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August 29, 2015

Torchwood: Countrycide

by Martin Conaghan, posted Nov 20th 2006 9:04PM
Owen from Torchwood(S01E06) Well, didn't I make a big mistake in sitting down to watch the latest episode of Torchwood all by myself, late in the evening?

Why didn't I just wait until my wife was ready to watch it with me, so that she could reassure me that the doors and windows rattling around the house was just the wind playing tricks on my mind?

But no, I just had to sit and watch it all by myself. I was too impatient.

And now I don't think I'll get to sleep tonight.

Or tomorrow night, for that matter.

Folks, this was about as scary as television can get.

Not since the episode of the X-Files called "Home" in 1996, with the disturbing issues of incest, physical deformities and murder thanks to a family of Pennsylvanian in-breds, have I felt so uneasy watching a show on terrestrial TV.

I can barely describe how freaked-out I still feel by the goings-on in this episode, which started with a girl being stopped on a country road late at night, then attacked in her car by an unseen assailant.

The Torchwood team then embarked on a countryside mission to find out why a series of people had disappeared in unexplained circumstances in the remote Brecon Beacons.

Of course, from the start, the team were being watched as they set up camp, and aside from a moderately distracting side-story with Owen and Gwen reluctantly rekindling their pseudo-affair from the 'Cyberwoman' episode, I quickly found myself tempted to reach for the remote control and watch this episode at a later date. Perhaps during the hours of daylight.

The discovery of a body stripped of its organs and flesh led to the team's SUV being stolen, which was then tracked to an abandoned farmhouse pub, where the team found a terrified young man holed up inside -- but not before he blasted Gwen in the abdomen with a shotgun.

Wounded (but not fatally), Gwen and the team then set about barricading themselves into the pub, while Toshiko and Ianto found themselves trapped in an underground prison with coolers full of body parts.

And then the freak show really started.

Tosh and Lanto appeared to find themselves rescued by a woman claiming to be a nurse, but were quickly mistaken -- as the woman only led them to an upstairs kitchen where her crazed husband set about preparing their bodies for butchering, claiming it was part of a 10-year cycle called 'The Harvest'.

Tosh escaped, thanks to Ianto's bravery, but failed to make it through the woods before being caught again and strangled to within an inch of her life. Then Gwen and Owen arrived on the scene with a local policeman and a stand-off ensued.

Unfortunately, the policeman was in on the whole affair, and soon the entire gang -- minus Captain Jack -- were about to be chopped up at the hands of the entire kill-crazy village.

However, Captain Jack arrived in the nick of time on a tractor, smashing his way into the farmhouse and blasting everyone to hell with a shotgun. Well, he knee-capped the lot of them and summoned the real police.

When Gwen sat down in the pub and interrogated the ringleader of the mad village, she could gain no insight into the insanity which had been going on all around them, other than a whisper from the madman to inform her that "it made him happy".

Cue the end credits, and not a minute too soon either, along with the confirmation that Gwen and Owen were conducting a sexual relationship in an attempt to cope with the things they encounter as members of Torchwood. (Better to get the romantic angle out of the way before it takes over the show, I suppose).

It's worth noting that this was the first episode in the series not to feature a supernatural or extraterrestrial element -- at least, not that we know of -- and I can't think of anything I've watched on TV in a long time which could match it in terms of sheer terror.

Sure, zombies and crazy people stalking down us normal folks in a menacing Dawn of the Dead fashion will often get the pulses going, but I sincerely hope there aren't too many more episodes of Torchwood like this to come.

Otherwise, I'll have to hold someone's hand and watch through gaps in my fingers from now on.

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nostalgia is, indeed, fun (oh a return to the original style and quality PLEEEASE!!). However, I can categorically state that I NEVER watched from behind the sofa. The Green Death was the only story that scared me badly enough that I was forbidden to watch the rest of it from episode 3 onwards. Terror of the Autons was scary, but only enough to remain photographically memorable from my then 8 year old self to the present day. As to Torchwood, after a blip with Random Shoes (at least somewhat better than Love & Monsters) the episodes have gone from strength to strength, leaving me panting for season 2 and wondering how to get over my current Torchwood withdrawal symptoms

January 06 2007 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oh my god at the end of countrycide i couln't believe when owen (apparently naked) walks up behind Gwen.Also in the episode greeks bearing gifts i thought some of the thoughts Owen and Gwen were really funny. I think Owen and Captain Jack are gorgeous

December 02 2006 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Otherwise, I'll have to hold someone's hand and watch through gaps in my fingers from now on."
Reminds me of the old days in the 60s and 70s when watching Dr Who from behind the sofa when I was kid.
He He just for old times sake I watched the Dalek episodes from DW series 1 from behind the sofa.
Aint nostalgia fun?

December 01 2006 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great episode. Sure some of the acting is a little much but at least we have believable people who act in a more believable manner. These guys are in real peril and they start to flip out. Wouldn't it have been better if Picard had done that just once or twice?

Also the point was not that this was so much worse than what they had already seen but that it was yet another horrible case that they had experienced. Everything is just too much for Gwen hence her affair.

This isn't a brilliant show but it is solid and watchable.

Regards from Britain, Archie

November 28 2006 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is every bloke out there really such a great wuss? I was at home alone to watch this week's episode as hubby was working and I wasn't all that scared. I still think it was the best one yet though (that scene with Owen and Gwen against the tree..a turn on for all he's such a slimy little creep). My opinion only, 'Cyberwoman' was the worst I've seen. Good for a laugh maybe, but little else

November 21 2006 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Douglin...Gwen did not see the rape/murder in episode 3, Owen did.

November 21 2006 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show just feels like it could be so much better.

The acting is just way over the top, all of the members of this 'crack-squad' meant to protect the human race from aliens have a tendency to flip out at the drop of hat.

Gwen got shot in the stomach but she's fine and not bleeding to death or anything...Come on your a Sci-Fi show whip out some Alien gizmo and magically fix her.

Why was she even clearing the houses when Invincible Cap'n Jack was just standing around, he could of done it, got shot and been fine...

the blatant rip off of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sound...

The whole "I need to know why" thing, Gwen is meant to be a police officer yet she finds this the most unsettling thing she's ever seen...not the whole rape/ murder thing from ep 3.

And the ending where she can't talk to her boyfriend about what she's seen....um Yes she can! at least about this case, it wouldn't be classified (no aliens) and it would end up in the papers anyway if a whole town of cannibals was arrested. I get that the writers wanted to do the whole 'ooh man can be more evil than monsters thing' but it just didn't seem like the thing to make Gwen get together with Owen.

And next week more meaningless homosexuality...am I the only one that thinks it would have been better to have one strong gay/bisexual character instead of the silly rating grabbing "everyone's bisexual" thing

November 21 2006 at 7:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The acting is getting more and more laughable each week. I was about to turn it off during the "stand off" in the woods.

November 21 2006 at 6:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike m

I live in florida and i download it each week. I made the same mistake you did last night Martin! What a show! Draws you in and, i'm not a jumpy person? but man it had me freaking out too. lol

November 21 2006 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

they can keep this off the air in the US if they want forever, it will find its fans via alternate methods. By the time it does air in the US, we all know what happens. BBC should get a domestic US partner or just use BBCA and show them simultaneously. This is a global world we live in, "borders" don't work anymore for TV licensing.

November 20 2006 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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