Torchwood’s second season promises more bang for your buck and presents the characters and ideals much clearer and more precise than it’s first season. However the sophomore year is filled with it’s own hurdles and ultimately more heartbreaking disappointments. The episodes are stronger, the finale is better and the characters are more developed.

Season 2 of Torchwood picks up largely where it left off last time. The gang are still doing what they do best, but this time they’re doing it without Jack. Harkness left in the finale of Season 1 to go party with Doctor Who and when he returns early into Season 2 we see the effect he’s had on the team. Ianto is falling in love with him and his connection to Gwen is growing even stronger. It’s hard to say if Jack cares more for Gwen than he does Ianto.

Owen’s harshness has softened some we see early on but he also takes some more dynamic turns in the early episodes suggesting that Owen could very well lead Torchwood. Gwen however seems to be the default leader despite spending less time on the team than any of the other members. This three way power struggle never quite comes to fruition but it’s a nice subtext to the season.

The stories are almost all stronger this season with more twists and turns and the characters are all infinitely more likeable. Anyone who had trouble engaging the characters in the first season should be more welcome in the second season. This plays in as both a good and a bad.

Rhys gets a beefed up role as not just Gwen’s boyfriend but eventually Gwen’s husband. No longer does he continually get retconned but he actually learns of Torchwood and ends up on a few of their adventures. There is a truly brilliant story where this all unfolds and it perhaps, the best episode in the entire series run. Not only do we learn a lot about Rhys as a man, but we further see how a real person would be affected by the Torchwood lifestyle.

The season eventually falls into a strange “Owen is going to die” period where Owen Harper’s character goes through a series of near deaths and real deaths that stretches a bit long. At times it’s tragic, at times it’s annoying and when it’s played just right, it’s brilliant science fiction. By the finale Owen was clearly my favorite character despite his obvious faults.

Toshiko becomes a better character in Season 2 although she’s ultimately given less to do. Her confession of love to Owen sort of becomes glossed over because she confesses it to him no less than a half dozen different times for dramatic effect. It would have worked once, but it gets overplayed.

Captain John Hart played by James Marsters of Buffy and SMallville fame enters into the season and provides a “Master” to Jack Harnkess’ “Doctor” but their chemistry is never quite good enough to make it work beyond a little intrigue. Captain John Hart is an entertaining character, but he never quite lives up to the potential.

As for Jack Harkness, we begin to learn more of his backstory. With Harkness the writers have created a character similar to the Doctor in which they can create a thousand different lives for him. A man who can live forever has a deep rich history. This is both the good and the bad of the season as times when we reach into Jack’s past it’s compelling and times when we reach in, it’s utterly pointless.

Gwen’s character remains largely the same although her connection to Jack seems to waver somewhat. She’s still fatally flawed and clearly is sticking with Rhys because Rhys is with her till the end whether she likes it or not, but it does make you wonder if she’d stay with Rhys if Jack offered to whisk her away.

The buildup to the finale is much less nuance this time around and when the final episodes hit we’re thrust into a story that ultimately feels rushed. The payoff ends up being cheapened by the finale and when the end credits roll up on the season I was left wondering why they pulled the trigger on certain events when they did. Clearly the show had another couple of good seasons left in it, but Season 2 does enough irreparable damage to it that you know any further seasons won’t contain the same dynamic.

Highlight episodes include one where a man with the power to force his way into your world through memories invades the team as well as the first guest spot by Martha Jones. There is also a really good story with Owen that seems wasted in hindsight because of the finale.

Season 2 is a lot more fun and a much better show than Season 1, however the end result may be slightly more frustrating. I however enjoyed it more than the first season and I think most will follow in that thinking. The show seemed to rush some things and offered up a couple of swerves and twists perhaps just to throw audiences off. Season 2 requires you to turn your brain off a bit more than Season 1 in terms of plot holes but the tight knit cohesion of the group makes it more than worth it. The season is just much more fun.

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