LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: Torchwood, Episode 1.11, “Combat”

Hello lovelies! I’m back after a few weeks of traveling and surviving the crash of my hard drive. Many, many thanks to CherriSpryte for covering for me. You did a great job. So, this week’s episode borrows heavily from a novel and movie that are considered classics of our time. It also deals with the emotional aftermath of one character’s love affair and the destructive ways we sometimes deal with heartache and grief.

Jack’s running through Cardiff, hot on the trail of a Weevil. He’s solo on this mission after giving everyone the night off. Nearby, Gwen and Rhys are having dinner with Rhys talking away while Gwen obviously has her mind elsewhere. Rhys calls her out on it just as before he spots the errant Weevil and Jack close behind. There’s a hurried introduction with Rhys eyeing up Jack like he wants to kick his ass. Gwen goes to help Jack when Rhys yells, “Sit the fuck down.” Gwen rightly tells him to never speak to her like that and leaves with Jack despite Rhys’ protests. Jack reminds Gwen that she promised to keep hold of her life and not let it drift.

Ugly and mean creatures, but they should still be treated with dignity.

The pair chase the Weevil into a car park. Just as they corner the creature, a white van pulls up and and masked men use cattle prods to get the Weevil in the back of the van before driving off. Jack wonders out loud back at the Hub how these people know about Weevils and why the team is just noticing this now. Ianto points out there’s been a string on unusual injuries reported lately. Tosh works her tech magic to track down the van, Jack tries to get a hold of Owen to no success and Gwen has left a third voice-mail apologizing to Rhys, who is ignoring her calls. Owen is ignoring Jack’s calls at a club where a pretty bartender is obviously hitting on him and he is studiously giving her the cold shoulder. The woman’s jealous boyfriend protests her flirting before getting his ass handed to him by Owen, who apparently is having a hard time with Diane’s departure. Gwen, who’s been trying to call Owen, is informed of the affair by Tosh and it puts her own affair with the man on shaky ground.

In the basement, Jack and Ianto observe as their captive Weevil starts moaning and in every way giving off the indication it’s in pain or in mourning. Owen’s been studying the Weevil and thinks they have a low level of telepathy. This Weevil is feeling the pain of others, possibly the captured Weevil. Tosh is able to track the van via traffic cameras to a remote warehouse before the cameras go dead. Obviously someone doesn’t want the Weevils or themselves seen.

Jack and Tosh head to the warehouse the next day to find out what’s going on. It abandoned except for security cameras watching their every move. They enter the warehouse, hoping to find clues and come up with a dead body; looking like it was attacked by a Weevil. An obnoxious ring-tone starts up and it’s coming from the dead man’s cell phone. A distorted voice on the other end warns Jack to stay away.

The team’s back at the Hub as Jack has finally tracked down Owen and have him perform an autopsy on the victim, Dan Hodges, a salesman for a software company who’s married with a kid. Owen determines the guy definitely died by Weevil, but he has other injuries inconsistent with a Weevil attack. Jack figures the guys are using the creatures to commit the perfect murder.

Gwen’s given the unenviable task of breaking the news of Hodges’ death to his wife. She joins Owen back in the car where he continues being very emo. When Gwen brings up Diane, he blows her off and the two end their affair with Gwen driving off in a huff, leaving Owen to walk back to the Hub. In the meantime, Tosh has figured the the kidnappers had to know the warehouse was empty so either they own it or know the estate agents. Owen is given a new identity and cover story in hopes of uncovering their identities.

Owen finds himself at the office of Mark Lynch under the guise that he’s looking to relocate his business to Cardiff (he’s a big player in the jellied eels market, apparently). As Mark goes to gets some listings, Owen places a device on his computer to download his hard drive. Owen’s handed some warehouse properties which he rightly surmises are shit holes and inquires about the warehouse where the body was found. Mike says the property is in the process of being sold and isn’t available. He suggests the two go out for a drink; Mike gamely offering to show the man around the city. Owen comments on Mike’s seemingly perfect life, to which Mike replies, “It’s all bollocks.”

Jack is the Weevil whisperer.

Jack and Ianto are heading to the hospital to check out more suspicious injuries. Before he leaves the Hub, Jack sends Gwen home, reminding her of her promise not to let her life drift. She comes home to find Rhys dressed in his pulling shirt, headed for a not-stag party that includes a strip club, leaving Gwen all by herself on her night off.

At the hospital, Jack and Ianto are talking to one of the “victims,” who almost got his heart ripped out. The pair question him (and somehow make the interrogation kind of adorable), but the man refuses to talk, saying they’ll kill him. When asked whose they, he replies, “Everyone.” In an effort to smoke out who’s kidnapping Weevils, they release the one they keep in the Hub, nicknamed Janet. There’s a tracker in the creature’s suit so they’ll know where she is at all times. Of course, as they track the Weevil, they almost lose her.

Elsewhere, Mark and Owen are having the promised drinks when the asshole boyfriend of the bartender from the other night shows up with some friends. Owen and Mark brawl with the group; Owen kicking a guy while he’s down and Mark simply watching.

Tosh and Jack are still chasing Janet when she’s picked up by the same white van. Tosh questions why they would put an alien creature through that as they would never do the same to a human. Mark brings Owen back to his place, a really swanky spread. Mark asks what Owen does to release his anger because he’s obviously got a lot of it. Mark doesn’t blame him. The world’s out to get guys like them (successful, rich, owning all the material possessions one could want) and they just feel so empty. There’s more to life than this, he tells Owen, if you know where to look.

…you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank.  You’re not your job.  You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself… You’re not your name… You’re not your problems… You’re not your age… You are not your hopes.  -Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Rhys returns home to find Gwen pouring a couple of drinks. He’s home earlier than anticipated and as they drink on the couch, Gwen drops the bombshell that she’s been cheating on Rhys. He’s disbelieving at first, claiming Gwen would never do such a thing, but she has and she needs his forgiveness. She needs his forgiveness because she’s given him Ret-con and he’ll forget the confession as soon as he falls asleep. Even as she begs, he succumbs to the drug without saying the words Gwen wants to hear.

Snooping around Mark’s flat, Owen finds a padlocked door. After picking the lock, Owen discovers that it’s been Mark

mark and weevil
Tyler Dur..I mean Mark Lynch giving Owen his views on life.

keeping the Weevil hostage. Mark finds him, but instead of being angry at Owen, he revels in sharing his secret, speculating on what it is; a nuclear victim, an alien (ding) or the future of mankind. Now, the Weevil’s being used as Mark’s own personal punching bag. Mark’s also guessed that Owen’s trying to pull one over on him; he knows Owen’s connected to Jack and Tosh, but he doesn’t seem to care. He wants to know who Owen Harper is. Owen’s more concerned about what happened to Dan Hodges. Mark states he didn’t have Dan killed; Dan was a part of a brotherhood.

Jack, Tosh and Ianto continue to track Janet, only to find the trackers been discovered and ditched. Owen’s taken to a deserted building where dozens of men are gathering. As Gwen finds herself alone at the Hub, breaking down, when she hears a text message signal going off. It’s from Hodges’ cellphone with a cryptic message. Gwen discovers it leads to Owen’s location.

Speaking of Owen, the gathering is a sort of gladiatorial fight club. Mike gives his spiel about how the men participating are the dispossessed and are now stripping themselves down to the basics (this speech is sounding very familiar). In an electrified cage, the men pay a thousand pounds each to go a round with the Weevil. Whoever can last the longest by the end of the night wins the pot. Hodges died because he wouldn’t get out of the cage and gave up. Mark knows that Owen is hiding from himself and pulls a gun on him, telling him to get in the cage and Owen tells him he will as soon as Mark lowers his gun.

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.  -Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Owen goes into the cage willingly and stands there, just as Dan Hodges did, seemingly waiting for the Weevil to tear him apart and almost willing the creature to attack him. The rest of the team bursts in to break up the club while the Weevil attacks Owen. Jack shoots the Weevil and proceeds to tell everyone to go back to their lives and leave the creatures alone. Jack turns to find Mark in the cage, proclaiming it’s over. He stands there and lets the Weevil rip Mark apart.

Later, as Owen recovers at the hospital, he tells Jack he didn’t want saving; that for a few seconds, he felt at peace. Owen wonders if Jack really always knows what’s best for everyone.

Owen showing the Weevils who is the new boss.

Owen’s back at work the next day. He goes down to the basement where the Weevils are being kept. As they stare at each other, Owen snarls at the pair and they both back away in supplication; like Owen is the alpha and they’re a part of his pack. Owen smiles in satisfaction.

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

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