The following contains MODERATE SPOILERS for “Sleepers,” the second episode of the second season of BBCs “Torchwood.”
“Torchwood” was always marketed as a science-fiction series for grown-ups. Whereas other shows were forced to contend with the banalities of pleasing the masses and censorship, the BBC promised that this series would be different. And, up until now, it has.
Unfortunately, with the move to BBC2, it looks like Torchwoods adult nature has been curtailed somewhat to no longer include the same levels of sexual innuendo and cursing, to instead focus more on adult-natured plotting. Sure, in the season premiere Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, we had plenty of the usual sexy goodness, but that was nothing compared to what we saw last year.
While Sleepers may have a serious lack of the above, it more than makes up for it with the intense and relatively fast-moving plot and intricate characterizations. After a robbery gone wrong, Torchwood soon uncovers an alien sleeper cell prepping an invasion of the planet.
Initially the episode saunters along, but after the interview begins and the Weevils come out to play, the real fun begins. Torchwood isnt about massive alien ships descending onto planet Earth with a plan to wipe out the human race on Christmas Day, its about something far more subtle and far more complex. And alien sleeper cells quietly gaining intelligence on our world for a future invasion is the perfect example. These aliens are far more sinister than any of the Whovian creature features we have previously seen because this time they are among us and they know us better than we know ourselves.
And best of all, none of it is over by the episodes end. It has only just begun.
The writing team has finally discovered who the members of team Torchwood really are and the dialogue is as rich and banterful as ever. James Moran clearly has a solid grasp as to who these people are and why they do what they do, and the episode is so much better for it.
The most surprising of all is Ianto has finally found a place other than the tea-boy and actually looks like he could one day lead the Cardiff branch of the alien hunters. David-Lloyd had some fantastic lines to deliver, including shivers, electric shocks and the delightfully sarcastic Hello? Anyone there? No, cause the phones arent working.
When he spoke to Airlock Alpha back in August, David-Lloyd said that fans could expect to see relationships developing on the series, hinting that Jack and Ianto may be at the center of it all. Sleepers included some fantastic mockery between the two that is surely only the beginning of a fun and interesting dynamic between them.
Gwen (Eve Myles) again proves that she is the most human of the team and just like last year Myles helps carry the episode along wonderfully.
The sequence as she and Jack (John Barrowman) reveal the truth to sleeper-agent Beth that she really is an alien invader is made incredibly moving thanks to the musical talents of Murray Gold. The score for the episode is one of its strongest assets makes the entire interview touching than expected. His skill carries over into the activation process for the alien sleeper agents as paramedics, husbands and chavs all awake to a new perspective.
What Didnt Work
Torchwood is a top-secret agency beyond the Government and outside of the police yet when they have a suspect, they immediately decide to parade them around their covert facility. It wouldnt work in the real world, and so amongst all the brilliantly executed scenes only works to diminish the goodness a little.
And its not like Russell T. Davies and his team to pass up a good clichÃ©, which prompts the question if there is a rule about burglars breaking and entering where they need to wear a black balaclava?
Above all though, is the still unexplained reason as to why Torchwood were called upon to look into the case — a violent stabbing is hardly the jurisdiction for a paranormal hit-squad.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Torchwood” stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Gareth David-Lloyd and Naoko Mori and airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. GMT on BBC 1, and then on at Saturday nights at 9 p.m ET on BBC America. “Sleepers” was written by James Moran and was directed by Colin Teague.
Alan Stanley Blair is the assistant news editor for Airlock Alpha and its sister site Rabid Doll. Contributing from his home country of Scotland, he is currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism and can be reached at anytime at