Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Greeks Bearing Gifts - Torchwood 1.7

In which the Torchwood team are called in when a corpse is found on a construction site. It bears the same marks as a number of recent murders - with its ribs broken open. However, this body appears to be nearly 200 years old. Beside it is a device whose origins are unknown, but which appears to be of advanced technological design. A young woman named Mary observes the team as they work. Owen has the body transported to the Hub so he can investigate further, along with the strange device.
Tosh, meanwhile, is feeling out of sorts. She is in love with Owen, but he never shows any affection for her. She feels that she is not appreciated by her colleagues, and can be the brunt of their jokes. She takes herself to a bar, where she is approached by Mary. She claims to know all about Torchwood, and says that she is a collector of alien artefacts. She gives Tosh a pendant, and she is shocked to find that it lets her hear other people's thoughts.

The next day, Tosh wears it to work and learns about the relationship between Owen and Gwen, as well as the distress which Ianto still feels over the death of Lisa. Returning home, she finds Mary waiting outside her flat, and invites her in. She discovers that Mary has sexual feelings for her. The two kiss, and sleep together. Tosh finds that she can confide things in Mary that she can't with her colleagues. She asks Mary who she really is, and Mary says that she is "Philoctetes".
Back at the Hub, Owen's claims that the skeleton was of a woman who died by a gunshot have been disproved. The victim was male - like the recent murder victims - and the hole in the chest was where the heart was torn out. Later, Tosh uses the pendant in the street and learns that a man is going to kill his family. She follows him and stops him in time.

Mary wants Tosh to find out if Jack knows about the device that was recovered. Tosh finds that she cannot read his mind. He has heard of how she saved the family, and distrusts her version of events. She asks him who Philoctetes was, and he explains that this was a character from Greek mythology who was exiled on the island of Lemnos for 10 years.
Mary later reveals the truth about herself, when she transforms into an ethereal alien being. She wants Tosh's help getting the device back, as it will take her home. She fears that the others will lock her up. Tosh smuggles her into the Hub, only to be confronted by Jack who is holding the device. He knows that it is a transporter for two people - a prisoner and escort. Mary takes Tosh hostage. She reveals that she came to Earth in 1812 and took over the body of Mary, a young prostitute. She has been living on human hearts over the decades. Jack gives her the device and she activates it, ready to leave. However, Jack has reprogrammed it, and it takes her into the heart of the sun.
The others are furious at Tosh for listening to their innermost thoughts - especially Gwen and Owen. Gwen tells her that she seemed happy with Mary, and should find herself someone. Jack refuses to say why she could not read his mind. Tosh smashes the pendant.

Greeks Bearing Gifts was written by Toby Whithouse, and was first broadcast on 26th November, 2006. At the time, he had one Doctor Who story under his belt - School Reunion - and was known for creating the series Being Human.
The title derives from the story of the Trojan Horse, the phrase coming to mean anything which appears to be beneficial at first, but then proves not to be. In this instance, it refers to the pendant. It allows Tosh to hear other what people are thinking, but she may not like what she hears. Mary uses an alias from Greek mythology - the archer Philoctetes. He was exiled by his own side whilst on route to the Trojan war, remaining on Lemnos for a decade until a prophesy claimed the Greeks would only defeat Troy if his bow and arrow, which had been left to him by Heracles, were used. He was rescued from exile and fought in the final battle for the city.
This episode obviously focuses on Tosh, but also moves the story of Gwen and Owen on a little. Gwen admits to Tosh that she knows her relationship with the MD is wrong, but she cannot stop herself. We also learn that Ianto still grieves for Lisa.

There's only one real guest star here - Daniela Denby-Ashe, as Mary. She first came to prominence in Eastenders, and then spent over a decade on the BBC sitcom My Family.
Overall, it is a much better episode than the previous week's offering. Still very adult, with a same-sex relationship and Mary's heart ripping.
Things you might like to know:

  • Seven episodes in, and everyone in the team has now had a same-sex kiss.
  • A couple of Cyberman references. Owen has an X-Ray of a Cyberman in his morgue, and he mentions someone who keeps seeing Cybermen outside his house ever since the battle of Canary Wharf. And of course, Ianto is thinking about Lisa, who became the Cyberwoman.
  • UNIT gets a mention, as Tosh is supposed to be preparing a list for them.
  • Mary's true form is reused by the Mill for the pilot episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures - Invasion of the Bane. There it is recognised as a benign Arcateenian, a star poet. See my A-Z post for more on them.
  • Tosh claims she wanted to know who Philoctetes was as it was a question in a pub quiz. The name of the pub she gives as The Prince of Tides - which was a 1991 romantic drama starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. Have googled this and there are definitely no pubs or bars in the UK with that name. There is a beach shack restaurant in Goa, however. (5 stars on tripadvisor, if you're ever that way).

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