By DJ Forrest
In 1818 Mary Shelley wrote the novel ‘Frankenstein’. It told of an eccentric scientist called Victor Frankenstein who created a monster in his laboratory and brought it to life using galvanism – direct current electricity, also known as voltaism.
As much as the experiment was a success the result of the creature coming to life scared Frankenstein enough that he fled the laboratory. The monster itself also left the laboratory and lived in a peasants woodshed, afraid to show its face due to its deformities, and only coming out at night to eavesdrop on the family inside to listen to their conversation, learning from them how to speak for itself. It also befriended the blind father of the family who was unable to view its disfigurement and formed a friendship, strengthening its ability to converse and learn more skills. However on the return of the family, it was driven away.
The monster upset by the behaviour of people towards it, after rescuing a peasant woman from drowning in a river and was shot in the shoulder for its troubles sought revenge against the whole of humanity and made its home on a mountain top where it felt safe. The monster called for Frankenstein to make it a bride so that it could have something that belonged to the creature, but despite Frankenstein agreeing to this, Victor halted the procedure killing the bride.
The monster made it his mission to destroy all that Frankenstein held dear by killing his best friend Henry Clerval and his bride Elizabeth Lavenza who was Victor’s half sister, this in turn broke Victor’s father’s heart and he later died.
With nothing left in his life, Victor Frankenstein made it his life’s mission to find the monster and put an end to its life. The mission ends in the Arctic Circle, when after slipping into the water after losing control of his dogsled and contracting severe pneumonia, Victor is rescued by a ship exploring the region and relays his story to the Captain Robert Walton before giving in to the illness and dying. When the monster boarded the ship to take his revenge on Frankenstein he was overcome by grief at the sight of the dead man.
From there the monster vowed to travel to the ‘northernmost extremity of the globe’ where he’d burn himself on a funeral pyre so that he would become ash, in order for no other man to create another monster like him. He disappeared on his raft and was never heard of again!
In the parallel universe, the leader of the Cybus industries, John Lumic was a man with a vision but he was also a man dying from an incurable disease and used a motorised wheelchair to get around. In order to extend his lifespan he created a metal bodied creature that he could one day be transferred into for longer life, and would be able to walk and not be confined to a metal chair. But to test out the metal body he needed subjects, so by collecting up the homeless he had them brought to the testing facility in Battersea Power Station, the Cybus factory in London and turned them into cybermen.
Having already created the earpods where the visuals of the internet were downloaded into the human brains, faster than the links to a mobile phone, where all people were fed exactly the same information, and the same jokes, the humans were already partly upgraded to follow orders laid down by Lumic. So that when Prime Minister for Great Britain refused to allow John Lumic the chance to put his project in motion, he had the Prime Minister killed and prepared his metal army for battle.
When Lumic now transferred a little ahead of schedule, into the walking Cyber leader was destroyed at the end of ‘Age of Steel’ we thought this was the last we’d see of the metal monsters, but as with any SF story ‘life finds a way’, the cybermen returned in ‘Army of Ghosts‘and ‘Doomsday’ which would significantly be the moment when Lisa Hallett and Ianto Jones’s story officially began.
The battle of Canary Wharf saw the cybermen coming through the void using the ghost shift, in the Torchwood One building. Establishing themselves in the building in London, they began upgrading humans, the earpods were installed, which were fitted to their brains, the human was already dead. Using the humans with the earpods the cybermen were able to override the manual controls to bring through the entire army of cybermen. It wasn’t an invasion, it was a victory. The cybermen were on Earth, and there were armies of them in every known city and country right across the planet. But not only were there cybermen, in a basement, there was the piece of timelord science, the Dalek prison ship. So the battle commenced, and while cybermen were battling the Daleks, more bodies were called for and instead of upgrading only the brains of the humans, they were upgrading full bodies. And the new form of cyberwoman was created.
But how does this story compare to Frankenstein?
In a lot of ways this story does compare to Frankenstein in so much that Ianto Jones is ‘Victor Frankenstein’, he may not have created the monster, but he kept her alive using pretty much the same technology as used in Frankenstein’s laboratory. To energise the cyber body the use of galvanism was used – where direct current electricity runs through the body, stimulating the nerve endings and muscle, similar to that of Victor’s monster. An idea and invention by Luigi Galvani way back in 1790. http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bl_Galvani.htm
By taking Lisa away from Canary Wharf where she was upgraded and hiding her away in Torchwood 3, means it’s no different to the monster being created in the lab and then fleeing only to hide in a peasants woodshed. Coming out only at night to hear the conversations of the family and learn to develop new skills. This could possibly be likened to Ianto finally taking Lisa into the basement at Torchwood 3 and visiting her every night, noting the bowl of fruit and flowers, the photograph of her before the upgrade, and the putting together of her life support unit. Her informing Ianto of what equipment he needed to bring her, he providing a daily update on life outside which would stimulate her desire to be free of her shackles and experience it for herself!!!
When the monster was discovered by the peasants family and driven away, the same reaction was given to Lisa when her actions after being released from her life support machine and able to galvanise her systems forced the team to come down to the basement and discover her, and more especially, the fully functional cyber conversion unit.
When it was clear to Lisa that her ideals of love and togetherness were considerably different to that of Ianto’s ideals, she knew they were no longer compatible, and subsequently killed him. This would be the same reaction in the monster after it sought out Frankenstein after he stopped the progression of the ‘bride’ for the monster.
Jack’s role in this was similar to that of Captain Robert Walton, who was onboard the ship that rescued Victor. The Captain heard Victor’s confession about the monster in much the same way as Jack learnt about Lisa in the basement, and although the differing factor in this was that Victor didn’t show any love or feeling for the creature only that he had to find it and kill it, Jack’s reaction was more for the fact that Ianto had kept Lisa a secret, hiding himself from the rest of the team.
In the final part of this story for Ianto and Lisa was the acceptance that in Lisa’s metal mind, Ianto wouldn’t accept her in her present form, and so by changing her appearance to fit in to society she transplanted her brain into that of the pizza girl. But it wasn’t her mind that he fell in love with; it was the person she was, before the upgrade, before the monster took over.
In the same way that Frankenstein’s monster craved to be accepted by humankind, to be accepted for what he was, and to be loved. In a world where appearance is everything, his deformity, and his abominable looks were too much for people to accept, that he took himself to the furthest most point of the globe and destroyed himself, so that no other man could create another like him.
In the same way, the Torchwood 3 team eliminated the pizza girl, not just because she was now human, but she was an abomination that would never be accepted in human society.
Protecting the Earth against alien threats!
But that’s where the story differs, right at the end. Where Victor Frankenstein died before he located the monster in order to kill it, Ianto lived and realised that there was no turning back for Lisa and no matter how much he loved her, he couldn’t and would never accept her in any other form.
Images courtesy of BBC Doctor Who