Sunday, February 10, 2008

Torchwood, "To The Last Man": No time for love

Brief spoilers for last night's "Torchwood" coming up just as soon as I hit all the local pubs...

"To The Last Man" was like an amalgam of two season one episodes: "Out of Time," where Owen fell in love with the time-displaced pilot (and which Owen invoked several times in this episode), and "Captain Jack Harkness," where Jack and Tosh were stuck in a World War II dance hall where Jack had one perfect romantic night with his namesake. As those were arguably the two best episodes of the very problematic first season, it's not surprising the show would try the (time travel) + (doomed romance) equation again, and if this story lacked novelty, it was executed well.

In particular, I liked the pre-credits sequence with the 1918 members of Torchwood, as well as the matter of fact nature of our soldier's annual wake-up day. When you're around Torchwood long enough, the extraordinary becomes routine, and it quickly became clear that everyone enjoyed his company -- just not as much as Tosh.

Owen's eagerness to compare his problem to Tosh's was a good touch, and a continuation of the closer-knit team this season. Last year, every team member kept to themselves, kept secrets from one another, and it got unpleasant after a while. Here, Owen sees Tosh rushing headlong into the same kind of relationship that messed up his head for so long, and he actually takes steps to help her, because she's his teammate and his friend.

What did everybody else think?


Dani In NC said...

What did I think? Actually, I didn't think. I led with my heart, and I cried like a baby. I enjoy human stories with sci-fi elements more than the heavy action ones, so this one filled the bill for me.

My favorite scene was in the very beginning when they showed Tosh merrily preparing for a special day. We don't get to see a happy Tosh very often, so that was nice. Of course, when I saw the date circled on the calendar I knew it was going to end badly. I thought perhaps it was her birthday and she would get to work and no one would have remembered. The way it ended up was so much worse than a missed birthday. Poor Tosh! She can't ever catch a break.

Oh, and the song they started and ended the episode with was perfect.

Nicole said...

I liked this one almost as much as the first episode this season and you couldn't help but sympathize with Tosh.

I do wonder though if RTD kinda hates this character because she can never seem to catch a break. If it's not lesbian aliens, or time travelling dudes, it's an on and off again crush on Owen, which for story purposes was off this week.

Since Torchwood is more geared toward adults, perhaps instead of just adding more sex and violence RTD and the writers can also include consistent character development.
DW can get away with being a bit more "mysterious", but the gang at Torchwood can't all be sad sacks.

Toby O'B said...

I'm hoping we'll get glimpses - if not full episodes! - of past Torchwood teams. I was very intrigued by Gerald and Harriet, the Mulder and Scully of 1918, and would like to see more of them or team members from the 1930s, the 1880s, the fifties or the sixties - whenever! The combination of the sci-fi with the details of a particular time period have endless possibilities.

(If I was in Torchwood back in the 1920s, I'd recruit the psychic kid from the "Family of Blood" two-parter of 'Doctor Who'!)

Anonymous said...

Past torchwoods.... the possibilities are endless! Elizabethan Torchwood! Plantagenet Torchwood! Romano-British Torchwood!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not exactly endless. Torchwood was founded by Queen Victoria (back in the Doctor Who episode with Rose and the werewolves), but that's still a lot of periods to play with.

afoglia said...

I didn't like it. I didn't get why he had to be the one to go back other than he was the one who was put in the deep freeze, which made it arbitrary. And why couldn't Toshiko go back with him? I think we're supposed to believe that if she did the time rifts wouldn't stop, but no one just said that. In fact, when the soldier's complaining in the hospital, he implies it could have been any of them. And why didn't Toshiko go with them?

And why did he get his old, removed memories back when he traveled back?

And I never like it when a show brings in a new character who's so important to one of the main characters but was never mentioned before, and likely never will be again. Didn't that hermetically episodic style get old ages ago?

Nevermind the guy seemed amazingly comfortable outside in the world that's very, very different from 1918.

I watched this because someone suggested I did in last week's thread. The show doesn't suck, but it never arises above weekend afternoon "Well, I'm bored, and there's nothing else" on level.

dark tyler said...

I saw this one last week and yesterday I could not for the life of me remember what it was about. Shows shouldn't be allowed to repeat themselves so much after only 16 episodes, for crying out loud. It's science fiction and they can't find one unused idea? I don't expect Moffat-level brilliance because, hello, it's Torchwood, but come on.

Even the children's spin-off show, "Sarah Jane Adventures", had more interesting ideas than this. And an emotional core that most certainly cannot be found in a show where characters remember their crashes on each other only when they don't have a one-off love affair with someone off a freezer.

Next week's episode though is somewhat of an improvement, to be fair.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if just once, the characters could have relationships with people who aren't either aliens, from another time, or coworkers. (Gwen's boring boyfriend, whom she lies to and cheats on, doesn't count.) I understand the issue of always being around and thus falling for inappropriate people -- especially if the outside world doesn't understand your job -- but it happens so often on this show, it may as well be "Grey's Anatomy."

But I enjoyed the rest of the plot, even if the time-travel elements were a bit confusing. Did sending the soldier back cause the time rift to disappear, as if it never happened? Or is the soldier trapped in a never-ending time loop of being injured, frozen, woken once a year, then being sent back to face a firing squad? If so, that seems like a much worse fate than anyone was letting on.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't crazy about this one, actually... isn't it a little early in the run of the show to be reusing plots like this? Plus, they were asking me to care an awful lot about a character I'd just met 30 minutes ago. I don't think I was as emotionally affected as I was supposed to be.

Also: while I generally just screen out sci-fi techno-babble, there was an awful lot of silliness this week. What the hell is a "rift key" supposed to be? And what was with that "oh, I can just project you into his head in 1918!" stuff at the end? I don't need or expect time travel plots to make total sense, but it felt like lazy writing to me.

Which is this show's problem all too often... so much potential, such haphazard execution! It's completely frustrating. Good thing Barrowman's so hot.

Anonymous said...

I liked this ep a lot. I have liked all the eps so far this season. This one wasn't as good as last week's (which was loaded with juicy good Ianto humor) or the treat of Spike as a time agent bad boy, but it moved me.

I have to say the two eps it semi reflected (as referenced in the review) from last season were my two LEAST favorite eps. The out of time one was just plain awful. The Tosh and Jack back in time wasn't so bad, but not a standout for me. Thought they were extremely weak. This ep definitely improved on the concepts for me.

But please oh please don't let Tosh hook up with (*shudder*) Owen! I'm begging.

Anonymous said...

It must be difficult to write a show about time travel with an immortal in it. For any task that involves going back to the past and being stuck there, why not just send Jack? He's immortal. I'm sure (in this particular circumstance) he could have found a way to entertain himself for a century or so. Sure, he'd need to keep a diary (so as to not run into himself, which I believe would be problematic even for a fact of time, though I'm not sure about that), but wouldn't that be a small price to pay?


K J Gillenwater said...

The only reason I really liked this episode was because of Toshiko. I find her character the most interesting of them all. I want to know more about how she ended up working at Torchwood (unless I missed that ep from last season, since I didn't see them all). She is shy and lives in her head an awful lot, so I like it when they let us see inside of her to find out what she's like.

Personally, I'm kinda bored and annoyed with everyone being bi-sexual. Why? Why does this have to happen with each and every character? It just doesn't ring true to me. Yeah, go ahead, let Jack be the one who swings both ways...but don't make *everybody* behave like this. It really messes up any kind of sexual tension at all.

What I would like to see is Gwen dump boring, goofy-looking boyfriend and have her and Jack fiddle around with things. I really don't like Owen at all...he was in "Bleak House" last year on "Masterpiece Theater," so all I can ever see him as is this uneducated numbskull. And then give Tosh somebody worthy of her.

Ianto...? Well, he has the least amount of personality of the bunch. Can we find out more about him perhaps???

Anonymous said...

Not as funny as you might like, but with fantastic artwork: It's "Torchwood Babiez"!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... that URL didn't come out right. It's