When last we left the Torchwood crew, they had just defeated a gas monster that fed off of sexual energy. So now that we're in the hypersexual, murky world of our favorite paranormal investigators, what's next?
What's next is "Ghost Machine", which continues the series' unique tone, combining the slightly paranoid atmosphere of The X-Files with the alien-among-the-mundane motif from Doctor Who. It's the kind of episode that could have been a cliche - a machine that allows you to see and feel events from the past, leading to being able to view the future, and resolving an old murder case in a semi-tragic way. (It's strange to see the same actor who played Roj Blake portraying an elderly Welsh man...but that's the remarkable thing about British TV).
Personal highlight - the "shooting lesson" that Captain Jack gives Gwen. If done on American television, it would be filled with innuendo about pistols, some bad phallic humor, and a cliche "I-don't-need-a-gun." Here, it is one of the most blatantly erotic sequences ever filmed in an episode that's top notch.
Of course, an episode that is not top notch is "Cyberwoman". In fact, it stinks.
It attempts to be a tragedy about lost love and losing humanity. However, it's more camp than a sleeping bag.
First, a partially converted Cyberwoman is a great concept...but not in a costume that would have seemed over the top for an old Batman episode.
There are also massive leaps of logic - like Captain Jack, at one point, covering the Cyberwoman in a special "barbecue sauce" for the pterodactyl to attack her. Makes sense...but wait a minute: if she's made of mostly metal, then what's the point?
(Dear Chris Sims - I apologize, however briefly, for swiping your writing style. Your pal, Gordon)
Even moments that should resonate...don't. Ianto's harsh accusation to Captain Jack that Harkness is "more of a monster" doesn't ring true. In fact, if I were the good captain, I would have kidney punched Ianto and reminded him that he had hidden a partially converted cyborg - left over from the Battle of Canary Wharf - without even thinking to inform his teammates.
(This fact is supposed to reinforce the whole "don't-use-alien-tech-outside-the-office" theme introduced in the first episode. Doesn't work.)
"Cyberwoman" is, as I said long ago about a comic, double ham-fisted with a side of hash browns. Skip it. You'll thank me later.