Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 2x13: "Exit Wounds"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Ashley Way

Owen: “We never did get that date you and me. We sort of missed each other. It was my fault. I didn’t notice until it was too late. I’m sorry.”
Toshiko: “Me too.”

Well having to wait two weeks for a new episode, it was time we got down to the season finale and this time around; there is actual devastation in the wake of things. No cheap resets are going to be surfacing in this episode, that’s for sure.

Captain John returned in quite manner with his scheme to blow up the gang and it’s enough to get them on red alert to his activities. The funny thing is not many of the gang take an interest in the fact Gray also happens to be alive either. That’s an error in judgement especially seeing as they saw the holograph.

John has been a busy boy as well with the setting up of rift activities in at least three different places. With Gwen and Rhys at the police station, Owen heading for the hospital and Toshiko and Ianto at Central Service, it’s obvious that John wants some alone time with his ex-boyfriend.

As ex-boyfriends go, John also doesn’t seem to be letting go so easily. While it’s a nice revelation that the bomb weren’t intended to kill Jack’s gang, John’s anger over being cast aside in favour of Gwen, Toshiko, Owen and Ianto is rather chilling. Good job that Jack doesn’t actually keep any pets around or else he’d be getting served a rather unpleasant stew.

John however is acting pretty erratic by the way he’s apologising to Jack one minute and then tying him up the next. Okay I’ll take my mind out of the gutter but you have to admit that something isn’t quite right with this picture. It’s like John actually doesn’t have control over his actions and is in trouble himself.

That might sound rather contradictory when he goads all of the gang to watch as he blows up Cardiff into a right state but like I said, something isn’t right with this picture. Visually seeing Cardiff blown up is a delight. This episode wants to be dangerous and it’s certainly going the right way to make you feel the danger.

Both the hospital and the police stations are crawling with monsters. Owen gets to deal with the Hoix creature seen in “Love And Monsters” and the police station is crawling with a lot of Weevil. Seeing Rhys and Andy’s reaction to these creatures is priceless.

However to be serious, with Jack as a hostage, it’s Gwen who instantly steps into the role of leader and she’s not only getting the rest of the gang to get on with their jobs but she’s also motivating the police to protect the streets. That would be a lot easier if there weren’t so many Weevils crawling around the place though.

Rhys is also particularly made of awesomeness as well as he effectively tries to build Gwen’s spirits. Gwen might be good with the speeches but even she doesn’t believe that she stands a chance against Captain John. Her reaction to Rhys’ show of support was heart warming though. I did chuckle when she asked him to marry her again.

As for Captain John, when I said that things weren’t right with him, I wasn’t kidding. John might have a thing for carnage but something tells me that it’s more on a smaller scale than the explosions in Cardiff. One of the first things he does after teleporting Jack in time was to apologise.

Not that I would blame Jack for refusing to believe John. No one would believe John’s pleas of innocence under the circumstances. Still it’s kinda relieving to know that John was an unwilling participant in all the carnage that is going on. The real culprit is Gray.

Well John did brag about finding in “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and we did briefly see Gray at the end of “Fragments” so it’s not entirely unbelievable that Gray would be the real baddie of the piece. Of course Jack’s first reaction upon seeing his brother is of utter joy. I felt bad for Jack here because I just knew that Gray was going to stab him, even literally.

Sadly though, Lachlan Nieboer who plays Gray is a bit of a disappointment. He’s not exactly bad but some of his scenes do feel a little on the wooden side and that’s not really good when his first scene is supposed to emotionally heavy and sinister. Good job that John Barrowman and James Marsters are more reliable.

Jack apologises until he’s blue in the face for losing his brother but all Gray feels is hatred for his older brother. The fact that Jack also happens to be immortal adds to that hatred and soon enough John gets forced into burying him alive. It’s telling that Jack doesn’t struggle but it’s also more telling that John drops in a very handy ring when burying his former lover.

Of course John having to deal with Gray isn’t the only obstacle as a return to the hub also has Gwen ready to end his existence. Its fun to see Gwen in pure anger mode but it’s more interesting to see that John literally had a bomb attached to him. And they say that lightening doesn’t strike twice? One of these days John will probably be on the ouch end of a bomb. However it’s not going to be today.

Because he loves Jack so much, he’s willing to help Gwen track down his grave by feeding Toshiko and Ianto co-ordinates and even helps put away some of the Weevils after Ianto and Toshiko injure them during an attack in the hub. Again, I love the use of the weevils.

Not only did we have them in the streets but Owen uses his control over them to get to the power station before Toshiko and Ianto went back to the hub. Ianto’s over protective attitude and his threats to kill John if Jack was dead was also a sweet touch. This is the closest to a gay love triangle we’ve had on this show and it’s rather cool. Both of them care for Jack but only one of them is really suited to Jack. I’ll let you decide who that is.

Sadly though Gray is still around and he’s one determined bastard. As if having his brother buried alive and getting John to go nuclear on Cardiff wasn’t bad enough, he also decides to ruin the other vital aspect of Jack’s life – his team mates. This is the exact point where any sympathy I might have had for this guy goes out the window big time.

First off all he manages to trap Ianto, Gwen and John in the cells with Weevils which is bad enough but there’s one thing he does that is unforgivable. Toshiko is doing her best to help Owen at the nuclear factory and Gray shoots her instantly. More annoyingly he begins to ask her what death is like.

It’s this part of the episode that two weeks prior to its transmission, I wish I had resisted reading spoilers for. Because this episode does exactly the opposite of what “End Of Days” did with Rhys, Toshiko actually ends up dying and believe me, not only does it suck that no-one gets to her in time but she isn’t the only casualty of this episode. Nope, Chris Chibnall is really happy to hurt us twice over.

With Owen, he’s been more or less dead since “Reset” so the writers had to make a decision to either restore him or finish the job and they ran with the latter. Worse still, Owen’s being the hero and trying to save the day, only to be presented with the grim reality of the radiation in the power station decomposing his body.

There are some bits of gore I don’t want to see and it was wise that Owen’s death wasn’t graphically shown. Not that I’m squeamish or anything but it might have detracted from the sadness if Chibnall had gone for gore instead of emotion and the real belief that Owen and Toshiko were dead.

Hats off to both Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori who are just brilliant in their final scene. Only able to communicate through their devices, Owen knew that Toshiko had been injured and Toshiko had to watch another person she loves die while knowing that she was seconds away from death herself.

Owen’s reaction to knowing he was officially a goner was a raw moment for the series. I had difficulty watching him screaming frantically about not wanting to die, only for Toshiko to tell him to stop because it was breaking her heart. Never has a piece of dialogue on this show been so utterly perceptive. Even if you loathed Toshiko and Owen, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be gripped by those scenes.

Even with the spoilers I still got a little teary towards the end. Jack’s reaction to knowing his friends had died was superb, even one of Barrowman’s best performances yet and I liked seeing how it affected Gwen, Ianto and even Captain John. Killing off one main character is risky enough but two at the same time when you’ve only got five regulars, is really risky.

With Toshiko and Owen being utterly dead, there is an obvious question – will it just be Jack, Gwen and Ianto for most of next season (assuming there is a third season) or will we be getting replacements, like Martha and Mickey? The latter seems to be a popular belief and in terms of medical and technical abilities it would complete the team but in terms of character, I don’t think Owen and Toshiko can effectively be replaced, regardless of who their successors turn out to be. We’ve just lost two fantastic characters and actors in Burn and Naoko.

Seeing Jack dealing with survival is the eye opener of the episode. Gwen and Ianto looked like they couldn’t go on but despite Toshiko and Owen’s deaths, John’s exit and Gray having to be frozen; Jack is determined to keep going on. How the gang will go on is going to be an interesting to see. As for Toshiko’s little video at the end, sweet doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Also in “Exit Wounds”

The amount of promos for this episode have been significantly less than the ones for Doctor Who. I didn’t see that many all week.

Captain John: “Come on, sing song. It’s our song.”
Captain Jack: “We don’t have a song but if we did, it wouldn’t be this.”

This is the second finale in a row that Jack’s wound up in chains. Maybe his appearance in Season 4 of Doctor Who will make it his third.

Captain Jack: “This is a little extreme, don’t you think?”
Captain John: “Oh what, you’re anti-bondage all of a sudden?”

Captain Jack: “I’m sorry.”
Gray: “Sorry’s not good enough.”

Gray didn’t seem to reference Jack by his real name but then again neither his mother in the flashbacks either.

Rhys (re Gwen): “She’s bloody impressive.”
Andy: “She is that. Lucky sod.”

Rhys: “You’re a bloody hero Gwen, so keep going because we need you.”
Gwen: “Will you marry me again?”

Did anyone else jump for joy when Toshiko mentioned the space pig from “Aliens Of London”? All she had to do was mention The Doctor and that would’ve been great.

Gwen: “On your knees.”
Captain John: “Honestly, it’s just sex, sex, sex with you people.”

Ianto (to Captain John): “If anything happens to Jack, I’ll kill you slowly.”

Rhys asked if the Time Agency was based in Cardiff when he learned that Jack and John were a part of it.

Nira: “It sounds more dangerous out there than in here.”
Owen: “I’d say it’s pretty much even.”

Gray (to Toshiko): “I’ve heard people say death is such a waste. I’d imagine it’s more of a relief. Tell me what it’s like.”

Toshiko’s video had her confess to loving Owen and wishing that she didn’t die for something silly. Her thanking Jack for saving her was sweet.

Toshiko: “Just remember how to get out.”
Owen: “Yeah, I think I’ll remember that bit.”

Captain Jack: “Thank you.”
Captain John: “Least I can do.”

We got a flashback to Torchwood in 1901 with one of the Victorian lesbians and a mystery man. Please tell me we’ll see more of them soon.

Owen: “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t keep bloody screaming?”
Toshiko: “Because you’re breaking my heart.”
Owen: “I’m sorry.”

Captain John: “You didn’t struggle when I was burying you. It’s like you were welcoming it.”
Captain Jack: “It was my penance.”

Standout music: The song “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper” more or less stood out for me.

Toshiko (via recording): “I love you. All of you. I hope I did good.”
Captain Jack (reacting to it): “Now we go on.”
Gwen: “I don’t know if I can. Not after this.”
Captain Jack: “You can. We all can. The end is where we start from.”

It’s funny that the BBC haven’t announced a third season. Please tell me that there is going to be one?

Well that was certainly something alright. “Exit Wounds” made sure that both Chris Chibnall, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori left the series in an unforgettable manner. Season Two has been so consistently good that this episode, despite it’s tragic consequences is a stunner. RIP Owen and Toshiko – you will be missed.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

No comments: