In the latest episode, someone wants Torchwood’s (ARGGHH!) attention and they are going about it in bloody style. Jack and company have to resurrect an old friend to get answers only to find she was one step ahead of them the whole time. The only way out of this is if they keep killing Suzie… Come on, that was a good use of the title in a sentence, wasn’t it?
For a good deal of Torchwood, (ARGGHH!) I feel like Max, their captive who goes nuts every time he hears the word “Torchwood” (ARGGHH!) Some of the episodes are magnificently well-written. Some are weak. And then there are some middle-of-the-road episodes that work in some ways but fail in others. It’s not that this episode fails in most respects; in fact, They Keep Killing Suzie is a strong episode for nearly the whole 50 minutes. I’d go so far as to say this should be a top contender for one of the best of the season except execution brings it down a bit and it has one enormous mistake. If not for the mistake, I’d probably have ignored the other complaints. The execution comes down to it being a very dark episode; not that there was anything else to speak of, but the glaring mistake… Gwen manages to use the Resurrection Glove to bring Suzie back but it’s slowly taking her life, healing Suzie and basically giving Gwen the same ailment the deceased had. (Hey, was this made by the same aliens in Babylon 5’s A Quality of Mercy?) The thing is, even if it’s able to heal Suzie’s head (who blew her brains out, mind you), if it’s giving Gwen that same death, even breaking the link shouldn’t suddenly heal the head wound!! She would have effectively developed a hole leading from her chin to the back of her head and her brains should be all over the place. I don’t think you get better from that quickly… read: at all! And I’m willing to accept that the glove was able to bring the brainless Suzie back from the dead, so I’m already giving this one a stretch, but that’s because I’m accepting a science that is nearly magical. (Hell, Suzie has been dead for 3 months too, so in all that time… you know… we’re already stretching credulity to begin with!)
On the other hand, the positives are very strong. Suzie knows she shot Jack in the head and he’s not able to die, so the question of who Jack is still haunts the series. But that’s nothing by comparison to Suzie’s description of the nothingness after death; it’s a philosophical goldmine and I love her comment about “driving through the dark” as an allegory for life. Why do aliens come here? Because they come to where there is life. It’s eerie, dark, sad and a little scary. I don’t buy it, but artistically it works. Then she says the first big thing that let’s us know there’s a bigger story going on behind the scenes: something’s moving in the dark. What, oh what, could that be? These elements are so strong that you have to admire Torchwood. ARGGHH!!
And then we flip back to the annoying elements that I might have ignored had it not been for the glaring issue. Owen slept with Suzie too? Jack had a boyfriend who walked in a room dramatically? Jack needs to call for help, but doesn’t try UNIT or even the other Torchoods? (ARGGHH!) And since when did Ianto, who loved his girlfriend Lisa just a few episodes ago, suddenly fancy Jack and promote weird sex acts with a stopwatch?!?! No wonder Max screams ever time someone says Torchwood! (ARGGHH!) (ARGGHH!) (ARGGHH!) (ARGGHH!) Forced, forced, forced, forced! And why!? None of it was needed and they added nothing to the story!
A few quick observations though. Gwen is the voice of practicality and I respect her belief that they have to take ownership because the deaths are a result of their actions. I really like Gwen as a character and think Eve Myles is awesome. Jack, who I also genuinely like, has this super-strange habit of holding his wrist. Watch when he pulls a gun: his left hand grabs his right wrist. Then notice when he’s using the glove on Suzie. Same action. Now pop over to Utopia and watch him working with the reactors. Does he have a bad wrist???
Again, this is a good episode and has a lot of meat on the proverbial bones. But on a philosophical level, the story shows there is nothing when we die; we go into the darkness, and that’s a tough sell from a series whose parent franchise is typically such a happy one. I sure wish they had gone with a happier ending. But I guess, this isn’t Doctor Who. This is Torchwood! (ARGGHH!) ML