Major spoilers ahead.
Torchwood Day Two was even better than Day One, and so far Day Three has topped both of those combined. Davies successfully manages to raise the stakes in each successive episode, which can only mean a massive climax on Friday night. I can’t wait!
Day Two was definitely Gwen and Ianto’s moment to shine. Jack blew up at the end of Day One, so with him (temporarily) out of the picture, Gwen and Ianto are on their own and on the run. Gwen and her husband, Rhys, stowaway on a potato truck on its way to London. There, they meet up with Lois Habiba, a new girl in the Home Office who’s starting to wonder for which side she’s working. With a little help from her, they go off to rescue Captain Jack, only to find that he’s been imprisoned in a block of concrete.
Cue Ianto! He decides to steal the entire concrete cell with some heavy machinery conveniently left behind by the people who poured the concrete. Oh, and Gwen blows up the concrete mixer to cover their escape. They toss the concrete block off a cliff, and Jack emerges … naked, of course.
We get to see Ianto and Gwen out of their element; Gwen in particular steps up and becomes an action hero. I loved every moment of it. And we learn more about the nature of the 456—such as their atmospheric gas requirements, how romantic—but not much about what they want. The scientist—I forget his name—supervising the construction of the atmospheric tank for the 456 is very creepy; he has a very amoral attitude toward this whole situation and is more excited by the prospect of these aliens coming than the implications of their arrival for Earth and its children. We learn more about these implications in …
… Day Three. In which Gwen uses her knowledge from her days as a police officer to teach Ianto, Jack, and Rhys how to steal. In addition to stealing a nice car, Jack, who evidently feels that track pants are not for him, steals clothes identical to his trademark clothing (or maybe he has secret clothing caches hidden around London?). I love the idea that by forcing Torchwood underground, the Home Office has forced them to become criminals as well. The moment where Jack walks back into their comfy warehouse digs wearing his comfy digs was poignant: as he said it, he’s back. And it’s time to kick some ass.
Frobisher discovers that Jack has a daughter and grandchild and orders them brought in. This continues to emphasize the idea that he’s the villain, but it soon becomes clear he’s just as uncomfortable in what he’s doing as his subordinate, Lois, who continues to help the Torchwood team. Eventually we discover that Frobisher and Jack share complicity in whatever happened in 1965, the first time the 456 visited Earth.
This appearance of the 456 was sublime. The moment where we get to stare into the tank and see just the slightest hint of something in the fog was like a scene from a good suspense—not horror—film. The somewhat hesitant nature of the 456’s communications only adds to the creepy atmosphere their lack of appearance evokes.
Then there’s the twist at the very end, and you realize everything you believed is now suddenly so much more complicated. The somewhat insane Clem McDonald, a child present for the 1965 appearance of the 456, has been referring to the impending return of “the man,” whom we naturally assume is some sort of alien. But no, it’s Jack, and the moral ambiguity quotient gets ratcheted up….