LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: Torchwood, Episode 2.05, “Adam”

For an episode centering on amnesia, we get a boat load of back story on the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness. This episode is very similar to the Buffy episode “Superstar” and contains many of the same themes, though it’s arguable how well those themes are pulled off. Even the episode’s intro is different, inserting a new character into the mix, which is a clue of things to to come. So without further ado:

Adam reaches forward to touch Gwen's shoulder as Jack looks on in the background
All right, Adam couldn’t screw with me because I’m not about random touches from people.

Telling Rhys the truth about her job seems to have reinvigorated the couple’s love life as the pair goof around before Gwen heads into work. The team is apparently doing some spring cleaning with the help of a guy named Adam, who seems familiar with everyone and everything. Gwen walks in, apparently back from a weekend in Paris and has the appropriate reaction of, “Who the fuck is this?” Adam places his hand on her shoulder and Gwen is flooded with “memories” of them meeting and hanging out and it’s all, “LOL of course I know you, I’m just being silly.” There are other things slightly off balance. Tosh is looking smoking hot and Owen looks like a penny novel writer’s idea of a nerd. There’s no mystery about whether Adam is up to no good because he’s changing Torchwood’s database and inserting himself into the team’s narrative. He’s getting onto Tosh’s personal space and with a touch on the shoulder, makes her believe they’ve been involved for a year. The non-con vibe frankly makes me feel icky. Owen catches the pair making out and makes an out-of-character comment about the inappropriateness of kissing while at work.

Jack’s down in the cellar with Janet the Weevil when he sees the figure of a young boy and an image of holding someone’s hand in his head. Gwen appears to disrupt the vision and, of course, the kid’s gone. Gwen and Jack engage in some butt-slapping and chasing before heading back upstairs. In the main hub, Tosh comments that there’s been rift activity, but nothing’s come through and Owen gives her a gift of a screen cleaner because he thought she’d like it. There’s some role reversal going on here.

Tosh: Just what I need; a small rodent looking at me while I work. Think I’ll call it Owen.

Gwen arrives back at her flat and doesn’t take kindly to Rhys sneaking up on her; so unkindly in fact, she pulls a knife and then a gun on him and demands to know who he is. Obviously, the weekend in Paris wasn’t as memorable as Rhys had hoped. She calls Jack for backup and he and Adam arrived with guns drawn. Of course, Jack’s confused because it’s RHYS! Why wouldn’t Gwen’s fiancé who she’s been with for years be in their flat? Whatever mojo Adam worked on Gwen has made her completely forget him.

Gwen in her flat, holding her gun out and looking scared
That’s weird, thought I was alone….”Who the hell are you?”

Owen examines Gwen back at the hub, but can find nothing wrong with her, no trauma or any kind of alien intervention. Jack’s still with Rhys, recording him telling stories about his relationship with Gwen; love at first sight, first kiss, etc. Watching the tape in the hub, Gwen tells Adam she can see it happening, but she’s not emotionally connecting with it, to which Adam, (placing his hand on Gwen’s head) tells her that her memories are just playing tricks on her.

Owen is examining some of the backlogged artifacts with Tosh and he’s acting shy and awkward around her. They’re settling in for a long night and Owen’s brought her favorite sandwich for her, a mirror of what Tosh has done in previous episodes. Later, Tosh brings Owen a beer, telling the now straight-laced man to “live a little” and celebrating the fact that she and Adam have been “together” for a year. Owen looks widely uncomfortable with the whole thing. Meanwhile, Ianto has brought Gwen back to her flat, though she begs Jack not to leave her alone with Rhys. As Ianto and Jack leave, Jack spots the same boy from earlier and doesn’t hear Ianto asking him about a Weevil sighting. Ianto also didn’t see the mysterious boy. Jack dismisses Ianto’s suggestion they hunt the Weevil together.

Jack’s chasing Weevils in the sewers when he runs into an older man he calls “Dad.” Dad tells Jack to run, which he does, climbing out of the sewers where he runs into Adam. Jack wonders how the other man got there and Adam does the shoulder touching thing and Jack suddenly remembers that Adam came with him. When Adam asks what he saw, Jack simply says, “My past,” which is what we’ve all been waiting to see! There’s the obligatory scene of Gwen and Rhys in their flat with Gwen still not remembering their relationship and we get swung back to Jack and Adam in the middle of the parking lot. Adam’s doing the shoulder-touching thing, reinforcing the idea that Jack can trust him. (Has anyone thought to tell Adam, “Hey dude, personal space!”) Jack has buried the memories for over 150 years, and he doesn’t know why they’re coming to the surface now. Adam is still pushing him and finally Jack relents.

He remembers growing up in the 51st century on the Boeshane Peninsula. He remembers that his village was attacked by invaders with no name, but they were apparently horrible. He was told to take his little brother Gray and hide. He lost Gray in the chaos. He ran home to try to find him, only to discover the body of his father and his brother missing. He searched for Gray for years, but never found him and he’s buried the guilt all this time.

Owen, Tosh and Ianto are trying to determine if Jack or Adam brought in the artifact they’re studying. Ianto goes to check his diary to confirm (I want excerpts from that!) when Owen decides to bring up Adam’s lack of communication with Tosh on their anniversary. He goes on to give the standard “Nice Guy” of how he’d never forget their anniversary and that he’s in love with her. And then keeps telling her. Tosh finally shuts him up by saying what he’s saying is inappropriate and he’s not her type.

Young Jack and Gray run hand in hand After an obligatory Gwen and Rhys scene where an incident in the market sparks her memory later, we return to Ianto, whose trusty diary has absolutely no mention of Adam. Lo and behold, the man appears beside him. Why is Ianto remembering a man who doesn’t exist? As soon as he says those words, Adam’s hand begins to disappear a la Marty from Back to the Future. Adam has been filling their heads with fake memories because that’s how he exists. Gwen threw a wrench in the system by appearing and the memories Adam inserts replace other ones, even big ones. When Ianto does the silly thing of saying he’s going to tell Jack, Adam gives Ianto memories of being a serial killer; preying on women and having Adam help cover it up. Apparently giving people bad memories is a rush for him.

Jack’s doing his roof thing and remembering more from his childhood, how he had to tell his mother about losing Gray. He wonders why he’s remembering now. Gwen and Rhys are getting ready for bed and it’s awwwkwaard. Rhys does the insecure confession thing of wondering if Gwen just settled for him. He kisses her and asks if she remembers. She really doesn’t, but she liked it and asked Rhys to remind her some more.

Adam and Tosh are at her apartment, about to get it on. This scene always disturbed me because this is essentially happening without Tosh’s consent. Adam asks if she would die for him and she says yes. (You in danger, girl). Jack returns to the hub to find Ianto looking despondent and confessing that he’s a killer. Jack doesn’t believe him, even after giving him a lie detector test, which reads Ianto’s memories as true. Jack still doesn’t believe him and checks all CCTV footage. He sees Adam implanting Ianto with the killing memories and connects the shoulder touching with everyone else’s memories of Adam. The trail leads Jack to discover Adam’s file has only been active for 24 hours. At that moment, the team starts arriving back; Owen with flowers, followed by Tosh and Adam. The flowers are an apology from Owen, who only wants Tosh to be happy. Gwen comes in and informs everyone she’s slowly getting her memory back just as Adam is acting all buddy-buddy with everyone. Jack’s had enough and pulls a gun on him.

Our Jack stands under a tree inside his memory
These memories are some of the more intriguing looks into Jack’s past.

Jack explains that Adam’s been feeding them memories by touch. He remembers Adam, but he feels nothing for him. Given her earlier promise to Adam, Tosh draws her gun, but she’s disarmed by Ianto and Jack drags Adam to the cells. There, the truth comes out; Adam needs to be a part of their memories in order to survive. Jack’s not having it because Adam’s changed them. Adam argues that they’ve changed them for the better.  Tosh is more confident, Owen less cynical. The team has such unique memories, especially Jack, and that’s what drew him here. Jack may have forgotten his past, but he always remembers who he’s killed.

Since Adam has changed their memories and by proxy, who they are, Jack needs everyone hypnotized so they can reconnect with who they are. Jack asks them to recall strong memories of before they joined Torchwood; good and bad. Owen remembers his neglectful mother. Gwen remembers dating Rhys in college. Tosh recalls how math is soothing to her and Ianto remembers falling in love with Lisa. But Tosh also remembers how lonely she is and Owen feels the pain of not being wanted. Gwen confesses she loves Rhys, but not like how she loves Jack. He gives each of them a retcon pill, set for 48 hours that will erase Adam from their memory and from existence. Each takes the pill and falls asleep as Adam seems to be struggling below. Tosh is reluctant, scared to lose someone who loved her (again), even if it isn’t real.

Jack looks anguished; Adam is reflected in the glass of his cell
One last glimpse before goodbye.

Jack is the last and he heads down to the cells to confront Adam. He’s the last one and Adam will be sent back to the void once he’s taken the pill. Adam reminds him that all he’s remembered about his past will be forgotten once he takes the pill, including Jack’s last good memory. Adam offers Jack the chance to relive it before he dies (as I’m yelling, “It’s a trap!”) because he was in the void so long and Jack’s memories gave him color. Then, he’s back on the beach of his childhood home with Gray and his father, playing; the last time they were happy. But suddenly, Adam’s there, inserting himself into the memory, twisting it into something darker. Now that Adam’s there, he’ll live forever since the artifact they were investigating contained Adam’s last memory of Jack, his father and brother. Jack can have the original memory back if he lets Adam live. Jack holds up the pill and Adam begs him not to take it; saying that Jack will lose all memory of his father and he will cease to exist for Jack. Jack takes the pill anyway and his last memories are swept away as Adam dies in agony.

The team wakes up with no memory of the last 48 hours; everything’s been wiped and Jack can’t explain it (though Rhys was not given a pill so maybe they can ask him). The flowers Owen gave Tosh are still there with a note from him; though Owen who is back to his old ways, says he’d never do anything like that. Jack finds the artifact in an evidence bag with Adam’s name on it while handing Ianto back his diary (and telling him measuring tapes never lie) with what looks like a key. When the box opens, it’s just dust.

So tell me, what did you think of this episode? Love it? Hate it? Could the inconsistencies be overlooked?

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.

5 replies on “Retro Recap: Torchwood, Episode 2.05, “Adam””

Poor Rhys, always getting Retconned, ha. And Ianto’s fake memories? So awful.

Yeah, this episode is a bit unsettling, and I wondered about the “personal space” thing too, but then again, these people are pretty hungry for “normal” interaction and affection, so maybe that’s why it never bothered them.

I do love the Captain Jack backstory though.

I think the creepiest idea from this episode -for me- is that it shows that you can’t really trust memories (even without alien creatures around). That reliving and rethinking them will always kinda adjust and change them. And how much of an influence they are for who you are right now.

This episode was creepy. I was really uncomfortable with Tosh sleeping with Adam (but at least the memory got retcon-ed away so she won’t be traumatized by it). It was also weird that inserting Adam into Owen’s memory completely changed his personality. I liked the glimpses at Jack’s past, even though it was so sad. I thought it was a bit odd that his parents called Gray by name over and over but only called Jack “son;” I wish we’d learned his real name. And god, poor Ianto. Those implanted memories were horrifying.

The one thing I really wasn’t sure about in the end was whether or not Rhys got the retcon too. Maybe Jack slipped out to give him some before giving it to the rest of the team, or at least before taking it himself? I guess he would have had to in order to totally erase Adam, and I’m glad he won’t remember Gwen forgetting him.

Yeah, I was right creeped out by the Tosh/Adam thing and poor, poor Ianto. He and Tosh have been getting the brunt of so much stuff in the series so far.

I am going to assume that Rhys was retconned off-screen because that plot hole has always bugged me, but oh well.

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