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Torchwood: A Day in the Death Of...

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 16th 2008 5:38PM
Torchwood - A Day in the Death Of...
) "You get to live forever. I get to die forever." -Owen comparing his situation to Jack's immortality.

This was a very different Torchwood episode. There were no aliens to battle and no major action sequences. In fact, Team Torchwood was mostly inactive. Instead, we got to take an episode to look deep into the psyche and situation of Dr. Owen Harper. Everything from the music to the way the various scenes were shot lent itself perfectly to the melancholy and hopelessness of the character. Burn Gorman showed tremendous depth in his portrayal of Owen this installment, and it looks like we may finally be looking at some major growth for Owen. Not that he still doesn't have some very serious issues to deal with.

The writers came up with a pretty clever framing sequence to tell Owen's story. We opened with him on a roof with a woman we've never seen before who's ready to jump off the roof and commit suicide. Owen started talking to her, really revealing everything about himself and Torchwood, which I thought was a huge no-no. I guess exceptions can be made when you're trying to get people not to kill themselves.

Throughout the episode we get the story of what's happened to Owen since the close of the last episode as he tells it to this suicidal woman. As they still weren't quite sure what he was, Jack stripped him of his position, gun and access badge until Martha could run a series of tests on him. At first, the results were somewhat encouraging. If he kept up with exercise, he wouldn't atrophy, and it looked like he would never age or ultimately die ... again. The good news is that he's fully human again. Just a dead human walking.

Later, we learned that he would never heal or recover from any wounds or broken bones either. He accidentally sliced his palm open with a scalpel, so now he'll have to restitch that wound every few days or so for the rest of his existence or it will just keep tearing. This doesn't sound like such a good deal at all. Good lord, what if he breaks a leg he'd have to wear a cast forever, never mind a gaping stomach wound or something. Maybe Jack was right to keep him off of missions. His situation is physically pretty precarious.

I liked the way this sequence was handled where Tosh came by to visit Owen at his house. As Tosh rambled on and on and Owen just stared off not paying attention. They silenced her audio so we could just see her talking. Then we cut back to the roof to learn that today was the girl's one-year wedding anniversary. And that while driving away from the ceremony she and her new husband had been in a horrible car wreck that killed him. She'd tried to move on, but ultimately couldn't do it.

We then faded back to Owen and Tosh, still talking silently. Slowly they brought back up her volume as Owen started to tune her in before brutally lashing out at her about why she's there and what she's hoping to get out of this. He knows she's always wanted him, and yes they'd agreed to go out on a date, but is this what she wanted? He's empty and broken now. He has nothing to offer her. To show how broken he is, he completely folded back and broke his pinky finger, on the same hand he sliced earlier.

Other moments of interest:

  • The union of Tosh and Owen seems to have happened. When he revealed that he's scared that if he closes his eyes he'll be trapped in the darkness. "I'm here," Tosh replied, holding him. While I'm actually glad to see the Tosh/Owen hook-up happening here, or at least being attempted, I never in a million years thought it would happen under these circumstances.
  • Where was the old man's medical staff and team when he flatlined? Why set him up with that kind of equipment if there is no medical response in the event of his death?
  • Why didn't UNIT send a car for Martha? It's the middle of the night and they couldn't even get her a cab? The poor girl had to walk off carrying all of her stuff.

So that's it? Owen's going to stay an active part of Torchwood, and undead? Surely they're going to find some way to restore him back to some semblance of life, right? You'd certainly think so. Still, it adds another element of the crazy to the show. Now you have immortal Jack and Owen, only with very, very different types of immortality. And Jack definitely got the better end of that deal.

Does it work with Owen "dead"?
It's cool, I hope they keep him that way34 (9.3%)
They need to bring him back to life143 (39.3%)
It can work for awhile, but only if they have escalating problems151 (41.5%)
He should be dead for real ... and gone36 (9.9%)

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Ted Anderson

I actually thought the CPR was more accurate than any other show I have ever seen. If you take a basic CPR class you will learn that CPR alone will not bring a dead person back to life. I learned long ago actors have magic, within 10 compressions everyone usually coughs back to life!

March 17 2008 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, thank you, Jason, for reviewing this show. It's terrific! (The review AND the show!) I liked this episode a lot because it really humanized Owen. I've had a love/hate relationship with him since the start of the series. I like that he's abrasive and prickly, yet it's repellant as well. Great job that Burn Gorman does to make the character likeable/hateable at the same time. I think it will be interesting to see how Owen develops ... time will tell! And it looks like he's got loads of time these days.

March 17 2008 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PB's comment

I love the way you've described the character of Owen. It made me change my mind about hoping he was being written out of the show. Burn Gorman is really doing a phenominal job of making a character that you can both love and hate, so it'd be a shame to lose such an interesting character and a good actor.

March 18 2008 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry Hamilton

Why are your reviews 2 episodes back? "A day in the death of" aired 2/27/2008. Since then I've seen "Something Borrowed" and "From Out of the Rain". "Adrift" will be on Wednesday. Is the American version that far behind?

March 17 2008 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Larry Hamilton's comment

Normally we wouldn't have gotten the whole season for a year but BBC decided to do it a little closer to the air dates in England, but not the same, why? I have no idea.

March 17 2008 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

It was great to see Richard Briers again, here playing the reclusive millionaire Parker. His "Good Life" co-star, the lovely Felicity Kendal will be on an episode of 'Doctor Who' this coming season.

Maybe they can get Penelope Keith for an episode of 'The Sarah Jane Adventures'!

March 16 2008 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was a very good episode, but I was bugged by the fact that he "couldn't breathe." If you watch, and not even closely, he is breathing. Of course, the actor has to yada yada yada, but there are plenty of times where he just takes a deep breath as a reaction to something, which they should have been careful to avoid if it was known it would be an issue. And how could he talk without at least expelling air from his lungs?

March 16 2008 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Chuck's comment

This is my favourite episode of series two so far, and I think of the entire show as well. During the first series, I remember saying jokingly I'd prefer Owen dead because I hated him so much. I didn't realize that I really would prefer it. I like his character a lot better now. He's suddenly become a lot more interesting now that he's a sack of dead flesh.

March 16 2008 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this episode was well done, starting with the opening montage, including Owen's removal of his old life to metal-techno and ending with the Jack/Martha kiss. While I felt the whole 'touch my whole' a la the New Testament, was unnecessary - I also wonder why no one sewed it up.

I think Martha fit into the team even better this episode, altho not as much as it could be, I feel her use has been uneven because they used 3 different writers for each Martha ep. It's a shame Chris C. couldn't write any of them. I also wonder if their inability to show Martha having sex or getting angsty (2 mainstays of all Torchwood members) due to her DW return, made the writers feel restricted. Ditto your thoughts on Martha walking out in a rift-active Cardiff alone -

While I wish they'd wrap up the Owen bit, I'm glad they didn't do it this episode, as that would've been too easy. Although I do hope they find some type of tissue re-generator/activator or maybe Jack can share his energy. Why hasn't his brain atrophied yet? Also, what's the alien species that sent the friendly message? Shouldn't someone get in contact with them?

March 16 2008 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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