Timestamp #TW5: Small Worlds

Torchwood: Small Worlds
(1 episode, s01e05, 2006)

 

How do you stop a threat unbound from time?

A mysterious figure wanders through the midnight wood, sneaking up on a group of fairies playing in a stone circle. The mystic moment turns sour as she snaps a few photos and the fairies morph into something more sinister. Meanwhile, deep in the Hub, Jack wakes up from a nightmare in which a train car is filled with dead soldiers, their mouths filled with rose petals. He finds Ianto working late into the night, tracking strange weather patterns.

The next day, a creepy man watches children leaving school. One girl, Jasmine, catches his eye since her parents are late picking her up. She decides to walk home and he makes his move, but the fairies come to her rescue. Elsewhere, Jack and Gwen attend a small talk on fairies as presented by Estelle Cole, an old friend of Jack’s and the woman from the episode intro. After her presentation, Jack discusses Estelle’s findings and claims that she’s wrong about fairies being good creatures.

At Cardiff Market, the creeper tries to escape from the voices that drove him away before. He stumbles through the market, coughs up mouthfuls of rose petals, and gets arrested. Meanwhile, Jasmine arrives home safely. She goes outside to play and is tempted by the fairies.

Jack and Gwen accompany Estelle home to look at more of her fairy photos. Gwen finds a photo that is the spitting image of Jack, but Captain Harkness tells her that it is his father, and Gwen asks Estelle about Jack’s family. Jack asks Estelle to tell him if she finds more fairies before heading back to the Hub with Gwen. On the way there, he tells Gwen that fairies are creatures from the dawn of time that are not constrained by linear time. Once they return to headquarters, Jack instructs Tosh to monitor weather patterns for clues to find the fairies.

The creeper, Mark Goodson, confesses to being a pedophile, later to be attacked by a fairy. In the woods, Torchwood Three tracks the fairies to the stone circle and then responds to the jail to investigate Goodsen’s death. He was asphyxiated and his airway is filled with rose petals. They return to the Hub and receive a call from Estelle after she was confronted by the fairies. Before they can arrive, she is lured outside and attacked in a severe rainstorm. The team arrives to find her drowned corpse, and Jack reveals to Gwen that he was the man in the photo and the man who loved Estelle.

They met in the Astoria Ballroom when she was seventeen, and Jack tells her about his first encounter with the rose petals on a troop train in Lahore, 1909. Some of his men had mistakenly run over a little girl, and a week later they were killed by the fairies in the train car. The child was a chosen one, destined to live with the fairies – each of them children pulled from different periods in time – just like Jasmine is now.

Speaking of, Jasmine is bullied at school the next day, and the fairies sweep the area with a gale. No one was harmed, but the only person not affected was Jasmine. The fairies also set their sights on Roy, Jasmine’s mother’s boyfriend of five years, who was downright rude to Jasmine earlier. As the family celebrates the five-year anniversary with a party, Jasmine discovers that Roy has fenced off the entrance to the forest. Roy and Jasmine have an altercation, and as the weather picks up, the fairies attack Roy in retribution.

Torchwood arrives to prevent harm to the guests, Roy is killed in the fight and Jasmine follows the fairies into the woods. Jack and Gwen give chase, demanding that Jasmine not be taken away. The fairies warn that if Jasmine does not go with them, they will kill many more. Admitting he has no other choice, Jack requests one promise: Jasmine will not be harmed. The fairies agree, pledging that Jasmine will live forever. Jasmine skips away as her mother arrives, and as the girl disappears, her mother collapses in angry grief, hitting Jack over and over again as he apologizes.

The team is angry with Jack, giving him the silent treatment. As Gwen buttons up the loose threads in the Hub, she examines the photograph from 1917 as it flashes on the screen. One of the fairies is Jasmine, a smile upon her face. As Gwen looks on, a fairy voice whispers The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats: “Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

 

This was a run of the mill story with a creepy atmosphere and an unstoppable enemy. We get another glimpse into Jack’s mysterious past, which seems to be a common thread in this introductory season. There’s also a great amount of character development as Jack makes the hard choice: Sacrifice one child or countless innocents in an attempt to save her. There was no right answer, and I appreciate Torchwood for going there.

But otherwise, it was a mostly average adventure.

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

UP NEXT – Torchwood: Countrycide

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

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