Torchwood in the wild – Countrycide
By Claudia Lindner
What for me really is the most amazing thing about Countrycide is that it's such a classic horror movie episode. In the age of CGI, this is very rare. I don't say I don't like CGI, that's fantastic, too, e.g. if you watch the episode before Countrycide, Small Worlds. But in Countrycide, it's the good, almost old-fashioned hand-crafted horror which fascinates me and which makes it so awesomely creepy. The hacked bodies, the blood everywhere and those hanged piles of human meat wrapped in plastic in that countryhouse for example made the scene with Tosh and Ianto being in the hands of those village cannibals one of the creepiest and scariest of all Torchwood episodes scenes ever.
As far as the team is concerned, we really see things there we haven't seen before. For the first time, the team is really outside the Hub, far away in the Brecon Beacons, far away from their secure base, which changes everything. It shows the whole team in quite a different way, as it kind of frees or lets loose their emotions. We see the team members with their agendas, their problems and the complicated relationships with each other. Sometimes it's an awkward conversation revealing even more awkward or heartbreaking things, like when they talk about whom they all snogged last. And sometimes it's only a look between two of them which tells it all. Like the look between Jack and Ianto, as there is so much in it – anger, sadness, despair, sympathy, disappointment and hope.
You also see new and sometimes surprising sides with some of them.
Tosh appears to be very cool and professional, especially when she is locked up in the cellar with Ianto. While Ianto is panicking at first and losing it a bit, Tosh is doing what has to be done and is concentrating on her investigation as well as looking after Ianto, so that she manages to reassure and calm him down.
Later, when they are with the cannibals, it's vice versa, there, it's Ianto taking care of Tosh and sacrificing himself, so that Tosh manages to escape. Actually, Ianto is different to all previous episodes in general in this episode. It's nice to see him not wearing this very formal suit, but normal, civilian clothes. He just seems to be more of a regular young man in jeans and hoody, and you can see HOW young he actually is.
He also seems to be as calm and professional, as he is in the Hub, but occasionally you can see what really is going on with him, what's tormenting him under that surface, like with that look between him and Jack in the camp or when he is scared and angry in the cellar. And it's those emotions he usually represses in the Hub.
When I said, we see some new and surprising sides of team members, well, that doesn't necessarily apply to Owen. We already know, he'd get involved with almost every woman he meets, but it's a bit strange here that of all people he then should talk, when they are having it about the last person they snogged, and Owen is calling Jack sick because of his choice of snog and sex (?) partners, mentioning aliens. But Owen has his moments, as I love it how he says Only in the bloody countryside. You sick fuckers, when they are about to be butchered by the cannibals. As a viewer I was that angry in that moment, that I loved Owen being cold-blooded and courageous enough to scold them.
As for Gwen, it becomes obvious here that she is not really a nice person. In the camp, she gets to know, that Tosh really, really, I mean, really fancies Owen, but still has nothing better to do than starting an affair with him later. Nice work, Gwen. At least she is not messing around with Owen in front of her. Not yet.
We also experience another side of Jack here, as he usually is very controlled as far as his behaviour and emotions are concerned. But in Countrycide, we really see him angry and furious, as with that guy in the cellar, when he also shows us a bit of his dark side and the darker things from his past, as it becomes obvious that he had tortured people – probably during his time as a time agent?
In the end, when Jack saves the day in the ruddy big tractor, it's rage again which drives him and enables him to shoot the whole bunch of cannibals. Jack has accepted his task to protect humanity from all kinds of alien dangers, but discovering humans murdering and butchering humans is beyond him, it's something he is deeply shocked at which pretty much explains why he is getting that furious about it.
For me, it was exciting to see the team in the countryside in Countrycide, as it seems, being away from the Hub for the first time, it rids them a little bit from their roles they usually play there and allows them to show more of their character and of the persons they really are. And that's what makes this episode so special.