In which Torchwood are alerted to a Rift opening at a nearby airfield. An aircraft - the Sky Gypsy - comes in to land, with its pilot and two passengers on board. The plane had taken off in 1953, and entered the Rift. The pilot is Diane Holmes, and the passengers are businessman John Ellis, and a young woman named Emma-Louise Cowell. They are informed that they have travelled through time, and it is now the 21st Century. The trio have to be taken under Torchwood's wing, to learn about modern living. Ianto takes them to a supermarket to do some shopping, and they are given accommodation in a hostel. Each of them is paired up with a team member to help them adjust. John is looked after by Jack, and Emma-Louise by Gwen, who passes her off to Rhys as a distant cousin. Owen looks after Diane.
Diane wants to fly again, and is frustrated by the number of rules and health and safety regulations which stand in her way. She and Owen become lovers. John goes in search of his son, only to find that he is an old man suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. He is in a nursing home, with no family to care for him. The old man briefly remembers an incident from his childhood, but little else. Emma-Louise is shocked by the apparent promiscuity she sees around her. John seems to find adapting to their new life the hardest, and is angry with Emma-Louise when he sees her drinking with a couple of the hostel residents. Rhys is upset when he discovers that Gwen has lied to him and Emma-Louise is not a relative.
Jack discovers that Ianto's car has disappeared and goes to where John used to have his shop. He finds him in the vehicle in the garage, about to end his life. At first trying to stop him, Jack is talked into helping him commit suicide. He knows first hand the pain of outliving loved ones. Emma-Louise gets the offer of work in London, due to her retro fashion sense chiming with contemporary tastes. Gwen tries to talk her into staying in Cardiff, but Emma-Louise gets on a bus for London. Owen discovers that Diane is going to return in the plane to the Rift. Nothing he can say can change her mind, and she flies off - leaving him heartbroken.
Out of Time was written by Catherine Tregenna, and was first broadcast on 17th December, 2006. It's the first of four scripts Tregenna will write for Torchwood, the others being this season's Captain Jack Harkness, and Series 2's Meat and Adam. She later wrote The Woman Who Lived for Doctor Who Series 9.
As with the previous episode, this is very much a character piece, with no aliens or alien tech. The only villain is Time, which has robbed some of the anachronistic trio of the lives they should have led. Only one of them, the youngest, decides to make a new home for herself in the 21st Century. Diane goes running off to see if she can get back home, or possibly have further adventures elsewhere. She lives to fly and, despite all her years of experience, bureaucracy won't let her. A blunt, no-nonsense sort of man, it is seeing his elderly son which is the last straw for John. He cannot see himself in this new world. He should be dead by now, so decides to kill himself.
Gwen loses a new friend, though she has the consolation of being able to keep in touch with Emma-Louise. Owen is particularly affected by Diane's abandonment of him. For once he has met a woman whom he actually loves, after years of one-night stands. This will play out over the remainder of the season. Jack dies once again, this time agreeing to remain with John in a car full of carbon monoxide fumes. He tells John that there is no afterlife - just a black void - but John's mind is made up. Jack clearly sees something of himself in John - a man out of time.
The trio are played by Mark Lewis Jones (John), Louise Delamere (Diane) and Olivia Hallinan (Emma-Louise).
Overall, another quieter storyline for the series. Initially there is a lot of humour to be gleaned from the fishes out of water, but then things darken in the second half and it becomes quite moving. If you liked Random Shoes you will probably like this one as well.
Things you might like to know:
- For the plane spotters amongst you, the Sky Gypsy is a de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide. These first saw service in the mid 1930's as short haul cargo aircraft.
- Owen's rejection by Diane will form a story arc for the rest of the season, as he becomes suicidally reckless in the next story, and is at odds with his colleagues in the final two episodes.
- The supermarket which Ianto takes the trio to is an ASDA, though the BBC tried very hard to disguise this fact.
- Diane surmises that the aviator Amelia Earhart might have flown into the Rift, or something similar. Earhart disappeared with her navigator in the summer of 1937 in the Pacific. It is widely believed that her plane crashed into the sea after running out of fuel when they could not find their destination, though there is also a theory that she may have been captured as a spy by the Japanese. Star Trek: Voyager had her abducted by aliens and transported to the Delta Quadrant.
- John speaks to his son about the 1953 FA Cup, which took place at Wembley Stadium on 2nd May. Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4 - 3, after being 3 - 1 down. The match is known as the Matthews Final - as it was Stanley Matthews who rallied his team to make up the three goal deficit. Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick - the only player ever to do so in an FA Cup Final at the old Wembley.