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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

‘Torchwood’ blogging: “Dead Man Walking”

Torchwood blogging is back! Haul out your Season 2 DVDs and get watchin’. (Before commenting, please read the intro to my Doctor Who blogging; the same caveats apply to Torchwood.)

(previous: Episode 6: “Reset”)
Oh, I can’t help it: This is one of the goofier episodes yet. Owen fighting black-smoke Death in the corridors of a hospital, because Death needs 13 souls? Pul-leeze. It’s all a bit more pointlessly mystical than Torchwood usually gets, and for no good reason.

It’s actually almost anticlimactic, really. Sure, it’s creepy, the idea that there’s something out there in the darkness waiting for us after we die, moving, coming to get us, is interesting. But then it just turns out to be, you know, Death? *yawn* There doesn’t even seem to be much of a hint that Death, or whatever it is, is “merely” some kind of alien creature we simply don’t understand: the whole “13 souls” thing seems to put the kibosh on that.

And the hospital business seems a bit too banal, too, for Torchwood. Maybe Death is always stalking a hospital — how would we know one way or another?

I don’t want to to rag too much on this episode, because, as with Doctor Who, sometimes the best stuff is all the ancillary stuff: the asides, the tangents. People built a church around something powerful that they didn’t understand? Neat-o. The dying man who doesn’t stay dead after you confess to him that you love him? Awkward! Jack and Owen discussing eternity and how not-fair it is that most of us get to spend it dead? Poignant. How not-fun it is to be undead: “I can’t sleep, I can’t drink, and I can’t shag, and they are three of my favorite things.” Very tragic — it can’t be fun to be immortal if you have to live like a monk.

The single most disgusting thing Jack has ever seen:

is truly pretty disgusting. But you’d have thought that Jack, having lived so long, might have seen worse, actually.

But still, this episode makes me want to make up bad jokes about Death: Yea, though I walk through the valley of Cardiff… stuff like that.

Random thoughts on “Dead Man Walking”:

• Owen is “Torchwood officer 565.” Does that mean there have been 564 officers of Torchwood before Owen? Is the numbering sequential? Cuz there could be lots of cool other Torchwood people we could be meeting from the last century and a half…

• I’m curious about the little-girl fortune teller. I’m curious about why Jack seems to put so much stock in her. Who is she? Is she human? Alien? How does Jack know her? This, frankly, is potentially a far more intriguing story — and one that would speak to Jack’s mysterious history, which I’m dying to know more of — than Owen fighting Death.

• So if the church where Jack found the glove is a weevil nest, does that mean all the junk Jack digs through looking for the glove is stuff the weevils have collected for some reason?

There’s actually something kinda touching about that, if it’s true.

• What the hell do you think, as a good, decent, law-abiding citizen of Cardiff, when you hear: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Torchwood…” You think, oh shit, right? I want an episode about the local legend that Torchwood has become…

• Great quotes:

“I’m not dying — I’m dead. I’m a headless chicken — I just haven’t stopped running about yet.” –Owen

“I’m Torchwood!” –Owen to cop
“Yeah, of course you are, mate, and I’m MI-5.” –cop

“I’ve searched for the phrase, ‘I shall walk the earth and my hunger will know no bounds,’ but I keep getting redirected to Weight Watchers.” –Ianto (Of course, if you search on that now, you get a ton of Torchwood results. Damn Internet.)

(next: Episode 8: “A Day in the Death”)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb

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