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November 20, 2014

Torchwood: Reset

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 2nd 2008 12:38PM
Torchwood with Martha Jones(S02E06) "Let's say we were under the same Doctor." Martha Jones explaining to Owen how she knows Jack.

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.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.
What did you think of Martha on Torchwood?
Loved it, she should stay permanently186 (58.5%)
She's good, but only as a guest star108 (34.0%)
It didn't really work, the character needs to stay on Doctor Who13 (4.1%)
-delete-11 (3.5%)

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14 Comments

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KC

missed recording the last few mins. of "Reset" so came here to find out if Owen really did bite the dust. Can't say I'm too sorry: The character was entirely too self-centered in my opinion. still, now that he's gone, I'm kinda hoping he'll be back...he IS a good irritant in the story.

March 03 2008 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to KC's comment
Mark Adams

My TiVO missed the last couple of minutes of TORCHWOOD as well (ran overtime, and I keep forgetting to set the end time ahead). It will be repeated next Saturday before the next new episode at 8PM Eastern.

March 06 2008 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
metz

I'm afraid I have to agree with both camps. I love Freema as Martha but felt her intrusion on Torchwood affected the flow of the show. Actually it wasn't so much her character but the way they changed this episode. The medical montage, the contact lenses, the woeful chase scene...it was all pretty jarring and bad for a show that avoided those cliches all season.

If they can figure out a way to inject Martha into the show without restructuring how they put the episodes together I'm all for it.

As far as companions go, I'll take Martha over a score of others..(Peri, Mel, Adric, Romana II, Turlough, Ace) but that's the great thing about Dr Who, everybody has their favorites ( Romana I, Teegan, Martha and Captain Jack being mine)

March 03 2008 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to metz's comment
Chuck

Mmmmm . . . Romana I . . . (drool).

March 03 2008 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacey

I do honestly feel that I'm watching a completely different show than
everyone else. I thought Martha's visit to Torchwood was heavy-handed
and painful. I got the feeling they should have put a flashing neon
sign over her head: "Look at me! I'm an awesome character!" From the
overwrought way Jack describes her when she first arrives ("the song
of the nightingale?" Oh, my...) to his exaggerated, delighted cackle
every time she said something vaguely witty to that ridiculous
musical montage of her working with Owen to show to us how
totally!completely!awesome! Martha is and how she
works!well!with!everyone!

It's rather sad. Apparently Martha holds great charm and appeal for
many people, and I wish I enjoyed it when she was on my screen, but I
found myself lamenting the disappearance this week of the Torchwood
that had seemed to have hit its stride this year.

March 03 2008 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stacey's comment
Zarquon

I totally agree. I love Martha as a companion on Dr. Who and I love-ish Torchwood. But her introduction is a perfect illustration of what's wrong with the show. Why does everyone have to love Martha, including Gwen? The scene where they bond was particularly eye-rolling for me. Wouldn't friction create drama? Wouldn't Gwen being jealous of Jack and Martha's close relationship help forward the Gwen-Jack sexual tension they're trying so hard to convince us is there?

March 03 2008 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacey

I do honestly feel that I'm watching a completely different show than everyone else. I thought Martha's visit to Torchwood was heavy-handed and painful. I got the feeling they should have put a flashing neon sign over her head: "Look at me! I'm an awesome character!" From the overwrought way Jack describes her when she first arrives ("the song of the nightingale?" Oh, my...) to his exaggerated, delighted cackle every time she said something vaguely witty to that ridiculous musical montage of her working with Owen to show to us how totally!completely!awesome! Martha is and how she works!well!with!everyone!

It's rather sad. Apparently Martha holds great charm and appeal for many people, and I wish I enjoyed it when she was on my screen, but I found myself lamenting the disappearance this week of the Torchwood that had seemed to have hit its stride this year.

March 03 2008 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

Count me as another fan who'd love to see a UNIT spin-off with Martha as the lead. Maybe with Sgt. Benten back and the retired Brigadier recurring as a consultant?

(I wrote up the idea at Inner Toob: http://toobworld.blogspot.com/2008/03/new-unit-in-our-future.html )

What do you all think about Martha's mention of a boyfriend who once saved her life? I don't think she'd be talking about the Doctor like that even though she mooned after him for most of that season. I'm thinking it's probably Tom from the season finale of 'Who'.

One plotline left dangling from this episode - was the team able to later save Elin Morgan, that last victim of the Pharm?

March 02 2008 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Toby OB's comment
Cat

As I recall, Gwen and Ianto arrived at Elin's flat just before the hitman was able to inject her. So, I would assume they were able to save her, even though we don't see her after that.

March 02 2008 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

I don't like Martha Jones. I never liked Martha Jones. I was happy she left the Doctor, (how stupid was THAT?) and am not happy she's on Torchwood. Ok, I'm a big Rose and Sarah Jane fan. But Martha just didn't have 'it,' which R and SJ did. And, since I've watched Dr. Who since the sixties, I am pretty sure I am right. Go away, Martha.

March 02 2008 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mj green's comment
Franklin

"And, since I've watched Dr. Who since the sixties, I am pretty sure I am right. Go away, Martha."

I, too, have watched Dr. Who since the sixties. I couldn't disagree more with your *opinion*. Your opinion can't be right, only yours, but if you think an opinion can be "right" or "wrong" then I've got yours firmly in the WRONG column.

Loud, wrong and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

March 03 2008 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anita

I have to admit I felt the episode was a bit unbalanced in terms of energy. While Torchwood is broody, Dr Who is more action packed and light. So, seeing old Jack return in the first half of the ep, didn't really gel with new in-command Jack at the second half. Also, Martha seemed more high energy then the rest of Torch. Finally, the middle part of the episode included Dr. Who's predilection for chase scenes, while the latter half returned to Torchwood's typical antics-death & angst. Maybe if Martha doesn't stay on DW, they can create a spin-off show for her - UNIT.

March 02 2008 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

Haha. Rube, I'm with you. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her in Doctor Who so my first choice would be for her to stay with The Doctor. BUT if she can't, then I really wouldn't mind ANOTHER DW spin-off based on what you said. You really can't have too much of this universe.

March 02 2008 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rube

I voted for "Loved it, she should stay permanently" but what I actually want is another spinoff focusing on Martha's exploits as a member of U.N.I.T. I realize that they cover a lot of the same ground as Torchwood, being a paranormal investigations taskforce and all, but I think there's room for more. And I think Agyeman has plenty of presence to head up a series of her own.

Torchwood is (ostensibly) about gathering alien tech, which we haven't seen them do a whole lot of, and monitoring the Cardiff rift. The U.N.I.T. series could be more focused on alien medical mysteries, and have a more global focus. Bigger picture stuff. More political interaction between various governments, etc.

March 02 2008 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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