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December 20, 2014

Torchwood: Small Worlds

by Martin Conaghan, posted Nov 13th 2006 9:03PM
Captain Jack(S01E5) It's difficult not to find yourself comparing Torchwood with the X-Files, since both shows investigate paranormal happenings, alien sightings and other 'unexplained' activity.

And while I could never put my hand on my heart and say Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper come anywhere near the quality of Mulder and Scully, I'm starting to feel that Torchwood is capable of hitting much higher notes when it comes to the fear and terror factor, bringing slightly more of an edge to its so-called adult theme.

"Small Worlds" was one of those episodes where the comparisons to the X-Files couldn't have been more obvious -- the 1996 X-Files episode "Paper Hearts," with Tom Noonan and 'Invocation' from 2000 both immediately came to mind.

The recent episodes of Torchwood have all carried a similar theme, namely that each member of the team carries a dark secret. This week, it was Captain Jack's turn to release his demons, when mysterious fairies appeared in Cardiff, killing off people who threatened the life of a little girl.

The first victim was a convicted pedophile, who attempted to abduct a little schoolgirl called Jasmine, but soon found himself suffocated to death on flower petals.

Next up was an old friend of Jack's, Estelle Cole, a woman who knew his father during the war who made a hobby of photographing fairies in the woods -- which is where the audience started discovering that Jack has been father back in time than the 1940s; since he appears to have been in charge of a troop of 15 soldiers back in 1909 in Lahore, India.

Little Jasmine soon exacted her revenge on some bullying school colleagues, and then turned her attention to her rather bossy step-father -- all of whom met fairly nasty fates (although, thankfully we were spared a grisly death for the schoolgirls).

I won't bore you with the details of where the nasty fairies allegedly originated, but Captain Jack explained that they were from all across time; evil spirits who controlled the elements and plucked children from the ethereal plane to join their midsts.

Naturally, their next 'chosen one' was little Jasmine, and when her step-father was attacked and killed by some pretty impressive looking demon-like cgi fairies, Captain Jack made a hasty deal with the malevolent entities to take the life of little Jasmine in return for an end to their horrible behavior of snatching little children and killing of their chums.

Some iffy dialog aside, this was a stand-out episode in the series so far, with some blunt and grisly ends for a few of the players, and a further insight into Captain Jack's mysterious past and his powerful motivation to protect Earth.

However, I don't think we've seen the last of the little fairies for this series, and Jasmine may well make a return visit to the Torchwood team at some point further along the way.

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peri

them fairies were really ugly and at the end i don't think it was fair that the rest of the team hated jack because he gave the fairies Jasmine.

December 02 2006 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
USATorchwoodFan

1. From this episode, and episodes of Dr. Who, it was told that Captain Jack was a time agent from the 51st century. It is likely he was in Lahore 1909 as a time agent on a mission.
2. Captain Jack is in Torchwood to find the Doctor. The hand in the jar that he prizes is obviously the Doctor's, which was cut off in the Christmas Invasion episode of Dr Who. He probably wants to find a way of curing his immortality.
3. This show reminds me more of a UK version of Men in Black than S&S or X-files, although there is some of both there.

November 21 2006 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
USATorchwoodFan

Giving it some thought, and combining the information gleaned from this episode with information from Dr Who, I believe that Captain Jack was in Lahore 1909 doing a job for the Time Agency he worked for. This begs more questions than I will voice here, but I hope Russell is keeping Capt Jack's history straight. It is obvious why he is working for Torchwood: He wants to find the Doctor, and this is the best way for him to find out if the Doctor is on earth. BTW, my wife figured out that the hand in the jar is most likely the Doctor's right hand, which was cut off in the Christmas Invasion Episode of Dr Who.
As for S&S/X-files, I find that a better analogy would be to Men In Black, keeping alien threats from disrupting the world.

November 21 2006 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Soren the Lurker

I don't think the "faeries" have gone for good -- I think Jack's deal was that he would let them have Jasmine, and they wouldn't take another child for the near future.
I agree this tastes like a longer-term arc -- indeed, if TW runs several seasons, I shall be disappointed not to see more of them.
You're also right that this felt like S&S/X-Files. There was little for anyone other than Jack and Gwen to do, and what they did do sould have been rescripted onot one or other of the "leads". But there isn't really anything beyond the techno-nerd/horny Welsh thug/creepy butler with necrophiliac tendencies cliches to work with. Yet.
8/10, and the best so far.

November 17 2006 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gene

And interesting that Capt. Jack mentioned the Mara, which was the villian in two different Doctor Who stories... will Torchwood be mining Doctor Who's vast history for monsters?

November 15 2006 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

In regards to Ianto, I don't think everything was "back to normal"

I think the hand Jack placed on his shoulder at the beginning was a sign of "look I care, I really do. Yes you fucked up but I am willing to give you a chance" and the decisions Ianto made is something he is going to have to live with for a long time.

My wonder of this episode was
1. Jack obvisouly traveled back in Earths history more than just the con job he pulled in WWII. So what exactly was he doing in ANOTHER military outfit in 1909?
2. If he was in WWII for the original con job, why would he allow himself to fall in love and ultimately break a woman's heart knowing he was going to have to leave? Or did he assume he would get paid from the con job and stay?

November 14 2006 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Adams

Does anyone know if this show has been picked up by any USA net?

November 14 2006 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lam

They really need to cut down on the screaming and crying. The acting as subtle as a hammer to the forehead and I fear it will wear really thin.

November 14 2006 at 6:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick

If it reminded you of the X-Files, it's probably because that was borrowing from Sapphire & Steel, the British 80s series that was written by PJ Hammond, who wrote this episode. There were a lot of very S&S moments in this story like the malevolent force that breaks through time and someone being sacrificed for the greater good.

November 14 2006 at 4:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Smiley

Did anybody else catch the 3d glasses on the lamp in Jack's office? They look like the same ones the Doctor wore in the finale that let him see the void stuff.

I love Torchwood. Its kind of hit and miss but you just know its going to kick ass in season 2. This show is filling the void left when the WB cancelled Angel.

I just hope they're not afraid to kill off main characters. After "Cyberwoman", I was sure Ianto would be gone but it seems like everything's back to normal. I dislike shows that place their characters in dangerous situations but never kill them off. Nothing would thrill me more than to tune into what I think is a one-off episode and see one of the main characters die a gruesome death.

November 14 2006 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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