And so begins Day One – a confusingly named episode for the second in the series. So a meteor (actually a spaceship) crashes in Cardiff; which Gwen accidentally opens and releases a pink gas. The gas then finds a girl and takes control of her body. It transpires that the gas lives off orgasmic energy; and says that Humans are the best high in the universe. Before all the men in the world leap for joy; the only catch is that it instantly kills the person having sex. The episode feels a little bit like when a teenager tries to be an adult by saying things that adults say, but actually comes across as even more immature than normal. That’s this episode’s premise in a nutshell.
The episode isn’t completely without merit, and does allow us to get to know the team and the dynamic a little better. Even though it is only 45 minutes, there is a lot of runaround just while the team try to catch the girl. The alien story takes a back seat (which isn’t a bad thing,) and allows the episode to be mostly about Gwen fitting into the Torchwood team, making mistakes and showing that she is brave enough to rectify them. It also shows how Gwen is rehumanising Jack and the rest of the crew alike.
So the girl, Carys Fletcher, ends up trying to have sex with anyone just to stay alive. She then finds out that only the orgasmic energy from men are enough to feed her. How does she discover this? By having a make out session with Gwen – which Gwen does quite happily. Makes me feel really shitty for Rhys; her long term and utterly devoted boyfriend.
One thing that I did like about the episode, as well as the character moments; was the interesting commentary on sex being everywhere. It wasn’t that long ago that advertising companies never would have considered using sex as a selling point. As Carys looks around the city there are posters for underwear, lipstick and night clubs; all using sex as a prominent feature. I firmly believe that sexual images are too easy for young people to find in day to day life; and this episode does quite a good job of illustrating this; even if it doesn’t really lead anywhere in the episode.
At one point Carys destroys the jar containing the Doctor’s severed hand in order to escape the Hub. The Doctor’s theme plays as Jack looks concerned. Although Doctor Who fans might have known who’s hand it was supposed to be; a lot of people, and casual viewers may not have made the link until this moment.
Although some of the themes in the episode are quite interesting, none of them really go anywhere. And despite some good character building; the premise of the alien itself is a little silly and overtly adult. Day One is going to be awarded with three piles of Human dust out of ten. I think I would have given it less if it wasn’t for Jack’s comment on the fate of the first victim.
Gwen – “He just…”
Jack – “Came and went.”
Now I don’t care how grown up I am supposed to be; that line still made me laugh.