Spoilers for "Exit Wounds," the "Torchwood" season two finale, coming up just as soon as I tell important people in my life that I love them...
Oh my God, they killed Owen! Um, again. And they killed Tosh! For the first and, presumably, only time.
As I mentioned in Friday's column, "Torchwood" season one was uneven but trended towards awful, while season two was uneven but trended towards pretty good. The finale -- with the return of Spike/Capt. John, explosions and Weevils causing massive property damage and loss of life throughout Cardiff, Capt. Jack spending two millennium underground, and, in the end, Torchwood losing 40 percent of its active roster -- was one of this year's highlights. It was epic in a way that last year's giant monster attack tried and failed to be, because all of the events spun out of character and not CGI monsters, and because this year I actually gave a toss about the characters. Had Owen or Tosh suffered these fates last season, I would have shrugged, and it's a credit to the "Torchwood" writers that they realized they had to start writing their heroes with more consistency and sympathy.
If I have a problem with "Exit Wounds," it's that it once again plays up John Barrowman's limitations. I complained a lot last season about the writers turning Captain Jack into a brooding mope because it missed the appeal of the character, but also because Barrowman just isn't very good at it. You need somebody to save the universe with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face? Get Barrowman. You need somebody to howl in rage about the cruel hand of fate? It's just not his bag. And so the moment when Jack emerges from 1900 years of nothing but dying and resurrecting under 30 feet of earth -- a brilliant punishment for someone with Jack's gift/curse -- wasn't remotely as devastating as it could have been with another actor coming out of the hole. (James Marsters, for instance, would have killed it.)
(Also, as Jack's brother Gray, Lachlan Nieboer sounded so much like Barrowman that what initially seemed like brilliant casting eventually became distracting. I spent half his scenes trying to figure out if Barrowman had dubbed in his dialogue.)
But if Jack escaping his fate worse than death was a missed opportunity, the rest of the episode didn't miss a beat. Tosh and Owen's final conversation was the highlight -- and I loved the choice to have Tosh not tell Owen she was dying -- but I also liked Captain John's anguish throughout, Rhys and Andy having to work together, Gwen's speech to the troops, Gwen and Ianto's grief over the deaths of their friends and, especially, the pounding sound from the morgue that turned out to be Jack waking up.
As others have noted, it's unfortunate that lead writer Chris Chibnall finally figured out how to make "Torchwood" work at the exact moment he's leaving to run "Law & Order: London." No idea whether "Torchwood" itself will continue (with replacements for Tosh and Owen), but if the show can be as good as it was for the last few episodes of this season, I'd like to see more of it.
What did everybody else think?
Credit to The House Next Door for the screen capture at the top.