Tuesday, July 21, 2009

stuck in the middle with you


yesterday, torchwood regrouped as the world prepared for the 456's arrival. today, tension mounts around the globe and inside the british government, as the secret of 1965 threatens to blow up big. meanwhile, jack and co. get back to work with a renewed sense of camaraderie. but this is torchwood, so you know that's not gonna last.

gwen, jack, ianto, and rhys set up the hub2, as rhys christens their new HQ in an abandoned warehouse. it's dank and has no electricity, and jack has to wear tracksuit bottoms and no coat. he still manages to be all inspirational leader-y ... then accidentally reveals he knew gwen was pregnant before rhys did. the man-fur flies, and rhys flounces out.

but this is no time to pout. torchwood's assets are down to a couple of guns, a now-dead laptop, some contact lenses, and not much else. the software's still on the server ... if only they had some computer equipment. and power. and proper trousers.

ever-resourceful gwen suggests a crime spree: cue slightly slapstick montage of the quartet staging fights and posing as waiters to score credit cards, laptops, even a car. (fancy wheels are essential.) ianto brings back other necessities: coffee, new clothes, and ... perhaps most implausibly of all ... for jack, a new coat, just like the old one. jack is back!

and he really ought to call alice, whose nervous attempts to contact him finally attract johnson's peeps. they soon work out who she is. her mom was a torchwood agent too, who died of old age. ("rare for torchwood," observes johnson. word.) that means alice gets to be all kickass when johnson's minions come around. she tells steven to do like they used to in granny's games. granny torchwood, that is. they flee ... and alice BELTS one dude with a cutting board, then takes his gun. go, alice! but johnson, though impressed, has them surrounded. then steven freezes, pointing to the sky.

it's the same around the world, kids all frozen and pointing. steven. frobisher's daughters. and all the children at rhiannon and johnny's impromptu day-care center, set up because parents gotta work, the schools are closed, and johnny needs the extra cash.

also pointing, of course, is clem -- who's just been sprung from the camden clink by gwen (with a little help from pc andy), who continues to be the get-it-done star of this show.

she not only retrieves the tearfully grateful clem, who's been having increasingly intense 1965 flashbacks, but also talks lois into wearing the contact lenses ... the special torchwood contacts with camera lenses, lipreading software so monitors can "hear" what's happening, and texting capability for communicating with the wearer.

lois is impressed, but scared to help torchwood again. it's treason! she can't do this -- it puts her right on the front line. anyway, frobisher doesn't take her into the 456 room. only bridget. gwen says please help us, lois habiba. you're our only remaining hope. lois can't. sorry. but she takes the lenses.

earlier, at the hub2, ianto wants to know if jack will ever stop not-dying. jack's pretty sure the can't-die thing is forever. so someday jack will see ianto die, "of old age," and just keep going? yeah, says jack. well, says ianto impishly, better make the most of it! they try to get some alone time, but rhys won't leave. rats. instead, they review clem's case: 1965, scotland orphanage, yada yada. jack's remembering something. and after he sees 40-year-old pictures of his fellow assassinees, he totally knows them. he just never knew their names. who were they, asks ianto. but jack just grabs his coat and runs out. typical.

all the children in the world (and clem) are pointing at thames house, as a ball of fire stabs down from the clouds, straight through the roof. ianto and rhys watch from atop the hub2.

frobisher dashes into the 456 room; dekker's already there. they watch the fire flow into the glass enclosure, boiling up inside. and now something, dimly visible, is in there.

"we are here," say the kids, and go back to playing. clem tells gwen they're back. she takes him to torchwood.

at thames house, frobisher makes bug-eyed but resolute first contact. the 456 speaks in an almost hypnotic low baritone ... and also makes weird, animal-like howls and roars. it thrashes wildly at regular intervals, causing a giant, vaguely vulture-like head to hit the glass and yellowish brown goop to be flung against the windows. super-gross.

scared though he is, frobisher has to get this 1965 stuff sorted out for boss and country. it's his duty, you know. he asks the alien to keep the previous encounter with britain off the record ... and the 456 says ok. phew! then frobisher and dekker bail, looking at each other like, that was freeeeeaky!

but frobisher scarcely has time to re-rack his nerves before the PM calls to say, guess what? you get to stay our point man on this.

that's how the PM placates UNIT colonel oduya (charles abomeli) and american general pierce (colin mcfarlane), who are very unhappy about an alien ambassador being on british soil ... and suspicious that the landing was clearly planned, without their input. the PM says well, the 456 came to us, what could we do? and he craftily suggests letting the civil service handle dealings with the 456. this sitch calls for a middleman. and who better than frobisher, since he's already spoken to the 456? plus, mwahaha, he's expendable.

pierce demands the PM guarantee he won't enter the negotiation room. yeah, not a problem. ok, deal.

meanwhile, jack steals mrs. frobisher's mobile, then calls froby and threatens to expose everything if he doesn't let jack talk to the 456. but frobisher has alice and steven, nyah! so jack needs to keep it zipped. jack threatens frobisher's family, but frobisher knows it's a bluff. and he's gotta go, because he has a date with a goop-spewing alien.

at thames house for the first official negotiation, everyone's in place -- including lois, who bluffs her way in by implying there's something "private" between her and frobisher. bridget seems to have heard this sort of thing before. "don't go thinking you're the first," she sniffs. lois is wearing the contacts. torchwood's in!

gwen, ianto, rhys, and clem watch via laptop as frobisher requests that the 456 stop using their children for communication (it agrees). then he takes a question from the audience (aka general pierce): why did it come to britain? the 456, keeping its part of the bargain, basically says oh, no reason. gwen and ianto realize the government got the 456 to lie ... but now the thing says they want a gift -- your children. ten percent will do nicely, thanks. clem freaks and says they want to take them, like they did before, like "the man" did. the man's coming back too -- in fact, he's here! and according to clem's flashback, he's ... jack. say what?

jack stands there, accused and guilty. we flash back to 1965, and now jack's there too, in his coat, telling the children to walk into the light.

loyal gwen says no, jack fights aliens. right, jack? no, says jack, "i gave them the kids." ianto looks stricken. in 1965, jack gave them 12 children. what for? "as a gift."


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