Torchwood Gadgets and Gizmos
By Mickie Newton
In this months issue we will be only touching on our episode of focus 'Random Shoes' as there are no gadgets to focus on - for a sci-fi show Torchwood is very 'gadget light'. Instead we will take a look at the object at the centre of the story; the Dogon Sixth Eye.
For this we need to spread our scope a tad and look at a couple of objects that are not seen in this episode, which is not only light on Gizmos etc but also light on Torchwood Team participation! So, we have instead, the Invisible lift, where we shall again be touching on, what we now affectionately call The Mothership, Doctor Who and also the Cryochambers. Is this a gadget or gizmo I ask myself? Well the way I see it, not all gadgets are small or even handy. Gadgets and Gizmos is merely descriptive of those unusual and sometimes alien oddments, both little and large, and also a handy title for the column.
So let's go and have a look at this issues bits and bobs.
Dogon Sixth Eye
Although it is apparently an alien body part and not actual alien tech, it could be seen as a gadget, a bizarre and weird gadget, but a gadget nonetheless. On the alien this sixth eye sits at the back of the head and allows them to see their own past lives and also allows them a certain amount of perception.
Shortly before his death Eugene swallowed the eye. It allowed him to see his life, even after his death. And he was able to see his life in perspective and watch as Gwen solves the mystery of his death. Once it had been removed Eugene was able to return home for a moment to say his goodbyes.
Jack knew of these and knew that they, at one time, where highly collectable and was very pleased when Gwen offered to get him Eugene's, if Jack allowed her the time she needed to find out why he ran into a car to his death. Jack granted her the weekend in exchange for the Dogon Sixth Eye.
What we never find out is whether or not it's organic. Is it literally the sixth eye of some poor Dogon alien or did they create the sixth eye themselves, like some kind of upgrade. Yes I know It's not all squelchy, gooey and altogether revolting, it may be that Dogon's eyes are not all of the above and more like a huge marble, though personally I find 'squidgy and yucky' much more believable. As we have learnt over the past 50 years through the Whoniverse, you just never know what an alien is going to be like. Some are very solid, whilst others are like morning mist.
What Do We Have On Earth?
Well I suppose if there was some insane Doctor out there who was prepared to do some weird and insane surgery, you could have an eye put in the back of your head. But I don't think it would allow you to see your life in better perspective. Let's face it, in the real world most people who are having such problems go and see a head Doctor, shrink, a psychiatrist. Or they talk to their best friends, mothers etc. rather than resort to a weird eye stuck in the back of their head, upsetting adults and scaring children.
The Invisible Lift
When we write about Torchwood it is almost impossible to avoid touching on Doctor Who at all. Even though the two shows never really cross over, except briefly in the Doctor Who episode 'Stolen Earth' when the Earth is taken by Davros and the Daleks and Torchwood is brought in by former Prime minister Harriet (yes we know who you are) Jones. And then of course Jack hops off, once again, to help the good Doctor to save the earth and frankly the whole universe, along with Donna Noble. This episode fell between “Exit Wounds” and the mini 3rd series of Torchwood “Children of Earth.” And so the so called 'invisible lift' is no exception. When you examine this in depth, it makes you realise the complexities of time and how easy you could walk into your earlier self if you weren't paying attention. In this case it's the creation of the invisible lifts 'Perception Filter.'
So hold on to your hat, we're about to revisit some old friends in order to correctly explain the lift!
As we all know the perception filter allows the team to go up to the surface unobserved by passersby. As Jack puts it, it's a corner of the eye thing where people see, but don't see. Like a momentary passing movement that doesn't quite register.
When Jack explains this to Gwen we are given the impression that this lift has been in existence for many years; where as in reality, it's only 1 year. The perception filter was created in 2005, when the ninth Doctor had landed the TARDIS at the base of the water tower to recharge the batteries via the rift. During the visit, the Doctor, Rose and Jack discovered that Blon Fel Fotch Pasmere-Day Slitheen, known to humans as Margaret Blaine, in the episode Boom Town (Doctor Who: series one, episode 11) a member of the Slitheen family, was still alive and was the Lady Mayor of Cardiff, (much of her family had been killed when Mickey Smith blew up number 10 Downing Street with a missile to save the Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones, and of course the entire world). She'd cooked up a very big plan to escape the earth that involved building a nuclear power station in the middle of Cardiff. To cut a very long story short, she was going to use a nuclear meltdown from the said power station to propel her tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator, we'll call it a board for ease of my typing fingers and brain (it's a bit like a high tech surfboard).
Then the Doctor arrived with the TARDIS! Margaret decided to dupe the Doctor and co into connecting the board to the TARDIS console, (Jack realised that if he connected it to the TARDIS it would speed up the recharging process...ooops!) thus using its power, combined with the rift, to send Margaret and board into space and destroying everyone and her mother(not Blons mother) in the process. Of course everything goes...errr..pear shaped (children could be reading this) and it almost rips the rift, TARDIS and Cardiff in two. This whole process causes the chameleon circuit of the TARDIS to bleed a little and onto the concrete slab the TARDIS is sat upon, thus creating the perception filter field and so therefore the 'invisible lift.'
Of course whilst ALL this is happening a certain Captain Jack Harkness, head of Torchwood 3, is persuading his team that everything is fine and they really don't need to go above ground at all, even if Cardiff is splitting in two, because Jack knows that his younger self is above them trying to stop this mess. So neither he nor his team can go above ground.
One has to presume that much fun was had by Jack when he had to retcon all his team and make up a story about when the lift appeared and change records on both the computers and in files (we know how Ianto knows everything there is to know about Torchwood). I would imagine this was something Jack had been working on for some time once he became head of the team.
So now you know what it does and how it got there. As you can tell, I never presume everyone who reads this or watches Torchwood, knows everything there is to know about Doctor Who. Now I need to breath for a while....blimey!
What Do We Have On Earth?
It goes without saying that there is no such thing as an invisible lift. But we do fool people all the time into not seeing something that is in front of them, we call this camouflage. During the war Britain and America hid vehicles, ammo and fuel all the time using netting, foliage and even mirrors. We would even sometimes fool the enemy into thinking something was there that wasn't by creating fake planes, trucks and so forth. Or placing lights in such a way that at night enemy planes would be fooled into thinking they were bombing a town. But, we are coming close to something that is closer to Harry Potters’ invisible cloak than the lift.
The lift fools people looking in a different direction, you will look anywhere but the lift. We saw this when the Doctor created pendants for himself, Martha and Captain Jack, using TARDIS perception filter circuits welded to their TARDIS keys to hide from the Master and his cronies.
This new technology that is in the works uses light to create invisibility. The material refracts light in such a way that the material appears to be invisible
The Hubs Cryochambers
It cannot be denied that of all the things Torchwood does, this can be the most difficult for any new member of the team to deal with. We witness this with Gwen when she joins; and that is the simple fact that Torchwood stores bodies in the basement cryochambers for later use.
These nameless bodies are used when a body is needed when an innocent victim has been killed and is so badly mutilated by something unearthly or rift activity. So, they use another body that is enough like them no one will question it. And that is combined with the team’s ability to change records and witness statements via computers in the Hub and so covering their tracks. Tosh used one to cover up the death of Matt Steven's when his body was destroyed by the gas alien in the episode 'Day One.'
The other thing that can be hard to handle is that former dead agents are not buried or cremated, but also kept here. We must assume that they are not stored with the nameless bodies, but elsewhere in the basement. Along with their bodies being stored in the Hub, all their belongings are kept in a lock-up. This we see in 'They Keep Killing Suzie' when they have to search her things.
This had happened to all agents until Toshiko's death. When this happened Jack chose to give Tosh a proper funeral and not hide her away from her family in the Hub.
They have also been used to keep living people in suspended animation. We see this with both Tommy Brockless in series two in the episode 'To The Last Man' and with Jack, also in series two in 'Exit Wounds', where he persuades the 1900's Torchwood team to place him in stasis after they dug him up after he'd been buried alive by his brother Gray back in AD 27.
Of course what we are never made privy too is just how many of these there. We only see one section, yet there must be more if every agent that has died has been laid to rest here.
What Do We Have On Earth?
Well as shocking as this may seem to the ordinary man or woman on the street, these do exist, though not to cover up some weird alien killing or strange rift activities. Though from many people’s points of views, the reality is just as bizarre.
There are many people out there, who have lots of spare cash, who have paid to have themselves cryogenically frozen in the hopes that someone will fetch them back to life in the distant future. Some only have their head frozen and hope that genetic engineering will be as such that clones can be created from their frozen tissue. And maybe, possibly, have memories extracted in some way from their brains. There are many who have or will die from a serious illness and so they hope for a cure in the future and again, have their bodies thawed and re-animated.
Of course whether all this is possible in the future is anybody’s guess. As things stand it's not possible to take bodies that have been frozen, thaw them and re-animate them. I wonder if the resurrection glove would be helpful. No wait, they don't exist either. One doesn't wish to seem glib about this. But in my opinion these people are being taken for a ride by people whose only wish is for a bigger bank balance and not these peoples preservation.
As we all know from owning freezers, meat doesn't stay fresh forever. After, what is really only a short time, it starts to break down along with its DNA make-up. The reason being this that after the body has been frozen for some time crystals start to form in the flesh and starts to destroy its structure. Over time more and more crystals form in the body, so when you finally try to thaw the body the bodies structure collapses and the result is something unrecognisable as human and a very unpleasant mess. So until we find a way of preserving the body at a temperature that is just above freezing so no crystals form, it will be impossible for us to preserve bodies long term.
Torchwood: The Encyclopedia by Gary Russell
The Torchwood Archives by Warren Martyn aka Gary Russell
Doctor Who: The Encyclopedia A Definitive Guide to Time and Space
by Gary Russell