Sunday, September 09, 2007

Torchwood - Everything Changes

Torchwood, the BBC Wales television series which was spun off from Dr. Who, premiered last night on BBC America.

The episode opens in a hard rain as Cardiff police are responding to the scene of a murder, the latest act of what may be a serial killer. PC Gwen Cooper (played by Eva Myles) is surprised when she and the other cops are ordered to move back and turn control of the crime scene over to "Torchwood" who have "special access".

Her curiosity getting the better of her Gwen runs up to the third floor of the adjacent parking garage to see what this group of four unknown people will do with the dead body. What she sees will change her life.

One of the team members, Suzie Costello (played by Indira Varma) puts on some kind of metal gauntlet which she says can't just be turned on but must "grant her access". When she senses that she has "access" she positions the glove behind the dead man's head and as the rain stops and the floodlights surrounding the body grow brighter something like a charge passes between the glove and the corpse, bringing it back to life.

The other members of the team, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) who fans of Dr. Who will remember from several episodes of that series' first season, Dr. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), who we will come to find out is the team's alpha-hotel and Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori), the team's computer expert begin to question the "dead" man.

Unfortunately they find out that he did not see his attacker. Also unfortunately the glove only gives two minutes of extra life to a corpse so after the victim resumes his unliving status a debate breaks out among the Torchwood team about the best way to handle a reanimated cadaver with some thinking that they should not be told that they are dead. At this point Capt. Harkness looks up at Gwen and asks her opinion - telling her that her snooping was noticed.

This starts officer Cooper on a quest for information on Torchwood and the enigmatic Capt. Harkness. One thing she finds out is that the only Captain Jack Harkness on their records was an American volunteer with the RAF in WWII who went missing, presumed dead, during the Battle of Britain - so it obviously couldn't be the man she saw in 2006 Cardiff, could it?

The next day Gwen is injured while breaking up a bar fight and has to go to the hospital to get some stitches in her scalp. While there she catches a glimpse of Jack Harkness running up the stairs to the top floor of the hospital. She follows and finds that the floor has been sealed off. A hospital employee tells her that it has been that way since he showed up for work that morning. She enters the sealed off section and encounters a humanoid figure with grey skin and large fangs.

Assuming that he is a man in costume she asks him if he he saw a man run by. The "costumed man" does not answer. At this time she is joined by the hospital porter she spoke with earlier. He also assumes the creature is a man in theatrical makeup and moves closer to inspect the "mask". It is then that the creature tears his throat out. Harkness reappears and takes Gwen out of the building as his team capture the thing that just killed the unfortunate hospital worker.
Outside the hospital Gwen is able to follow the Torchwood team's Land Rover to a building in downtown Cardiff, but loses them when they get out of the SUV and seem to disappear.

Through good police work and poor operational security on the part of the Torchwood staff (they ordered pizza under the name of "Torchwood") PC Cooper discovers the location of the organization's headquarters. She gains entrance by pretending to deliver pizza, in the process meeting the team's fifth member, Lanto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd), who is responsible for the team's logistical needs.

In the Torchwood complex she discovers that her pizza delivery ruse fooled no one. Introduced by Capt. Harkness to the team members she is shown the creature from the hospital and informed that it is called a Weevil, at least that is what the Torchwood people call it. She is told that it is an alien life form and that there are around 200 of them living in the sewers under Cardiff. Every once in a while one goes rogue and comes to the surface and begins attacking people.

Jack takes her to a bar where he tells her all about Torchwood. The Cardiff office is Torchwood #3. Torchwood #1 was in London and was destroyed in the Battle of Canary Wharf (from the Dr. Who episode when the Cybermen fought the Daleks - a battle which ended when the Doctor sucked all the Cybermen and Daleks into the void between the dimensions). Torchwood #2 is an office in Glasgow run by a "very strange man" and Torchwood #4 has "gone missing".

Torchwood is located in Cardiff because a rift in space/time runs through the city and things keep slipping through. Alien creatures and bits of technology. Torchwood's mission is to catch the dangerous aliens and to recover any useful technology to arm the human race against the changes which are coming as humanity takes its place among the stars.

Jack then tells Gwen that she has been given an amnesia pill in her beer and that when she wakes up in the morning she won't remember anything about Torchwood. She runs home and types a report on her computer as she is fading into sleep from the drug. However we see Lanto back at the Torchwood office hacking into her computer and erasing all that she had typed.

The next day she has no memory of Torchwood, until she has to deliver files to the serial killer task force office at police headquarters. There she sees a drawing of the murder weapon, an unusual looking knife. This triggers a memory of seeing that knife - at the Torchwood headquarters. That brief snippet of memory draws her back to the location of the Torchwood complex where she meets Suzie Costello.

Costello shows Gwen the knife and confesses to the murders. She needed "fresh meat" - murder victims - to continue her tests on the glove. Gwen tries to arrest Costello, but she has a gun. She tells Gwen that she has to kill her and then go on the run. She sees Harkness, who has been listening to their conversation and shoots him through the head. This triggers Gwen's memory of her entire experience with Torchwood.

At this time Harkness surprises everyone by coming back to life, his head wound healing right before their eyes. Costello commits suicide.

The next day Harkness offers Gwen a job with Torchwood. He also explains to her that he cannot die after something happened to him in a far away place. Dr. Who fans will know that "something" happened over 200000 years in the future.

I like this show. It is from Russell T. Davies, the same man who created the new Dr. Who and both shows have the same "feel". Dr. Who is a family show and Torchwood definately isn't, but both series are without a doubt part of the same universe.