Posted in Episode by - July 13, 2018

Aired 13 February 2008

As science fiction shows continue to amass in numbers and episode counts, it’s understandably more difficult to deliver a sequence of truly novel ideas. At the same time, however, that means that there is a whole host of previously successful storylines just waiting to be revitalised with a novel spin, and Catherine Tregenna centres ‘Adam’ around the titular being who must insert himself into others’ memories to survive. With forgotten memories brought to the surface and known memories changing and becoming superseded by what Adam needs, this is a story filled with dramatic potential as the leads must rediscover who they are but also one that fails to fully resonate because of previous episodes’ shortcomings in character development and an unwillingness to fully commit to the idea, a statement perhaps best exemplified by the opening credits including small snippets of Adam inserted but not including a reshoot of the team iconically walking together with Adam included.

Gwen, of course, has received the most character development of anyone involved with Torchwood Three, and it makes sense that the audience is introduced to the mysterious Adam who has seemingly worked at Torchwood for three years when Gwen returns from Paris with Rhys and has no idea who he is. A quick touch from Adam fills her memories to mesh with the others, but in so doing he inadvertently wipes her memory of Rhys in the process. Rhys, for his part, has also been through an incredible amount and having Gwen ripped from him just after learning the truth about what she does is a heartbreaking prospect, and full credit must be given to Eve Myles who plays up the danger of an unfamiliar man confronting her in her home and to Kai Owen who expertly plays up the hurt and confusion of Rhys and later the true devotion that he will always have for Gwen no matter the circumstances. This storyline unsurprisingly forms the emotional core of the episode as Gwen tries to remember her life with Rhys that everyone else on her team assures her is real, and the glimpses into this duo’s past together and the struggles each face with Gwen not able to call upon the most crucial memories that form the basis of their relationship is poignantly delivered and effective. With Jack pushing the two together even as Gwen admits feelings for Jack and with Adam seemingly trying his best to help set Gwen’s memories right, Torchwood thankfully seems to fully understand that this relationship is crucial for the show as a whole.

A little less successful at least initially are the changes that Owen and Toshiko experience because of Adam’s manipulation, if only because they aren’t overtly noticeable for a good portion of the episode simply because they haven’t been brought into the spotlight with consistent characterisation all too often. Still, once these two begin to feature, Naoko Mori does well as the more confident Tosh who finds herself in a relationship with Adam and almost looks down pitifully upon the more meek Owen who finds himself pining for her, an aspect that Burn Gorman likewise brings to life engagingly. This role reversal of sorts is most effective because of the inescapable realisation of how poorly Owen has treated Tosh in the past, and Mori in particular is given a standout moment when faced with the prospect of losing another lover when the truth behind Adam is revealed and their lives must be put back in order. With Gareth David-Lloyd also giving a powerfully impactful performance as he is forced to believe that he is a brutal murderer without a heart, something Jack steadfastly refuses to believe, every member of the cast truly excels in his or her given moment.

Of course, Adam’s abilities mean that Jack’s mysterious pats also comes into focus, and the Boeshane Peninsula under an attack that resulted in the death of his father and the loss of his brother is cinematically shot and particularly notable and allows John Barrowman a chance to deliver a truly touching performance that Jack’s brash bravado rarely requires. Unsurprisingly, it’s Jack who discovers the truth behind Adam and, although the use of retcon on the team is a rather convenient way to get rid of Adam that doesn’t carry quite as much drama as other solutions could have entailed, the pointed admissions that the team is forced to make before taking the pill work well even if the story could have benefitted from more exploration of the Jack and Ianto dynamic. As a whole, though, ‘Adam’ does contain a lot of really strong material before sadly and inevitably hitting the reset button, but as a whole it doesn’t quite achieve classic status because of the expanded cast of characters that has not been equally defined in the past and the role reversal that is intriguing but ultimately offers little in the way of true inner exploration.

  • Release Date: 2/13/2008
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