The third episode of Torchwood started with Gwen and Owen chasing a suspect through the night streets of Cardiff. They’re being guided from HQ by Toshiko, whose scanners can detect alien technology. The suspect just gets away from Gwen at the station, but Gwen’s left holding his jacket which contains the alien device.
Almost unconsciously, Gwen presses a button on the device, and everything around her changes. All the people have gone. Then a small figure appears from the station entrance – a young boy who looks suspiciously like a World War II evacuee. Gwen seems to hear his thoughts and feel his fear. She comes back to reality just as Owen and Jack arrive.
The team identify the boy from his name tag – he’s alive and well and living in Cardiff. He really was that scared little boy…
Later, Owen has a more sinister experience with the device, where he sees a teenage girl being terrorised by a young man with a knife. He feels her terror. Later, they find out the girl was raped and murdered, and that nobody was ever charged with the crime. Owen, acting without authority tracks down the man and finds Ed Morgan, who’s a paranoid old man (played by Gareth Thomas – yes, Blake from Blakes Seven!).
When it turns out that there is another part of the device, things start to get a lot nastier. When she holds the joined device, Gwen sees a vision of the future: her future. She sees herself with blood dripping from her hands.
It all comes to a suitable conclusion. And for the geek audience, there is a delicious moment, as Gareth Thomas’s last words are
I knew you’d come for me
which might be familiar to Blakes Seven fans.
Quite apart from the usual mix of thrills, technobabble and flirting, there was actually a good solid idea at the heart of this story. The device, which like so much else has dropped through the temporal rift that runs through Cardiff, seems to have a benign purpose – some sort of communicator, translating the energy of emotion into a signal. But when humans got hold of it, it had lethal results. Now this is the kind of thing that pops up in actual written sf – I was reminded of Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which takes that concept a lot further – but to see it being handled on TV makes a wee bit of a change.
So, three episodes in and it’s still both thumbs up for Torchwood. And tomorrow night’s episode looks like being even more fun. For an arbitrarily scary value of “fun”, that is…
 Whether this is alien technology in general, or specific kinds of technology remains to be seen
 This accounts for a lot, actually