Torchwood: They Keep Killing Suzie

To quote Sean Alexander :’Complete tosh, obviously. But for once entertaining tosh.’ I fully agree with what Sean is saying here. I am not pretending that Torchwood is perfect (which it isn’t. Nothing is, not even Doctor Who), but I do enjoy it, and this week I enjoyed it once again.

To me it is one of the best things on television at the moment, not that you have to agree with me of course. My girlfriend, who is half-and-half about Torchwood (and was a big fan of the first series of Doctor Who but not so much of the second series) said to me at the end of the first episode that she didn’t think that was the last we would see of Suzie, and she was right. I had to admit at the time I wasn’t as sure as she was about it, but then again I don’t always notice the obvious. It did seem a bit strange at the time to have her on the front cover of the Radio Times as a regular character if they were just going to kill her off in the first episode.

In my first review I said that I thought it was good that they were able to do that, to prove that not any character was safe from dying in any episode (well apart from Jack that is) and I still think it was a good thing that they did it, but bringing her back for an episode was also a good thing.

It is not uncommon is science-fiction for previously dead characters to come back at random intervals (although strangely not that often on Doctor Who), and in the glove, or ‘the risen mitten’ as Ianto dubbed it, they had a good enough reason to bring her back without having to go into a lengthy explanation of how it happened. Here we knew that the glove could bring people back to life, so why couldn’t they bring her back to life if they wanted to, not that they probably would have wanted to if they could have helped it I would imagine.

I did wonder how they were going to get around the time limit thing on the glove, but again here it was part of the plot, why Suzie could be resurrected for longer than just two minutes, because it would have made for a very short episode if they had. It could have been possible with the episode being called They Keep Killing Suzie that they would just resurrect her for two minutes then have to do it again and again, killing her each time, but as she was already dead that wouldn’t really work would it as you can hardly kill someone who is already dead. Being Science Fiction it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t make completely sense in the real world but perhaps even that would be pushing the silly stakes a bit high.

Suzie’s plan was a little convoluted, if I’m being honest, I mean killing yourself so that you can be resurrected three months later just in time for her to kill her dying father. She would have to have been very sure that this would have happened otherwise her plan would have failed, but you could say that if anyone knew the way Torchwood worked then she did, as she was the second in command before her betrayal.

I liked the fact that Gwen seems to have replaced Suzie in every way possible and I must admit that with Suzie and Owen, I would never have put two and two together on that one. Perhaps there were more discreet than his is being with Gwen at the moment, as Tosh didn’t seem particularly jealous of Suzie, so I am not sure that she knew that they were knocking each other off.

That was quite a nice bit of characterisation there and also some nice internal continuity for the series. In fact by now if you didn’t already know that this was a Doctor Who spin-off, I am not sure that you would be able to tell that it was. There was precious little links to the parent series in this episode (and the past few episodes to be honest) and that is the way it should be, after all you don’t need to have watched Doctor Who to appreciate Torchwood and conversely you don’t have to watch Torchwood in order to appreciate Doctor Who, they are complete separate entities and are all the better for it.

I thought the episode was very well written, considering it was written by two complete newcomers (Paul Tomalin & Dan McCulloch), but the episode smacks far too much of RTD and the first episode to have been solely written by the two newcomers. For one thing this was a sequel to the first episode and there were quite a few of RTD’s trademarks in the episode, most notably the view that there is nothing after death, and not bright lights etc and some very funny lines.

The acting honours in the episode went to Indira Varma who was excellent as the slightly scary and definitely mad Suzie Costello and by the end of the episode you were glad that Jack pumped her full of lead and killed her off once and for all (or not as the case may be) after what she did to Gwen. Yasmin Bannerman was good in her brief role as Detective Swanson (very much the Gwen type character of this episode) and even though only John Barrowman and Eve Myles had much to do in this episode of the regulars and both of them were strong as they were in the first episode of the series.

Ianto had precious little to do as usual but he got the best lines in this episode. I wasn’t too sure about the final scenes between Ianto and Jack although I am pretty sure that was put in to please the slash fans that have being hoping that Jack and Ianto would get it together. I didn’t have the faintest idea what they were implying until I thought about it.

As for Owen and Tosh, well they did at least get some decent lines and Tosh was the one who came up with the idea of using the ISBN number (and was the person who destroyed the glove as well), which I didn’t think was as dumb as it sounded. Someone suggested that they could just have got the poems online and looked up the ISBN number of there as well. True they could have done that but that wouldn’t have been very dramatic would it? It also made sense within the episode itself, as they need the exact same copy of the said text that Suzie had, as that was what she would have used in the first place when planning the lock down.

I won’t lie and say I thought this was the best episode of Torchwood, but it was a very strong episode, very dark and atmospheric, and was well directed by James Strong. It kept my attention for the full fifty minutes and had me engaged throughout which means that, for me, at least, the episode worked and I look forward to the last five episodes with anticipation.

Originally posted on Dec 08, 2006