Countrycide was the sixth episode of Series 1 of Torchwood. It was written by Chris Chibnall, directed by Andy Goddard and featured John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Burn Gorman as Owen Harper, Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones.
It continued to push the boundaries of an after-watershed timeslot and contained strong graphic elements beyond the family-friendly archetypes of Doctor Who.
The episode is interesting for its almost complete abandonment of science fictional elements. It has no aliens, no display of Jack's superhuman abilities and no technology beyond what was reasonably available in the year the episode was broadcast. However, it doesn't entirely turn its back on its sci-fi roots, since the characters initially fear that the strange goings on in rural Wales are the result of the Cardiff Rift. Regardless, it is considered the least fantastical televised episode in the DWU since the sci-fi-lite adventure Black Orchid.
In terms of the ongoing Torchwood narrative, it was important for advancing Gwen's burgeoning sexual fling with Owen, which evolved into a stint of cheating on her lover Rhys Williams. Of perhaps more long-lasting impact was the fact that it gave a clear indication of Tosh's attraction to Owen, and his diffidence towards her — a theme that would pick up steam in the latter half of series 2 and form the emotional basis of their final scene.
Concerned that the space-time rift is spreading, Torchwood investigates a series of gruesome deaths located in a small village in the Brecon Beacons. What sort of creature could cause such shocking injuries? Stranded without communications or equipment and isolated from one another, the team confronts a terrifying enemy.
A woman is on the phone with her dad when she loses signal. She stops her car when she sees something resembling a body laid out on the road. Taking with her a baseball bat, she ventured outside to see if he's okay. As she nears the corpse, she realises it's actually a football in a hoodie. She sees a flash out of the corner of her eye, and runs back to her car. Her car's not starting, her car keys are gone, and her mobile's not working. Someone from the outside unlocks the doors, and begins to pull her out of the vehicle. She screams out of sheer terror.
After stopping at a rural hamburger stand, they begin to set up camp. During friendly chatter, Owen reveals that his last kiss was with Gwen, prompting the others to get more details. Owen and Gwen quickly go off to get firewood, Gwen scolding Owen for revealing the kiss, when they suddenly see two hooded figures through the trees. They try to chase them, but instead find a corpse. As the team investigates it to determine the cause of death, they hear their SUV start and drive off without the team. Ianto tracks the vehicle to a nearby village; Jack believes that the corpse was a lure to make them come to the village, and warns the team to be alert as they split up to investigate.
Jack, Gwen and Owen search the pub and nearby homes to find two further corpses, each stripped to the carcass much like the first. Other than that, the homes are deserted, save for one young man named Kieran who accidentally shoots and wounds Gwen with a shotgun, believing "they" had come back for him.
Jack tries to calm Kieran down, but the man insists the only way to protect themselves is to barricade themselves in a building. Jack orders his group to the pub to create a defensive position while Owen tends to Gwen's wound. They learn from Kieran more about the victims, still unsure if they are dealing with aliens from the Rift. Suddenly, though, as they discuss possibilities, the lights go out and movement comes from both outside the pub and from within the pub's cellar. The diversion prevents them from keeping Kieran from being dragged away, and Gwen and Owen try to follow against Jack's orders. Jack stays behind to interrogate Martin, the man he shot from the cellars. Gwen and Owen come across a policeman named Huw, who says that he is there for the town meeting that night. The man directs the two towards one of the lit buildings in the village.
Meanwhile, Toshiko and Ianto attempt to find the SUV, but are both quickly captured. They awake in a cellar full of old clothes, shoes and a refrigerator full of human body parts; Toshiko realises they are to be food for their captors. The cellar door opens, and a scared woman named Helen enters the room holding a shotgun to the two, learns from them of the other Torchwood members, and then tells them that she cannot help them; she has been asked to collect the two for the "Harvest" which happens every ten years. They are taken into a kitchen filled with body parts and corpses. Toshiko quickly realises that Helen is acting, and that she and others are cannibals. A man named Evan begins to handcuff them to be prepared for butchering. Ianto headbutts Evan, allowing Toshiko to escape, pursued by Evan. Evan catches up to Toshiko and starts strangling her, but before he can choke her to death, Owen and Gwen, along with Huw, show up to stop him. Evan looks unconcerned as Huw reveals himself to be Evan's nephew, and the two lead the three Torchwood members back to the village at gunpoint.
Just before Ianto is cut open and bled, Jack, having learned of the villager's intent from Martin, bursts through the building on a tractor, and disables the assembled villagers. They spare Evan's life to try to learn the truth: that every ten years, the village target travellers passing through the area, and butcher them. When Gwen demands to know why, Evan simply whispers to her, "'Cause it made me happy." which Gwen finds to be highly disturbing. The surviving villagers are taken into custody by the police.
After returning to Cardiff, Gwen looks outside the windows of Owen's flat and thinks about how she cannot share any of her Torchwood experiences with anyone, including her boyfriend Rhys. Owen then appears behind her, and reassures Gwen that she can talk to him. They kiss in the nude, and begin a long-lasting sexual relationship.
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Owen Harper - Burn Gorman
- Toshiko Sato - Naoko Mori
- Ianto Jones - Gareth David-Lloyd
- Rhys Williams - Kai Owen
- Evan Sherman - Owen Teale
- Helen Sherman - Maxine Evans
- Kieran - Callum Gallaghan
- Huw - Rhys Op Trefor
- Ellie - Emily Bowker
- Martin - Robert Barton
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- Weevils don't strip their victims down to a carcass.
- Jack says humans are the only species in the universe to go camping.
Food and beverages
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is mentioned.
- The song "Monster" by the Automatic can be heard playing on Ellie's car radio.
- This episode contains no obvious CGI elements, though there was at least one shot where the production team needed to black out the Cardiff cityscape in the background.
- This episode is the first episode of Torchwood to be rated 18 by the Irish Film Classification Office, the other being Random Shoes.
- This is the first episode in which no scenes are set in the Torchwood Hub. This would not happen again until Children of Earth: Day Two, the episode after the Hub's destruction.
- The town in which the story is set, Brynblaidd, is not actually named in the narrative. However, it was named in the BBC's original description of the episode, and therefore has appeared in virtually all subsequent TV listings, worldwide.
- The episode is Eve Myles' favourite of the show, as she "is a huge horror fan" and likes anything "with blood and guts... and cannibals." She also said that it was nice to "get away from the hub" and "get to go away for a couple of days and have a bit of fun."
- This episode featured the premiere of Captain Jack's Theme, which plays during the moment he ploughs a tractor into the barn where his teammates are held captive and starts shooting at the cannibals. An extra in the Series 2 disc set shows Murray Gold found his inspiration to compose the theme out of this scene by bashing out notes on his piano keyboard to the tune of, "here he comes in a ruddy-great tractor". The onomatopoetic structure of Captain Jack's theme made it a popular hit among the musical scores in the first two Torchwood series.
- Additionally, a musical track appropriated titled "Tractor Attack" debuts in the Children of Earth series, with parts of Captain Jack's Theme mixed into the musical score. The titles refers back to the tractor scene and Foster's inspiration.
- 1.2 million viewers
- When Ellie Johnson is attacked the tyres on her car are punctured but at the end of the scene the tyres are perfectly normal.
- Owen mentions his last kiss was with Gwen. Ianto also mentions his last kiss was with Lisa Hallett. (TV: Cyberwoman)
- Technically though, Ianto's "last snog" was with Jack.
- The SUV would be stolen again. (TV: Fragments, Day One)
- Tosh says there isn't a prison cell she can't break out of. She was previously locked in a UNIT cell, (TV: Fragments) and only got out when Jack recruited her.
Home video releases
- This episode was first released on DVD, with three other episodes entitled Torchwood: Series 1, part 2 on 26 February 2007. It was later released in Torchwood: The Complete First Series on 19 November 2007.
- Countrycide at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Countrycide at The Locations Guide
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Countrycide at The Whoniverse