Adrift

touchwoodWhen Adrift started, I was a little let down to see that Chris Chibnall wrote the episode.  I have lost faith in his writing recently and had forgotten that when it comes to human drama, he actually can write.  Adrift introduces us to Nicki and her missing son Jonah.  Jonah went missing at the start of the episode, but it was 7 months earlier from the point Gwen gets involved. The rest of the episode is about Gwen trying to bring hope to Nicki by helping to find her son.

As episodes go, this isn’t big-time science fiction, although I did like the concept that the rift could pull people in as much as deposit things out.  It’s a very human story about people who go missing and it’s a strong episode.  In almost every episode of this series, I have been able to find some flaw that has taken me out of the story, but the truth is, I really struggled to find any with this one.  I think the only issue I had with this can be easily explained.  The thing is, Gwen does find Jonah and he’s not the man he was.  He was a boy of about 17 and is now a desperately scarred man of about 45 who watched a solar system burn.  So Gwen pushes to allow Nicki to come see her son and after a heartbreaking denial, Nicki realizes she has found him.  The trouble is she wants to take Jonah home but he begins screaming, as he does for 20 hours of every day; a raw, primal scream that tears Nicki’s soul out.  Hope is destroyed for her as she sees what has become of her child.  The issue I had with this is that Jack should have told Gwen, so Gwen could have told Nicki.  And while I do think it would have been the right thing to do, I think Jack knows he has to let Gwen fail before she does this to all of those who have lost people; a group we find to be quite large in Cardiff.  As he says, “some things we can’t fix.”  It’s truly a sad episode but it’s incredibly acted on all counts.

Among the great performances, Rhys gets furious with Gwen because she says having children is a “dead conversation” yet I believe he’s justified in everything he says.  She’s fighting so people can live their lives; real lives!  That’s the whole point of what Torchwood does.  Andy gets some fun moments too, but I felt badly for him because he’s finally being fleshed out more and Gwen doesn’t treat him very well.  I did enjoy his referring to Jack as “Mulder” though and his outrageous line that “you have a face like a slapped arse”.  (I confess, I’ve no idea how to interpret that!)  But it’s Andy’s comment to Gwen that really motivates her, “you’ve got hard.”  It’s his words that sends her looking for Jonah.  Andy also asks if there might be any vacancies in Torchwood and I really thought that was foreshadowing the fact that Owen is effectively a zombie and would have to be replaced but Gwen says she would not recommend Andy for a job with them.  She doesn’t want to see Andy turn cold, as he accuses her.

I think Jack is the toughest character to like in this episode because he does keep things secret from Gwen.  One thing about building a strong team is that there has to be communication between its members.  Trust builds that bond between people; keeping secrets weakens teams.  Jack’s intentional secrecy ends up hurting not only Nicki but Gwen as well.  He could have spared her by explaining things rather than shutting her down.  All he really did was incite her to action.  Gwen knew the hope of finding Jonah was driving Nicki and in the end Nicki hates Gwen for taking away hope and replacing it with a cruel certainty.  If anything, Jack owes Gwen for the sorrow she caused because through communication, it could have been avoided.

The story ends with a sweet epilogue for Gwen and Rhys.  She’s ready to entertain a future with children.  At least there’s a glimmer of light in an otherwise dark and deeply disturbing episode.  And Chibnall gets a gold star for a powerhouse episode.  ML

This entry was posted in Doctor Who, Entertainment, Reviews, Science Fiction, Spinoffs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Adrift

  1. scifimike70 says:

    It’s episodes like this can remind us of how Torchwood can be a curse for its ensemble cast. It’s an inversion of UNIT which, even for its shares of losses of conflicting dramas, had a feel-good element about saving the world. Gwen and Rhys are the dramatic anchor for Torchwood with how they’re both emotionally heightened by family issues. It’s enough to make us afterwards re-watch and re-enjoy Downtime for how the Brigadier beautifully reunited with Kate and finally met his grandson Gordon.

    Thanks, ML, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought this was a good, unsettling episode, but it unfortunately relies on Jack being incredibly secretive and not just coming out and explaining to Gwen what is actually going on and trusting that she will do the right thing once she understands the full picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Couldn’t agree more, and I think it really lets the series down. I think by now Jack should now how to keep a team engaged as a team. I’m not hundreds of years old (or am I?) and I’ve learned the trick! ML

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Impossible Blog says:

    I’m currently rewatching Series 2 of Torchwood with my wife who has never seen it before and I’ve not rewatched Torchwood for a while. I don’t think I really “got” Adrift until I’d watched it again – I thought of it as one of the weaker episodes, but as I’ve got older I think I appreciate it more.

    Like you say this is a powerhouse and Ruth Jones is very good here as Nicki. I agree with what you (and Ben) have said about Jack. Rewatching the show as a whole, I keep seeing things that must have come up as issues for Jack with previous Torchwood teams but he always acts surprised when he gets called out on some of his behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Thanks for jumping in and sharing your thoughts. Stick with us! I’ll be covering the rest of the series over the coming weeks.
      Yes, I agree; this series has had a lot more second-viewing revelations than on my first. I realize a lot of the episodes which don’t advance the series, were still powerhouse stand-alone stories and that makes them impressive. This one was really quite good. The ending of this season was also powerhouse stuff and completely unexpected to me. And then we have Children of Earth, which I remember as being stunning! Can’t wait to rewatch those… We’ll see how they hold up. ML

      Liked by 1 person

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