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October 25, 2014

Torchwood: Meat

by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 17th 2008 3:31PM
Torchwood: Meat
(S02E04)
When Gwen first joined Torchwood, she brought with her an element that none of the other team-members had, namely a significant other in Rhys. Since that time she has struggled to keep those two worlds separate, insisting to Rhys that she was still working for the police department and keeping him in the dark as to the otherworldly doings of Torchwood. Seems that would be difficult to maintain, right? Well, Cardiff is only so big so inevitably it would become impossible.

When a truck from Rhys' meat company was involved in an accident, Rhys happened to arrive on the scene mere moments before Torchwood pulled up. And so, inevitably, he saw Gwen. His confusion and worry about what's going on with her led to him following them to a remote warehouse, where the meat in question was coming from. The people at the warehouse find Rhys, and through his connection to the legitimate meat company they're working through, he manages to lie his way into their graces. And, of course, it is during this exchange that Torchwood sees him, leading them to inevitably assume he's in on the whole thing.

Jack is really a bit of a cynic isn't' he? I think at every possible opportunity he sees the worst in humanity. So while Gwen is struggling to see how Rhys could still be innocent in all of this, Jack is jumping all over the notion that Rhys has been in on it since the beginning, whatever it is.

Of course, playing a part in all of that is the fact that Jack seems to have fallen hard for Gwen and would probably like nothing more than for a legitimate reason to come up for breaking up her and Rhys. I suspect his relationship with Ianto is merely to fill the space until such time as he can follow his true heart's calling. It's one of those things that gives Jack a glimpse of humanity under the cold exterior he generally portrays on Torchwood. I specify the show because he's much more spirited and joyful when he's appearing on Doctor Who.

Rhys convinced the gang to hire him as a driver and was brought in to see the source of their "meat," an enormous whale-like alien they had strapped to the ground. It was alive and still growing; all the while the men were harvesting the meat like miners just chopping into its side oblivious to its cries. And yet somehow, later, when Rhys and Gwen were fighting it out over her secret other life, when she finally revealed that Torchwood chased down aliens, Rhys scoffed and refused to believe her. Had his mind really come up with a rational explanation for what he'd seen? An overgrown seal perhaps?

Gwen brought Rhys to Torchwood as proof and because of his involvement in the current case. To Jack's chagrin, who thought of Rhys as little more than a Caveman, ti was Rhys' clever thinking in procuring a position as a delivery driver that provided Torchwood's best option for getting into the warehouse. Reluctantly, Gwen agreed to allow him to do it.

Surprisingly to Team Torchwood, Jack's intentions aren't to destroy the beast, but rather to stabilize it and get it back through the rift. "Why shouldn't we save it?" he asked. "Because it's an alien?" Gwen's response to this: "So you do have a heart."

"We see enough death," Jack said. The Jack of this run so far appears to be much more introspective and thoughtful than last year's Jack. It adds a greater depth to the character. I'm still waiting for the "everything changes" hinted at in the intro, but I think the wiser and kinder Jack along with the tighter and more focused Torchwood team truly is ready. I'm just ready to see it myself, too.

Getting the team into the facility proved to be simple enough, but from there it all fell apart. I didn't understand why Ianto was suddenly doing field work, going along on this mission as well, and then when he blew Stealth 101 and wound up getting himself and Rhys caught, well ... I still don't know why he's going on missions now? Because he and Jack have a fling going?

In the ruckus, Gwen got shot at and Rhys took the bullet, we found out the idiots harvesting the meat didn't even believe they had an alien on their hands; though in their defense they did appear to be nothing more than incredibly stupid people who stumbled on a cash cow, or whale as the case may be. Bonus points for the alien resembling a kind of sock puppet when it was loose and flailing about angrily. Almost like a nod to old Doctor Who, which had awesomely awful special effects at times. Too injured and far gone, Owen had to give it a fatal injection, rather than a sedative. "Mercy killing," he explained. Jack was very touched and pained by this.

Rhys survived the shot while the bad guys got amnesia pills to make them forget all about all of it. Jack called Gwen away for a word and you knew it was going to be about giving Rhys an amnesia pill, too. She tried to do it herself, but he was so filled with joy and happiness and there was the potential for such openness between them that she couldn't do it. "What Rhys did today was so brave," she said. "He did it because he loves me and I won't take that away from him." Surprisingly, the kinder and gentler Jack allowed this.

I enjoyed the inclusion of Rhys and I do think that his being aware of the truth behind Torchwood adds a new and interesting dynamic to the show. How long he can maintain this knowledge without spilling it somewhere remains to be seen; because nice as he is Rhys doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed.

Meanwhile, Tosh attempted to rekindle things with Owen, which was going exactly nowhere throughout the episode in painfully awkward fashion. But in the end, when Owen had to watch the alien die due to a lethal injection he'd given, it was Tosh's slight gesture of comfort and support that he latched onto. Is team Torchwood going to just pair up Jack/Ianto, Owen/Tosh and Gwen/Rhys for the time being. Everyone gets someone? Even if so, there's no way that could last or work. Not with Jack pining for Gwen as he clearly still does and not with Owen and Tosh's volatile and self-destructive tendencies.

Next week features the return of a fan-favorite who knows Jack well but has never before appeared on Torchwood. And as always, I ask that our UK fans not spoil upcoming episodes that haven't been seen stateside yet in the comments. Thanks.

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SteveL

I can't tell you how disappointing this show has been for me. I hate every character and the writing doesn't make sense. They go out of their way to have awkward relationships between any character that steps on the screen.

Despite this, I kept watching. But then I watched this episode. I won't watch it again. So this manatee looking thing pops up. Someone's first thought is to cut a steak out of it? But gee, instead of dying, it grows to be the size of a building, without apparently being fed. And it is kept sedated, even though the biology of the animal is completely unknown. Our dysfunctional and incompetent crew come up with a ridiculous scheme to get inside and confront the 5 amateurs running this operation, but apparently don't have a plan for getting the creature out. Then they bumble around until someone gets caught. Our criminals decide to talk instead of just killing people as you think they might, and of course, our group escapes and takes out the bad guys. Now what to do with the creature, that is now inexplicably escaping from its chains and flopping around. Although this is annoying, it hardly seems dangerous. Nonetheless, our group feels compelled to kill the terrified creature. Horrible, upsetting, and frustrating are words that come to mind for this episode.

It finally pushed me over the edge, and I'm free of the torture known as Torchwood.

February 19 2008 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joni

I am sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but please tell me you didn't get paid for this "review"!? Seriously, watch the show more than once before writing something like this. Ianto has been doing field work ever since Jack left, and even before that. We are 4 episodes in and you haven't noticed that?
Plus, take the time and watch Jack+Ianto and Jack+Gwen. Throughout the whole episode Ianto is there having Jacks back (we see that very nicely in any scene if you pay a little attention) while Gwen is attacking him. Ianto is the one assuring him while Gwen constantly questions him. He needs them both. He is always flirting with anything with a poste code, plu stop thinking in categories, he is different from that. He needs Gwen to have a realtionship so he and all of Torchwood stay human. She is his constant reminder of what counts on planet earth. He doesn't pine for her or stalk her as you put it. He'd have plenty of possibilities to make a move if he wanted. But he doesn't. He wants Ianto. I guess you left out their encounter because it wouldn't fit in you argument.

February 18 2008 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cold Chilli

Didn't this start off with the Dr. Who Christmas Special when they destroyed a space ship over London?
why do people keep acting like aliens don't exist in the show.

February 18 2008 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
abbenormal

Ianto moved way beyond tea boy when Jack took off with the Doctor, so I think that's why he's out doing field work with the rest of the crew now. And he is most certainly NOT filler for Jack. I adore their relationship, and I put my faith in Russell T Davies that Gwen's crush on Jack will go nowhere.

February 18 2008 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bella

Just a little insight...I don't think that the writers know where they're going with the "everything changes" yet. In an extra scene taken out of the season finale of Dr. Who last year, Jack said to the Doctor "The Twenty First Century's when it all changes, you gotta be ready." And the Doctor looked at him confused and asked, "What does that mean?" And Jack shrugged and said. "I don't know but it sounds good." Just a little tidbit.

February 18 2008 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LC

While I love this show, it drives me nuts when people like Rhys happen to ignore, forget or just not believe all of the other alien encounters the world has had.

I mean a flying saucer gutted Big Ben and although most of the last years timeline from the season finale of Doctor Who was erased, the part where the Master had the President of the U.S. killed still remained. I know the public played it off as mass hypnosis or a hoax, but come on, how do you explain away a damaged landmark or an assassinated president?

February 18 2008 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordon Werner

Rhys doesn't own a meat company ... he owns (or at the very least works for) a trucking company ... one of whose trucks was being used by the "Meat" company

February 18 2008 at 4:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raydeen

I'm just happy we had an episode with Captain Jack not making out with another man.

February 18 2008 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Raydeen's comment
Mark Adams

Whatsamatter, EZO? If you're male, are you questioning your masculinity? If you're female, are you jealous?
Grow up. Watch SPIKE if this disturbs you.

February 18 2008 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

Calm down! Just because he doesn't want to see Captain Jack randomly make out with another person, male or female, doesn't mean he needs to 'grow up'. Frankly, I'm getting sick of Jack hooking up with everyone that he sees, regardless of gender. It's as though he's an immortal Don Juan and it's getting predictable and old.

February 19 2008 at 9:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anita

P.S. It kind of scares me that these guys found an animal they couldn't identify and immediately thought they should sell it as meat. It kind of freaks me out as to what else is on the market :)

February 17 2008 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anita

I wasn't crazy about this episode as it returned to old season 1 themes: all the guys love Gwen and Owen hates Tosh. I think eps 1-3 went beyond those categories, so I'm upset to see them return. I don't mind the G-J matchup, but I hate that Ianto is just a 'filler' relationship. Plus, I think Jack's open jealousy was too soon for an ep4 reveal. Also, seeing Jack stalk Gwen, Owen pout over Gwen and Rhys have to stake his territory was a bit much. I liked the sexy confident Tosh, so C.T.'s return to T's insecure, dependent personae seemed like a step back. Plus, if a hot young man sacrificed himself for me, I doubt I'd return to the whiny one who seemingly despises me.

I like that Ianto's going on missions now and it fills the team out. Plus, in the cannibal episode he mentioned that he liked it, despite his occasional fears.

I think season 2 is stretching the acting skills of JB. While he's finally gotten the hang of all-knowing Captain, I don't think he fully handles the extra emotions that they're writing for him. While I bought his first iteration of 'what did they do to you', his repetition of the line w/ 'my friend', seemed a bit awkward -

February 17 2008 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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