Sun, 23 March 2008
A Day in the Death
"A Day in the Death" is the eighth episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was broadcast by BBC Three on February 27, 2008. This episode is the last of three to feature Doctor Who companion, Martha Jones, and also features guest star Richard Briers.
The opening of the episode is narrated by Owen Harper, who tells of his life and his death, which he is currently living through. Although everyone else believes he is fine, Owen knows that he is not. He is seen on top of an apartment building with a suicidal woman, asking her if she is ready to jump.
After showing the woman his gunshot wound and revealing he is already dead, Owen begins to tell her about the days since his death, shown as a series of flashbacks. Firstly, Captain Jack relieves Owen of his duties as a way of monitoring his condition and keeping him safe. Owen is angry that Martha Jones is taking his position as head medic, and further disheartened when Jack gives him Ianto's old job of making the coffee. He feels useless, conscious that he has always been alone while each one of the Torchwood team has or has had someone in their life (Ianto and Jack, Gwen and Rhys, Martha and her boyfriend, Tosh and Tommy). Ianto challanges him as to whether he is really going to let this problem beat him, after all that he’s been through.
After Martha concludes from her tests that Owen is 100% human yet will not age, the team meets to discuss a series of unusual energy spikes coming from the estate of a reclusive collector of alien artifacts, Henry Parker. Parker hasn’t been seen since 1986, leading the team to wonder what he has inside his house. They devise a plan to find out the origin of the energy spikes, excluding any involvement from Owen.
Back on the roof, Owen recounts suicide statistics to the woman, who asks him who he actually is. Owen replies that he is a ‘bloody brilliant doctor’, which takes us back to the autopsy room, where he is conversing with Martha. As he carelessly toys with a scalpel, Martha tries to reassure him that she does not want his job. While talking, she realizes that he has sliced his hand open with the scalpel - a wound he can't feel, and that won't heal. Owen takes over the stitching, realizing he will need to get used to doing it himself.
As we come back to the roof, the woman chastises Owen for refusing help, and he asks her if her boyfriend dumped her because she was so annoying. In flashback, the effectively unemployed Owen heads home, where he sits around aimlessly and then clears out his fridge - he no longer needs food or drink. Tosh arrives and starts to tell him about her morning, as Owen zones out completely. On the roof, the woman states that Owen and Tosh sound like an old married couple. She tells him about how her husband died, also glimpsed in flashbacks, in a car accident an hour after they were married. She asks Owen if things get better when you die, and we come back to Owen’s apartment, where he is still zoned out. He asks Tosh why she is there, and becomes angry when she says she wants to help, since in reality she can’t. He directs his anger at Tosh, accusing her of wanting someone as screwed up as himself - which he has finally become.
After breaking his finger to show Tosh how ‘broken’ he is, Owen tries to drown himself, but fails because despite his ability to talk, he no longer needs to breathe. At the Hub, the team are discussing the security heat-sensors used at Parker’s estate, making it virtually impossible for them to gain access. When Owen points out that he has no body heat, Jack agrees to let him take on the mission. Tosh returns Owen's apartment keys and carries on with the task at hand.
The woman on the roof can’t get over why Tosh wasn’t angry at him and Owen explains that it was Tosh’s way: always professional. The woman becomes upset and Owen rushes her to the edge, where she pulls back from jumping. She asks him how he got from where he was to the roof...
At the estate, Martha tells Owen not to engage in any physical combat as he will not recover. After breaking security both on the outside and inside the house, Owen reaches Parker who is an old man linked up to many ventilators and medical machines. The man reveals that he has suffered a failed bypass and three heart attacks, but is being kept alive by a glowing object he calls ‘the Pulse’. Owen tells him that the object isn’t doing anything to keep him alive; that it is actually hope that is doing the job. Owen promises to help Parker face his fear of death, but the man soon suffers another heart attack. Unable to draw breath himself, Owen is unable to perform the kiss of life, and Parker dies.
Tosh tells Owen through the earpiece that ‘The Pulse’ is going to explode and there’s nothing they can do about it. Owen holds the object, telling the team he’s going to try to absorb it. They all protest, and Owen begins to say his goodbyes, praising Martha as an ideal replacement, and apologising to Tosh for his behavior. Tosh says she loves him and as the object begins to glow ever so brightly, Owen hugs it.
On the roof, the woman looks at Owen incredulously, asking what had happened next. Owen says that life is sometimes not as bad as we think, and retrieves ‘The Pulse’ from his backpack. The team had falsely identified it as a bomb, whereas in fact it was a reply to one of humanity's satellites, launched in the 1970's, to make contact with alien life. The object produces a beautiful light and Owen answers the woman's earlier question: that it does get better.
In flashback, after the team say their goodbyes to the departing Martha, Tosh makes Owen promise to open up to her in future; to tell her when he’s feeling bad about anything. He agrees, admitting that he’s scared of the darkness, and of becoming trapped. We see him walking along a footpath and pick up a photo of the woman on the roof, which had fallen from a building above. This is what had brought him to her: not to jump himself, but to try and save her.
In the present, Owen tells the woman that if she can really see that there is nothing for her, then she should jump; but that if she can see even a glimmer of hope then it must be worth taking a chance. She tells him that her name is Maggie, and Owen holds her hand as they watch the lightshow.
 Outside references
Something Borrowed (Torchwood)
"Something Borrowed" is the ninth episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood. It was broadcast by BBC Three on 5 March 2008 and repeated on BBC Two one week later.
Just hours before her wedding night, Gwen chases down a shape-shifting alien, eventually engaging him in a fight wherein he bites her arm before he is killed by Jack. The next morning they discover that the alien had transferred its eggs into Gwen, which has matured inside her body to the point where she now appears pregnant. Gwen and Rhys, at the insistence of Gwen, decide to have their wedding anyway, with Gwen's condition being explained away as her being pregnant with Rhys's child, as they do not want to have to explain about aliens or Torchwood.
During an autopsy of the alien creature, the team discover that it is a Nostrovite, a race of carnivourous shape shifters who hunt in pairs and mate for life. After fertilisation, the female passes the eggs on to the male, who then transfers them to a host to act as an incubator until the time is right. The female then tracks the host down, and when the egg is ready to hatch she tears the host apart to free the offspring. They realise that the mother must still be out there and that they need to hurry as it is out looking for Gwen.
The female Nostrovite tracks Gwen to the hotel where she is having her wedding. Her presence is soon detected, at which point the team tries to catch her while at the same time minimalise any information leaking out to the public. They decide to use the singularity scalpel to destroy the eggs incubating within Gwen. Rhys and Gwen flee to the stable, where Rhys removes the egg using the scalpel, which infuriates the female Nostrovite that followed them. She attacks Rhys who fends her off with a chainsaw, but it stalls. At that moment, Jack enters and kills the creature.
Rhys and Gwen’s wedding resumes, and the couple are successfully wed. At the reception, and just before Rhys and Gwen leave for their honeymoon, they realise that Jack has retconned the entire wedding party to wipe their memories of the Nostrovite. Jack offers the couple the amnesia pills, and Gwen declines stating that there’d be no secrets in their marriage. They say their goodbyes and leave whilst Jack and the others proceed to clean up. Alone at the Hub, Jack retrieves an old tin box, containing old pictures from his past. He looks at them, reminiscing, and comes across a particular one of him and his bride at his own wedding.