Review of Torchwood ‘Immortal Sins’

Neela Debnath

starz unit torchwood episod2 300x200 Review of Torchwood ‘Immortal Sins’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 7, series 4 of ‘Torchwood’

This week ‘Torchwood’ delved into Jack’s long, long life but unfortunately it focused on a post-Doctor period in his past. The episode flicked back and forth between 1920s New York and the present day where Gwen has kidnapped Jack in order to save her family.

Plot-wise it seemed a bit underhand to reveal this hidden ace so late in game with the introduction of Angelo Colasanto (Daniele Favilli), the man who can explain Miracle Day. Then again, could it be just another red herring? The audience has been thrown so many:  the Soulless cult, Ellis Hartley Monroe, the Chief Operating Officer of PhiCorp Stuart Owens, etc. Whether or not they are meant to keep the audience guessing, they are becoming tiresome. Let’s hope that Angelo is the key to why people are no longer dying.

With regards to the hostage situation involving Gwen’s family, it all seemed to be resolved far too quickly and the adrenaline evaporated promptly. Despite this series being stretched out over the course of 10 episodes, there are times when the structure comes into question, particularly with these sudden resolutions.

There is an expectation that given the lengthy nature of the story-telling, there will be a richly woven and textured narrative. Yet there have been too many loose ends and threads that lead to nowhere. Three episodes remain and yet the audience still knows very little. Will the series be tied up neatly or will there be too many unanswered questions?

Putting plot flaws to one side, the most notable thing about ‘Immortal Sins’ was the gay sex scenes between Jack and Angelo.  ‘Torchwood’ is known for its sexual content and its depiction of homosexual and heterosexual relationships. The sex featured in the show has received both criticism and praise over the years. This year the BBC has received complaints over the sexual content of ‘Miracle Day’, with some viewers saying that the gay sex scenes were inappropriate. On top of this, the BBC edited some sex scenes in episode 3 specifically for British audiences, and ironically this caused more complaints because it was not the same as the American version.

However, this week is likely to raise far more complaints for being inappropriate. The scenes were more graphic than what audiences may have seen in the previous three series. It was more explicit but it was not gratuitous instead it was integral to the storyline, given that the flashbacks are set in an era where homosexuality could result in imprisonment or hard labour.

Also, the scenes are important as they illustrate Angelo’s struggle between his sexual desire and his faith as a Catholic man. Moreover, Angelo views their love-making as something special and criticises Jack for cheapening it. The way in which the scenes have been shot takes it away from the gritty world of ‘Torchwood’; the screen seems slightly blurred and the lines softened. It is a sensitive exploration of homosexuality and is relevant in the context of the show.

The other sequence that will cause consternation is where Jack is repeatedly killed after Angelo discovers that he is immortal. It is horrific and hard-going for viewers but is part of the show’s cynical view on humanity and the terrible things that human beings are capable of doing to each other. This is not the first time that Jack has been tortured or murdered, it also happened in series 2’s ‘Fragments’ when he was held by members of the Victorian Torchwood team.

‘Torchwood’ is an adult programme with adult content and themes. Despite the sometimes weak writing, it challenges and pushes boundaries like all good television should.

Tagged in:
  • Chuck Foster

    “but unfortunately it focused on a post-Doctor period in his past.” – but *all* of Jack’s story is set in a post-Doctor period, he didn’t become immortal until after Rose made him so back in The Parting of the Ways!

  • Cathy Norman

    I would rather see Jack and Angelo get it on than having to see Danes ever again. I find a paedophile so much more offensive and wrong.

  • KeemaD

    I don’t think focusing on a post Doctor Jack is unfortunate either. It would be interesting to know what he was doing before the Doctor but most of what went on in his life happened post Doctor when he became iimmortal. I also think that the show wimped out on the no longer dying thing. Now people can become category one and be burned to death. A new definition of dead but unless you can come back to life from ash like Jack can…you are dead. 

  • Carl Rood

    It appears as if the first seven episodes will be rendered irrelevant.  Torchwood didn’t really uncover anything regarding the mystery except a few words.  If Jack would come along at the mere mention of Angelo’s name, what was the point of the kidnapping?  What was the point of everything since Jack returned?  A phone call in episode 1 would have sufficed.

  • Cyberbob2112

    Why is jack suddenly gay and no longer bi-sexual?

    Seems to be more interested in homosexuality than good story telling…shame:(

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter