‘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”)

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Sun, Jan 25, 2009 11:25pm

Just re-watched this episode today, perfect timing.

CJH ruffling Owen’s head in the jail cell has got to be one of the most tender scenes. Jack just hates to lose people, especially his team.

Ianto coming into the autopsy bay with a field hockey stick to take on the 2nd Glove has got to be one of the most amusing moments of season two. I love Gareth David-Lloyd’s facial expressions.

Poor Tosh, its bad enough that her crush has “died”, but to tell him that she loves him on his death bed TWICE and have him continue to live… how humiliating.

I had been pondering if there was any reason to the items the Weavels had collected. I don’t have the fancy tech that MAJ has, but at one point I used my pause button and I thought there was a Doctor Who action figure from The Satan Pit (turns out from the picture above that it is just a regular toy)

Looking forward to when they finally reveal more about little fortune teller… I also think they could do a whole season of back stories about the 500 past employees of Torchwood

Keith Z-G
Keith Z-G
Mon, Jan 26, 2009 1:07am

Relatedly, if you search google and try to take out the search results about Torchwood (or in other words http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=%22I+shall+walk+the+earth+and+my+hunger+will+know+no+bounds%22+-%22but+I+keep+getting+redirected%22+-torchwood&btnG=Search&meta= ) you get pretty much nothing.

Mon, Jan 26, 2009 6:12am

I rather liked this episode, especially its cliche debunking of the undead. (And in a way, it justifies the use of that cliche because Owen’s undeadness is really limiting.)

The little girl I think is meant to be taken as Faith, the child resserected by the glove.

And the church could be a “homage” to Saul, the sentient church character from Paul Cornell’s Dr Who novels.

Mon, Jan 26, 2009 12:53pm

I miss this show. I miss Ianto.

This needs to come back stat.

Katie Dvorak
Katie Dvorak
Tue, Jan 27, 2009 4:07pm

I think the problem with this season is that it started brilliantly and ended brilliantly but unfortunately we had to suffer through the middle. And this was one of the suffering episodes.

That said, you’re absolutely right, the really good stuff was all the other stuff: the little girl (I really want more on her and Jack), the weevils, Ianto’s humor…

Tue, Jan 27, 2009 5:06pm

Kill a character…leave. It. Dead.

Tue, Jan 27, 2009 6:53pm

One of the thoughts that comes to mind when I watch this episode is how Owen’s brain can still form new neural connections if his body can’t heal? Owen should be able to remember, but not form new throughts. Also, if Owen can’t eat, where is the energy coming from that he would need to keep his muscles moving?

I’ve also thought the little girl is probably Faith, who stopped death the first time. Her being Faith would explain why she doesn’t seem to age either (as we see out later in the season). If so, it would be interesting to know if he was psychic to begin with (which could be how she was able to defeat Death when she fought it), or weather her ability developed over time after she had become undead. Perhaps Owen would have developed some sort of enhanced perception had he not been destroyed so relatively soon after being reanimated.

Wed, Jan 28, 2009 8:17am

The Whoverse tends to have a bleak take on what happens after death, but the pilot of ‘Being Human’ beats it: “a corridor with men at the end with sticks and rope.”


‘Being Human’ is written by Toby Whithouse, (he’s also written for Doctor Who (School Reunion) and Torchwood (Greeks Bearing Gifts).) The first episode of the ‘Being Human’ series was broadcast in the UK last Sunday, and happily my fears were groundless. The spin was that it was going to depart from the pilot by being even funnier, ‘hipper’ and more-BBC3-er to appeal to a younger demographic. One listing even had it as a ‘sitcom’!! But no, the new actors are good and if anything, it is darker than the pilot, shot through with humour. The series is 6 x 60 minute episodes.