When Torchwood moved to the big time on BBC-1, the biggest question was, will there still be raciness and nudity? And now we have our answer: Captain Jack bares all. But episode two's real stars are two women. Spoilers ahead!
So yes, Captain Jack has never been quite as exposed as he was in part two of "Children Of Earth," where he was stripped down to just a teeny scrap of flesh, and then slowly rebuilt into a dessicated corpse.
And of course, if your taste in nudity extends beyond people's exposed circulatory systems and bones, you had to be a bit happy that the fully reassembled Jack pops up quite a bit as well. (Although I'm basing this on the screeners I got, which were the British version. No clue if any of that got cut for U.S. audiences.) The glimpse of Jack's full-frontal nudity, as flashed on a surveillance camera, is three of the most popular images right now at the Medusa Cascade.
What was it a wise man once said? "Ladies, your viewing figures just went up."
I especially liked Gwen handing Naked Jack a coat, and him tossing it over his shoulder while he walks, still naked, to the car.
Oh, and there was also Naked Rhys, which also has proved one of the most popular screencaps from the episode.
But honestly, episode two of "Children Of Earth" isn't really Jack's hour, since he's dead or entombed for most of it.
In many ways, the star of this episode was Lois, the new character who we only just met yesterday. Internet chatter claims that Russell T. Davies wrote in Lois because Freema Agyeman wasn't available to reprise her role as Martha Jones. If that's true, then I'm actually sort of glad that Agyeman had to bow out. (Not that it wouldn't have been great to see both of them in action.)
In any case, Lois really shines in the second episode of "Children Of Earth," going beyond the naive ingenue who took a bit of advantage of her boss' password in the first episode and becoming a full-on rebel. We get to see her putting two and two together, and realizing just what that mysterious explosion in Cardiff was, and then slowly coming around to helping Gwen and Rhys, when she talks to Gwen on the phone. And she's immediately super resourceful — almost too resourceful, since she hands Gwen a rescue plan for Captain Jack on a silver plate. But on balance, the whole thing makes me like her immediately.
The other standout last night was Action Gwen, who was the least wet and useless she's ever been. The role of two-gun bad-ass really suits Gwen, baby bump and all, and I liked seeing her ruthless streak in dealing with her would-be kidnappers in the ambulance.
Her relationship with Rhys has never felt so natural as it does here, and watching the two of them team up to escape the Cardiff dragnet is pretty awesome. It brings them together in a way that hours of processing and relationship wrangling never could.
And poor PC Andy, having his faith in Gwen's inherent goodness and purity tested so much.
Meanwhile, Ianto has an even rougher time, since he doesn't have a Rhys to depend on, and the man he loves has been blown up from the inside out. He's all battered and bruised, and doesn't know where to turn. The bit where he thinks the baddies have caught up to him, and it's just a newspaper delivery van, was pretty heart-rending.
But at least Ianto was forced to open up a wee bit to his sister, and tell her a teeny amount about what exactly his fancy civil-service job involves. And yes, it was a bit of an outrageous coincidence that Ianto shows up busts Jack's concrete slab out at the exact same moment that Gwen and Rhys' "fake undertaker" scam has been rumbled, and he saves the day in his little construction vehicle. But it's the sort of coincidence that Doctor Who and Torchwood have been serving up for decades, so we pretty much have to let it slide.
Meanwhile, we learned a bit more about the aliens, the 456, who are getting built up as an ominous mystery in a way that virtually no other Who aliens have been in decades, if ever. They're genuinely alien and incomprehensible to our feeble human brains. But at least we do know what atmosphere they require for their special chamber — although, as Dekker says, it's not clear if they breathe it, eat it or fart it. And is their chamber an ambassadorial suite, a throne room or a slaughter house? Or all three, depending?
Dekker is definitely my other favorite character. I mean, Frobisher is mesmerizing, as you watch him kiss up to the repulsive prime minister, lie to his wife and kids (The "We want a pony!" chanting was priceless) and depend utterly on the devotion of Bridget Spears. But Dekker is a brilliant character study too — his whole philosophy is based around keeping his head down and letting other people stand out front. He's just one of the cockroaches of government — but in that role, he's also a bit of a court jester, like when he tells Spears she's been holding her nose for years now. He seems to think as long as he never actually takes on any prominence, he can jab all he wants at the people above him.
"Exactly," he says at the end. "Why is that, Mr. Frobisher?" A bit of a mocking smile on his lips. And then he walks up and presses his face to the glass, letting his breath further obscure the already inscrutable fog. Awesomely ominous stuff.
So what did you think? (Without any spoilers for parts three through five, please!)