Martha Jones! I’d kind of forgotten about her stint in Torchwood until she popped up in yesterday’s next time trailer, so this is a bonus. As you’ll have gathered from my posts on Series 3, I’m quite a fan of hers, and it’s nice to see her doing so well for herself after leaving the TARDIS – she’s a fully-qualified doctor now, and working for UNIT. She shows up and instantly puts Owen in his place; she was always an incredible capable companion, so it’s no surprise that her ability is head and shoulders above these clowns.
The rest of the team seemed to up their game in her presence, and as such this is one of those rare episodes where Torchwood are vaguely competent in their approach to the threat. Jack even acts like a leader, and it was lovely to see the bond the exists between him and Martha after their experiences with The Doctor and The Master. Even though they were only together for three episodes, the strength of their friendship felt real, and he was right to put his faith in her – she has faced worse threats before.
The big baddy here was of course Jim Robinson, who at this moment in time was cult TV’s most perennial guest star worldwide. He didn’t have a great deal to do – he was only in a handful of scenes – but he did it well and made an impact. Then, of course, he became the greatest hero ever in the history of the Doctor Who universe. He killed Owen Harper.
Despite the improvements that have undoubtedly been made to his character for the second series, the despicable wanker from the first still looms large in the memory, and so my reaction to him being shot amounted to a small cheer and then an ever-expanding grin. The joy is tempered only by the knowledge that he’s going to come back – amusingly, Wikipedia refers to this as “the first death” of Owen Harper – but I do recall that this arc is quite a good one, and I even remember feeling sad for him at one point. I’ll look out for that over the next few days.
So after a couple of episodes in which the show fell back into old habits, I’m now coming back round to thinking that this series isn’t too bad. There’s basically two traps that it falls in to – plots that rely on the team’s incompetence, and the team behaving like utter twats. It’s still inconsistent on the first point, but killing off Owen and replacing him with Martha Jones makes the group a thousand times more likeable. It’s only temporary, but I’ll take it.
Besides, having a series each of Sarah Jane and Torchwood to watch between series of actual Who is making me miss the proper show, so having a recent companion around will help with that. And also, once again there are elements of the plot that remind me of the series currently airing – I’ve seen two races of alien insects curing human illnesses in as many days. Is Moffat mining Torchwood for ideas? I’m sure his successor was hoping for first dibs on that.