Friday, July 03, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 1x10: "Out Of Time"

Written by Catherine Tregenna
Directed by Alice Troughton

John (to Captain Jack): “Why are you keeping me here when my wife is dead and my son is a bloody shell?”

Did you like the low key antics of “Random Shoes”? If so, this is going to be an episode that will really go either way for viewers. If Eugene’s antics in last week’s episode did nothing for you, then you’ll probably find this more interesting but there’s also the chance that you won’t either. For me and I didn’t enjoy last week’s episode as much, I found there to be a significant improvement.

We have a really simple premise on offer than even Star Trek have done as the episode begins with Captain Jack, Owen and Gwen set to meet an aeroplane and it’s passengers named Diane Holmes (who is also the pilot), Emma-Louise Carroll and John Ellis, the oldest of the group.

For these people they were on a trip to Dublin but somehow have detoured in Cardiff. The biggest problem however is that these people are from 1953 and because of The Rift, they are stuck in the present day with no way back as Jack is the one to deliver the unpleasant news to them all. Well someone had to and it might as well be the very person who can relate to their dilemma as such.

This also means that for once, instead of helping themselves and on occasion doing good, Torchwood have to help the three strangers adapt to their present day lives and by taking them back to the Hub, our strangers are given money and fake IDs, to which they end up rejecting the latter.

Also what I mean by Torchwood helping them out, I should be specific and state that Jack, Gwen and Owen designate themselves a person and do their ample best to get them to adjust to their new surroundings. The annoying part about not having five strangers (aside from maybe lack of focus and time constraints) is that my two favourite team members Toshiko and Ianto don’t really have much to do.

Okay so Toshiko is able to locate John Ellis’ son but that’s it for the wonderful Naoko Mori this week and given how little she did last week either, it’s a shame. Similarly Gareth David Lloyd’s Ianto only moment in this episode is taking John, Emma and Diane to a supermarket and being upstaged by bananas because apparently there are more exciting than warnings on cigarette packets, DVDs and scantily clad women on magazine covers.

Maybe it’s a youngest mind frame or what not but the first Torchwood Team Member/ 1953 Stranger is Gwen and Emma and to be honest all the pairings here are pretty appropriate including this one. Believe me, the first scene of each partnership and you’ll be able to see why who went with whom.

Emma is the youngest of the bunch and possibly the most naïve and curious too and although her grief over the thought of never seeing her family again (to which brief allies Aleesha and Jade comfort her with beer) and her outburst over John’s efforts to keep her in line, Emma’s curiosity in this new world is definitely endearing.

I have to admit that being a fan of Sugar Rush, I was delighted to see Olivia Hallinan cast as Emma because she’s one of the best actresses in the UK in my age bracket and it’s also great to see in a role so completely the opposite of hedonistic gay teenager Kim and she really shines throughout the episode, although a lot more in later scenes.

Gwen took pity on Emma over the debacle with John and decided to let her stay at her place with her and Rhys. Yes, that’s right – I said Rhys because after a three episode absence and having nothing of actual significance to do since “Ghost Machine”, he’s back and viewers as well as Emma got to see him in the flesh as a naked Rhys caused quite a startle. In fact this episode had a fair amount of nudity, just none from Captain Jack.

Anyway Gwen provides an explanation to her boyfriend as to why Emma is here and when it comes to lies so lame you can’t actually believe that someone bothered to even think it up, let alone use it, Gwen hands down wins the award. Did she really think Rhys was that gullible? Wouldn’t telling parts of the truth and editing the more bizarre parts have been a better option?

Of course Rhys finds out that Emma isn’t really related to Gwen and he confronts her over the lie she foolishly told him, this bit plot makes sense. The writers want to expose cracks between Gwen and Rhys so her affair with Owen can be outed. Gwen’s unsuccessful fibbing this week sealed the deal as Rhys was pretty disgusted over being lied to. He ain’t heard nothing yet! Just wait until he becomes privy about her other clandestine activities.

Meanwhile in a more hilarious plotline, putting Gwen in charge of explaining modern attitudes towards sex to Emma, both during a night out where Emma got pretty close to a random bloke and the morning after reaped more comic moments as Emma alludes to whether or not it’s good to be promiscuous as Gwen made the decision to use her own sexual history to educate Emma. Underlying that, Gwen also looked like she had to access some of her own recent choices too.

Of course as Emma’s arc ended with getting a job in London as a sales assistant in a clothes store, Owen’s tale with Diane had a more bittersweet taste to it, which as viewers we’ll probably have to suffer next week.

For most of this episode Owen behaved like a perfect gentleman despite the raging attraction to Diane. Their first two scenes at an airfield, where Diane was told she couldn’t fly her own plane and at a restaurant where Owen some intriguing comments on chivalry and equality, this plot managed to be better than Gwen/Emma’s arc.

As Emma and John had family issues, Diane’s only emotional crisis was the idea of being told what to do. Just because the lady came from the 1950’s doesn’t mean her goal in life was to be the complacent wife and mother without an opinion. In fact Diane is pretty full of opinions and she has absolutely no qualms in expressing them either and even someone like Owen, who has slight sexist tendencies can’t help but be captivated by her.

Diane is one hell of a free spirited woman and watching her and Owen together was the first time in this series in which you actually could ship Owen with someone else. The onscreen between Burn Gorman and former No Angels actress Louise Delamere was spot on, with some genuinely good banter as Owen got a bit of a wake up call on how certain women are as Diane learned what the term “fuck buddies” means (who’s been watching reruns of Sex And The City then?).

This was all leading to Owen getting his leg over Diane in not one but two sex scenes that evoked emotion, heat and intensity and to be honest they’re the kind of scenes we need to see a hell of a lot more Torchwood. So it then came as no surprise that as soon as Owen told Diane he loved her that she would leave him heartbroken as the free spirit in her took off on her plane despite knowing she’ll never be able to return to her own time. For once, it was pretty easy to feel bad for Owen. That being said, I doubt I’ll be saying that by next episode.

If Owen’s heartbreak didn’t get you then the one storyline that will was the pairing of Captain Jack and John as the latter really couldn’t deal with being in this time and not being ageist but John’s was a factor in his inability to cope with things.

Excluding the minor stuff like learning that women are more liberal and you can’t smoke in public places, actor Mark Lewis Jones had the toughest assignment of the trio of travellers as John’s whole world fell to pieces.

While he bonded with Captain Jack over the both of them not being in their own time zones, John also couldn’t deal with meeting his son Alan and discovering him as an old man in a nursing home with Alzheimers. You can’t help but not feel bad for John and with Jones’ excellent performance there was no reason to not feel for the bloke either.

John’s storyline took an even darker twist when upon stealing Ianto’s car, Captain Jack discovered the man he was starting to befriend (and Jack was pretty damn compassionate and kind in this episode) was fully planning on ending his life and no amount of talking or warnings of there being no afterlife from Captain Jack would persuade him otherwise.

In fact, while Jack may have started that the people were not problems or aliens to defeat/contain, even Jack couldn’t have foreseen this outcome and in possibly the most controversial aspect of the series so far, Jack sits in the car with the windows closed as John kills himself. Easily not a comforting thing to watch but excellent proof that John Barrowman can act as Jack feels immense pain for John’s death.

Also in “Out Of Time”

Did anyone notice that the writer/producer/director credits cam before the opening credits?

Gwen (re passengers): “At least it wasn’t a spaceship full of aliens.”
Captain Jack: “Might have been better if it had.”

Diane: “Bananas.”
Ianto: “Of course. Bananas are far more interesting.”

It’s interesting to see that the banana fetish extends outside of Doctor Who and beyond Steven Moffat.

Gwen (to Emma): “She found out in 1953. Over fifty years have passed.”

Aliases Jack wanted to give the passengers were David Ward (John), Sally Ann Hope (Diane) and Deborah Morrison (Emma).

Owen: “I guess I’m another pig headed man telling you what to do.”
Diane: “Well you better make it up to me.”

Diane’s plane was Sky Gypsy. Owen also found out that she flew from England to Australia in four days and was a mistress at one point.

Owen: “You expect chivalry and equality?”
Diane: “I don’t see why they should be mutually exclusive.”

Owen (re affair): “And you didn’t care?”
Diane: “I was free to do what I liked. I didn’t have to cook or clean for him.”

How come no-one commented when Diane was smoking in the restaurant? She and Owen were indoors after all!

Alan: “When’s Dad coming home, Mam?”
Nurse: “I’m not your Mam, love.”

Emma (re magazines): “This is disgusting.”
Gwen: “I just want you to know that people are more sexually aware these days.”

Did anyone else get a weird flash to Sugar Rush with Emma out on the Dancefloor? I know silly but I kind of did.

Gwen (re Emma): “She was lost, I’m sorry.”
Rhys: “What worries me is that you could lie so easily about it.”

We got a cool update on some operating principles from Torchwood as Toshiko told Gwen about TW London having constant contact with the press. Now that is interesting.

Captain Jack: “You don’t get reunited, it just goes black.”
John: “How do you know?”
Captain Jack: “I died once.”

Owen: “I’m scared, I’m fucking scared.”
Diane: “I love you too.”
Chronology: December 18th-29th 2006. Russell, some continuity wouldn’t go amiss!

Owen: “There is no way back, you can’t get home.”
Diane: “Then it will take me somewhere new.”

Standout music: There was a lot of good music but being appropriate, I’ll pick Tony Bennett’s “The Good Life”.

What a beautiful episode! Taut, emotional and touching by many turns, “Out Of Time” nicely shows that Torchwood can be capable of depth and genuine emotion and this thought provoking hour delivers that in spades. Our main cast kicked ass and the guest actors were beyond amazing, not that this episode is likely to silence detractors.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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