The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Torchwood Episode Review: Ghost Machine

“Ghost Machine”
Written by Helen Raynor, dir. by Colin Teague
Torchwood – Series 1 – Episode 3

Rating: B-

Being that I think Owen is by far the weakest member of the Torchwood team, this episode had an in-built problem in that it was heavily focused on that character. The Torchwood team discovers an alien device that allows the user to see memories of the past, which leads to Owen accidentally seeing the events leading to a young girl’s rape and murder nearly half a century ago. When he discovers that the killer was never found and was allowed to go free, he makes it a personal mission to track down the murderer and somehow bring him to justice, despite the rest of the team telling him it isn’t their business and they don’t have any real evidence.

Stories like this are good for characters because it actually makes them more likable. I still think Owen Harper is the least likable character on the show, but showing that he cared enough about the girl he had no previous knowledge of to look into her murder only in the interest of bringing her justice, it makes Owen slightly more likable. I also think it is strong characterization in that it makes sense that someone would react like that, considering that he witnessed something awful like that and had to go through the emotion of it; it would be a traumatic experience for anyone, and I have to say that if I was a super secret agent with the capability Owen has, I would do the same thing.

The episode has a few issues early on, as it takes a while for the action plot of the episode to get going. It has a much slower build that it ought to have, as there are a lot of moments in the first fifteen minutes or so of the episode that didn’t really have anything to do with what turned out to be the overall story. The Owen plot line doesn’t really even start at all until the second third of the story, and as a result of that, I think it could have been overall a better executed episode than it was.

That being said, I still think there was a lot more good about this episode than bad. It is nice to see a show that allows its supporting characters to occasionally take the center stage, and it is also good that they take characterization seriously. Adding depth to Owen was a definitely necessary thing that I was worried wouldn’t ever really happen, but I’m glad it did. I am still really deeply enjoying this series, three episodes in. Still waiting to get to the crap everyone has talked about.


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