This was probably the most anticipated episode of the season for die-hard Doctor Who fans. It marked the arrival of The Doctor's most recent companion, Martha Jones, for an extended run on the series. As fans of that series know, Jack met up with Martha during his most recent bout with The Doctor on Doctor Who. At the end of that show's fourth season, Martha made the decision to leave The Doctor and stay behind on Earth. As such, it makes perfect sense that she would be available now to appear on the spin-off. And she fit in pretty seamlessly with the gang, even serving to lighten up Jack a lot.
It was almost disconcerting seeing those hints of the Doctor Who Captain Jack as he's such a different personality than what we've come to know on Torchwood. Doctor Who Jack is more the carefree gallivanting, swashbuckling hero archetype, more similar to The Doctor himself, whereas Torchwood Jack is brooding and burdened with angst and responsibility. It's such that you almost forget what a joy he is as a character on Doctor Who. I hope that Martha is able to leave some of that light-heartedness in Jack even after she leaves the show.
I have to admit, though, it seemed a bit contrived the way in which Martha Jones was introduced into the show. After a body is turned up, Unit (which is another top-secret government organization that Martha started working for after her return to Earth) sends Ms. Jones to help Owen with the post-mortem. But why would they do that? Did Jack request her because he found her to be there? Owen is a more than capable doctor and hasn't needed assistance from anyone. In fact, Torchwood has not had anyone from any other government agency in their HQ as far as I can recall.
But contrived or not, here she is and can I say that Freema Agyeman remains as beautiful here as ever. When she came Ianto was actually up manning the little shop they use for their main entrance cover. So since Ianto goes on more field missions this year and spends more time down in the hub, who's manning the shop upstairs? Does it just close more often? Maybe they need to hire another administrative type to relieve Ianto of those responsibilities. It sure was a good thing that one of the rare times that he actually was up there is when Martha arrived.
The team started to deduce that the murder victims were being injected with something prior to their deaths and that this agent was destroying something in their bodies. At the same time, their medical records were being purged from the systems, so somebody with high up connections was working on some sort of major cover-up. The creators did a good job of establishing the growing mystery in this episode. It was almost like a supernatural episode of House, only there was no patient dying throughout the episode. In fact, the only surviving victim died long before we found out what was going on.
Ultimately it came down to a miracle cure with a lethal side effect. An alien parasite that cured all possible illnesses in the body, from Hepatitis to AIDS, effectively resetting the body to it's purest and cleanest state. This is done just in time for it to ultimately kill you and unleash a massive alien larva on the world. I can just hear the commercial now. "Side effects include large alien larva growing in your esophagus. Should your stomach rupture, please contact your doctor immediately. You should not make long term plans when using Parasiticol."
After deducing the source of both the attacks and the murders, the team tried a direct approach, with Gwen and Owen, to deduce more information. When that failed miserably, the team was left with subterfuge. And because Owen had now become known to the head of that organization, The Pharm, and because it was determined they needed someone with medical expertise to go in, suddenly it was up to Martha to go in as a clinical study volunteer.
In the James Bond sequence, with Ianto acting as Q, Martha's equipped with camera and communication contact lenses. The lenses allow the team to communicate with her by typing right into her line of sight, along with life audio/video feeds of her movements. She was able to get in easily enough by lying about having Hepatitis. That night, she was able to access the company's systems, allowing Tosh to gain control.
While Martha tracked an escaped alien; the alarms went off while she was out, Gwen and Ianto set off to find a test subject from The Pharm database who hadn't been killed yet. Conveniently they arrived just as The Pharm's hired assassin was going to finish the job. The managed to capture him easily enough. Meanwhile, back at The Pharm, Martha herself gets the contact lens destroyed by the Martha-sized alien and ultimately gets captured as well.
The hitman confessed, after being nearly mauled by Torchwood's weevil, that he was killing the subjects before their larvae could manifest and escape their bodies. Due to the unforeseen side effect of the larval infestation they were all going to die anyway, so he was just making sure the alien died with them rather than escape into the unsuspecting world. So you see, the hitman was a hero. They should have hired him on the spot. Instead, he died on the spot, but not before we got to see Owen use another alien artifact to try and destroy the alien bug.
See, this was shown earlier in the episode as a throwaway gag, which means you knew it was going to be important later on. The idea was that this device can destroy Object A inside of Object B without damaging Object B at all. But only if it's calibrated correctly. The first time Owen tried to use it to destroy a bit of paper in a mug, and wound up destroying something across the room. The next time was with the hitman, where he tried to destroy the Mayfly, as the parasites were called, in the man's stomach and ruptured his body instead.
With Martha online and captured by The Pharm, Team Torchwood needed to get into the facility. And Tosh had an idea that absolutely should not have worked. But somehow it did, and they managed to get to Martha before she died. The Pharm had infected her, having discovered the otherworldly properties her blood contained. It was as if she'd traveled through all of space and time, but surely that is not possible *hint-hint* *wink-wink*.
Martha was infected with a parasite that had rather quickly reached the size where it was going to kill her; this took much longer in the initial patients. Guess what is the only way to save her? That's right! It's Owen and his alien artifact that, if calibrated properly, will destroy the parasite inside of Martha without injuring her. Meanwhile, the other half of the team (they split up like the Scooby gang now all the time), has discovered that The Pharm is aptly named as they've got tons of aliens locked up alive, harvesting their bodies in the pursuit of better medicines. Honestly, I bet if there were access to aliens this exact sort of thing would be happening.
Jack told Aaron, the head of The Pharm who'd captured Martha, that he was going to close The Pharm down, using their own systems against them and purging all the data on their computer systems so they couldn't just re-open somewhere else. The climax of the episode had Owen save Martha with the alien device, though in doing so Aaron was able to escape. Then, in the end with The Pharm self-destructing behind them, a vengeful Aaron comes out of the woods with a gun refusing to let them destroy everything he'd worked so hard for. Which they already had.
It was Owen that tried to talk him down and wound up paying the ultimate price. Of course he would. He had just agreed to go on a date with Tosh earlier in the episode, just to see where it might lead. But then again, this is Torchwood. Do you think he's really dead? Are you in the UK and have already seen the next two episodes? Yeah, then you already know don't you? *grin*. Hey, this is Torchwood crazy things happen all the time. That said, it's pretty convenient that they hooked up with a new doctor (Martha) just in time for their old one (Owen) to kick the bucket.
I enjoyed Martha with the Torchwood team, as I thought she fit well within their dynamic. If the character doesn't find a permanent home on Doctor Who this year, I hope they see fit to put her back into Torchwood, if Agyeman is interested. She brings out an interesting side of Jack that the team is not used to, and offers her invaluable insight into otherworldly things through her own experiences.
- Martha and Gwen bonding over the fact that they may be the only two women who've not been bedded by Jack.
- Ianto describing Jack's lovemaking technique to Martha as "innovative bordering on the avant garde."
- Owen insisting that he still be allowed to flirt relentlessly with girls even if he goes on a date with Tosh.
- Martha getting up in the middle of the night to sneak around the hospital and putting on the loudest pair of shoes to do so, making enough noise to echo throughout the halls; it's no wonder the guards thought they heard something.
- The gate guards at The Pharm being so cluelessly stupid as to fall for Tosh's plan, a corpse propped up behind a steering wheel, and let him pass through, even though he was completely stiff and unresponsive. I would feel so safe having such attentive and alert stooges manning my security gates.
|Loved it, she should stay permanently||186 (58.5%)|
|She's good, but only as a guest star||108 (34.0%)|
|It didn't really work, the character needs to stay on Doctor Who||13 (4.1%)|