Torchwood: To the Last Man
(S02E03) The adventure starts in 1918, featuring the Torchwood of its era. We get to see the future from the perspective of the past and the end of the episode from the perspective of the beginning. Confusing? Good. It's time travel, you're supposed to be confused. Torchwood continue its string of excellent episodes this run with this Tosh-centric installment. The inner struggles between team members seem to be a thing of the past, resolved while Jack was away, and what we have now is a real solid force that I can believe is prepared for whatever is coming.
Most of the "action" of this episode takes place in an old hospital, getting set to be torn down. This action apparently triggers a time shift back to 1918. The pivotal figure of this is Tommy, a young soldier extracted from 1918 by Torchwood and kept cryogenically frozen for the past ninety years only because Torchwood knew they would need him some day. Instructions regarding for what and how he would be useful were in a locked box.
There is a very well-handled juxtaposition throughout the day from Tosh and Tommy's sweet and romantic day out and about while Team Torchwood investigate the increasingly erratic events back at the hospital as the time rifts become more dramatic. Though it was a tad convenient that Tommy is unfrozen one day a year to ensure he's doing fine, and it was on one of those days that the shift started to occur and he was needed. That way we could see the growing affection between him and Tosh (they've apparently been growing close the past four years on his unfreeze days.
Tosh has always been one of the better characters on the show, a testament in large part to the talents of Naoko Mori. Here we get to see the "almost love" she clearly has for Tommy, and that it is only through sheer force of will and awareness of his situation and that at any moment he could be taken from her that has kept her from acting on her feelings. When it becomes clear that Tommy's time is now the two are given a very sweet overnight reprieve from destiny to pretend for one fleeting moment that maybe their relationship is normal.
As weird as it is to say, I think that relationship is much more healthy and sincere than whatever is lingering between her and Owen. And maybe it's because Owen still has a lot of growing to do as a man, but I think a union between him and Tosh would be a terrible idea. The sexual tensions between the characters does add to the overall drama of the series, but I find myself hoping that none of them ever end up successfully with one another. I think such a union would outdo Moonlighting as far as ruining the dynamic of a show.
"To the Last Man" is one of those episodes that doesn't do much to push the overall mythology of the series forward but still manages to capture what day-to-day life in Torchwood would be like. A non-stop adventure with huge stakes at every turn. Like an energetic, fast-paced popcorn movie. The X-Files did plenty of these between its "Mythology" episodes, and Torchwood looks set to do the same. With the way Cardiff and the time rifts have been set up, this formula can work quite well.
But that isn't to say that we're not given some kernels to think about. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how Jack's Torchwood was founded, and when, and what its relationship is to the original more sinister Torchwood, as seen early on in Doctor Who. Jack says at one point that Tommy has been there longer than any of the current team, which means Jack's involvement has been less than ninety years. And yet, the Torchwood of 1918 seems to be a direct antecedent to the current Torchwood, and thus unlikely affiliated with the other Torchwood. Were the two contemporaries for many years or has history been rewritten? I need to get a government grant to study these things.
As always, for the sake of US fans, I'll ask that we refrain from commenting on the events of episodes beyond the third in the comments below. Thanks!
I don't know that I can pinpoint what it is exactly, but this series/season, Torchwood has gone from a good show with some annoying qualities and some indefinable flaws to a great show with very little beyond minor things to complain about.