Dead Man Walking (Torchwood)
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"Dead Man Walking" is the seventh episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood. It was broadcast by BBC Three and BBC HD on 20 February 2008;[dead link] it made its terrestrial debut on BBC Two on 27 February.
|20 – "Dead Man Walking"|
|Directed by||Andy Goddard|
|Written by||Matt Jones|
|Script editor||Gary Russell|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes|
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies|
|Running time||50 mins|
|First broadcast||20 February 2008|
The Torchwood team are in a state of shock. Owen Harper is about to be opened up for autopsy by Martha Jones. Jack, however, orders everyone to leave Owen alone until he returns. Jack rushes to a place where he talks to a young girl, a fortune teller. The girl presents a tarot card with Jack's face on it and tells him where to find what he is looking for; as he leaves, she is seen holding a card depicting Death.
Jack arrives at an abandoned church. It is also the home of many Weevils. He locates a box which holds the item he desires, and returns to the Hub. To the team's astonishment, Jack has a left-handed resurrection glove, similar to the right-handed one that was used by Suzie and Gwen. Gwen objects to what Jack is doing, reminding him of what happened with Suzie; Jack ignores this and hopes to resurrect Owen for two minutes so they can say goodbye. He resurrects Owen, who is confused and scared. Toshiko confesses her love, and Jack, after asking for the codes to the morgue, prepares Owen for death. Owen stops responding, and Jack believes he is dead. The team is then shocked to hear Owen's voice, and realise the plan has backfired.
As with Suzie, Owen was brought back from death permanently, although this time there is no obvious source. No energy was drained from Jack, as Suzie was draining energy from Gwen, but Owen is getting energy from somewhere. Toshiko tries to tell Owen that she meant what she said before, with Owen replying she was experiencing a textbook reaction to grief.
Owen has visions of himself shrouded in darkness and hearing whispers. He also temporarily loses control of his body when his eyes turn black and he speaks in an unknown language. Although put in quarantine, Owen heads to a bar, where he discovers that he cannot digest, or pump blood (in order to have sex), as his bodily processes have stopped. Jack finds him and a brawl ensues, which results in their being arrested. During their time in a cell, Owen vomits the drinks that were undigested in his stomach and starts to panic. Jack tells him that his immortality is not as good as Owen suspects. They then leave after Jack reveals his thoughts on immortality. Once outside, they encounter Weevils who chase them onto a rooftop. They are surprised to see the Weevils bow to Owen, who addresses the Weevils in the unknown language.
Upon analysis, it is found that Owen's cells are changing, and upon 100% transformation something will happen. Research shows that a similar situation occurred in legend, and that Death came back with the revived person and searched for 13 victims, whose consumed souls would enable Death to remain in the world. The story details that 'Faith' prevented it. Believing this legend is repeating, Owen suggests that his neural pathways should be closed by being embalmed. During the process, the resurrection gauntlet activates. The team spreads out and tries to find the gauntlet, meanwhile Ianto runs and grabs a field hockey stick. The gauntlet attacks Martha, draining her life force and ageing her rapidly. Owen shoots the gauntlet before his cells fully change, and he loses control. Death then speaks - "I will walk the earth forever, and my hunger shall know no bounds", before killing Jack.
After reviving, Jack finds they have come to the hospital to get Martha treatment. A doctor says Martha's chances of survival are slim. The team evacuates the hospital while Death, after taking twelve souls, chases after a young leukaemia patient (Jamie Burton) who, while in the toilet with his console, was left behind. Owen saves the child and helps him and Tosh to escape. Ianto, monitoring Martha, explains that the "Faith" which defeated Death was actually a resurrected child named Faith. Owen realises that he is the only one who can defeat Death as he is dead. After kissing Tosh, Owen fights Death, consuming its energy and forcing it back into the darkness, also restoring Martha to her original age.
In the Hub, Martha explains that the energy keeping Owen undead is dissipating, and she is unsure how long it will last. Jack explains to Toshiko that you can never defeat death, only evade it. Owen begs Jack for his job back as he feels he owes something to the people who died, and that he is still able to do his job despite being dead. Jack considers the issue.
- The use of a second resurrection gauntlet leads to many references to that used by Suzie Costello in "Everything Changes" and "They Keep Killing Suzie". Ianto reprises his line "That's the thing about gloves - they come in pairs..." from the latter episode.
- Jack states in "They Keep Killing Suzie" that the first resurrection gauntlet fell through the rift approximately forty years earlier and lay at the bottom of Cardiff Bay until the team dredged it, without stating when the dredging occurred. Ianto tells Martha in this episode that it was dredged "last year".
- "Dead Man Walking" was the title of the Torchwood Declassified episode which accompanied the Series 1 episode, "Random Shoes".
- The mysterious little girl is seen again, more than a century earlier, in "Fragments." In this episode she specifically says "I've been waiting to see the Captain again," possibly referring to that earlier encounter.
- Owen tells the police to call his work phone and ask for "PC Cooper", confirming Gwen's statement to Rhys in "Day One" that her position with Torchwood is a secondment and that she retains her warrant and rank.
The unknown language that Owen speaks during his possession uses words taken from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R Donaldson: Melenkurion abatha, duroc minas mill khabaal, referred to in that universe as the Seven Words. (The source material contains an additional word, harad, omitted here, which is also omitted in some instances in the source material.) Owen recites the latter four over and over again, and Toshiko's translation device associates the word duroc with hunger. In the Covenant novels however, these words are a blessing calling upon the beneficent magical force of Earthpower.
Owen also references Monty Python when he tells Martha what death is like. He tells her "the man at the pearly gates" said to him, "You're a very naughty boy," which is a line from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
IGN complained that "this episode leaves much to be desired and placed an emphasis on style over substance, and even then – some of that style was downright shoddy." Digital Spy, on the other hand, praised the episode as "full of thrills and witty writing that is underpinned by a sublime, multi-layered performance from Burn Gorman."
- "Radio Times; Torchwood listing for 20 February". Retrieved 7 February 2008.
- Fickett, Travis (11 March 2008). "TORCHWOOD: "DEAD MAN WALKING" REVIEW". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Rawson-Jones, Ben (27 February 2008). "S02E07: 'Dead Man Walking'". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
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