I have pretty much avoided Season Two of Torchwood - mostly because it's coming out in DVD in September , but primarily because I like not knowing what will happen. How Martha Jones will fit into the Torchwood environment. What role James "Spike" Marsters will be playing. But mostly, because I'm eager to find out more about...what it means to be human in the 21st centuryThis is one of those times where I'm glad I waited, because quite frankly, season two of Torchwood is absolutely brilliant. Watching it all in one go, it's not only a solidly written season, but also deftly manages to provide insight into the major characters, flip around some of the storytelling formulae...but most importantly, the final twenty minutes of the season finale, "Exit Wounds", will absolutely break your heart.
Structurally, Torchwood Season Two reflects season three of Doctor Who - the return of an old enemy/uneasy ally (or, in Jack's case, is "former partner", Captain John Hart, portrayed by James Marsters), an underlying theme of sins unforgiven and lives unlived, and a three episode finale that's nothing less than that spectacular. Although it starts off straight from "Last of the Time Lords", the season shows us a team gradually coming back together...only to have things completely torn apart. (Perhaps it helps that Russell T. Davies did not write any episodes, and focused solely on producing - there's a seamlessness in the episodes that makes it feel almost perfect).
It's rather difficult to discuss favorite episodes - in fact, there's only two real clunkers in this season, "Adam" (which I liked better when it was Jonathan, and the show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and "From Out of the Rain" (which is an interesting premise from the creator of Sapphire and Steel, but is...it's not bad, it's just OK). What makes the second series work is that it focuses on the "team" - we see how being involved with Torchwood is affected Gwen and her relationship with Rhys. (Minor spoiler swipe: she gets married to Rhys this season, but not without complications). There are numerous meditations on death, loss, and lost opportunities between characters...and although Martha Jones is slightly underused this season, well...there's always season three.
But Who fans who dismiss Torchwood do so at their peril - they're missing out on some excellent, quality television. And be sure to check out Comic Related on Monday for the latest TV Party column.
And now, on the right hand side of this post - your Naoko Mori moment of zen.
Very highly recommended