Torchwood: Ghost Machine

Today’s thrilling Torchwood adventure: some ghosts. It’s an episode that’s neither good nor bad, it just sort of exists. I think that’s an improvement of sorts. There’s something odd about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but looking back it’s perhaps because there’s no actual monster, or traditional alien threat of any kind. It’s not even particularly about the bit of alien tech, it’s more about using that tech as a storytelling device. It’s like a trilogy of tales that start with a glimpse at the past/future, before unraveling the mini-mystery.

The most memorable of these, and also the one that you’d most expect Torchwood to completely fuck up, was Owen witnessing a rape/murder, which was actually handled fairly sensitively. In general, Owen was written as a completely different character this time, which is a very good thing. We were mercifully spared any of his usual misogyny, perhaps because the episode was written by a woman, and it’s sad that in the Who canon, that’s still a thing that’s worth noting.

Elsewhere, the evacuee plotline was marred by the inexplicable presence of modern ticket barriers at the train station in 1941. I found myself not really giving a toss about what happened in the flash-forward with Gwen covered in blood, as I assumed it would be the old rapist who carked it, and indeed it was. The bit about the young lad seeing himself dead in the road was never really resolved, now I think about it, other than some Jack chat about it only being a possible future, which rather detracts from the impact of the device.

I did enjoy the Hot Fuzz-esque chase through a load of back gardens. But the centerpiece of the episode, Jack and Gwen having a sexy shooting range session, was just weird. Like Ghost, but with guns instead of pottery. I’m not sure I like seeing guns fetishised in this way in the Who universe, even if it is the spin-off. Overall: not terrible, but not particularly entertaining either. A resounding meh.

RATING: 5

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