by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "They Keep Killing Suzie"

Posted 7 August 2009 in by Catriona

I’ve lost my jumper.

I know: it doesn’t sound like a tragedy. Yet it frustrates me, because it’s become rather cold in the last half hour.

Also, how do you lose a knee-length cardigan?

Anyway, here’s Torchwood, so I’ll stop whinging about my jumper now.

We get some back story on Suzie, from the opening episode: Suzie talking about her desire to control the glove and resurrect the dead, Suzie talking about how much she loves working for Torchwood.

And here is Torchwood, walking in slow-motion towards a murder scene. Jack tries to charm the high-ranking police officer in charge, but she’s not having any of it.

POLICE OFFICER: Are you always this dressy for a murder investigation?
CAPTAIN JACK: Why, would you prefer me naked?
POLICE OFFICER: God help me. The stories are true.

The murder is a young couple hacked to death in their beds, with “Torchwood” written above their bodies in their blood.

Jack orders the police officers out of the room, and, as she leaves, the police officer tells Jack that as far as she’s concerned, he’s responsible for this crime: “Torchwood walks all over this city as if it owns it. And now these people are paying the price.”

But Tosh does get the results on the killer’s hair—and the police officer manages to show them that the killer has “ret-conn” in his blood: the drug that Torchwood gives people to make them forget all about Torchwood.

Wait, did they have the killer’s blood? Because, if not, how did they manage to get that information out of the killer’s hair?

Apparently, Torchwood have given amnesia pills to 2008 people. Wow: that’s a lot of people.

And now Gwen brings up the glove, but Jack and Owen say no: the glove killed Suzie and it stays in the vault.

But Gwen is persuasive.

NICK: Listen to Jack, Gwen. He’s being unusually sensible.

But, no: Torchwood want to talk about the glove needing a “cool name.” Tosh reminds them that they called it “The Resurrection Gauntlet,” but Owen—the bastard—just repeats “A cool name.”

Ianto suggests “The Risen Mitten,” but the less said about that, the better.

Meanwhile, Jack is trying to resurrect the first victim. But he says he’s not very good with the glove: apparently, it only responded to Suzie. Gwen points out that she never had a go, though, and Jack hands the glove over.

Sure enough, Gwen manages to bring the first victim back to life. Of course, the poor bastard is screaming for help and begging for his mother, and is in no fit state to help anyone. This glove is a monstrous, monstrous object.

And it only works once.

OWEN (to Ianto): Give the man a stopwatch and he’s happy.
IANTO: It’s the button on the top.

Remember that later, because that’s a double entendre right there.

They have more success with the latest victim, who says the murderer was the man who came to “Pilgrim” and that his name was “Max”: they want a description from him, and the poor dying man says “Suzie” knew him better—she was always talking to him.

Jack says they’ve been talking to the wrong corpse.

Tosh says “Pilgrim” is a religious support group, like a debating society, run by Mark Bristow’s wife Sarah—Mark and Sarah were the most recent victims. The group is so tiny it doesn’t even have an Internet presence.

And we find that no-one knew anything about Suzie at all. She didn’t really have any friends at Torchwood, so Gwen suggests that a group of complete strangers would be exactly where Suzie would go to talk.

Luckily for Torchwood, they own all Suzie’s stuff—it’s Torchwood regulations. So all Suzie’s possessions are in a storage locker somewhere, and Torchwood are rummaging through them. Gwen finds a photograph of Suzie with her father: Jack finds a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

And Tosh finds a Pilgrim leaflet.

So Jack says it’s time Suzie came back.

So they drag her out of the refrigerator and into the autopsy room.

Gwen is slightly freaked out by the fact that Torchwood employees’ bodies are frozen forever. We’ll just see about that shall we, Torchwood?

Gwen says she can’t resurrect Suzie: she’s too far gone, she says. All Gwen can get is memories of the time Suzie tries to kill her.

But Owen suggests using the knife with which Suzie killed people, saying it will be like closing a circuit. But to make it work, they have to kill Suzie with it—Jack tries just slicing her arm, but it doesn’t work. So he drives the knife down into her heart.

And she comes back to life. And she’s furious that Gwen can use the glove.

From this angle, as Suzie talks, we can see the entry wound from the self-inflicted gunshot that killed her, under her chin. That’s strangely creepy.

But Suzie “dies” again and Gwen collapses—but, no, says Ianto. Suzie is just unconscious. She’s breathing, not dead.

Looks like Suzie is back for good, even when Jack pulls the knife out of her heart again.

And as we see Suzie in a wheelchair in an interrogation room, the camera pains around her and we can see the exit wound in the top of her skull. Now, that’s more disturbing than the entry wound.

Even as a reanimated corpse—and a reanimated corpse who is thoroughly pissed off that she’s been brought back to life and who looks as though she needs a good night’s sleep—Indira Varma is just so damn gorgeous.

Owen and Tosh aren’t willing to be in the same room as Suzie, and she mildly taunts them about this. But she eventually admits that she gave Max an amnesia pill once a week, every week—for two years. No wonder the poor bugger over-dosed and went mad.

Suzie says she just wanted someone to talk to—every week, as soon as she’d finished talking to him, she’d give him the pill.

Jack convinces Suzie to help, and she scans through the photos: she says there’s a girl missing, a Lucy McKenzie who worked in a club. But her strength wanes pretty easily, and Jack has to resort to shouting.

Cut to Jack, still in his World War II overcoat, strolling casually across the dance floor at what seems to be a heavy-metal club. They’re looking for Max before he can find and kill Lucy, the last remaining member of Pilgrim.

Suzie, meanwhile, is back at headquarters with Tosh, looking paler and more drawn than ever. And Torchwood think they’ve isolated Max, but they’ve grabbed the wrong man: Max Tressilian comes up behind Gwen, and Suzie shouts a warning so that Jack can stun him.

Oddly, Max is perfectly calm—until you say “Torchwood,” when he goes completely berserk, but only for ten seconds. That seems an oddly specific type of psychosis—and deliberately saying “Torchwood” as you leave is just mean, Jack. Why taunt the poor man your employee brain-damaged?

Suzie, meanwhile, is working on Gwen’s sympathies: I’d failed to mention earlier that the glove works most effectively for an empathetic individual. And now Suzie is playing on that, by constantly mentioning how dead she (Suzie) is, and begging to see her father—apparently, Suzie’s father is dying of cancer, and Suzie doesn’t even know whether he’s still alive.

Ooh, she’s good, Suzie. When Gwen insists that she has her own function at Torchwood and isn’t just a replacement for Suzie, Suzie brings out, “Have you slept with Owen yet?” And at the look on Gwen’s face, she looks down and says, “See? Replaced me completely.”

So Gwen goes barging into Jack’s office, and we get this monologue:

JACK: I had a boyfriend who used to enter rooms like that. The Grand Entrance. Got boring quickly. But he was one of twins, so I put up with it. Twin acrobats. Man, I have got to write that book. Maybe even illustrate it.

While I’m typing out that monologue, I miss a long conversation about whether Suzie will ever die.

But Owen calls Jack down to the conference room to point out that Suzie is still draining the life out of Gwen, while Gwen (simultaneously) suggests a road trip, to find Suzie’s dying father.

Because Gwen is both empathetic and stupid, apparently.

So to stop Suzie from draining the life out of Gwen, Jack says they have to kill Suzie again. Owen asks who’ll do it, and Jack draws his gun, saying, “As you say, I’m the boss.”

The rest of Torchwood see Gwen loading Suzie into her car—just as Torchwood goes into full lockdown. Gwen thinks that Jack will catch them, but Suzie says you never know: they might get lucky.

So how did Suzie initiate the lockdown? She’s using Max: he’s the Trojan horse, reciting an Emily Dickinson poem over and over again, as a verbal trigger to the lockdown process.

Suzie has planned this for a long time. She gives Max a complex series of verbal commands and, when he doesn’t see her for three months, they kick in. He starts killing people and writing “Torchwood” on the walls. Torchwood are called in and find the ret-conn in his bloodstream. They bring Max in and resurrect Suzie.

Now that’s a convoluted plan.

It’s rather brilliant.

But I suspect it relies a little too much on luck.

Suzie, in the car with Gwen, is looking much healthier, while Gwen herself is starting to look a little drawn.

Meanwhile, Ianto has used the water tower as a relay to enable mobile phone coverage. But who to call?

Well, Detective Inspector Swanson, from the early murder investigation.

JACK: We’re locked in.
SWANSON: You’re locked in?
JACK: Just a bit.
JACK: In our own base.
SWANSON: You’re locked in your own base?
JACK: It’s not funny.
SWANSON: And how am I supposed to help you?
JACK: We need a book of poetry.

Suzie, in the car with Gwen, is remembering songs her mother used to sing and crying.

But, meanwhile, Swanson has called her entire staff around the phone, and put Jack on Speaker phone:

SWANSON: Okay, Captain Jack: just say that one more time, nice and clear.
JACK: We’re locked in our base and we can’t get out.

Ah, but now Gwen is looking very tired. And she wants to know what there is after death. Suzie asks if Gwen is religious, and then taunts her: “Your faith never left primary school.”

She says there’s nothing out there: “Just this. Driving through the night. We’re just animals, howling in the dark.”

This is the most nihilistic show on television.

So, asks Gwen, you just die? There’s nothing else? But Suzie says no: she never said that: there’s something out there and it’s moving. Why, she asks, does Gwen think that Suzie was so keen to come back?

And Tosh manages, with Swanson’s help, to open up the Hub again, through what is, to be honest, technobabble at its most ridiculous and improbable.

Still, the main thing is that Jack is out and on Suzie’s trail, just as Gwen’s strength begins to fail terminally in Suzie’s father’s hospital room—and she’s bleeding from the head. Suzie, whipping off the scarf that she’s been hiding her ruined head with, shows that she’s almost healed, while Gwen is slowly, very slowly taking on Suzie’s fatal head wound.

And Suzie stands up, greets her father—and tears out his breathing tube. “Just what the bastard deserves,” she says.

But now they’re on the move again. Now Suzie is driving, while Gwen is barely conscious.

Suzie and Jack talk over the phone, and Jack promises that if Gwen dies, he will kill Suzie. But Suzie says she’ll do anything to stay: there’s nothing else, she says, nothing but life, and she’ll do anything to stay alive. She’s weeping, and I must admit I’m crying a little with her.

I don’t think it’s the character: I think it’s Indira Varma. She’s one of those actors who makes me want to cry when she cries.

Suzie is making for a ferry out to the islands. But she has to take Gwen with her. She’s formed this odd bond with Gwen, where she’s talking about the two of them running—that Jack won’t hurt them, and they’ll keep on running, the two of them.

And when Gwen collapses, Suzie doesn’t keep running, but stays leaning over Gwen’s body, asking if she’s gone.

And Jack asks Suzie, if he kills her, will Gwen come back. But Suzie says he can’t: can’t he see that she’s the last thing left of Gwen Cooper?

And Jack says “Not one bit”—and shoots Suzie in the back.

But she can’t die.

So he shoots her again. And again. And again.

But she’s still alive, lying in a pool of her own blood on the pier. “Captain, my captain,” she says to Jack. “Shall I tell you a secret? There’s something moving, something moving in the dark. And it’s coming for you.”

And then Tosh, acting on Jack’s orders, destroys the glove.

Suzie spasms and dies.

And Gwen spasms back to life.

But Suzie—poor Suzie is heading back into the vault. All that effort, all that planning, all that running—and she’s back in the vault. She’s dead again, back in the hands of Torchwood, back in that limbo of existence where no one even knows you’re dead.

And here’s the twist many of us have ben waiting for:

IANTO: If you’re interested, I’ve still got that stopwatch.
IANTO: Well, if you think about it, there’s lots of things you can do with a stopwatch.
JACK: Oh, yeah: I can think of a few.

But Ianto has ten minutes before he has to meet Jack in the office, and he offers to put a lock on the door in case Suzie goes wandering again. Jack says no: “The resurrection days are over.”

But Ianto says that’s the thing about gloves: they come in pairs.

And so they do.

Next week: “Random Shoes,” another heart-breaker.

Share your thoughts [5]


Wendy wrote at Aug 8, 06:18 am

Suzie was just a little bit devastating for me. Just recovering today…..enjoyed it a lot though. on the edge of my seat!


Catriona wrote at Aug 8, 06:34 am


In that case, season two and the just-aired “Children of Earth” specials that make up season three might come as a bit of a shock to you.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this is hands down the most nihilistic show on television.


Wendy wrote at Aug 8, 08:08 am

Do I need to steel myself for further devastation?


Catriona wrote at Aug 8, 09:31 am

Um . . .


Without specific spoilers, “They Keep Killing Suzie” is far closer in tone to season two Torchwood than any of the preceding episodes.

And season three was, in short, a kick to the face.

I love Torchwood, but it’s not easy to watch.


Heather wrote at Aug 10, 03:53 am


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