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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

‘Torchwood’ blogging: “From Out of the Rain”

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 9: “Something Borrowed”)
So, not my favorite episode of Torchwood ever. Oh, it’s atmospheric as hell, I’ll give it that: carnivals and carnival folk are always creepy, though I can never quite put my finger why they’re so menacing. And this represents one of the most original ideas Torchwood has deployed — cinema killed the traveling shows, and now the traveling shows are out for revenge — even if characters stepping into and out of film is something that Woody Allen did years ago, though with a completely different tenor, in The Purple Rose of Cairo. (And I’m sure it’s been done by others too, but nothing’s coming to mind at the moment.)

Totally sinister:

But the superb Twilight Zone-y feel doesn’t pay off in any way that feels Torchwood-ish. There’s been Rift activity around the old Electro cinema, but what does that mean? Are the traveling performers who walk down from the screen and shanghai poor random folks into their audience aliens? They don’t appear to be. And everything we know about the Rift so far doesn’t seem to indicate that it could have the affect of letting regular ol’ humans do things that, to all appearances, are magic, and not science.

I’ve been trying to articulate, just to myself, why this episode doesn’t sit right with me, even though it is so original and so moody, and I think I just hit on it there, as I was writing that previous paragraph: this all feels like fantasy, not like science fiction. The same story might have felt perfectly at home on a show like, oh, The X-Files, but it doesn’t work here. It’s not a satisfying Torchwood story.

Part of that lack of satisfaction, too, comes from how little our Torchwood characters are involved as themselves in the story. They don’t get to react in ways that feel rooted in what we know about them, and in what we know has happened to them in the past: they could be anyone. I mean, even Jack’s prior experience with the traveling shows:

could so easily have been tied into a previous Torchwood investigation in the weird traveling show that comes in from out of the rain and steals people’s breath. It almost seems as if the episode goes out of its way to disconnect the traveling show from Torchwood. I’m not suggesting that everything has to be neatly tied up or explained, but there’s an apparently deliberate attempt to avoid continuity that’s a little bizarre.

Random thoughts on “From Out of the Rain”:

• Is Owen the walking dead man really one to be dismissing as “impossible” the two not-dead women with heartbeats but no breath? I guess it’s cute, how delusional he is, how he appears to have forgotten that he himself is dead/not-dead. It might have been nice to beef up this episode just a little with some sort of deeper reaction on Owen’s part to their plight.

• Great quote:

“Your eyes are older than your face.” –old lady to Jack

(next: Episode 11: “Adrift”)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb

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