LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: Torchwood, Episode 2.07, “Dead Man Walking”

After last week’s shocker, you would think the viewers would be watching our favorite characters deal with the death of one of their own. However, one of the indisputable laws of the Torchwood universe is that no one stays dead for long. The theme of immortality runs strong through the show, given that Jack is resurrected at least once per episode it seems and we’ve seen one other team member brought back from the dead. Though as we’ll see in the latest episode, resurrection has its costs.

Jack sits across a table from a creepy girl reading tarot cards
One probably shouldn’t trust little girls who hang out in adult clubs and tell you your fortune.

Martha is all set to perform an official autopsy on Owen when Jack bursts in and tells them to halt the proceedings and then promptly leaves without explanation. He heads to a club where he consults with a creepy young girl who looks like she may have wandered off a haunted movie set. Jack asks her if she knows where “it” is as the girl flips over tarot cards. He surmises it’s in a church, but the girl corrects him, saying the church was built on top of it when they discovered what it could do. As Jack rushes off, the girl asks if she told Jack not to use it, would he listen? He tells her she already knows the answer (there is a “Bitch, please” subtext going on here) and she ominously turns over the “Death” card. Jack arrives at St. Mary’s Church and finds a horde of Weevils squatting in the church, guarding a trash shrine. Someone needs to come up with a term for a bunch Weevils in one place: a mash of Weevils, perhaps? Anyway, Jack picks his way through the sleeping Weevils to the shrine, trying not to make a racket while searching for something (and failing). He finally finds the case he’s looking for, but hits the keys to the organ in the process and wakes the mash of Weevils, so he has to run for it.

Jack gets back to the hub with the case as everyone is wondering what the fuck is going on. He pulls out a resurrection glove and despite Gwen’s protests about not using it after the Suzie incident, Jack says he’s bringing Owen back. Despite Gwen’s protests, Jack is going to use the glove. It’s a different glove and it’ll work for him because he’ll tell it to. He tells everyone to prepare what they’ll say to Owen because they may only have minutes. Jack activates the glove and calls out to Owen. At first, nothing happens and then Owen wakes up screaming. He’s disoriented and realizes he’s in the morgue. Jack tells everyone to say their goodbyes. Gwen’s speechless, Tosh tells Owen she’s always loved him and Jack needs the code for the alien morgue, which pisses Owen right off. Owen grabs Jack’s hand and starts rambling about the darkness and Jack tells him to be brave as time runs out and Owen is presumably dead again.

Owen sits up on the autopsy table, with the bullet hole still visible in his chest. He holds Jack's hand.
Owen back from the dead

That is until he tells Jack, “I’m really gonna need that hand back.” He’s alive again even though Jack isn’t using the glove. Owen surmises that maybe he wasn’t meant to die, but still freaks out about his open chest wound. Owen starts running a self-diagnosis, discovers he has no heartbeat and is still freaking. Martha rightly points out that he can’t lead the investigation because he’s the subject. And dead.

The team hypothesizes that Owen’s draining energy from Jack like Suzie did with Gwen, but a scan shows that’s not happening. This glove appears to be different and they don’t know how many there are (though they tend to come in pairs) or where it comes from. Jack has Tosh do an analysis of the glove and puts Owen under quarantine. Gwen, upset over the whole incident and probably having flashbacks, call Rhys and tells him she’s having a rough day.

Martha is running tests on Owen and asks him what it was like to be dead. At first Owen hesitates, then he makes jokes about the Pearly Gates before finally admitting he doesn’t remember, but he recalls Suzie saying that there was something moving in the darkness. As he says it, he blacks out and finds himself in a void. When he comes to, he tells Jack and Martha that there was something in the darkness like Suzie described, but it was waiting for him. Martha’s analysis indicates that Owen’s cells are changing, into what she doesn’t know, nor does she know where the energy is coming from. Everyone theorizes it may be the dark place Owen was in. After the meeting, Owen and Tosh have a moment where she tells him she meant what she said earlier. Owen counters that it wasn’t love, but grief as he walks away, presumably headed to the bathroom.

Owen with his eyes turned totally black
So can black eyes signifying someone isn’t themselves be considered a TV trope?

Owen finds himself back in the void, hearing a voice chanting in the darkness before he’s snapped back to reality. As he looks around bewildered, his eyes go black and he begins chanting the words from the black before returning to normal. The device Martha’s been using to monitor him goes off with energy readings off the scale. They discover Owen’s fled (because with his digestive system shut down, he doesn’t need to eat, pee or poop so he’s not in the loo). Jack tells Martha he’s harmless, but she warns that they need to stop thinking of him as Owen.

Owen’s downing drinks at a bar when a woman decides he’s the hottest guy there and kisses him while putting her hands down his pants. However, with no heartbeat, there’s no blood flow and no response. Jack finds him and Owen takes a swing at him and the pair are kicked out and land on the wrong side of the cops while being stalked by Weevils. In the cell with Jack, Owen realizes his body can no longer metabolize alcohol and in one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire series, stands on his head and spews out everything he drank. He then falls headlong into an existential crisis about missing farts and sex and flecks and bricks. He’s envious of Jack’s immortality, though Jack informs him that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. After living for awhile, you stop noticing the little things. In a great moment, Owen asks Jack why he brought him back? Was it guilt? Jack places his hand on Owen’s head and tells him he wasn’t ready to give up on Owen yet before playfully shoving him away. Jack then uses his Torchwood clout to spring them from jail.

Jack and Owen bonding in the jail cell
I liked this moment.

Jack and Owen are heading back to Torchwood when they find themselves surrounded by Weevils. Thinking they’re after Jack because he stole the glove, the pair get cornered in a parking garage. Instead of ripping the two apart, they all bow down as Owen begins his weird black-eyed, chanting thing again. Meanwhile, Tosh is watching the CCTV of Owen going demon-like and needs a translation of what he was chanting. She has Ianto get her the translation device locked in Jack’s office. They discover Owen’s been saying, “I shall walk the Earth, and my hunger will know no bounds.” Yikes. Owen and Jack get back and they decide to test Owen’s newfound messiah status with their own Weevil with the same results.

A Google search has lead Gwen to find out the words chanted are associated with the Black Plague and Death himself. According to legend, during the 15th century villagers in what would one day become Cardiff walled themselves in to keep out the Black Death. A girl was infected and died and the local priest performed a miracle and brought her back; however, she brought Death with her. He took 12 souls and needed 13 to walk the Earth forever, but he was stopped by “faith.” The energy is making Owen a conduit for Death and his levels are now at 80%. Owen suggests embalming to stop the process; he can’t do anything the living can enjoy anyway.

As they strap Owen down to begin the process, the glove comes to life, Freddie Krueger-style, and goes after Martha as the team scrambles to stop it. The glove flies up and attaches itself to Martha’s face. Jack pries it away from her, and Owen, who is now free, takes a gun and shoots it, destroying it forever. However, Martha is not unscathed; the glove has aged her decades. To make matters worse, Owen’s energy readings are now at 100% and his eyes go black and he repeats the hunger phrase, but this time in English before he vomits up black smoke that takes some kind of form before going after Jack.

The next scene finds Jack waking up in the SUV while the team has rushed Martha to the hospital with Owen, who seems no longer possessed. The rapid aging has placed a strain on Martha’s heart and she could die at anytime. Jack assures her they’ll reverse the process and then orders Owen back to the hub, but Owen argues he knows what the creature wants and what it is; it’s “duroc” or hunger, and he can find it. The creature is in the hospital somewhere.

Duroc is going through the hospital and manifesting as a skeleton (the CGI is slightly better for this Big Bad than for others) and killing as it goes. Torchwood orders an evacuation and as they evacuate the children’s ward, they realize one little boy, Jamie, is missing. He’s in the bathroom, wearing headphones and doesn’t hear the alarm. The nurse sent to look for him is claimed by the creature as the team rushes around to stop it, but the body count keeps rising. Jamie emerges from the bathroom, finding the ward empty except for the corpse of the dead nurse. He is pursued by the monster, but is found by Owen and they flee before it can get a hold of the boy.

The number of dead have reached twelve; one more life and the creature will be unstoppable. As Jamie, Tosh and Owen get to the doors, they find them sealed shut. As Tosh works on getting them open, Owen learns Jamie has leukemia and the chemo hasn’t worked; Jamie believes he will die. Ianto then radios in that in 1497, the girl who died, Faith, somehow stopped Death. Owen realizes it’s because she was already dead and had nothing to lose. He gives Jamie a pep talk, telling him those who survive cancer are those who believe they can beat death and tells him he can watch him do it. Tosh gets the door open and gets Jamie out, telling Owen she’s not leaving him. Owen kisses her and uses the distraction to grab the device used to unlock the doors and locks her out.

Owen wrestles with Death; a skeleton hand reaches toward his face
Yet another example of how I watch Torchwood and see scenes like this and have to just say out loud, “The Claw!!!”

Owen confronts the creature, asking how long it can last with only twelve souls. He won’t get one out of Owen since his is long gone. The thing attacks him and they struggle, Owen mocking Duroc the whole time until eventually, the creature disintegrates without the thirteen souls needed and leaving Owen still a dead man walking. Thankfully, Martha’s youth is completely restored.

Back at the hub, Owen and Martha have a moment where he apologizes for putting her in danger (side-note: I like these two together and think a friendship between them would have benefitted Owen if Martha could stick around). Martha isn’t concerned about that; she’s more worried about the massive amount of energy Owen absorbed that is now slowly dissipating. It could take 30 years or 30 minutes for it to disappear completely. Owen calls out Jack as he walks by, saying that twelve people are dead because he brought Owen back. That’s on both of them and Owen wants the chance to even the score. Is Owen OK? Probably not, but they will just have to see.

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 2.07, “Dead Man Walking””

I thought it was a really interesting take on the whole immortality bit too because, what’s the use of living forever if you can’t do all the fun stuff? Granted, the fun stuff may not be fun after awhile, but being alive and not participating in the simple pleasures isn’t that great either.

Leave a Reply