Well, this week’s episode of Torchwood was pretty watchable, for a change; having Toby Whitehouse in was a real breath of fresh air in terms of characterisation and dialogue (namely, he actually provided the characters with both). The problem was, though, that, much like after seeing a fast-paced but ultimately superficial movie, afterwards I found myself with far too many niggles on my mind. So, right after Mary tells her the mindreading pendant can be used for good, Tosh just happens to have it on when a murderer passes. And he turns out to be an actual murderer, not, say, a paranoid schizophrenic off his meds. Yet another Torchwood member commits a breach of security that would get them cashiered in any normal organisation (someone on Tachyon pointed out that “Cyberwoman” contained the equivalent of an MI5 agent smuggling his al-Quaeda girlfriend into the office, and “Greeks Bearing Gifts” is just more of same), and Jack just gives them a stern talking-to and lets them carry on at work. And while I can understand Tosh apologising to Gwen for reading her mind, Owen is such a tosser that I think she would be well within her rights to say to him: “OK, I did wrong there, but one more word about it and everyone, Gwen included, finds out about the date-rape spray incident.”
While we’re on that subject, what is it all these otherwise sensible women have for Owen? He’s not particularly attractive (he reminds me irresistibly of Jude Law made up to play an android in AI, only shorter and more out of shape), he has the sort of obnoxious personality that in real life usually is fitted to the office nuisance (the sort who thinks he’s a massive hit with the laydeeez, and somehow manages not to notice that the laydeeez tend to leave the room when he’s around), and he shows every sign of being seriously disturbed on the sex front (leaving aside the date-rape-spray incident, his idea of courtship is to shove Gwen up against a tree and effectively threaten to rape her—and she goes for it?!), and yet reasonably mentally healthy career women—one a policewoman, for God’s sake-- seem to be continually falling into his arms.
Writing all that down, it also occurs to me to say that this episode made me realise that Torchwood has a really, really unhealthy attitude to sexuality. I can’t think of a single example of a positive sexual relationship, whoever the participants, in the entire series. Even the one-off, bit-part ones: we’ve had a married couple where the husband wants to kill the wife this week, cannibal yokels last week, a teenage girl shagging men in nightclubs a few weeks back, Roj Blake the rape-murderer… hell, even Jack’s ex-girlfriend in “Small Worlds” is someone who’s apparently been pining for her boyfriend for decades, and he ultimately gets her killed. Just once, I’d like to see a healthy, loving, friendly relationship where both parties gain support and strength from each other on Torchwood. I don’t care if it’s gay, straight, polyamorous or even human/nonhuman, just so long as I don’t come away from the episode feeling like all relationships are either evil or doomed, and/or that the writing team have got some serious issues to work through.