So, here are my thoughts on Exit Wounds:
- First, a gratuitous observation courtesy of the BBC's Torchwood gallery: goodness me, hasn't Ianto got big feet? It makes one wonder if there's any truth in certain old clichés. I'm sure Jack must have some relevant evidence on this topic, if only he'd be willing to share it...
- Ha! I've always thought that I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper should be Jack's theme song! And now Captain Spike agrees with me! But sadly, it turns out that Jack does not appreciate the early work of Sarah Brightman. Clearly he's never seen the video.
- And now a picture quiz. Take a look at the following image.
And the £64,000 question is: why on earth is there a birdcage floating in the Torchwood water feature? Has Ianto been buying live budgies to feed to the pterodactyl? I think we should be told.
- Meanwhile, the team go off their separate ways to investigate the traditional end-of-series spate of Cardiff-wide calamities. Gwen rolls her eyes at Andy and Rhys engaging in
homoeroticalpha-male squabbling, Ianto and Tosh pull an Indiana Jones on a bunch of Grim Reapers (well, it's quicker than challenging them all to a game of Battleships), and Owen gets to meet a costume that's formerly appeared on Doctor Who AND the same doctor who appeared in "Dead Man Walking" (well done to Cardiff for having such an efficient recycling scheme!).
- "Suddenly you're anti-bondage?" Of course, Spike doesn't know that Jack spent a whole year in this position quite recently, and the novelty probably wore off pretty quickly.
- "It's beyond my control" made me think "Oooh, Dangerous Liaisons!" and briefly speculate on all sorts of potential Valmontesque manipulative shenanigans. Of course, the actual plot was nothing like that, but hey, for a moment those were promising mental images...
- The build-up to the explosions was appropriately ominous, and so were the reactions of the TW crew... with the exception of the Reverend Barrowman, whose overemoting on the rooftop was about 700 feet over the top, even by his own high standards.
- Following the theme of Jack apparently having grown up in the first Star Wars film, his brother appears to have grown up into Anakin Emo-Boy Skywalker, positively bursting at the seams with sketchily motivated Evil (TM) and a badly-defined sense of personal entitlement! Or maybe it's just the quilted trousers that make him walk that way.
- Why is it that when (in other episodes) Jack waxes lyrical about how super brave and noble Gwen is, I end up rolling my eyes, but when Rhys does the same thing here, I utterly believe him? Perhaps it's because Rhys is very choosy with his affections. Anyway, it was a sweet scene.
- And suddenly Captain John has become all nice and helpful. Maybe he's touting for a permanent job? Whatever his motivation, it must be the fastest Spikeification on record. Then again, we are dealing with a past master at the art. Shame really, he was wasted in this episode after the first ten minutes.
- No, don't all go into the cells at the same time.... ooops, too late! You'd think they'd have safety posters up about this sort of thing.
- And this week's dating tip from Owen is, how to impress girls by regurgitating the Wikipedia entry on nuclear containment. Sadly both the chat-up line and the containment have limited effectiveness.
- Oh, I get SO annoyed by time-travel plot tricks sometimes! Now we're expected to swallow that Jack spent almost 1,900 years (tha's more than TEN times as long as the rest of his life) buried under Cardiff, dying frequently or even constantly, and in the bits when he was alive, presumably being VERY bored. The reality of that would be absolutely devastating, but the demands of the plot skim over it and Jack just carries on as if he's been gone for half an hour. (There is, I suppose, a chance that Jack WILL go bonkers later if there's a third series. But I bet he doesn't.)
- Nonethless, it's always nice to see costume drama Torchwoodians of the past, even if we've just seen one of them in the previous episode (hello Alice Guppy!). And was she carrying the same box that Harriet from 1918 was seen sporting in "To the Last Man"?
- Lots of Who references, especially to "Last of the Time Lords" (Jack being strung up by his arms, "I forgive you") but also to things from DW series 1 ("Always has been, always will be"), and brilliantly scored from a free kick in extra time, a functioning and sensible explanation for Tosh's space-pig disection! Who'd have thought it?
- The Gray and Jack plot is by far the weakest link in this episode, which was sad. Gray never develops any depth or weight to his personality: he just waggles his grudge against Jack for something he did by complete accident at the age of 10, while Jack tortures himself with blame for exactly the same thing. Family arguments: still crazy after 1,900 years! Hmm, at least it makes all those little resentments that surface over most people's Christmas dinner tables pale into insignificance.
- Meanwhile, there's still no advance on what Jack's real name is! My favourite theory remains the one mooted by calicoalley in response to one of my previous recaps: if Gray is named after a colour, then perhaps Jack is really the indestructible Captain Scarlet? The visual evidence is pretty convincing, after all:
- Owen and Tosh: I was unspoiled for this, which was good. Owen's demise was already on the cards, of course (and backed up in my speculative thoughts about Burn Gorman being the TW actor most likely to be offered lots of work elsewhere on the BBC). But Tosh was a surprise, although when she was first shot, I guessed they'd go for the double whammy.
Fortunately their twin demises were extremely well portrayed, and like a large section of the viewing audience, I found myself suddenly filling up at "Because you're breaking my heart." Yes Owen, stop being such a self-centred git for once! And to his credit, he did. I am usually of the opinion that Tosh is not the world's greatest actress (she's usually okay, but that's it) but she really pulled out all the stops tonight. Top stuff, Naoko. I hope you get some more work soon.
- A slightly worried thought. Are lots of rabid anti-Gwen people going to go ballistic now and say that she should have died instead? I hope not, but I fear otherwise.
- And speaking of rabid fangirls, would I sound like one if I said I was immensely relieved that Ianto didn't get killed off? Yeah, I probably would. But I adore him, so there.
- I note that all the people who don't love Jack are gone. Everyone must love Jack now. It is the law, apparently. (Well, apart from Rhys and Andy, but at least they have each other.)
- So Torchwood now has two vacancies on its roster. I'm guessing that the medical position may well be filled by a certain recent guest star (although if it is, I really hope she's better served by scripts than she was earlier in this series). And as for the other post, well, who can say? I imagine the answer to these questions may be tied into whatever happens at the end of DW series 4, so we shall wait and see. (And if you DO already know the answer, please don't tell me.)
- Overall then, a strong and tense start to an episode that wobbled badly off-course in the middle, but then pulled itself together at the end for some genuinely affecting character moments. Despite my peeves and whinges, this series has given me some great entertainment and I've enjoyed it immensely: much more, I would even dare to say, than DW series 2 and 3. As for DW series 4... well, let's see what happens, eh?
And now the Whoniverse lies in silent and empty contemplation, until the distant date of...errr... tomorrow. When that moment arrives, I imagine you may well be hearing from me again...