Thursday, 23 May 2013

Review: Torchwood 2.6: Reset
Martha joins the team as Owen practices
with the Singularity Scalpel.
Torchwood - Series Two, Episode Six - Reset
Written between 21st and 23rd March 2013

And thus begins four more weeks of Martha-based gushing here at Nostalgia Filter, as I manage to expertly line up Martha's reappearances in both Torchwood and in the main show. And although this trilogy of Torchwood stories is centred more on Owen, this first part is most definitely an attempt to put Martha's character to work in a much more gritty environment. Well, I say gritty. There are time in Reset when I feel like I've switched over to CSI Miami, where the plot is incredibly condensed exposition for a good half-hour and characters who'd usually be making jokes every five seconds are talking seriously about issues that are resolved five seconds later.
     Martha arrives on the scene on Jack's request, to help investigate a string of deaths in South Wales all related to a hypodermic syringe to the eye. The deaths are part of a conspiracy, that the team discover through a survivor is linked to a drug called Reset, which seems to remove all pathogens and mutations from the body. The distributor, the Pharm, has been killing the research students because of the unfortunate side effect of the drug - it causes alien larvae to grow inside the person, killing them. Martha elects herself to sneak into the Pharm with the brand-new (but later to be re-used in Children of Earth and Miracle Day) contact lens cameras, but she's caught by institute leader Aaron Copley (Alan Dale, or as I call him, Charles Widmore) who uses her as an advanced test subject due to her time-travel enhanced immune system. The gang rush in and shut down the facility, as well as saving Martha's life using some alien tech, but as the alien subjects are euthanised Copley arrives and kills Owen with a shot to the heart.
     The first half of the episode is very condensed, bearing much more resemblance to later series' and their affinity for spy dramas like Spooks and 24. There's a particular scene in a corridor where Gwen and Martha are talking completely seriously in almost complete exposition, and it feels completely unnatural to hear. That isn't to say that the concepts themselves are bad - the entire concept behind Reset freaked the shit out of me when I first saw it, and the line between the Pharm's unregulated scientific exploration and Jack's compassionate protectionism is nicely stroked. But it just didn't feel like Torchwood in the way that it was written.
Owen removes an adolescent Mayfly.
     I did however love the episode's relationships, all of which were written in a very captivating way. I wouldn't say that Martha fits perfectly into the team, but she does bounce off of the others with a great deal of competancy. Jack is the fun big brother, Gwen is the girly best mate, and Owen is a flirty colleague with whom she has a great deal of chemistry. Elsewhere, and for the sheer bittersweetness of it all, Owen agrees to go on a date with Tosh just before he goes off and dies. Owen and Tosh's relationship is very subtle; while he often seems ignorant to her pining (especially in the first series), there are often signs that he either reciprocates those feelings (as in Adam) or is at least is willing to try.
     Owen's death leads us into a series of episodes that both tug on the heartstrings and feature some outstanding acting, writing and direction. The first part of what may informally be called the "Martha Trilogy" did have a rampant pace and a lot of great ideas, but a lot of the time it seemed to forget that it was Torchwood and not some flashy spy drama on Sky One. Despite that, it's still fun and it's a good start to the mid-season arc.


NEXT WEEK: Gloves come in pairs. How will Owen react when he becomes a Dead Man Walking?

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