The humorous slant to proceedings is evident from the beginning with the wonderfully realised ‘blowfish’ chase that instantly propels us into the action, equipped with a beaming smile. The laughs start flowing with the self-consciously iconic arrival of James Marsters’ Captain John, full of swagger, innuendo and a wonderful Star Wars reference in his answerphone message. It does edge dangerously close to parody at times, which threatens an attempt to take the narrative seriously and feel the potential danger, but Marsters is such a joy to watch, in a similar vein to his role in Buffy.
The change in Ianto Jones’ general demeanour is symbolic of the apparent change in tone for the show. Once a brooding misery guts whose idea of fun entailed stashing away his mangled cyberwoman girlfriend, he now seems to be equipped with the best one-liners and serves as the object of sexual attention from both Captains Jack and John.
However, there’s a certain something that leaves a feeling of unfulfillment as the end credits role, despite the tantalising "Gray" revelation. For the actual plot throughout the episode feels very disposable and non-engaging. Until the denouement, where Captain John finds himself bound to both explosives and Gwen, the storyline feels like more of an excuse to put certain characters together and watch them interact, with a distinct lack of urgency. Still, at least the camerawork helps to propel the action along, being fairly American in its adoption of the ‘MTV Aesthetic’ - packed full of quick zooms and fast cuts.
Although the episode feels like a passive viewing experience, it’s still enjoyable and generates a great deal of fun, mainly through the witty and smutty dialogue and confident performances.
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