I like to think of episodes four, five and six of the first season almost like dress rehearsals; these three episodes are just the kinks getting all worked out before the show finds its footing. This episode works within a well-used sci-fi trope, but we still get some insights into Jack, Owen and Gwen and I’m especially impressed by Eve Myles’s acting in this episode.
The viewer is immediately aware that something bad is about to happen: a dark, Welsh country road, a young woman who loses all cell service and of course, her headlights illuminate a body lying across the road. Even someone vaguely familiar with standard horror movie setups knows this isn’t leading anywhere good. Seriously, if someone were truly injured and a person just drove by, I think the horror movie defense would hold up in court.
The girl stops, but at least she has a bat. As a mysterious being races around behind her, the girl discovers that it’s a dummy lying in the road and races back to her car. Her tires deflate and she realizes she’s in big trouble. She gets in her car, but the keys are gone. Something is on top of her roof so she locks the doors, only to have them unlocked. She’s then grabbed from the car; presumably never to be seen again.
Torchwood is on a field trip, driving down the same deserted Welsh road as the kidnapped girl. On the surface, everything seems normal; Owen is bitching about how much he hates the country, Ianto is still playing butler, handing out roadside burgers, and they’re investigating mysterious disappearances that have been happening in the area. There’s no pattern and the rift has been increasing in activity. The working theory is that the rift is getting bigger. The team will camp out and investigate, an announcement that thrills Owen.
The team is setting up camp and everyone’s interactions are strained. Also, they’re being watched. During an innocent game of truth or dare; it’s revealed that Owen is the last person Tosh snogged. When Tosh asks Owen who was his last snog, he gets a shit-eating grin on his face and tells everyone about the make-out he and Gwen had during the events of Cyberwoman; Tosh is asking lots of uncomfortable questions (stop torturing yourself, girl). Jack jokingly asks if non-human lifeforms count and then Ianto reveals that his last kiss was Lisa, effectively ending the game. The recent events putting stress on already tense relationships and Owen and Gwen escape to look for firewood while Jack and Ianto exchange a long look in silence.
Gwen and Owen traipse through the woods and Gwen is angry that Owen told everyone about their kiss. Owen doesn’t seem to mind and apparently he’s the kiss whisperer
because he can tell from a 10-second kiss that Gwen and Rhys’ sex life is nice, but not passionate. This really pisses off Gwen and she shoves him against a tree, but before she can beat the crap out of him, she’s the one against the tree with Owen pressed up against her. He’s telling her she’s fighting her attraction because it scares the shit out of her. This conversation happens with their faces inches apart, practically kissing as they’re talking. Just before they really kiss; however, Gwen spots someone watching them. They break apart, guns drawn, but whatever has been watching them has disappeared. They do find something it left behind; a body, stripped of its flesh.
As the team gathers around the body, Owen determines it’s not the missing girl; the body is male, wasn’t killed at the site and the skin has been flayed and all the organs are missing. Maybe Owen and Gwen disturbed the burial, maybe it’s a warning to stay away and Jack is positive it’s not Weevils. But, before speculation can continue, they hear the sound of a car starting and race back to the campsite only to watch as their vehicle is being driven off. They are officially stuck there because Owen apparently left the keys in the ignition. The body was a decoy and the team has been watched.
Ianto still has a hand-held GPS and says the SUV is now parked and that there is a small village nearby. It has all the markings of a trap, but they head towards the village anyway. The team reaches some dilapidated row houses that scream, “Something isn’t right here. It’s creepy.” Jack sends Tosh and Ianto to find the SUV while Jack takes Gwen and Owen to check out the inn. The place is empty though there’s some cash in the register. The place looks suddenly abandoned. Gwen’s in the kitchen when she stumbles upon another body, causing her to vomit up the roadside burger she consumed earlier. Jack hears a noise outside and runs out, gun drawn with Gwen behind him. They find nothing though they’re still being watched. They investigate one of the adjoining rooms, also empty except for another dead body.
Gwen is having a proper freak out, thinking about how she should be back home with Rhys, asking Jack if he ever gets scared. Jack doesn’t answer, just says they need to check out the other two houses. Meanwhile, Ianto and Tosh are in search of the SUV. They’ve approached another abandoned house with their stalker following them. They hear what sounds like a scream, though Ianto dismisses it as a fox. They check the back and Tosh finds dead animals hanging from the building and trees. She tries to break down a door, nearly shooting Ianto as he rounds a corner. Ianto walks up the back yard, away from the house, but when he goes to speak to Tosh, she’s disappeared. As he’s looking for her, something sneaks up behind him and knocks him to the ground.
Gwen and Jack come to one door that’s locked. Gwen pulls open the door and is promptly shot in the stomach. Jack finds a young man named Kieran holed up inside with a shotgun; raving about how he thought they were coming back for him. Jack and Owen get Gwen inside and Owen tries to treat her wound. Gwen freaking out isn’t helping him much, though freaking out is a perfectly natural reaction to getting shot. She’s lucky, it could have been much worse. Owen gets to work getting the shrapnel out of her side. Gwen asks if he misses being a doctor. He’s still a doctor, he just doesn’t deal with patients anymore, which is ideal. Owen pulls out the bullet and asks Gwen to admit that he’s good. “Not bad,” she replies. It’s a pretty intimate moment given the circumstances.
Jack’s wondering where Tosh and Ianto are and the young man chimes in that they could be dead since everyone else has been killed. When asked what happened, Kieran babbles that they’re not human and you can’t fight them; they’re too strong. Jack decides they should hole up at the inn; Tosh and Ianto will have to fend for themselves. Gwen tries to walk on her own, but Owen grabs hold of her as she falls and holds her close as they make their way to the inn.
Tosh awakens to find her and Ianto in a dark room; presumably in a basement and their guns have been taken. Tosh is sure she can get them out while Ianto, like Gwen, is having a breakdown. Tosh discovers blood as Ianto remarks that they all get the same expression when shit hits the fan; like they get a rush from the danger. Tosh refuses to apologize saying:
Tosh: It’s worth the risk; to protect people.
Ianto: Then who protects us?
In her search for a way out, Tosh finds a shoe, then another and then a pile of them. There have been others trapped here. Tosh finds a fridge and opens it to find body parts
stored there. That’s why there’s no flesh on the bodies; whatever has trapped them there needs to eat. Tosh and Ianto are food.
As they barricade themselves in the inn, Gwen starts compiling what they know to see if they can figure out what these creatures are. They notice there’s something outside as the power goes out. Something tries to get in through the front door as something else tries to come up through the cellar, which they forgot to barricade. Kieran starts shooting as does the rest of the team when the cellar door breaks and the creatures break through the front door. Kieran falls and is pulled outside. Gwen insists on going after him though she’s wounded. Jack refuses at first, but then relents.
Ianto is trying to break down the basement door when it opens and a woman comes in with a gun. She’s not going to hurt them; she’s been taken too. Tosh tells her there’s more of them in the village, but the woman isn’t there to help. She’s there to take them to the ones responsible for all this. Tosh says they can help, but there is no helping. Every ten years it’s the same; they come for the Harvest.
In the cellar, Jack finds what he shot, a man who’s begging for help. Jack helps in exchange for the guy talking. When he’s not forthcoming, Jack reveals his job a long time ago was to torture people, he was good at it and he knows how to get information.
Gwen and Owen are trying to find Kieran when a police car shows up. The policeman, Huw, tells them he’s there for a meeting in the village and sends them towards the village.
Ianto and Tosh are taken to a house by Helen. The kitchen is filled with corpses. As another man appears, Tosh realizes Helen is one of them. It’s not aliens killing people, it’s humans. As Helen and the man kiss, Ianto tries to overpower them, but he’s knocked to the ground. As they’re tied up, the man brings out Kieran, only referring to him as “meat.” They’re all meat. Ianto headbutts the guy while Tosh makes a run for it.
The man (Evan) chases Tosh through the woods before catching her. He begins choking her, but thankfully Owen appears, along with Gwen and Huw and puts a gun to Evan’s head. Tosh tells them what she’s discovered, how they kill people and cannibalize the bodies. Gwen yells at Huw to arrest Evan, but he does nothing. Laughing, Huw asks why he would arrest his own uncle and pulls a gun on Owen. Gwen pulls her gun on Huw and there is a tense three-way stand-off before Gwen drops her gun to save Owen.
They’re brought back to the house to find others there, waiting to participate in the village’s Harvest. Evan grabs Ianto and is about to cut into him when there’s a rumbling and Jack, driving a tractor, demolishes the house and takes everyone down with a shotgun. Jack’s about to put a bullet through Evan’s brain, but Gwen wants to question him first. She wants to know why they do this.
Back at the inn, Evan reveals this has been going on for generations. Every ten years, they take travelers, those most likely to disappear. Gwen urges him to tell her why they do it; she’s seen so many crazy things, but she can’t understand this. Evan says he’ll whisper it to her and when she leans in he says, “Because it made me happy.”
Back in Cardiff, we see Gwen watching TV with Rhys and going about her day, while a voice over explains about how she had an ordinary life; good job, maybe try for a baby, etc. We see her standing in front of a window, looking out over Cardiff wearing only a button down shirt. She laments how she can’t share the things she’s seen with anyone. It’s then that Owen appears behind her and says, “You can now.” The two kiss before it fades to black.