Posted 31 July 2009 in Doctor Who by Catriona
In the last five minutes, I’ve had a complicated conversation with Nick about where I fit in the spectrum of things he likes (apparently, I come first, but in a meta fashion, so he can still claim that his Mac products are technically first) and then failed to get Safari to work properly.
This doesn’t really bode well for the live-blogging of this episode. Let’s hope things don’t start crashing unexpectedly during the process.
(On a related note, my parents are visiting, but I doubt they’ll contribute in any active fashion to the actual live-blogging process.)
Somehow, what with this episode being called “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” I’m not anticipating a happy ending. But I am anticipating a giant wooden horse. And possibly some Romulans.
Now we’re in Cardiff in 1812, with a soldier and a prostitute. One of them is hitting the other, and I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which. Oh, wait: now she’s scratched his face, so really they’re hitting each other. But she, running away—and I think we can all agree that that’s the sensible solution—sees a series of bright lights in the sky. When the soldier comes up behind her with his musket, she’s grinning at him. He asks “Do whores have prayers?” and shoots her—and we’re thrown back into the present day.
Where Torchwood turn up at a dig site, to see the same woman, with contemporary clothes, watching from behind the safety lines.
Jack is picking up traces of alien technology—and I failed to notice what happens next while my mother is saying she doesn’t like Quincy. (Quincy, it turns out, after we move through a variety of other names, including “Gareth,” means Owen. I don’t like him, either.)
Wow, Torchwood is unprofessional. And why aren’t Gwen and Owen keeping their affair secret? And why are they being so terribly cruel to Tosh—and the whole giggly “Sorry, private joke” thing is childish and malicious.)
Meanwhile, the blonde woman we saw at the beginning and at the dig site is picking Tosh up at a bar. She’s chatting about Tosh’s history and her work for Torchwood—she says she’s a scavenger, a collector.
Cut to slightly later, where Tosh is quite clearly both quite drunk and intoxicated by the idea that she has someone to talk to, someone who isn’t malicious or dismissive.
Then the woman hands Tosh a pendant and tells her to put it on—and when she does, she can hear the thoughts of the people in the bar. She’s not finding it exciting, because it’s too overwhelming: she can’t block the sounds out, until the blonde woman starts talking to her, telling her to concentrate only on her thoughts—but when she hears the blonde woman thinking about how she wants to kiss Tosh, Tosh freaks out a little and tears the necklace off.
The blonde gives the pendant to Tosh, and Tosh says she’ll show the others, but the blonde says no, she won’t: she’s quite certain that Tosh won’t reveal it.
And, sure enough, Tosh is wearing the necklace and listening to people’s thoughts. Gwen is thinking about Owen and Owen is wondering what Tosh would be like in bed: “Catholic but grateful,” he thinks. Of course, all she can really hear is them thinking about each other, which isn’t something I’d want to hear.
Ianto, on the other hand, is thinking about how this, clearing up after people and brewing drinks, is all his life is, and he’s so full of pain it feels as though rats are gnawing his stomach.
Tosh tears the pendant off.
But when she gets home, Blondie is waiting for her.
Tosh, naturally, is freaking out, because she says these are people who should like her, but she can hear what they really think of her—but Blondie says that it’s not as simple as that, that people do like her, but they’re complicated.
She puts the pendant back on Tosh, and asks Tosh to read her thoughts, which Tosh says are “not exactly pure” and “pretty graphic.” And then they snog. Well, this is Torchwood.
Oddly, the girl-on-girl snogging is not dwelt on to the same extent that Torchwood dwells on boy-on-boy snogging.
Instead, we’re skipping straight forward to Tosh’s post-shagging despair.
But Blondie, after taunting Tosh a little about Owen, tells Tosh to put the pendant back on, to go to a public space and listen for something that she’ll know when she hears it. (She also gives Tosh another name, other than Mary, but I can’t spell it and don’t have time to check.)
And sure enough, Tosh, standing in an open space, hears a brain saying, “I’m going to kill them, I’m going to kill them” over and over again. We follow the man as he heads out to collect his son for a custody visit: he has a reluctant son and an ex-wife who talks non-stop about how much nicer her new man is.
Until her ex-husband pulls out a shotgun, that is.
I remain unconvinced that being shot with a shotgun is “just like falling asleep.” But we’ll never know because Tosh smacks him on the back of the head with a poker.
Back at Torchwood, we find that the skeleton from the dig site (which Owen had indicated was a woman dead from a gunshot wound) is actually a man dead of some unknown trauma.
Tosh, talking to Jack, asks about the person that Blondie mentioned: Philocteces? Maybe? Greek is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, you might say, it’s all (wait for it) Greek to me.
Sorry about that.
Anyway, he was an archer recruited for the Trojan War and then marooned on the island of Lemnos for about ten years. I’m sure that’s metaphorically significant.
Speaking of Blondie, she and Tosh are in a wine bar, and Blondie is first snogging Tosh and then suggesting that she’s not as valued in the Torchwood hierarchy as she thinks she is.
This is clearly not a healthy relationship.
I would recap the next scene with Tosh and Owen (rambling about the skeleton/technobabble), but I can really sum it up like this: I really, really hate Owen. “Go do your computer stuff and think about shoes, okay?” I really, really hate Owen.
Of course, Gwen comes in and, since Tosh is wearing the pendant, she’s rapidly driven out of the room. She stands and stares at the hardware they pulled out of the ground, when Jack comes down and challenges her about hitting the homicidal man with the poker.
Jack, oddly enough, doesn’t believe her story about hearing the homicidal man muttering his plans to himself as he walked.
Jack’s not stupid, you know—he knows there’s something not quite right. And Tosh herself is freaking out, because she can’t hear Jack’s thoughts. There’s nothing there.
So when Blondie turns up that night (with crisps and coffee), Tosh says she’s giving Torchwood the pendant, even though they’ll want to talk to Blondie.
So Blondie reveals her true nature.
MY DAD: Oh my god! It’s the deep booming voice again! She’s going to take her face off now! She’s going to take her face off!
I knew we shouldn’t have let him watch “City of Death.”
But it’s true that she does, sort off, take her face off, to reveal that she’s an alien.
TOSH: So I’m shagging a woman and an alien.
BLONDIE: Which is worse?
TOSH: Well, I know which my parents would say.
Blondie explains something of her civilisation—and explains that the pendant is how her people communicate, since speech is “kind of gross to watch.” (She says this while lighting a cigarette, which seems a little inconsistent.)
Blondie has rather dropped even the pretense of being nice, but she refuses point-blank to go with Tosh to Torchwood, saying that ours is a culture of invasion, not a culture that wants to learn about alien civilisations.
This is balanced by Owen’s determination to learn what killed the man he has on his autopsy table—while Jack stands around on buildings, as is his wont, and Tosh, sitting with Blondie, breaks down under the effects of the pendant. She says it’s like a curse, like something that the gods send.
Owen, meanwhile, is tracing the removal of hearts back through time. He rings Jack and says, “You need to see this.” I say to Nick, “I think if I’m talking to Jack, I’m going to be more specific than that.”
Tosh, meanwhile, has broken down under the pressure of the pendant and Blondie’s conversation, and takes Blondie into Torchwood.
But Jack’s waiting for them, telling a long rambling story about a friend of his who had a sex-change operation—the point of that, he says, is that since then, he’s always been a bit worried when a friend starts behaving out of character.
He explains to Tosh—who is telling the story of how Blondie is a political prisoner, just as Blondie told her—that the transport is a two-man transport: Blondie killed her guard, took over the prostitute’s body, and killed the soldier. Since then, she’s been tearing people’s hearts out.
Tosh is wearing the pendant and she can hear her colleague’s voices—she stops Owen from grabbing Blondie, but Blondie grabs Tosh instead and puts a knife to her throat. Tosh can’t cope with the thoughts and the knife, but Jack projects his thoughts to her, telling her to do nothing until he says so.
He hands the transport over to Mary, but he’s set it to activate, and changed the co-ordinates to the centre of the sun.
JACK: It shouldn’t be hot. I mean, we sent her there at night and everything.
TOSH: You killed her.
Well, that’s Jack for you. He’s more than a little past Chaotic Good in this episode.
But now Tosh has to face the scorn and distress of her colleagues, who are aware that she could read their minds for a couple of days. Owen is furious, but Gwen is less judgmental, because she knows that she’s on shaky moral ground herself.
But she does tell Tosh she should spend more time in love, because it suits her.
I have to say, this is a surprisingly hard episode to live-blog. Lots of talking, not much action.
Tosh and Jack chat about the pendant, and Tosh decides to smash it under her heel, because it’s a curse.
TOSH: Why can’t I read your mind?
JACK: I don’t know.
MY MAM: He doesn’t have one.
Tosh is still struggling with the after-effects of the pendant, but there really isn’t anything she can do about that. She’s just going to have to work through it—as we end the episode with an incredibly long pan out over Cardiff.
My mother tells me I need to point out that she thought that episode was tortured and not very good—she’s quite insistent that I put her opinion on the blog. Feel free to disagree with her in the comments.