Tuesday, 17 October 2017

They Keep Killing Suzie - Torchwood 1.8

In which the Torchwood team are called to a crime scene by Detective Kathy Swanson. A young couple have been murdered in their home - and the killer has written "TORCHWOOD" on the wall in their blood. When the victims' blood is tested, it is found to be full of Compound B67 - the Retcon drug Torchwood uses to wipe people's memories. Only someone connected to the team could have carried out these killings. There have been other killings prior to this one. Gwen suggests that they use the Resurrection Glove on the victims to learn more about the killer. Jack is initially reluctant, as it was her obsession with the gauntlet that had led Suzie Costello to commit murder before ultimately killing herself. The glove is used, and one of the dead men identifies the killer as a man named Max, who is part of something called "Pilgrim", and that Max is known to Suzie. Searching through her belongings in storage, the team learn that Pilgrim is a support group - and Suzie had been a member.

Jack decides that they must use the glove on Suzie, whose body has been in cold storage in the Hub since her suicide. At first Gwen finds the glove does not work - mainly because Suzie had threatened to kill her all those months ago. They decide to use the knife which Suzie had used in her murders. On being stabbed by Gwen in the chest, Suzie immediately awakes. However, she is not just alive again for a minute or two - she is back for good. Jack questions her about the killings, and Suzie admits she gave Max an overdose of Retcon every week over a long period of time. She would use the group to talk about her experiences with Torchwood, then make everyone forget what she had said. This overdosing has induced a psychotic state in Max. She tells Jack that there is still one more member of the support group still alive, Lucie, and Max is sure to go after her. Whilst Jack and the rest of the team rush to the bar where Lucie works, Suzie and Gwen talk. Suzie reveals that her father is dying, and she had wanted to use the glove on him. Max is captured and locked up in the Hub vaults.

Owen makes a shocking discovery. Suzie is stealing Gwen's life-force in order to remain alive. Eventually, Gwen will die and Suzie will be restored to complete heath. When they go to warn Gwen, they discover that she and Suzie have gone. Gwen has decided to take Suzie to see her father in hospital. In the vaults, Max starts to recite a poem by Emily Dickinson, and the Hub suffers a total power loss. Suzie had set up this verbal command before she died to over-ride the systems. Jack must call upon Detective Swanson for help in finding the code words that will restore power, whilst Suzie and Gwen travel to the hospital. Gwen is starting to weaken, a bullet hole slowly forming in her head, as Suzie's heals. Gwen is shocked when Suzie, instead of curing her father, kills him, as she always really hated him. Jack and the others are released when they work out the code to disable the power loss, and give chase. Suzie tries to flee on a ferry but is shot down. She doesn't die however. Jack then orders Tosh to destroy the glove, as it still connects the two women. As soon as it is destroyed, Suzie dies - first warning that something is coming out of the dark, and Ianto points out to Jack that gloves usually come in pairs...

They Keep Killing Suzie was written by Paul Tomalin and Dan McCulloch, and was first broadcast on 3rd December, 2006. Tomalin is best known for contributing to Shameless, whilst McCulloch has exec-produced Inspector Morse sequel series Endeavour, and the Jenna Coleman vehicle Victoria. This is their only Doctor Who-related work.
Whilst Cyberwoman had been a sequel of sorts to a Doctor Who story, this episode marks the rare occasion when a Torchwood episode gets a sequel - namely the opening episode Everything Changes. In that, Suzie had become obsessed with investigating how the Resurrection Glove worked, to the point that she would create new victims for her to test it upon. Once unmasked, she knew that she could never escape from Torchwood, and so killed herself with a gunshot to the head. She, and the glove, make a come-back here. She seems to have foreseen what was going to happen to her, setting up Max over a couple of years and preparing the voice activated power loss.
It had always been a surprise when Suzie had died at the end of the first episode, as Indira Varma was  - after John Barrowman - the biggest name in the cast for the new series, and she featured prominently in the pre-publicity.

As well as its links to a previous episode, this story also attempts to get a story arc going. Suzie's dying words talk of something coming out of the dark, and Ianto flags up that there could well be a second glove somewhere. These hints won't come to fruition until the second series, though some thought that the former was a reference to Abaddon from the first series finale.
Indira Varma is obviously the main guest for this episode, but playing Detective Swanson is Yasmin Bannerman, who had been Jabe in The End of the World.
Overall, a strong episode, which finally shows the series starting to build a mythology of its own (it has been incredibly piecemeal up to this point).
Things you might like to know:

  • The code to stop the power outage in the Hub proves to be the ISBN of the Collected Works of Emily Dickinson - whose poem "The Chariot" has started it. However, the ISBN Jack actually quotes is from another work entirely - The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
  • This episode was originally written as an extra commission, in case another story fell through. Russell T Davies liked it so much he promoted it to form part of the series. It was he who asked for the suggestion of a second glove to be added - so that it could be called upon later if needed.
  • The episode title is usually taken as a reference to South Park, in which they keep killing Kenny. There is also an episode of The Avengers called "They Keep Killing Steed". The title was initially just "They Keep Killing" prior to the start of the series, as they did not want to give away Suzie's death in the opening episode.
  • The second glove will turn up in Dead Man Walking - the third of the Martha Jones trilogy of episodes in Series 2, as will the thing in the darkness. This is Duroc, an embodiment of Death.
  • It had been planned that Suzie would make further reappearances in the programme, but Varma was pregnant during the making of the second series, and the character did not fit with the third and fourth series - even though the latter (Miracle Day) is all about people being unable to die.

No comments:

Post a Comment