18 days left and we're continuing on my countdown to Miracle Day, Torchwood re-watch! I'll be watching an episode a day and blogging bits and thoughts. With any luck this is going to read like an episode guide and commentary. Let's dive right in!

Episode: Sleeper (Series 2 Episode 2)

Written By: James Moran (Follow him on twitter @jamesmoran)

Original Air Date: 23 January 2008

Sentence Sum-Up:  While investigating suspicious circumstances surrounding a home invasion, team Torchwood discovers a group of alien sleeper agents on earth.

Notable New Characters:

Beth Halloran  (Nikki Amuka-Bird) :Alien sleeper agent previously unaware of her non-human status. Has a husband named Mike. She's clinging to her humanity and it's not going well.

Favorite Quote:

Ianto: "Just us, in this room, as long as it takes...terrifying"
Jack: "Really?"
Ianto: "Absolutely, shivers down my spine."
Jack: "You don't look scared..."
Ianto: "it…passed"
Jack: *growl*

Never Noticed:

This episode is full of great moments. I've said it before and I'll just keep on it, it's brilliant, one of the best of the series. Every other line is my new favorite quote and every time I watch I pick up on little things that can easily go unnoticed. I've watched it enough times and I thought I noticed it all but there were at least two exchanges I never noticed. One almost directly follows the other.

First there is a brief tiff between Jack and Tosh. If you've been keeping up with these blog you'll know this time around watching Torchwood I am obsessed with their friendship so I am dissecting every encounter. When they return from stopping the would-be nuclear incident we see Tosh leaving Jack's office, it's a blink and you miss it moment. She says in her best impersonation of a bitch "I'll do it but I'm not happy." Jack responds with a snooty "Just do what you have to." NO IDEA what the context of that was but the best part as with many of these quick bits is the expressions from the actors. Bitchy Tosh and snooty Jack follow:

Then there is a dialogue told entirely in facial expressions between Jack and Ianto. Goes a little something like this:
Ianto: "I saw what you did..."
"...and you are going to regret it."
Jack: "You seem upset, are you upset?"
Jack: "I think he's upset!"
This scene and countless like it make me wish had the whole episode in screen-grab form. The actors really pulled out all the stops with instances like this. I wonder how much of it was planned. Do you think James Moran wrote in his script, "Ianto shoots Jack a glare making it clear he's not getting any tonight" and "Jack is oblivious and then sad". I really hope so. Man I'd love to see that script.

WTF Moments:

When Owen is examining Beth she says she's never been to the Doctor. On first viewing and to this day that has bothered me. Not because she's never wondered about her perfect health, I can deal with that. What bugged me was that most people get yearly physicals, so she would've been to the Doctor. Of course during our live re-watch I tweeted this hang up and someone was kind enough to set me straight. While yearly physicals are common practice in the United States, where I live, it seems that's not the case in the UK. Fine, I concede.

When they put Beth in the cell Gwen is reassuring her that they mean her no harm and that they only kill aliens as a last resort "kill or be killed" she says. Where was that policy in Greeks Bearing Gifts when Jack killed Mary? That was hardly a "kill or be killed" scenario. You're a liar Gwen Cooper. That or she's still very deluded as to how Torchwood works. The rules are constantly in flux and sometimes there is no right  choice.

I am still bothered by Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and the fact that they let John just go on his merry way instead of detaining him. Why was Jack so OK letting him loose on the world but so vehement about about keeping Beth under lock and key? I mean, I get that she's a more immediate threat and that John will hopefully stay away, but Jack is inconsistent. I guess he has to choose his battles.

The next two are not specific to this episode but got my attention at this particular time. They're more things that peeve me than WTF moments.

Am I the only one bothered by the fact Jack wears his Vortex Manipulator and a watch? You'd think since the VM can do, pretty much anything, it would have a time function. I suppose it's possible it doesn't or that he wears the watch for fashion rather than function, but, it's curious.

Gwen and Ianto. Fans of the show, especially those that deem themselves team Gwack or team Janto have perpetuated a rivalry between Gwen and Ianto. The supposed love triangle they are in "fighting" for Jack's love is so wildly exaggerated. Watch the show, their friends, they care about each other. I actually think they are an interesting pair and I hate that this conflict has been created. I was nearly convinced myself, thank golly for the re-watch. (PS I am team Janto, as if you didn't know).

MVC (Most Valuable Character)/MVA (Most Valuable Actor):

It's a joint category tonight because I absolutely cannot get over the brilliance of Ianto in this episode and that is greatly due to the genius work of Gareth throughout. If there was an award for second best facial expressions by an actor ,and why wouldn't there be, he'd get it (second of course to Harrison Ford, no one can touch that). Every single time the camera is on Ianto he's stealing the scene, even if he's not the focus. I think that has a lot to do with the subtle touches in Gareth's acting and the fact he's a very physical actor. Plus his comedic timing is perfect. Funny Ianto is not something we see every episode but his lines are expertly crafted by the mad genius James Moran. I think this is the best anyone wrote Ianto through every series of Torchwood. I also think James Moran must have a character crush on Ianto because he sure did showcase him. Not that I blame him. If Chris Chibnall is my favorite regular writer on the show, James Moran is my favorite guest writer. This is a stunning, very clever episode.

Episode Grade:

Despite it having a disturbing point of focus and villains, this episode is amongst my favorites. But I think it's highly underrated. Rarely do I hear it named along-side popular episodes and that's a shame. It's definitely the episode you love more with each viewing. That was certainly the case for me. I was genuinely moved by Beth's struggle and at the same time laughing at all of Ianto's inappropriately timed comments. There is something seriously twisted about this episode, and I suspect, James Moran. I mean that 100% as a compliment. This episode is the Mary Poppins of Torchwood, practically perfect in every way.

Tomorrow's Episode: To The Last Man (Series 2, Episode 3). Remember I'll be live tweeting my re-watch on the @BarrowmanDay twitter at 12:00am PST (US - West coast) and 8:00am GMT (UK). Hope you all can watch with me and chat.

That's it for today! Hope you enjoyed my run down. What did you all think of this episode? Did you notice anything new? What grade would you give it? xx


All "Countdown" Blogs

Finally I'm able to catch up with rewatch, I'm on summer holibobs and spent a week in the sticks with mum and dad (internet there is agonizingly slow so I've been completely offline).

I LOVE the Ianto/Jack exchange-of-looks you highlighted. Brilliant writing and acting, shows you can tell a lot without EXPLAINING EVERYTHING WITH MANY WORDS OF DIALOGUE ("Ianto's upset that Jack duct-taped the antenna to the car 'cos Ianto is very neat by nature and he has to clean the glue residue off the car and we all know what a bitch glue from that sort of tape can be and he's also upset 'cos Jack's sorta careless and messy and didn't think that Ianto would have a strop").

I have a problem with the brain probe scene. It's torture, pure and simple, and there is way too much of it going on in the world all the time. The whole scene is just too uncomfortable to watch, which is of course good. Sure, we know that Jack used to be a torturer, and we know he can be ruthless and even cruel.

I only became obsessed with TW last year, so don't know what fans thought of the torture scene when it was originally shown. I wonder if it caused as much discussion as Owen's use of alien pheromone spray in Everything Changes (the whole date-rape debacle).


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