Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 2x07: "Dead Man Walking"

Written by Matt Jones
Directed by Andy Goddard

Faith (re the glove): “If I told you not to use it would you listen?”
Captain Jack: “Shouldn’t you know the answer to that?”
Faith: “I do. That’s the problem.”

Okay we all know that when someone dies on a sci-fi/fantasy, the idea of resurrection is imminent as a response. We also know that resurrection usually are more trouble than they are worth. Safe to say that this episode offers nothing different on that score.

In less than two days, Martha’s been infected with aliens, chatted up and also had to witness Owen dying. Because she’s also the only other qualified medic, it makes sense that performing the autopsy would fall to her. Out of all the people who I thought would try and stop, I wasn’t expecting Jack.

Not that Jack halting Martha wasn’t believable, I just thought that Toshiko might have gotten a bit emotional and tried to stop Martha. Jack wants to bring Owen back from the dead and he’s actually got a plan to do it as well.

Visiting a creepy girl to get a clue to a church was interesting. I’ve never seen that many Weevils congregate in one place and I was pretty sure that Jack would have a difficult time in actually acquiring his little item. I mean he did nearly wake them up a good few times.

The item that Jack managed to snare was another resurrection glove. Looks like Ianto wasn’t joking about gloves coming in pairs after all. Anyways “They Keep Killing Suzie” was my favourite episode in Season One and the reminders we had about it here were nothing short of being delightful.

Unlike last time, it’s Gwen who is against the glove being used on Owen and it’s also Jack who has to use it to bring Owen back. I’m glad that the glove responds to other people more powerfully than just Gwen. Then again, Jack’s desperation was paramount to the glove effectively working this time around.

There are two reasons why Jack would violate the natural order of things in order to resurrect Owen. The obvious one was to give the gang the opportunity to properly say their goodbyes. Ianto and Martha really didn’t say much and Gwen was pretty mute herself. Only Toshiko’s declaration of love was the big thing surrounding the goodbye scenes really.

Of course, Jack also wanted Owen back so he could get some codes for the morgue much to Owen’s chagrin. Even when dead, this lad can get the hump over the least thing. Then again Suzie reacted similarly when Gwen raised her from the dead too. That isn’t the only thing that Owen shares in common with Suzie.

Just like the treacherous former employee, when Owen gets resurrected he flat lines for a few seconds before everyone realises that he’s actually still alive. It’s funny that once again, it’s Ianto who spots that little glitch. Also like Suzie, Owen is quick to explain to Martha and Toshiko that he saw nothing but darkness.

It’s not surprising to see some of the same stuff being rehashed from “They Keep Killing Suzie” but it’s hardly a bad thing either. At least the gang check to see if Owen’s prolonged existence is at the cost of Jack. Interestingly enough, Jack has nothing to do with it. Something else beyond that glove is making sure that Owen doesn’t die.

Martha puts her smartness to work again by figuring out that his cells are changing and that the human aspects of Owen are diminishing. This is a lot better than watching Owen flirt with Martha. Give it up, she has a boyfriend already. It’s also interesting to have a brief UNIT/Torchwood clash between Martha and Jack as well. Apparently Jack isn’t keen on the idea of UNIT using his immortality for their own means.

I have to say that as episodes go, this is a good one for Burn Gorman. Owen starts to exhibit erratic behaviour when he zoned out in front of Martha and later after telling Toshiko he wanted to use the bathroom. To say that Owen isn’t quite human is an understatement.

When he’s not showing signs of being possessed he goes out to get pissed and finds that he can’t get it up. Then again given the fact that his would be shag was seriously annoying, I would’ve been thrilled for the excuse to get away from the woman. If screwing around doing annoying bints like her, maybe you are better off being dead.

Of course the funny part is that not only is Owen unable to get hard but his entire digestive system is gone. My sister quipped about bulimics getting ideas when in a jail cell Owen rids himself of alcohol by doing a hand stand and throwing up in the same way that racist granny in Little Britain does. It’s worth it for the look of utter disgust on Jack’s face. Nice to see that some things are able to shock Jack every once in a while too.

There are bigger problems that Owen hovering between life and death. He’s suddenly found himself more attuned to the Weevils and there’s a nifty piece of history regarding the church where Jack got the glove from along with a little girl and the Grim Reaper himself.

With Owen’s body being used as some sort of vessel between death’s attempts to rule the earth, you’d think embalming him would be a great option? Owen’s mature enough to realise it might be their only chance and he gets some lovely scenes with both Gwen and Toshiko before allowing Jack to go through with it.

The natural flipside then would be death trying to stick to the gang. Unlike Glove Number 1, this ‘Risen Mitten’ is perfectly capable of attacking at will. Sadly for Martha, the glove has a rage to attack her at will and even though Owen is able to shoot, it still doesn’t stop Martha from getting perfectly aged in this episode.

It felt like that when Martha wasn’t using her medical genius, she was getting crapped on by the evil in this episode. The glove could’ve perfectly attacked anyone else but it chose to go after Martha. Maybe it was because she was about to embalm Owen that it viewed her as a threat. At least the gang showed the right amount of concern and decided to take her to a hospital. I also actually felt that Martha belonged with the gang more in this episode than the previous one.

Death seems to be on a mission to reclaim it’s dominion of earth. Twelve people and it was nearly there. It expelled itself out of Owen and then went on a rampage in a hospital. Jack was quick to pull the obvious quip about why the near dead would be an attractive feeding ground.

Seeing as the hospital stuff took up the last ten minutes of the episode, things felt like they were flying by much quicker. The nurse believed Gwen’s bullshit about Martha being a neighbour despite her clothes contracting the story and Jack also managed to divide the team well enough.

With Ianto stuck on research mode and looking after Martha, Owen was paired with Toshiko and Jack took Gwen. Luckily none of that pseudo sexual tension was present but death was certainly totalling up the body count before the gang could get there.

We saw a random bunch of patients meet their ultimately deaths as well as a nurse. The deaths were really explored until another potential victim came into the frame. Jamie Burton was the poor kid with Leukaemia and only Owen and Toshiko who could rescue him.

There’s a not so subtle connection between Owen and Jamie but it’s effective. Both of them should dead but they’re not. Owen manages to get Toshiko and Jamie away so he can face death and basically kick its ass. I loved his defiance when facing death and this is by far the best performance from Burn Gorman on the show.

It did appear that death was actually going to beat Owen but Owen bested it. Or did he? It’s hard to actually tell. I did think that he might have been possessed yet again and Jack and Toshiko’s conversation at the end only heightens the consequences of Owen’s prolonged existence.

Even if we didn’t have Martha’s medical knowledge of Owen’s new molecular structure, you’d still feel that something wasn’t right with his resurrection. Like most viewers, I don’t want a Buffy Season Six session of non-stop misery but the writers are only being logical in showing that there are consequences for even being raised from the dead.

Owen seems to acknowledge but Jack almost didn’t want to admit it. I’m sure Jack does feel responsible for the deaths he didn’t deliberately set out to cause but I did love his scene where he point blank expressed how much he cared for Owen. Owen might not appreciate being a shadow of himself but I can see why Jack would take such a risk.

Because this episode was so plot heavy, it was quite relieving to have had at least one scene between Gwen and Rhys. Rhys could tell that Gwen wasn’t being honest but he also knew not to push it. I kinda wished that Gwen had opened up to him. Rhys might not have been able to help but he would’ve at least given her some emotional support and that’s not a bad thing either.

Also in “Dead Man Walking”

It’s weird watching this episode the day before “Reset” gets it’s BBC2 premiere. I’m still not sure why they’re doing the next episode thing on BBC3.

Captain Jack: “But I’m not using the glove.”
Owen: “But I’m still here.”
Ianto: “Oh here we go again.”

Did I spot right in seeing Ianto using the stopwatch?

Martha: “What’s it like to die?”
Owen: “Don’t know if I should say.”
Martha: “Why not?”

Owen (to Toshiko): “I’m not dying, I’m dead. I’m like a headless chicken still running around.”

Owen died at 20:30, Martha tried to perform his autopsy at 21:30 and we learned that he was 27 years, so he was either born in 1980 or 1981, depending on the show’s chronology.

Captain Jack: “Couldn’t you just stick your fingers down your throat?”
Owen: “I’m dead.”

Owen: “Then why did you?”
Captain Jack: “Because I wasn’t ready to give up on you. I was hoping for a miracle. I still am.”

Did anyone think that this might have all been a dream when Jack woke up in his SUV outside the hospital? Thank goodness the writers didn’t pull that.

Martha (not believing in the Grim Reaper): “But there’s no such thing.”
Owen: “Yeah, I’m dead but I’m not death. There’s a difference.”

Owen: “Yeah. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t shag and they are three of my favourite things.”
Gwen: “Owen.”
Owen: “I’m not the same, Gwen. I came back different and I do not want to be like this. I’m ready.”

Martha wasn’t the only one who had difficulty believing in death. Toshiko did try to dismiss some of Gwen’s internet research too.

Captain Jack (re death): “Maybe it senses the near dying. If you were death, wouldn’t you target a hospital?”

Owen (to Death): “How long can you last here with twelve victims? There’s nothing here for you. Owen Harper’s soul has left the building. Only left are two dead men.”

Standout music: The score music here was some of the series best and I loved that song in the nightclub when Owen goes out.

Owen: “I’m a doctor still. Put me to work to even out the score.”
Captain Jack: “We’ll see.”

Chronology: An hour after the events of “Reset”.

One of the toughest and darkest episodes of the series yet, “Dead Man Walking” is another reason why this show is going from strength to strength. It’s easier to buy into the adult drama and severity of Owen’s situation and while it’s not an ensemble episode, it’s still incredibly rewarding to watch no less.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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