know the strength of his faith in his companions from the way he used a litany of their names to chase away vampires in “The Curse of Fenric.” The priest had his Bible, at least for a while, but the Seventh Doctor has his own litany.

Martha and Riley talk about their families as they fall towards the Sun.

The Captain tracks down Ashton and shoves him into a status pod.

The Doctor suits up, and convinces O’Donnell to shove him out an airlock, despite O’Donnell’s insistence that the Doctor will never catch Martha in time.

Martha, in her escape pod falling towards the Sun, rings her mother again, to tell her that she loves her. Martha says that she’s just “out,” and she just wants to chat with her mum, but we can see over Martha’s mother’s shoulder that someone is recording this conversation. Martha’s mother tries to keep Martha on the phone, but Martha doesn’t want to talk about the Doctor. She hangs up, and, weeping, grabs hold of Riley.

The Doctor throws himself out of the airlock—and we can tell it’s serious, because there’s “serious Doctor Who action music” playing.

NICK: Yes. I put all the important controls on the outside of my space ship, too.

Nick doesn’t have a space ship. Just in case you were wondering.

But the Doctor manages to pull some lever that “remagnetises” the escape pod and pulls it back towards the ship—and, wait, what? There’s a magnet there that’s stronger than the gravitational force of that sun?

Oh, let’s put it down to technobabble, shall we? Then we can move on to the fact that the Doctor, staring into the Sun, realises that the Sun is a living organism.

Apparently, the Captain has been mining the Sun for cheap fuel: they scooped out its heart, and now it’s screaming.

The Captain asks how the Doctor knows this, and he says because it’s living in him now. And, sure enough, his eyes are glowing.

He says the Captain should have scanned for life first, but she says it would have taken too long, and they would have been found using an illegal engine.

They have to freeze the Doctor in one of the stasis booths, because he says the creature is too strong, and if it takes him over, he could kill them all. He tries to tell her about regeneration, but she tells him he isn’t going to die.

And just to relieve the pressure, Korwin is alive again, despite being frozen with liquid nitrogen or some kind of alien substitute.

Korwin cuts the power in engineering halfway through the process of freezing the Doctor, who begins defrosting again. He tells Martha that she has to leave him: she has to go and vent the fuel from the ship, to give back what they took.

The Captain, heading down to Engineering, knowing she’ll find her possessed husband there, tells Korwin that he was right: it was all her fault. She hides from him, but he follows her—right into an airlock, which she then opens. She grabs Korwin as it opens, and they’re vented into space, falling slowly towards the Sun.

We now have two minutes before impact. Well, gravity would take over at this point, wouldn’t it?

The Doctor crawls out of the stasis tube, crawling down the corridor towards Martha. He says he can’t fight it any more, and, sure enough, he’s all glowing eyes and “Burn with me.”

Riley and O’Donnell get to the front of the ship, just in time for Martha to dash in after them and tell them to dump the sun particles in the fuel. As they do, the glowing diminishes in the Doctor’s eyes, and they’re able to start the engines up again and to fly the ship out of the Sun.

I have a sneaking suspicion that either their shields are very good or they would all have died anyway, but, then, I’m not a scientist.

Promiscuous end-of-episode hugging.

Martha and the Doctor head back to the TARDIS, though Riley grabs Martha’s arm and ask if he’ll see her again. They do snog, briefly, but he’s never going to be enough to make Martha turn her back on the Doctor.

Martha’s all happy and bouncy until she realises that the Doctor is a little damaged by his experiences.

But he won’t talk about it, and he distracts her by giving her a key to the TARDIS. Oh, he just blows hot and cold, doesn’t he?

Martha panics and rings her mother again, who asks that Martha comes round to tea. Martha asks what day it is, and her mother says it’s election day. Martha promises to be round to tea—but as she hangs up, her mother turns around and hands her phone to the mysterious people in black who are recording her phone calls.

Apparently, Mr Saxon will be very grateful.


(Next week, the first part of the Paul Cornell two-parter that I love almost as though it were my brother. No, seriously.)

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "To the Last Man"

Posted 2 October 2009 in by Catriona

Oooh, apparently “time zones collide” in this episode, according to the ABC voiceover man. And I don’t see why he would lie to me. What would be in it for him?

Ah, opening monologue and pterodactyls and Jack standing on buildings, bless him.

Here we have a woman running down the stairs, telling “Gerald” to follow her, which he does. They run into a nurse, who says she thought they were ghosts. They ask if she’s seen any ghosts recently, and she says she’s seen three today—in the ward.

The ward is full of soldiers being patched up before being sent back to the front. The woman with the device says those are Field Marshall Haig’s orders: they must fight on to the last man. And we have episode title!

Then the woman’s machine starts beeping, and she says they’re right on top of it—but we see Tosh leaning over a man half in pajamas and half in uniform: Tommy. She says he’s the only one who can stop it, and he tells Gerald and the woman to take him: he says he’s back in the ward, and they need to take him, so he can be here with Tosh now.

They head back in, and when they greet Tommy, he asks who they are: they say they’re Torchwood.


Cut to Tosh dolling herself up for work—and then, at Torchwood, they’re defrosting Tommy. (And let’s all groan every time we hear that name, shall we?) He’s got to be defrosted every year, just to check that everything works. After all, he’s been frozen for ninety years.

This year, as every year, Tommy wakes up fighting, and Tosh is the one who can calm him down. That explains her unusually extravagant (but lovely) make-up and the dress.

Tommy, eating a hearty breakfast, is reminiscing about 1968, when all the Torchwood staff were in mini-skirts, and he thought all his Christmases had come at once.

Tosh is running Tommy through his personal information, to make sure he remembers who he is. He was born in the late nineteenth century, and he remembers his mother’s death in 1900—and he’s been told about his father’s death in 1931. Poor sod.

Jack explains to Gwen that the hospital was at the centre of a time shift, and if it isn’t stopped when it happens again, the shifts will spread across the country.

Jack mentions that the Torchwood office of 1918 left sealed orders—Gwen tries desperately to open them, but it’s a temporal lock, tuned to Rift frequencies.

Tosh and Tommy head out to spend his one unfrozen day wandering around Cardiff. Tommy comes into Jack’s office to show off his 2008 clothing.

GWEN: Jack? Do you have any more of those pretty boys in the freezer?
JACK: Hands off, missy. Tosh saw him first.

Tosh and Tommy wander around Cardiff, and Tommy points out that every year, Tosh tells him she hasn’t been doing anything but working. Last year, she said she was going to learn the piano, but she never got around to it.

Back in the Hub, Gwen is looking at a photograph of the 1918 Torchwood team: Gerald and Harriet Derbyshire. There’s a bit of banter about how pretty the boss is, and then Ianto says that Harriet died the following year, aged twenty six. Gwen mentions how young he is, and Ianto says that they were all young—and that nothing changes.

I lose my Internet connection for a few moments—probably something that Nick did, whatever he says—and miss blogging about Tosh and Tommy flirting, and Gwen wandering around the hospital seeing the ghosts of dead soldiers.

Then I miss another couple of minutes, because Nick tries to have a conversation about the fact that the Internet access is back on. I explain pithily that I can’t live-blog with flaky Internet access and talk about the flaky Internet access at the same time.

Somewhere in there, I miss some key plot points about why the wounded soldiers are showing up at the hospital.

Back with the television, Tommy and Tosh are in the pub, while he explains that there are always wars, even though when they woke him up for the first time in 1919, they told him that they’d won the war to end all wars. Then he tells Tosh that he’d do anything for her, shortly before he starts developing headaches.

Back at the hospital, someone is smashing walls down, while Jack sees visions of wounded soldiers.

I’m distracted—again—by a tweet popping up from a friend who has just joined Twitter in order to write poetry on it.

Sorry about that: I’m easily distracted during this live-blogging, aren’t I?

This episode, I have to say, is terribly Sapphire and Steel—Jack and Gwen wander around a poorly lit hospital, seeing constant visions of wounded and damaged soldiers—ooh, but there’s a scary bit, as the nurse escorting the most recent soldier out stops, and looks back around the corner of the corridor.

She sees Gwen.

But as she’s screaming at Gwen to leave her alone, and that she shouldn’t be here, Gwen is thrown out of the past and back into the empty hospital of the present.

Still in the future, Tommy is chasing Tosh down the pier, and he kisses her, much to Tosh’s bemusement. She says “Thanks,” and he’s affronted by this. But she says she’s a bit older than him, to which he points out he was born in the 1890s. He asks her how he’s old enough to die for his country but not old enough to give her a kiss? So she kisses him back, and he says, “Thanks.”

They decide to head back to her place—he says his place only has room for one and its bloody freezing—but then Jack rings to tell her that the time shifts have started.

The demolition of the hospital is what triggers the time shifts.

Jack sends his crew out to gather information, but Tommy is not looking pleased, now that the time he’s been waiting for has come.

Owen, at the hospital with Tosh—and, in passing, Owen is much less of a twat in this season than the last one, isn’t he?—tells Tosh to be careful, since she has feelings for Tommy. Tosh says she’s only known Tommy for four days—spread out, of course, over four years—but Owen says he didn’t think she had some kind of fetish for defrosted men: he knows she cares for Tommy, and he doesn’t want her to be hurt if she has to say goodbye.

Thanks to a car advertisement, and the notes from earlier Torchwood teams, Owen tells Gwen that the time is now, not years in the future.

And then the sealed instructions from Torchwood, on Jack’s desk, open.

Jack explains that in twelve hours, there’ll be a moment when the two times coincide, when Tommy can step through and close the time shift before it spreads across the country.

1918 will remain where it should, and Tommy will be kept back there with it, once they give him the necessary technology to close the Rift.

Jack takes Tosh aside, and tells her that three weeks after they send him back, he’s killed—shot by a firing squad. He was in the hospital suffering from shellshock, and he recovers enough to be sent back to the Front—but once there he breaks down again, and he’s shot by the British Army for cowardice, one of three hundred men so treated.


Tosh says she can’t do that to him, but Jack says she has no choice: Torchwood 1918 saw Tosh in the hospital with Tommy, telling him what to do, so she’s definitely strong enough to do this.

Tommy doesn’t know what will happen to him, and Tosh wants to know what she says if he asks her?

Tommy wonders what there’re to do the night before he leaves, and explains that the night before they went over the top, they’d play cards, write letters, and drink, if anyone had any alcohol. Owen says they can do that, and Ianto heads off to find the Torchwood regulation playing cards and whisky.

But Tommy says no: they aren’t going over the top with him.

So Gwen asks what he’s going to do, and Tosh walks in to say that he’s coming home with her, unless Jack has any objections.

Of course Jack doesn’t have any objections.

Let’s skip over the events in Tosh’s flat, shall we? Because it’s all a bit devastating.

In the Hub, Ianto asks Jack if he’d go back to his own time if he could. Jack asks if Ianto would miss him, and Ianto says “Yes” before Jack has even finished the question. But Jack says no: he left home a long time ago, and has loved many people since whom he would never have loved if he’d stayed.

Then they snog.

At Tosh’s place, Tommy asks what Jack said, what Tosh knows about what happens to him. And Tosh tells him that they send him back to France, from which Tommy assumes that he is killed.

And now it’s time for him to head back to 1918.

Torchwood gear up and head to the hospital, with Tommy in the gear that Torchwood have stored for him for the past ninety years. Tommy can hear voices—especially the voices of Torchwood 1918, Gerald and Harriet—and he freaks out and runs.

Is this his shellshock coming back, now he’s heading back to his own time, I wonder? Jack said that the time travel suppressed that damage, but that it would return when he went back to 1918. So is it starting to come back now, now that he’s back in the hospital where he was being treated?

Jack fails to convince Tommy of his duty, so Tosh asks that they be left alone—in what we see, as the camera pans back, is the same room in which Torchwood 1918 first saw them. And they’re in the same position as they were when we first saw them in the teaser, so the time in running down to the time when Tommy has to return.

Sure enough, as Tommy says he wants to stay with Tosh rather than be a hero and save all of humanity, we hear a tearing sound, and there are Gerald and Harriet.

Tommy shakes and hesitates, but Tosh convinces him to tell Gerald and Harriet what we saw him tell them in the teaser: that they need to take him, so that he can be in 2008 to tell them to take him from 1918.

But Tommy still needs to return to his own time.

Tosh tells him he needs to get back into bed, as though he’s never been away, and then to use the Rift key that Torchwood gave him.

So when the next Rift opens up, he steps back through into 1918, but finds himself in a supply closet, from which a nurse chases him.

Our Torchwood leg it through the hospital as fast as they can.

In 1918, Original Tommy is taken from bed by Torchwood—and Gerald looks over his shoulder to see Our Tommy (which really hammers that metaphor home) being walked through the hospital by the nurse who found him in the supply cupboard.

Back at the Hub, Jack notes that the time shift hasn’t stopped, but is instead spreading out from the hospital.

Tommy hasn’t used the Rift key, yet—perhaps, as Tosh says, because he’s been sent back ninety years in the past, and perhaps because he’s now shellshocked again.

So one of the Torchwood staff has to go into Tommy’s head as a psychic projection—oh, just technobabble, okay?

Of course, Tosh asks to go. And she’s seemingly seated on Tommy’s bed, as the hospital shakes around them, and Tommy tries to offer her the Rift key. But she tells him that it’s his, and he has to use it.

Tommy says he’s scared: he says that’s why he’s here in the hospital, because he’s a coward.

Okay, I admit it: I’m crying a little at this point.

But Tosh convinces him to use the key, just before she vanishes—but she’s done it. She’s convinced him to close the Rift.

In 2008, Tosh folds the clothes that Tommy wore, and stores them away in boxes. Like everything in Torchwood, nothing is ever thrown away—not bodies, not the contents of the dead staff members’ houses, and not the clothes that a dead soldier wore for a day on the town.

Jack thanks Tosh, but she just walks away from him.

She stands looking over the bay, and Owen comes up to her to tell her that everything is still here because of her.

No, says Tosh: because of Tommy. And she hopes we’re worth it.

And then she walks off into a Massive Attack film clip.



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