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Cult Review

S02E04: 'Meat'

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S02E04: 'Meat'
'Meat' is a juicy treat to devour, combining heightened drama, genuine emotion and nice touches of humour.

The decision to foreground the supporting character Rhys works very well, enabling us to experience the mundane aspect of everyday working life and forming a clever contrast with the activities of Torchwood. Sharing his subjective perspective also allows us to once again be in awe of the actual Torchwood Hub, as we share his wonder in much the same way as we did with Gwen in the first episode. Since then, familiarity with the environment has taken hold, so it's fitting to be reminded of its sublime architecture and swirling pterodactyl.

The furious domestic argument between the couple, a unique spin on the kitchen sink melodrama usually seen in EastEnders, has a real impact and emotional honesty due to the wonderfully earnest performances from Kai Owen and Eve Myles. Packed full of expletives, sexual jealousy and resentment, there's a real naturalistic edge to the scene. They patch up their differences and proclaim their deep love for each other, but just witness the tantalising look that Gwen gives Jack when she snogs Rhys in the Hub. Sometimes a simple image can say more than a thousand words.

The eco-friendly plot ensures we feel for the plight of the space blubber, with the emotive howls of pain, big puppy-dog eyes and heartfelt score all combining to test the tear ducts. It cleverly enables Captain Jack to display a forgotten aspect of his character, given his recent ruthlessness with Beth and Tommy, by highlighting his sympathy for the distressed creature and desperation for it to survive. Fortunately, the eventual 'mercy killing' just about manages to stay on the right side of contrived sentimentality. The melancholic tone of 'Meat' is also occasionally eased by some witty lines courtesy of chief quipper Ianto Jones, with his "we could release a single" line a hilarious riposte to the suggestion that the space whale meat could feed the world.

'Meat' isn't totally tasty however. The villains of the piece appear to be two-dimensional plot functions rather than humans, while there's a distinct moral black hole in the episode. Namely, why are the team so against the murder for meat of an alien creature when they are only to happy to buy Meat Feast pizzas that benefit from the slaughter of cows and pigs? Mammals of this planet that have feelings, individual characters and the ability to emotively howl in pain like a blob from outer space can do. Come on Torchwood - you have to turn veggie now!

We await aliens disguising themselves as lumps of tofu in a bid to infiltrate the Hub in future episodes.


> Click here for our recap of this episode

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