Torchwood Torchwood Guide


Another character piece, but a vast improvement on the preceding 'Random Shoes', 'Out of Time' benefits from having three strong supporting characters, who in turn are used to develop three of the regulars to good effect. Portraying Torchwood as a group of trans-temporal social workers, trying to help three displaced people, could have been dreadfully cloying and sentimental, but a thoughtful script by Catherine Tregenna and solid, but restrained direction from Alice Troughton, make it succeed.

The plot of 'Out of Time' concerns three travellers dragged through time when their aircraft flies into the rift, desperately trying to cope with their situation. Some humour is derived from this scenario (for example Diane asking "what does that mean?" when she sees the Smoking Kills warning on a cigarette packet), but this is not Adam Adamant Lives!; after the initial scenes of the trio learning about the wonders of the present day, it gives way to darker emotions, as John discovers that his son has dementia and ultimately decides to commit suicide, and Diane breaks Owen's heart and flies off, with only Emma seeming to ultimately adjust as she heads off to London in the end, brimming with excitement about the future.

Partly, this works because the three characters work, and partly because each is essentially partnered with one of the regulars, to develop their characters in the process. Louise Delamere' Diane is sassy, independent, and brave and in fact sufficiently more interesting than Toshiko and even Gwen that it is shame that she doesn't become a regular. She's actually ideal Doctor Who companion material, keen to witness new wonders and telling Owen that if the rift won't take her back and that there is no way home, "Then it'll take me somewhere new." More significant is the effect that she has on Owen, who gets a very good episode here and some much-needed development that will set him up for the rest of the series, as he falls in love for possibly the first time and gets his heart-broken. The fact that his previous relationship with Gwen is ignored does rather give the series an uneven feel, but nevertheless there are some nice moments such as when Diane pointedly waits for him to pull out her chair and when she asks (possibly anachronistically) who all his beauty products belong to, and he gets a relationship beyond the usual casual shag/fuck buddy set-up. In short, she forces him to be more than the slightly misogynistic pig that he has been thus far: he even tries to arrange flying lessons for her, which results in disappointment but is probably the most romantic gesture he's ever made, and buys her a dress, so it's understandable that he goes off the rails in the next episode after she leaves him. Realising that he is in love for the first time, he confesses, "I'm scared. I'm fucking scared."

Olivia Hallinan's Emma also works well, initially shocked by the differences between her own time and the present (resulting in some humorous scenes) but ultimately seeming liberated by it. Pairing her with Gwen for the episode means that Gwen lies to Rhys again, this time about who Emma is, which naturally enough comes back to haunt her when he finds out and wants to know why she doesn't trust him, angrily demanding, "Oh, is it to do with work? Do you even know her?" and noting, "What worries me is just how easy it seems to be for you to lie to me Gwen!" On the other hand, when Gwen and Rhys take Emma to a club, we also see them relaxing together for the first time since the series began. Eve Myles also gets to do some slightly comic scenes, and proves rather good at it, especially when Gwen ends up showing Emma some pictures to illustrate just how "sexual aware" people are nowadays. And very awkwardly tries to teach her about the pros and cons of casual sex!

For me however, it is Mark Lewis Jones' John, and his relationship with Jack, that really makes the episode. For once, Jack ceases to be a gun-toting innuendo-generator for the first time since 'Bad Wolf'/'The Parting of the Ways', as in the hands of a writer who doesn't seem to have the brain of an adolescent, he forms a genuine friendship with John, another man out of time, but without the sexual overtones that normally overfill Torchwood. John becomes a tragic figure, as realises that everything he has ever cared about has gone, most notably when he meets his demented son, and when Jack frantically insists that he can still make a life for himself and he replies, "I did all that Jack, years ago, when I was meant to". For once, Torchwood really feels like an adult version of Doctor Who by being mature rather than by combining sex, violence and science fiction, with John so clearly determined to kill himself that Jack finally sits and holds his hand whilst he peacefully slips away. We also get some decent insight into what life is like for Jack, living out of time, as he confesses, "It's just bearable. It has to be. Because I don't have a choice", implying that Jack has contemplated suicide but not done it simply because he can't find a way to kill himself.

Overall, 'Out of Time' is a mature and touching episode which goes some way to really fulfilling Torchwood's "adult" remit. Ironically, whilst the innuendo and rampant shagging is largely absent here, we get some nudity for the first time. Sadly it isn't Captain Jack or Gwen, which would have pleased most audience members regardless of gender or sexual orientation, it's Rhys.

Filters: Television Torchwood