Adrift was the kind of episode that Torchwood should be doing week in week out, an episode that couldn’t be done in the Doctor Who universe unlike the previous episode, which with hindsight probably would have worked better in the parent series. I think the show works better when it does episodes that aren’t right for Doctor Who, but are right for Torchwood, otherwise you might as well have 13 more episodes of Doctor Who and have the Torchwood team in the main cast like UNIT were back in the seventies (which is something a lot of Doctor Who fans would prefer methinks!).
This is also one of the few episodes where the rift itself is central to the plot, and it is considered that the rift might not just let stuff in from other universes, but take people the other way as well. I would have thought that the chances of this happening were not as remote as they would have us believe, but perhaps nobody really noticed, or cared, until Gwen came along and asked the question? Well you never know!
One one level the story was just about a young lad who went missing and his mother’s unending search for the lad, and on another it is about the reality of life living on top of a space/time rift and the fact that sometimes it is better not to know the whole truth about things. After all they say ignorance is bliss and certainly by the end of the episode the boy’s mother was not full of the joys of springs at finding her son, rather the opposite in fact.
It was quite an interesting dilemma, because, on the one hand, Nikki (an excellent performance from Ruth Jones) wanted to know that Jonah was safe, but was not able to comprehend what he had turned into in, from her perspective, the seven months that he had been gone, rather than the decades that Jonah had spent on the other side of the rift, and she simply could not cope. I mean you do have to feel for her, as her kid was fifteen years old just seven months ago, and is now middle aged, scarred, bald and looks like the bloke who used to the paramedic in the first series of Casualty. I mean what would you do if that happened to you?
Captain Jack came across as a right bastard for most of this episode what with his indifference to Gwen’s insistence that it was the rift that had taken them, and that they hadn’t just disappeared. Note that he did not disagree that the rift might have had something to do with their disappearance at the time but his point about what could they do was a very valid one, because really, in all honesty, what could they have done, not knowing where they had gone or if they would ever return? The answer is nothing, nada, zilch.
Of course it turned out that Jack had known about it all along but had decided to keep it from the other members of Torchwood, well from Gwen at least. Perhaps the others knew about but wouldn’t have gone on a one woman crusade to reunite them with their loved ones like Gwen did, and I think that Jack knew that was what she would try to do, which is one of the reasons why he did it. He kept this fact from the rest of the team because he knew what might happen if they found out.
Once the place had been discovered he decided to let Gwen be hoist by own petard, as it were, and actually make things worse rather than making them better. His look at the end of the episode when Gwen was putting all of the files away spoke volumes. Jack is not the Doctor and sometimes he doesn’t have all the answers and can’t always help people, in the way that people think that he should be doing.
Chris Chibnall answered all of his critics with his script for this episode, which was the best episode he had written to date and easily one of the best Torchwood’s so far. I always knew that Chibnall was a good writer, and not the Anti-Christ as he has been to a lot of Torchwood and Doctor Who fans, and am glad that he was finally earned his spurs amongst fandom.
At the end of the episode when Gwen was in tears, so was my wife, and she was not the only one, as I found out when I looked on the Facebook Torchwood group the following day.