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Cult Review

S02E03: 'To The Last Man'

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S02E03: 'To The Last Man'
Sometimes the final shot can stay with you forever. Think about the moving final image of Francois Truffaut's Les 400 Coups or Harrison Ford's ambiguous expression at the end of Blade Runner: The Director's Cut. 'To The Last Man's closing tracking shot of Toshiko, as she walks away from Owen, is another example of a resoundingly triumphant ending that conveys so much via the simple image.

Toshiko's face, in this short sequence, bears all the emotions of the episode as her countenance flits from a smile about the happy moments she shared with thawed soldier Tommy, sadness and regret at sending him back to his death, uncertainty about her own future - all underlined with a sense of her blossoming as a woman. It is poignant, touching and actress Naoko Mori and writer Helen Raynor deserve a great deal of credit for reaching such dramatic heights.

The episode consciously tones down the action in favour of a character based drama, functioning as a fine contrast to 'Sleeper' and 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang'. At times, the pacing does lag, with a slight impatience growing as little happens in the actual plot until the 'ghosts' from 1918 start to seep through into the present day and the dreaded Time Shift occurs. Fortunately, along the way the performances of Mori and the superb, understated Anthony Lewis as Tommy help us to emotionally invest in their predicament, meaning that the inevitable sadness contains greater impact.

Also thrown into the mix is a refreshingly non-mawkish glimpse at the brutality of war and humanity, as the shell-shocked Tommy will be murdered by his own comrades under the flimsy misdiagnosis of 'cowardice'. However, the Jack-Ianto snogfest does feel rather contrived and breaks up the flow of the narrative.

Overall, a moving episode that demonstrates the dramatic versatility of Torchwood in the vastly improved second series.


> Click here for our recap of this episode

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