Thursday, 16 May 2013

Review: Torchwood 2.5: Adam

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Torchwood - Series Two, Episode Five - Adam
Written 18/3/13

Ah, another adventure for the intrepid Torchwood crew. Handsome Jack, caring Gwen, sexy and confident Tosh, shy and nerdy Owen, dark and troubled Ianto and, that old favourite, Adam. And if you're thinking something's wrong with this picture, then you're cleverer than I am at writing article openers. Through what is a remarkably simple premise, the writers use this episode as a fun attempt at alternate character interpretation, as well as allowing us a pile of exposition for everyone involved - especially for Jack, helping to explain John Hart's final words to us back in the series premiere.
     Gwen returns home from a weekend in Paris with Rhys and finds a new guy, Adam (Bryan Dick, Being Human, Eric and Ernie), fully integrated into the team. A touch of the shoulder reveals that Adam can create false memories of himself, and he appears to have sculpted the crew around that. Gwen's encounter means she forgets Rhys, to his dismay. Owen and Tosh's roles have reversed, with Owen now an awkward nerd with a crush on sexy and confident Tosh, whom Adam has brainwashed into being his lover. When Ianto discovers that Adam doesn't appear in the record, he makes him think that he's a murderer. Despite Adam's mind-meddling having allowed him to remember his father and little brother Gray, he soon discovers Adam's true nature and gives the team amnesia pills in order to kill him.
     It's probably just my own double-standard, but the crush from Owen's end seems a damn sight more creepy than when it's the other way around. I loved seeing the alterations in the characters, and I think the actors relished the chance to play their characters in such differing ways. For me, it was a very clear demonstration of the sheer talent of Naoko Mori and Burn Gorman, who blend between those characterisations in a way which makes it clear that despite their personality changes, these are fundamentally the same people. I also loved the look into Jack's past, with some awesomely shot desert sets representing Jack's homeworld. Despite being a character with a long and varied history, this is the first and only time that we really get to see Jack's origins in any detail, and the desperation with which Barrowman delivers his pleas to remember his brother and father are heartbreaking. It's the kind of meaty drama that he gets a lot of in this series, and I'm glad for it because they're some of his best moments.
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Adam corrupts Jack's last good memory of his father.
     The titular villain is one I find a fascinating character. Character actor Bryan Dick delivers a wonderful performance which sways between confident people person and dark, sinister monster with a desperate streak a mile long. The way he brainwashes Tosh is tantamount to sexual assault, and that's the first in a series of dark and desperate actions that make Adam's villainy some of the most personal and vicious that I've seen in Torchwood. His dickery is such that although he gives the excuse that he needs people's memories to survive, he seems to just enjoy hurting too much for that excuse to have any leverage.
     Adam is one of the series' classic episodes, showcasing the ability of the actors and writers in a way which is both entertaining and profound. For once, keeping the sci-fi to a minimum and focussing exclusively on character allowed a lot of the cast to really shine, and it was really fun to see our characters working on so many different levels. And I'm repeating myself now, so I'll finish it there. Adam is really good, and if you haven't seen it already, go watch it.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: I get yet another three weeks of gushing about Martha Jones, as well as getting to review three of the best Torchwood episodes ever made. Looking forward to it... it's Reset.

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