The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “Meat,” the fourth episode from the second season of BBCs “Torchwood.”
Since “Torchwood” made its initial launch in 2006, the personal life of Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) has always been one of the focus points of the series. As the only one of the team with any connections to the real world, Gwen tended to inherit most of the personal risk from alien adventures, providing some very real consequences should things go wrong.
In Meat, Gwens loyalties are tested after a motorway accident leaves a truck from her fiancÃ©e Rhys(Kai Owen) haulage company sprawled across the road : and packed full of black market alien meat. Is he part of the back alley operation or completely oblivious to the hack and pack job?
Rhys has always been an enjoyable character to have around in the background, but this episode gives him a chance to step into the spotlight for a change and prove he has what it takes to carry a story. The only long-term downside of it all is that the fun of keeping secrets and concealing her double life is gone.
With stories of aliens invading Earth, it is refreshing to have an encounter that is the other way around. This fishy creature came through the rift and was exploited and brutally mutilated by the first humans it meets, which is perhaps why the brutal scenes at the abattoir and the whale-like moans of agony from the beast tug on a few heartstrings.
Jack (John Barrowman) helps this process along as he welcomes it to planet Earth and discovers the truth about his friends sentience and helped sell the tale, preventing it from becoming a complete flop. It is just unfortunate that the animal was so poorly conceived of and brought to life.
Rhysreaction to Gwens admission of Torchwood and the existence of aliens was perhaps the most realistic that the genre has produced. In too many shows these days characters accept the truth of alien life far too easily but piss off captures the reality of the situation perfectly.
Meats highlight was definitely the final debate between Gwen and Jack over the fate of the clued-up Rhys. Both provided powerful performances that did slightly justify some of the episodes silliness : even if it is a small disappointment that the good Capt. didnt go over her head and retcon Rhys himself.
And finally, the episode includes a little more cursing than the last few weeks – I was beginning to think Torchwood had been cut for good.
What Didnt Work
After some impressive character storytelling last week, Tosh (Naoko Mori) is back to her usual pining over Owen (Burn Gorman) and is shit on at every turn. It wasnt pleasant to watch last season and following the events of The Last Man with Tommy her affections seem even more out of place and unwanted. Mori has so much more to give this series and it is painful to watch her relegated to unrequited love status.
There may have been some impressive camera sweeps, pull back motions and side pans to reveal the massive devastated alien, but none of this can hide the truth for long: the creature is basically a giant, moaning turd sitting in the middle of a warehouse. The normal elaborate creature design was gone leaving behind a large lump of putty with eyes.
As the creature freaks out when Torchwood burst in the door the show looses all credibility when the special effects become B-rate at best and ridiculous at worst. Even the falling barrels, crates and boxes looked like they were being prodded by an off-screen rod which only further detracted from the scene and ruined any possibility that the ending of the episode could be taken seriously.
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. “Meat” was written by CatherineTregenna 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