Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 2x06: "Reset"

Written by JC Wilsher
Directed by Ashley Way

Owen (regarding her friendship with Jack): “So what brought you two together?”
Martha: “Let’s say we were under the same Doctor.”

One of the biggest spoilers and lures for the second season was not only the promise of seeing James Marsters as bad ass Captain John Hart but also the chance to see Martha Jones before her return to Doctor Who.

We waited and now with the sixth episode, Freema Agyeman begins her much welcomed start and it’s nothing short of being interested. I love me some Martha and her cooler than cool introduction makes me love her just that little bit more. Like I didn’t know who Ianto was bringing to meet the others down the hub.

So, much as Martha is awesome and all, why is she here? Crossover fun aside, it seems that the gang need her help after a spate of recent deaths even has Owen confused. I did think at the start the gang were checking a place for a Weevil and not the dead guy they found. That was me proved wrong.

Naturally the gang are mystified by Martha’s appearance. She’s not five minutes in the hub and already they know that she has a stronger connection to Jack than any of them have. That being said, it’s actually nice that they don’t act like spoiled brats over this too. They’re curious and express that maturely throughout the episode. Out of them, I thought Gwen would be the most jealous.

Since Martha chose to leave The Doctor in “Last Of The Time Lords”, she’s become a member of UNIT. If you’ve read her MySpace blog, you’ll already she was recruited by a mystery organisation virtually sight unseen and I assumed that it was Jack who gave Martha the recommendation.

How better it was as a reveal that it was The Doctor who did instead. I guess it makes sense. The Doctor does have a far better history/rapport with UNIT rather than Torchwood and like Jack pointed out, perhaps its The Doctor’s way of apologising to Martha for being so hot and cold with her.

The Jack and Martha scenes are pretty essential. We needed to see them catching up and although Martha might have more clout than Jack, she doesn’t let it go to her head. I knew that Jack would ask if she missed The Doctor and although I’m glad that she is moving on, I do like that there’s an element of her that does miss travelling in time and space.

Months ago I hated Martha leaving The Doctor but I understood her reasons behind it. Being a fully qualified doctor meant that Martha’s life didn’t end and landing up in UNIT is great progress for her too. Her and Owen on the other hand, I love their scenes but I have my quibbles.

Martha shaming Owen by being a better doctor is good; I can deal with that but Owen hitting on Martha felt a little trite. Thankfully even before she mentions having a partner, Martha basically tells Owen that he doesn’t stand a chance. As a couple, I’d rather not see that but as a medical team they’re actually rather fun to watch.

Owen naturally tries to find out why Martha and Jack are close to each other and both of them are vague. Jack did come close to telling the truth when he revealed just how much he trusts Martha but Owen still remains in the dark about the true extent of their relationship.

With all the deaths in Cardiff having two doctors on hand is great. Every victim seems to have Toxic Shock and when inspected much closer, they’re all linked by the fact that they’ve had more serious illnesses beforehand. We got this thanks to a patient called Marie escaping an attacker.

As patients go, the actress who played Marie was pretty annoying but at least when Gwen and Ianto found out more about a bloke named Barry dying, we got the clue about them all being linked to a company called the Pharm and a testing drug called Reset. More interesting was the legions of alien larvae ready to take either Owen or Martha as hosts once Marie served her basic purpose and then died.

I love some creepy companies and the Pharm are an interesting enough little organisation in their own right. Apparently they’re the only people who actually can tell Torchwood to get lost and deny them access and it’s because of them that so many deaths are occurring.

Known for recent roles in both Lost and Ugly Betty, Alan Dale is suitably more effective in his guest shot here as the amoral Aaron Copley than his in either of the other two shows I’ve mentioned. Jack’s willingness to flirt when questioning Aaron was of course standard.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure that Aaron was lying or that the gang would find a way of infiltrating the Pharm. Martha was the natural choice to do and she gets brownie points for kicking Owen’s ego into touch. Then again she was the same woman who wouldn’t let Shakespeare cop a feel, so nice to see some consistency there.

Going under an alias and lying about being infected with Hepatitis was clever of Martha but I was more impressed with the contact lenses cameras. Seriously those things were sweet and even Owen’s childish joking couldn’t deny their appeal. It’s also the only bit of engagement that Toshiko and Martha actually have throughout the episode. If there’s one sucky thing about this episode it’s that Martha and Toshiko don’t get a scene with each other.

When Toshiko isn’t successful in scoring a date with Owen, she’s putting her technical skills to the best and it’s her quick thinking that gets Martha past most of the security in the Pharm. I’m not sure how Toshiko really feels about Martha though. I hope she likes her but she did see Martha as a potential interest for Owen so that could affect Toshiko’s judgement.

The Pharm meanwhile seem to be up to some standard stuff. You’ve got mayflies growing inside humans and captured Weevils; it’s nearly safe to assume that they’re being tested on for pharmaceutical gains. Copley wants to use alien properties for his own gain and Martha puts herself in danger by not leaving.

I don’t blame her really. Martha did state that she’s been in worse situations with The Master debacle clearly fresh in her mind and she was stunned by both the giant mayfly and then the guards. More a case of bad luck than sheer stupidity on Martha’s part really.

Having her captured and tied down by Copley did feel like a classic Doctor Who moment. Copley saw through her fake story and realised that she was a part of Torchwood. I have to give Martha props for not admitting it. Pity it didn’t work and that Copley resorts to giving twice the Reset dosage after discovering that she’s travelled through time and space.

Freema Agyeman acts out the physical agony of Martha’s ordeal very well and when Owen comes crashing in to save her with his singularity scalpel, Jack wasn’t the only cynical person in the room. Given how spectacularly Owen failed with that thing when trying to save Billy, I was dreading that Martha would end up being rat jam herself. Thankfully Owen’s aim was spot on for once.

The moral ethics of Copley’s organisation are touched on without the episode getting too self-righteous. If this was an instalment against animal (or alien) testing, then it’s nice that Jack effectively got his disgust out with the hysterics. Shutting the place down and erasing all of the Pharm’s work was a deserving fate for Copley.

However Copley took things a bit too personally and ended up shooting Owen point blank in the head. Owen got to be heroic by taking a bullet intended for Martha but him trying to reason with Aaron is what makes his death more sad really. Jack shooting Copley in the head is something I might have done in the situation too.

So big question, is Owen actually dead? I don’t know really. The episode ended in a shocking manner but seeing as Martha is only around for three episodes and Torchwood will need a medic, there’s a clear suggestion that he might not be totally gone for good. The next two episodes should definitely determine that for sure.

If this was Season One, I might not have cared if Owen died. I like Burn Gorman a lot as an actor but Owen isn’t a guy that I feel for. That being said, I think the show could be at a loss without Owen. He’s every bit as important to the team as Jack, Gwen, Toshiko and Ianto are.

As for Martha, the rest of her interactions in this episode were spot on. I love her and Gwen together. For some reason they compliment each other and Gwen did try to look a bit cool by telling Martha that nothing ever happened between her and Jack. I couldn’t help but snicker ‘that’s not you were saying last week’.

Martha and Ianto on the other hand were even better. Aside from sharing surnames, they bonded well when he showed her how to get into the Pharm and I loved her figuring that Ianto and Jack are screwing around. Now can we please actually see some of Jack’s innovative ‘dabbling’? I think we’ve been teased enough already.

Also in “Reset”

Unlike “Adam”, there were no clips of Martha in the opening voiceover of the episode.

Captain Jack (re The Doctor): “Do you miss him?”
Martha: “No. I made my choice. Maybe sometimes. Tiny bit, tiny. Then I come to my senses.”

Freema Agyeman’s name is in the opening credits for her three episode stint. Seems only fair to me as Indira Varma got the same treatment in Season One.

Captain Jack: “So do I have to call you Ma’am?”
Martha: “No. Just follow my order to the letter.”

Marie (re her attacker): “You know my dog bit him in the nuts and I kicked him.”
Captain Jack: “Respect.”

Anyone notice the poster of Margaret Slitheen from “Boom Town” at the start of this episode?

Aaron: “Captain. Where did you park your boat?”
Captain Jack: “I like a man with a sense of humour. Know any good gags about clinical trials?”

Captain Jack (to Aaron): “Yeah I had a bad experience with a politician recently. I tend not to trust Whitehall anymore.”

Actually seeing as Margaret was the Mayor of Cardiff; shouldn’t it be that Jack has had bad experiences with two politicians?

Toshiko (re Martha): “She’s beautiful.”
Owen: “Is she?”
Toshiko: “You know she is.”

Martha (re Captain Jack): “So what’s his dabbling like?”
Ianto: “Innovative.”
Martha: “Really?”
Ianto: “Bordering on the avant-garde.”

Ianto seems to have a thing for the colour red, Martha pretended to being doing a Creative Writing course (something I hope to do myself in September) and Owen remember Toshiko’s bowling idea from “Meat”.

Captain Jack: “Martha can handle herself. She’s been in worse situations than this.”
Owen: “You sure about that?”

Aaron (to Martha): “A human being that has travelled in time and space. Tell me about that. What did you see?”

Martha went under the alias of Samantha Jones who was a companion for the Eighth Doctor. I keep thinking about a certain man eater from Sex And The City.

Owen: “Stop this.”
Aaron: “I can’t. I don’t know how.”

Standout music: “Feel Good Inc” by the Gorillaz. One of my favourite songs from that group.

Captain Jack: “This place is like a torture chamber.”
Aaron: “I don’t need to defend medical ethics with you.”

Chronology: None is specified since “Adam”.

Wow, what an episode. Although I prefer the previous episode, I admit that “Reset” was a joy to watch. Martha continues to be awesome and her interactions with the group makes me wonder if she could end up joining Torchwood on a permanent basis and the end scene was the jolt the episode needed to cap things off perfectly.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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