Wow. I could have chosen any one of the 500 cheesy soap opera moments from last night's episode of the BBC's alien-hunting show Torchwood, and then made fun of it for five paragraphs. But any show that can pull off such a spot-on riff on Peter Jackson's Dead Alive pretty much gets a free pass from me. (It does lose points by having Captain Jack reference the wrong movie right afterwards. WTF?) This scene was almost enough to make me forgive the rest of the episode. Almost.
Actually, I guess it's not a perfect Dead Alive homage, because Rhys is using a chainsaw (hence the Evil Dead mention) instead of a lawn mower. But still. Here's an alien shapeshifter, who's taken the form of Rhys' mom and then turned all monstrous, and she's been making Rhys' wedding day hell. So there's something awesome about watching Rhys get ready to tear her to pieces. And possibly slightly Freudian as well.
Gosh: Torchwood, Freudian? Who ever would have guessed?
Speaking of which, our shapeshifter also gave us our first bit of alien sex in god knows how long. She disguised herself as a hawt babe and seduced some groomsman at the wedding, before disemboweling him during sex. It was a fairly low-key scene by Torchwood season one standards, but racy compared to the rest of season two.
There were also a couple of moments between our bride and groom, Gwen and Rhys, when I actually believed they cared about each other, mostly thanks to some decent acting from Kai Owen. And a few of the bits where Gwen insisted on getting married, even if everyone she knows dies as a result, were sort of touching as long as you didn't think things through.
Okay. Now i've run out of nice things to say about the episode. The other 95 percent of it was pretty rough going. You knew it was going to be bad when Gwen had the world's tackiest bachelorette party, featuring three women we've never seen before and will never see again. And then she's mysteriously pregnant the next day, and immediately we go straight to the jokes about raging hormones and eating pickles out of the jar.
And then sadly we're back to the Torchwood-is-incompetent schtick. They let Gwen go ahead with her wedding, despite the fact that she's "pregnant" with some kind of horrendous alien parasite and there may be other monsters looking for her. (Speaking of which, why does the alien's egg wind up in Gwen's stomach? Why not her chest? Or her arm, where she was actually bitten?) They let the second shapeshifter get away about 500 times, and keep getting themselves into situations where they don't know who's the shapeshifter and who's the real person. You'd think after the fifth or sixth time they get confused, they would round up all the bystanders. And then there's the fact that Owen's best plan is to use his explodey device, which only works when it absolutely has to. (And he forgets that he can't operate it due to his stupid hand-smashing ways.)
But mostly, this was Exhibit A for why Torchwood season two has too much crying, and not enough shagging. (I mean, it would be nice if the show had more than those two things to offer, as it did in "Meat" and "Reset." But sex and whining seem to be the two choices most of the time.)
Eve Myles' eyes have never been bigger than they got several times in this episode. It's her mutant power, making her eyes grow to the size of eggplants, while pouting.
Things about Torchwood that my suspension of disbelief can't encompass: I don't believe Jack and Gwen love each other, or even care for each other that much. I don't really believe Tosh is that into Owen. I no longer believe there's anything going on between Jack and Ianto, and it seems increasingly likely that Jack is actually straight and Ianto is a sort of reverse-beard for him. Most of all, I don't believe that anybody would trust any of these people to contain themselves, much less an alien threat.
But I do believe that Rhys and Gwen care about each other, so in some sense this episode should be counted as a success. Sort of.