The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for "Adrift," the eleventh episode of the second season of BBC?s "Torchwood."
What makes ?Torchwood?s? wild and outrageous adventures so powerful is that there is always a face to the victim. In this case, a worried mother (Ruth Jones) missing her son with no clue as to what is really going on in Cardiff.
Gone are the opening inconsistencies of the last few episodes, and from the opening scenes, ?Adrift? builds towards a very singular story: missing persons in Cardiff and possibility that Torchwood may have something to do with it.
The episode slowly builds from a curiosity of one missing teenager and as the families of the city?s other missing persons start flooding in, it becomes clear that there is more going on that just one isolated incident. The rift is snatching people out of their lives and leaving their families adrift without them.
Writer Chris Chibnall is a master of his trade, as through all of the distrust, the suspicions and mixed agendas is a very human and emotional story with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) at the heart of it. This is the kind of story that Myles should be working with ... not some silly stories of weddings and alien pregnancies.
?Adrift? is hard hitting, edgy and explores much bleaker and darker avenues to life in Torchwood. Sporting strong performances all-round, particularly from Myles who is able to show so many facets to Gwen thanks to some very clever character writing on the part of Chris Chibnall. Pinning up the case files on the wall was slightly reminiscent of her integration into the team in ?Day One,? and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) going behind Jack?s (John Barrowman) back to help her was a perfect turn of events.
Gwen and Rhys? (Kai Owen) talk of Andy?s crush, and later the debate on the personal cost of being a hero. This is something many shows tend to ignore -- Gwen is protecting people and fighting to make the world a safer place but in doing so she is not part of the living. ?Angel? touched on some of these threads through the meta-story and vampire mythology but nothing on the scale of this.
It was also great to see Gwen and P.C. Andy (Tom Price) hunting down missing Jonah with the possibility that the group tasked with arming and protecting the human race may have a hand in their disappearance. There has always been considerable distrust of Jack due to his mysterious and secretive life, but as the audience we know all about his exploits as the Doctors companion and have seen glimpses of his tenure as a Time Agent. But with no prior knowledge of Jack?s real agenda with the missing people it is relatively easy to forget that he is one of the good guys.
And to the shows credit, in the end of the whole adventure there is no way to make everything all right. This is something that cannot be fixed, healed or mended. And that is also the episodes greatest failing because by the end of the encounter you will want to see a happy ending. There was something so touching and so moving about the scenes as Jonah?s mum packs away all of his belongings, remembering the son she once knew. The most shocking thing of all is that in the final moments Gwen took away her hope. And without hope she is simply adrift.
What Didn?t Work
In an adult-themed series like ?Torchwood,? happy endings are a rarity that helps make the show what it is ? adult, compulsively watchable and grounded in reality. Unfortunately, in the case of ?Adrift? you will be screaming for a happy ending that will never come.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Torchwood" stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Gareth David-Lloyd and Naoko Mori and now airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. GMT on BBC 2 with next episode showings on BBC 3, and then on at Saturday nights at 9 p.m ET on BBC America. "Adrift" was written by Chris Chibnall and was directed by Mark Everest.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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