Torchwood: From Out of the Rain
(1 episode, s02e10, 2008)
Have you heard the music?
At a local carnival, local residents attend a show, but the whole affair vanishes and leaves a single woman standing in the field alone. Flashing forward to the future, a man who is reviewing vintage film is haunted by the carnival worker on his screen. Meanwhile, Jack is being haunted by a carnival organ in his head.
Gwen, Owen, and Ianto take some time away to visit the Electro, a historic cinema in rainy Cardiff. The man who was reviewing vintage film rushes to the cinema to deliver his hard work. When that film is played, the mysterious man appears and the projector is locked on. Ianto also spots Jack in the footage.
The team leaves the theater just as Jack arrives in the SUV and Tosh experiences a glitch in the Hub computers. Ianto and Jack discuss the events, and Jack laments the death of the traveling show with the advent of the cinema. They interrogate the projectionist and confiscate the film before following a lead from Tosh to investigate a Rift spike.
Outside in the pouring rain, the mysterious showman and his accomplice approach a stranded woman and steal some kind of energy from her. Jack, Owen, Gwen, and Ianto arrive to find the woman partially desiccated and take her to the hospital.
The carnival duo attacks another target at a local diner. The woman is taken to the same hospital. The Torchwood team starts putting pieces together, noting that the bodies are alive but their life forces are taken elsewhere. They return to the Hub and review the film, during which Jack identifies the Night Travellers: A group that only performed at night and appeared by coming out of the rain. Their appearance was linked to strange happenings in the communities that they visited.
Ianto also notes that the mermaid woman (later called Pearl) and a man in a top hat (later called the Ghostmaker) are missing from the film. Playing the film has set them free in the world.
The team investigates multiple stories and superstitions to unravel the mystery. Meanwhile, the Ghostmaker and Pearl continue their attacks, gathering six “last breaths” into a silver flask. The Ghostmaker decides that he needs to release the rest of the troupe from the film.
Torchwood Three responds to the hospital to find the new victims. Jack’s mention of “they came from out of the rain” sparks a memory with the attending nurse of a woman in a nursing home. They visit the woman, Christina, and learn that she was the woman from the opening sequence. Her family was taken by the Night Travellers to be in their eternal audience.
The Ghostmaker and Pearl return to the projectionist’s flat and take his film, but not before the Torchwood team is notified. Jack and Ianto arrive but the carnival duo has already vanished, headed for the Electro. Jack determines that if the duo can be filmed again, they’ll be trapped once more.
The team converges on the Electro and finds the theater owners, the projectionist’s parents, in a frozen stupor. The carnival film begins to play on the screen, releasing the Night Travellers as Owen heads to the projection booth and Jack films their emergence. The Ghostmaker finds Owen to be useless since he is without breath, but that provides just enough distraction for Ianto to steal the flask. A chase ensues, during which Jack exposes the film and eliminates the carnival ghosts. Unfortunately, the Ghostmaker spills the contents of the flask. When all is said and done, only one breath remains.
All the other victims have died.
Jack uses the remaining breath to save the final victim, a little boy, before stowing the flask at the Hub. Ianto destroys the remaining film, but it proves impossible to destroy all of it since the Night Travellers were filmed in so many places over time.
A family buys some old film reels. Once opened, Jack hears the music once again.
The threat still lives on.
It’s an intriguing idea given cultural superstitions that film can steal or trap souls and the Ghostmaker sneaking around Cardiff and attacking random people is somewhat unnerving, but the big problem in this story is the lack of real menace. The Ghostmaker and Pearl move through the plot like clockwork only to stalk with gloom around a deserted swimming pool for a large chunk of the episode. The arrival of the remaining Night Travellers happens late in the game, and they are dispatched with ease.
It just doesn’t fit with the general tension and darkness of Torchwood.
Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”
UP NEXT – Torchwood: Adrift
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.