(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.