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Gray's Anatomy: Advance Look at "Torchwood" Season Two Finale

In this day and age, we've all gotten used to hyperbole in our television promos: this is the episode where everything changes; nothing will ever be the same after this episode; etc. However, in the case of the second season finale of Torchwood ("Exit Wounds"), airing this Saturday on BBC America, the hyperbole is--for a refreshing change of pace--completely apt.

It's funny because while I was reviewing fellow Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures yesterday, I made an offhanded remark about the poor staff of Torchwood 3 never getting a happy ending. Never has that been more true than in this brilliant, heartbreaking episode, written by the talented Chris Chibnall and directed by Ashley Way.

While this series has always been a far darker, more grim reality than that presented in Doctor Who (or the bubblegum and sunshine of Sarah Jane Adventures), I didn't quite expect to get as emotional as I did watching this installment. For two seasons, we've seen the innately flawed individuals that comprise Captain Jack Harkness' alien-fighting response team battle against threats both external and internal and do so with their wobbly moral compasses wavering the entire way. So I was happy to see that "Exit Wounds" wraps up Torchwood's second season quite satisfyingly and ties up several ongoing plot strands. In fact, the damn thing had me clutching the arms of my sofa in despair, fixated as I was on the massive city-wide situation that Torchwood finds themselves in, one that threatens not only the people of Cardiff but the survival of the team itself.

While I don't want to give away too many spoilers, I will say that the episode features the return of fan-favorite Captain John Hart (James Marsters), the psychotic Time Agent who happened to be one of Jack's many paramours. As we saw last episode, he is in contact with Jack's long-lost brother Gray (Lachlan Nieboer), taken from him during an alien invasion of his home world when he was just a child. For such a pragmatist, Jack takes his failures to heart and no experience has shaped him as much as Gray's disappearance all those years ago. So how will Gray react when he comes face to face with the brother who was separated from him all those years before? Let's just say this: be careful what you wish for because it might just come true.

As for the rest of Torchwood, they are most definitely put through their paces. Still walking wounded from the trap they walked into in last week's episode (a series of bombs inside a building that John detonated when they walked in), they're beaten, battered, and split up as they deal with a number of life-threatening tasks from mass Weevil attacks, city-wide server crashes, and a possible nuclear meltdown scenario... along with a villain who seems to know them and their defenses inside-out and has a very personal reason for enacting revenge. As much as Torchwood has faced in the past, this is their greatest challenge and their adversary knows that by separating them, the center cannot hold. Look for each of them--from Jack and Gwen to Tosh, Ianto, and Owen--to rise to the occasion as they face overwhelming obstacles.

Those promos promised that nothing would be the same for the team after this crucible of fire and they're right: the team at the end of this installment isn't the same. They're changed and not necessarily for the better. None of them emerge from this battle unscathed and, as promised, not all of them come out of this alive. The final ten minutes or so of "Exit Wounds" are perhaps some of the most heartbreaking and poignant scenes on television in recent memory and there's an underlying sense of finality, dread, and emotional catharsis that permeates this season closer.

Torchwood has always offered a grim view of life: we fight, we love, we die and we rarely look back. And yet, last week's episode ("Fragments") showed us how Jack assembled this incarnation of Torchwood, giving the audience a glimpse into the lives of Jack, Owen, Tosh, and Ianto before they joined up. It's only fitting then that this week, with the second season coming to a close, we get to say good-bye. After all, no one promised a happy ending.

Torchwood airs Saturday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on BBC America.


Anonymous said…
Good review of a very good episode.
One thing (not spoilery) is that Gray's voice sounded so much like Jack's that we thought for awhile they had done some sound mixing. Great casting.
Jace Lacob said…

I thought the *same* exact thing! The voices were so eerily similiar...
The CineManiac said…
I'm refraining from reading this post as I'm still 2 episodes behind and I don't want to have anything spoiled like when I accidentally found out what happened to Owen.
But I can't wait to get caught up this week and watch the Finale when is comes down the line.
Also The Doctor Returns this week!!! I'm excited even though I've already seen the X-Mas special!
This was one of the best Torchwood episodes by far. As much as I love the show, I sometimes find it difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters as they are so deeply flawed but this episode changed all that!
Anonymous said…
I've got to be honest, I didn't think it was that great. Grey, for one, was *awful*. Horrific actor.

I'm still waiting for Torchwood to live up to its potential... I was looking for an adult show with some deep involving stories when it first started. The first series was teenage rather than adult- the second has been much better but there's still something missing for me.
The CineManiac said…
So that's not what I was expecting. But I'm glad that Gwen didn't loose Rhys, as I was quite worried she would.

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