"You need to figure out whose side you're on here. Because if you don't know... you're not going to make it out of this alive."
IN THIS ONE... Ianto's keeping a sexy Cybergirl in the basement.
REVIEW: Horrendous. There's very little I like about Cyberwoman, and what I do enjoy, I resent for being in this piece of crap. Where to begin? How about with the eponymous threat? Ianto's been keeping a cybergirlfriend in the basement all this time, and because this is Chibnall's Torchwood, she's completely off-model. Though Lisa was partly converted by the Cybusmen at Canary Wharf, she's completely unlike any Cybusman ever. These guys convert you by putting your brain in a metal suit. Lisa's whole body is mid-conversion, and the pieces of armor she does have include revealing metal panties, a midriff, a bra and, get this, high heels! So when the cybernetics experts comes to visit and fondles her breasts, it's not just Ianto who squirms, it's the entire audience. The gratuitous sex isn't limited to the objectification of a Cyberman either. When Gwen and Owen hide inside a cabinet, it's all kissing and hard-ons, beginning what is possibly the most annoying subplot of the entire series. I like the eventual pay-off (we'll get to it later), but I find this attack on the Gwen-Rhys relationship difficult to swallow. Sure, at this point, it's just sexual harrassment, but it grows to a full-blown affair very quickly, just you watch. In the other room, Jack is resuscitating Ianto with what looks like French kissing. Whatever. Somewhere in town, Rhys leaves Gwen a message about recording "Wife Swap", ho ho you're so clever Chibnall.
If the sex is gratuitous, so is the level of violence, reaching the level of Grand Guignol, which I find tasteless and uninvolving. It's not the Cyber fights, or the cyberneticist's gory death even (the single eye makes him look like a Borg, and this is indeed very much a Borg script rather than a Cyberman one), but how the pizza girl is lobotomized and her body, complete with extra-bloody skull seam, is used by Lisa. This is meant to be disturbing, and it is, but by that point, you're just ready for it to END ALREADY. A large part of the problem is that the episode almost makes Ianto irredeemable. He does this stupid thing, for love, and we sympathize, but then never gets to make the right choice. It's taken out of his hands. Instead, he blubbers more than Rose Tyler through the whole damn thing, punctuated by self-serving whining, and it's OPPRESSIVE. His big heroic action is to start picking up trash in the epilogue, as if moving on is enough. And it might be, if only I knew who Ianto WAS. But I don't at this point. This is the first time he's gotten more than a handful of lines and I HATE HIM. (He somehow becomes my favorite character of Series 2, but we're far from that here.) His conflict with the team also makes Jack nearly irredeemable as well. Jack's been getting more and more angry at the group for screwing up, not following instructions, or pulling selfish dick moves, and here he very much blows up. But asking Ianto to execute his girlfriend under pain of being executed himself? That's way too far for a former companion of the Doctor's. Chibnall wants all this to be so HBO-intense, edgy, sexy and violent, that he loses sight of what we already know of these characters and of this world. (Heck, Tosh's magic lockpicking device is the same artifact she used to record books in the pilot, that's pretty shoddy too.)
So anything to recommend? Well, the banter between the group going out to the pub is what I like to see from an ensemble show. The score going electric when the Cybergirl is revealed shows not every department was thoughtless. The trick with the BBQ sauce and the pterodactyl is cool, but rather wasted on such a wreck of an episode. Imagine how much cooler this would have been against an equally physical foe later down the line. Torchwood's pet dinosaur's cachet is spent too early and on a threat we'd all rather forget about. Some might enjoy it as a straight "locked inside with a monster" suspense thriller, but I found the whole runaround rather cliché, even when I wasn't distracted by its other flaws.
VERSIONS: Deleted scenes on the DVD include Owen mentioning his disinterest in cricket and Tosh trying to be nice to Ianto, a scene that works as an alternative to the episode's actual ending.
REWATCHABILITY: Low - The very worst of the New Whoniverse's entire canon, I should think. Gratuitous and juvenile, trite and melodramatic, flying in the face of established continuity, it almost sinks the entire program with it.