I really enjoyed Countrycide. I thought it was the strongest episode of Torchwood to date. Perhaps it is because I really enjoy all the horror films that this episode is based upon (you could name several films that this could be seen to have been inspired by Cabin Fever, Evil Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jeepers Creepers to name but a few) and you cannot say that Doctor Who never based entire stories on other sources. I mean look at the Philip Hinchcliffe era! Although that is Doctor Who which can steal plot lines and ideas and it obviously doesn’t matter.

I thought the direction was taut and always interesting and I thought the music was used to good effect to give the episode plenty of tension and you were able to believe the characters were out in the open and not sure what was going to happen next.

I personally didn’t find the episode scary, particularly gory but then again I am used to watching horror films and this sort of thing just doesn’t bother me. Both my girlfriend and our friend’s wife, who watched it with us, spent most of the time watching the episode through their fingers and were genuinely freaked by the episode and it made them jump at several moments. Surely the episode can be said to have done its job on that alone!

My girlfriend said she never wanted to watch it again; not because it was a bad episode, mind you, but because she just doesn’t like blood and gore and this episode had plenty of both and it simply wasn’t her cup of tea. Now me on the other hand I love this kind of stuff so this episode was perfect for my tastes and I do have to say that I enjoyed it immensely, it was sick but there were some funny moments and I thought it was genuinely tense throughout.

I know that this episode (and this whole show come to that) is not to a lot of people’s taste but I would have to give it top marks. I genuinely don’t have any problems with this episode and with some of things that marked it out for a few people on OG. For instance one person, and I quote, said that this episode “glorified sexual aggression” and that Owen ‘virtually raped Gwen in the woods” and best of all “The glorification of casual dalliance and the contempt for monogamous relationships”. I mean WTF?

Now on all of these points, I don’t really think that the episode glorified ‘sexual aggression’ at all, or for that matter glorified ‘casual dalliance”. The character of Owen may be sexually aggressive and yes he did get the girl in the end, but that doesn’t mean that the series is glorifying it, does it?

You can hardly say that Gwen was almost raped either because she was making no attempt at all to fight him off. I am sure that rape is categorised as forced sex, and there is no way that Gwen was being forced in anyway. If anything she was gagging for it, and quite possible would have shagged him there and then if they hadn’t been disturbed, so how anyone can say that he was virtually raping her is beyond me.

The character of Owen is one of the most hated things about the series it seems but I would say that he is quite typical of some men of his age and to be honest I am not sure why people have a problem with him, there are plenty of blokes out there who are just like him.

Perhaps it is the fact that they don’t like characters like him in a programme linked to a family show, rather than any real gripe against the character per se. Or perhaps it is the fact that he is a worryingly real character when compared to the characters they are used to watching on a regular basis and just can’t accept that fact. I am not sure.

There must be a reason surely? I mean Torchwood isn’t Doctor Who and it’s not pretending to be so why the problem with this show having characters who are more amoral than moral when it’s not even being aimed at the same audience?

I am pleased to say that Tosh had a lot more to do in the episode and to my mind it is about bloody time. I was getting sick of seeing her behind a desk all the time to be honest. The scenes when she was trapped in that cellar with Ianto show that she is more than just a computer geek and I hope that after this we see much more of Tosh in action (that will be next week I think). She even got to play the usual victim type character in all the horror movies by running around in a tight vest top and being all sweaty.

Even Ianto was having a fair bit of the action in this episode. He is certainly the most emotional of the lead characters and seems to be the only one who doesn’t really seem to actually enjoy what they do. Gwen is starting to get more aware of the danger of what they do know but you can tell that she gets the rush of it and actually enjoys her new position in life, well apart from having her house raided last week and now getting shot most of the time, although after this episode I am not all that sure.

To be honest this was really the first episode where all of the characters had an equal portion of the action and it just wasn’t the Gwen and Jack show as it was last week, which was nice, and all of the regular actors gave good performances (particularly Eve Myles in the scenes after she had been shot). We get even more layers to the character of Captain Jack and he is certainly different to the bloke we met in the first series of Doctor Who.

I think people forget that Jack was actually a conman when we first me him and he couldn’t really be like he is at the moment in a programme aimed at a family audience can we. Only here are we probably seeing Jack’s true nature, coupled with the fact that he seemingly can’t die and does seem a little pissed off at the world and I think the Doctor. It is going to be explosive when they do meet again but you know that Jack will be back to his old self in the Who more or less because Jack’s adventures in Torchwood are only going to be, at best, paraphrased in Doctor Who.

At least with Torchwood you get the impression that any of the lead characters could die at any moment and for a while you could have believed that she might not make it out of the episode alive, the same with Tosh when she was nearly throttled! Well if you hadn’t read the synopses for the following episodes anyway! There was plenty of good character work in this episode and, while a lot of people don’t like the lead characters, I actually am beginning to like them more and more as the weeks go by and do find them all very likable.

It was actually nice that the episode wasn’t all about aliens in the end and was just about people doing horrible things to other people. I don’t think it would have been as interesting if they had discovered it to be aliens in the end, it would have been easier to get away with and easier to explain away by Jack at the end, but, because it was humans doing what they were doing it makes it even more disturbing than it otherwise would have been.

I am not going to say that Countrycide was perfect, because it wasn’t; it was tosh yes, but enjoyable tosh at that. However, I did enjoy it and I do believe that the series is going from strength to strength. Long may it continue…

Originally posted on Nov 23, 2006