Out of Time

Posted in Audio by - June 11, 2018
Out of Time

Aired 17 December 2006

A plane named Sky Gypsy that went missing during a flight in the 1950s lands in modern Cardiff after passing through the rift, and the three occupants’ attempts at reorientation and reintegration into a society that has changed so much become deeply intertwined with the lives of Torchwood Three’s members in ‘Out of Time’ by Catherine Tregenna.

Unsurprisingly, the story takes something of a three-pronged approach as it follows pilot Diane Holmes, merchant John Ellis, and Emma-Louise Cowell who must live in a hostel and come to terms with a world in which they are by themselves. Arguably the most prominent storyline is the love affair that develops between Diane and Owen, further fracturing the sordid relationship that had been developing between Gwen and him over earlier episodes. Owen has proven time and again that he can be crass and chauvinistic, but what begins as a simple infatuation quickly becomes a tale of unrequited love in a dynamic that Owen finds completely unfamiliar. Suddenly he finds himself buying Diane a dress and unable to think of anything else, and the mixture of fear and excitement he experiences humanises him far more than anything else yet has, especially when it’s clear that Diane will never be able to stay in one place and commit to one man. Louise Delamare and Burn Gorman share a wonderful chemistry together and create two dynamic and well-rounded characters in a very short time period to help anchor this episode with genuine emotion.

John’s storyline is equally enthralling for completely different reasons, and again Mark Lewis Jones must be commended for the incredible amount of emotion he is able to imbue into a character that starts off as a rather stereotypical 1950s stern father figure. Determined to find his son to provide him with a true sense of belonging in this strange land, John is devastated to learn that his now-aged son is suffering from dementia and does not remember him. Facing the end of his family line, John finds his only recourse to be suicide, stealing Ianto’s car keys and locking himself in his garage to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. Jack had tried to ease his transition by providing a supportive voice of calm reason throughout, but even he realises he will be unable to change John’s mind, and the final moments with the two beside each other in the car are perfectly pitched and directed for maximum poignant effect.

Emma-Louise’s storyline as she must adapt to the sexually open nature of modern society compared to the more conservative views of her own time is arguably the weakest, if only because so much of it is pitched as something more akin to a comedy than real drama. There are quite serious and effective moments as she briefly talks about her parents and as Gwen unwittingly admits without saying so much that Rhys may not be the man she was destined to be with while she is giving Emma-Louise the talk, but as a whole this element doesn’t quite stand up to the quality of the others even as the young woman most likely to fit into this society leaves for London. Still, while three storylines may have been a bit too much for one episode to try to develop and balance, ‘Out of Time’ is for the most part effective and should definitely have tremendous ramifications for Torchwood Three going forward even with the three guests departed. With a tremendous amount of authentic emotion and an emphasis on the development of the leads that is often put to the background, this is another fine example of the true potential of Torchwood when the nuance of humanity is the focus.

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