War Is All Women's Fault

Last night's episode of Torchwood masqueraded as yet another rift-in-time-OMG-snogging installment, but was trying to say something profound about war. So why, according to Torchwood, do we fight pointless wars like the one in Iraq? Apparently it's because men will do anything as long as you say to them: "You're my brave handsome hero and I need you." Too bad this crappy romance subplot let the show down once again. Spoilers ahoy!

As usual, we'll judge Torchwood's "To The Last Man" according to our handy checklist:

The naughtiness: Well, Tommy's an old-fashioned guy, having been cryogenically frozen in 1918 and woken up once a year since then. So maybe the whole peck on the lips with Toshiko, followed by an awkward night together, seemed naughty to him. Toshiko's romp with the telepathic lesbian last season was way hotter though. In general, there was no chemistry between Tosh and Tommy, and she kept getting a facial expression like she couldn't wait to get back to her equipment.


Plus the whole bit where she had to cajole him into sacrifice his life, which was set up in our clip, was just so pukey. Really. Men die for women's wiles? That's the message we want to send?

How gay was it? There's one scene of Captain Jack and Ianto making out, which looks completely tacked on. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't in the original script. It was as if somebody said, "Wait, there's no gayness!" Or maybe this is what happens when you start planning on having kid-friendly versions of each episode.


Who gets laid? Only Toshiko and popsicle boy. It really doesn't feel like Torchwood.

The drama: If you ignore the romance, and Toshiko cajoling Tommy to commit suicide, it's actually quite powerful stuff. Just like last week, the guest-star acts rings around the main cast. The concept, of a World War I soldier who's seen the last 90 years go by in a few months, is actually quite nice. But of course, the final dilemma makes no sense. Tommy faces a choice between going back to 1918 and dying, or staying in 2008 and dying... along with everyone else on Earth. Either way, he dies. But the fact that we know he doesn't die in battle, but instead gets executed for "cowardice" because of his shellshock, makes his plight way more gripping.

Was there a plot? Yes, and it made absolutely no sense. Sorry. Once again, Torchwood waves around rifty-wifty timey-whimey storylines and we all scratch our heads. How exactly could Tommy repair the hole in time? And how would the Torchwood people of 1918 (who looked way cooler than the present-day versions) have known to freeze Tommy, so he could pop up in 2008 and then tell them to freeze him? There has to be some original piece of causation that leads to Tommy being frozen, or the whole thing falls down.

Will the kid-friendly edited version make sense to anybody? Yes.


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Charlie Jane Anders

@Jim (The Canuck One): Sorry, I should start linking to a post that explains that reference. Season two of Torchwood is showing in two versions on UK TV: first, a "grownup" version late at night. And then a few days later, an edited version early in the evenings for kids. Here in the US, we're getting a slightly shorter version of the "grownup" episodes, edited to allow commercials but not edited for content. My theory is they're writing the episodes so that the kid-friendly edited version will actually make sense. So any sexual stuff can't be crucial to the plot.