Reset

Posted in Episode by - July 14, 2018
Reset

Aired 13 February 2008

The arrival of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones to Cardiff’s Torchwood Three was easily one of the most anticipated aspects of this second series of Torchwood, and J.C. Wilsher’s ‘Reset’ finally brings her aboard to help solve the strange mystery behind a spate of recent deaths. Martha, of course, has a very personal connection with Jack due to their independent and shared experiences with the Doctor, and that connection is a constant source of consternation for the remainder of Jack’s team who knows so very little about him despite their close working relationships with him. Since leaving the Doctor, Martha has become a highly valued member of UNIT, given a strong recommendation from the Doctor himself that speaks to her incredible strengths and talents and that perhaps also acts on some level as an apology for the personal turmoil he may have inadvertently caused her. Although this naturally brings with it the question of why Torchwood and UNIT remain distinct entities that don’t merge or at least collaborate more often, the deeper understanding that Jack and Martha share as Martha’s medical skills are fully put to the test makes for an engaging introduction to Agyeman’s three-story guest appearance role.

Naturally, Owen tries to gauge her interest in him and, naturally, Martha shuts him down quite quickly, but while he continues to probe to find out more information about her time with and knowledge about Jack, the two make for a quite effective duo when pooling their own collective medical experiences and knowledge. With every victim suffering from shock and having records of a serious pre-existing condition, the team quickly discovers that the deceased have all been test subjects for a drug named Reset. As one patient expires and a strange but dangerous group of larval creatures burst forth, however, it seems clear that the company known as Pharm is experimenting with something far beyond anything available on Earth.

Within the walls of this company that seemingly has the authority to shut down any Torchwood investigation, Alan Dale gives a strong performance as Aaron Copley who understandably lies about any knowledge of the experiments he oversees. There’s no question that the work is amoral, and ‘Reset’ touches on that aspect without ever becoming too overbearing, but Dale is able to imbue a certain understated balance to his performance at the needed moments to make his passion for progress in his quest for the eradication of disease almost understandable despite the immense cost. When Martha infiltrates the organisation because of her lack of Torchwood credentials and with a stated case of hepatitis, however, Dale ratchets up the menace and danger as Martha uses Torchwood technology connected to Toshiko to uncover the true secrets behind the mayflies growing within humans and Weevils alike and eventually finds herself captive and the recipient of a stronger dose of Reset when it is discovered that she has traveled through time and space.

Agyeman excels when tasked with bringing Martha’s physical agony and torment to life, and ‘Reset’ wisely brings Owen to the forefront as his alien singularity scalpel that had so spectacularly failed his own tests earlier proves to be the only solution available. While there’s little doubt that it will work properly when Martha’s life hangs in the balance, this scene is fueled with its own tension and danger, and any celebration is cut horribly short when the plan to shut down Pharm results in Copley shooting Owen squarely in the head. It’s a testament to Burn Gorman’s performance and the profound turnaround in characterisation that has made Owen a more sympathetic and even likable character in this second run of episodes that this resonates so powerfully, though it does seem unlikely that his absence will be permanent given the remit of the organisation. Still, although the presence of Martha doesn’t change the working dynamic of Torchwood all too much, everything comes together to offer a satisfyingly tense instalment that should have major ramifications going forward.

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