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October 9, 2015

Torchwood: The season so far

by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 9th 2008 10:00AM
Torchwood: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Did you really think Captain Jack wouldn't be back? Now in its second series/season in both the UK and the US, we're going to do things a little differently with our Torchwood reviews this year. The fine folks on both sides of the pond finally got things squared away so that new episodes air much closer in the US to their initial UK airing. The third episode airs this Saturday, February 9, on BBC America, which is a little more than a week after the UK airing. To minimize any "spoilery" concerns, the episode reviews will follow the US airings.

But before we can get to that, we need to play a little bit of catch up, so look for an overview of the first two episodes of Series/Season Two after the jump. And about that image up there spoiling the first episode? Hey, that might just be a flashback sequence. That's right, I got you there.

"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"
The season started off in fine fashion, featuring James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel) hamming it up as Jack's former partner from the 51st Century, Captain John Hart. Hart arrived through one of Cardiff's space/time rifts and immediately started putting his plan in motion; a little reckless homicide here, then contact Jack. The two have a romantic history, as well as being partner Time Agents, but while Jack has experienced a tremendous amount of growth and change due to his extraordinary experiences since first encountering The Doctor (you know who I'm talking about), he and John Hart aren't very much alike anymore.

With regard to continuity, we learn that the Time Agency has been disbanded (at least according to Hart), and that Jack has become more committed and enthusiastic about his role with his Torchwood family. Hart is here tracking cluster bombs strewn throughout Cardiff ultimately seeking a gem. If Jack seemed morally aloof and ambiguous last season, John surpassed him in spades with this outing. The biggest surprise for John, though, was that he's not dealing with the same Jack Harkness he used to know. For one thing, this Jack is a hell of a lot harder to kill, as John found out the hard way.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this season premiere. The opening always mentioned that "The 21st Century is when everything changes," and last year I just wasn't seeing it. But this episode seemed to have a lot more meat to it, and any opportunity to learn a little more about Captain Jack's past is great.

In the end, Hart didn't get to kill anybody from Torchwood, which isn't to say he didn't try his damnedest, but he did leave Jack with a parting thought that seemed to upset our hero, "By the way, I found Grey." As for what that cryptic line means, Jack's not telling. At least, not yet.

In fact, where Jack's been since his disappearance in last series/season finale he doesn't really go into. If you wonder and didn't follow the latter part of the last series/season of Doctor Who, then you've done yourself a huge disservice because that's exactly where Jack went. And can I say that I absolutely love him as a Companion? It's great news that Captain Jack is supposed to again go journeying with The Doctor this year, and we get a bonus of having Companion Martha Jones join the Torchwood team for several episodes as well. It's a Who-family cornucopia of love!

After the continuity-heavy events of the premiere, Torchwood settled back into "freak of the week" mode a bit with this outing. It's common of both Torchwood and Doctor Who to have this very episodic approach, facing all new threats in nearly every episode and resolving almost all of them within the hour. Underlying seeds flow from episode to episode so there is a continuity and progression to the overall storylines, but those facets are rarely in the forefront.

For "Sleeper," the focus is on Beth, a woman who discovers she's really a sleeper agent for an impending alien invasion. Apparently, these agents were set up on Earth with completely human identities and have been allowed to live completely normal human lives, totally unaware of their true selves or purpose. At the right time, their implants (conveniently housed in their right arms) trigger and their human identity is gone, replaced by their true alien self.

Beth manages to fight her manifestations, with some success, and ultimately plays a significant role in thwarting the invasion efforts just as they are beginning to get under way. Of course, as is the way with such stories, there is tragedy, and the alien invasion is presumably still forthcoming, but as Jack says in this season's into "Torchwood is ready." Last year it was "you've got to be ready," so he's clearly confident that his team now is. I'm ready for the "everything changes" part. Let's get this party rolling and see what these agents are going to have to face, other than enormous Godzilla-sized demons. Let's not do that any more, okay?

Let's try to be friendly in our posts, and respectful of the US fans. I know four episodes have already aired in the UK, but episode three is tomorrow here, so let's try not to ruin anything for those who haven't seen episodes three and four yet, mmm'kay? Great! You guys are awesome!

Do you think Captain Jack has changed since Series/Season 1?
Yes, he's much more light-hearted86 (50.9%)
Yes, he's a lot more intense51 (30.2%)
No, he seems the same to me32 (18.9%)

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The changes in the team are for the better. Last season, so much angst and turmoil was getting built up, that Torchwood was barely able to function at times without bickering and what not. Save the overly melodramatic themes for daytime television.

February 09 2008 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Um... what Anita said.

Seriously every character has "changed" but not in crazy dramatic ways. Ianto is much more outgoing, Owen and Gwen are less shrill, Tosh is a bit more self-reliant. I think them being left to fend for themselves in between S1 and S2 really did them some good.

It's been a great start for this show.

February 09 2008 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved episode 1 as it tightened up team dynamics and personalities. Last season, I wondered how Torchwood could be so elite considering how fragmented the team was. This time, the team works well together and you see WHY Jack chose them. Tosh is cool and competent, Owen is a great doctor who thinks on his feet, Ianto keeps track of the hub and events in Cardiff and Gwen shows great leadership skills. Plus, Captain Jack truly becomes the ambi-sexual being they claimed he was last season. He makes out with Ianto, hits on Gwen, has an erotic fight with James Marsters and then asks Ianto out on a date. I totally want to hint at what happens in future eps, but so far I like that they removed the character flaws that I hated last season i.e. Owen's hyper-selfishness, Tosh's insecurity, & Ianto's butler personae. While they might not keep it up, I like what Chris Chibnall has done for the opening eps -

February 09 2008 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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