How you feel about this clip probably determines what you think of last night's Torchwood. If you think this is a moment of supreme bathos and ranty drama, which spoon-feeds you what you're supposed to be learning about the characters, then you probably won't be too fond of "A Day In The Death Of." On the other hand, if you believe it's an awesome moment of genuine character development, then you'll probably love the episode. And you probably watch the show wearing home-made Torchwood footie pajamas. Click through for spoilers.
There really is a good episode trapped somewhere inside this mass of goo. Really. Or at least, the story of Owen struggling with the fact that he's now a zombie for good could have been pretty great. Sadly, Owen returned to plonking our nerves, after a brief sympathetic interlude last weekend. And the whole framing story, where Owen talks down a suicidal widow on her wedding anniversary, could possibly have been cheesier, but I'm not sure how. But the A-plot, about Jack refusing to let Owen work and Owen sulking, was just annoying. Especially the part where Jack suddenly acts as though it's all Owen's fault.
That's the thing that's really annoying about this episode, actually. It felt as though the writer hadn't actually watched last week's episode, in which Jack makes a big speech about how he cares for Owen, and won't give up on him, etc. etc. Suddenly, Jack is making his constipation faces at Owen and treating him like dirt. What's changed? It's really not clear.
I can see what Chris Chibnall and the other Torchwoodies were thinking with this arc. "Oh, wasn't it great in the final season of Angel when Fred suddenly dies and then comes back as that weird blue bitch goddess? It was so unexpected and creepy. What if we do something similar with one of our characters, but make it a guy this time?" And I guess a zombie is different than a blue super-girl. It would have been sort of cool if Owen had suddenly had weird hair and kinky boots. A goth-bdsm Owen would have been more in keeping with Torchwood, anyway.
Joseph Lidster, who wrote this episode, apparently heard the axiom, "Show don't tell," but misinterpreted it to mean, "Show at great length, and then tell." For example, we have a long sequence where Suicide Girl stumbles around the site of a car accident in her wedding dress, and it's spelled out very clearly that her husband died in a crash right after their wedding. But the Maggie has to explain a moment later that she was only married for an hour before a car crash claimed her new husband's life. And then there's the moment where Owen pantomimes not being able to give the breath of life to the dying old guy, because Owen is a zombie. And then Owen explains what's just happened at great length.
I'm not even going to talk about the hurt/comfort scene between Owen and Tosh at the end of the episode. Torchwood needs to get back to the real slashfic ASAP!
The one thing I give this episode credit for is that it didn't "fix" Owen. He's still a zombie, and probably will be for the rest of the season. (Although I bet that "he can't recover from injuries" thing will be severely downplayed. He'll probably just magically avoid getting injured somehow.) I seriously thought the weird alien device the dying old guy was clutching would turn out to be a magic Owen restoring machine. That might have made me need to stop watching Torchwood altogether, instead of just hugging myself and rocking back and forth in pain.