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Dead Man Walking was the seventh episode in the second series of Torchwood. In the same vein as They Keep Killing Suzie, it saw the resurrection of a principal cast member. The story continued almost directly on from Reset.
This episode examined the nature of the afterlife. It revealed that one place where people can end up after death is an empty netherworld of darkness, inhabited by a demonic creature that expunges all life it comes into contact with. Another possible afterlife, Limbo, would be revealed in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?.
"I'm bringing Owen back."
Owen Harper lies dead of a gunshot wound, about to be opened up for autopsy by Martha Jones at the Hub. Jack orders the team to do nothing until he arrives. Jack enters a strange café where a girl, that appears twelve years old, reads tarot. She tells Jack he owes her a favour and where to find what he is looking for. As he leaves, she holds the Death card.
Jack goes to St Mary's, an abandoned church where Weevils sleep and store collected bric-a-brac. He breaks into a safe and retrieves from it a box. When Jack returns to the Hub with the box, to the astonishment of the team, it holds a left-handed resurrection gauntlet. Gwen objects to what Jack is about to do, reminding him of what happened with Suzie. Jack ignores her. He hopes to bring Owen back for two minutes for everybody to say their goodbyes. He resurrects Owen, who is confused and scared. Tosh tells Owen that she loves him, and Jack — after initially upsetting Owen by asking for the morgue access code — tries to prepare Owen for death. The connection is lost, Owen stops breathing and Jack holds his hand, believing him dead. Then, Owen says that he will need his hand back.
The glove has brought Owen back from death permanently. Unlike Suzie, there is no obvious source of life energy. No energy is being drained from Jack as Suzie drained energy from Gwen, but Owen is getting energy from somewhere. Toshiko tells Owen she didn't mean it when she told him that she loved him. Owen says that this is a textbook reaction to grief, but does not want to discuss it further. He changes the subject and leaves the room.
Owen has visions of himself in a place shrouded in darkness, full of eerie whispers. He temporarily loses control of his body. During this incident, his pupils turn black and he speaks in an unknown language. Although he has been put in quarantine, Owen escapes and goes to a bar in Cardiff. He finds he can no longer get drunk or get an erection (which depends on blood flow), so he can no longer have sex as all his life processes have stopped. He is now the walking dead.
Jack catches him and they have a bar brawl. When Owen shouts that he belongs to Torchwood "special ops", Jack assumes a fake English accent and denies it. This results in them both being put in a police cell. As they bicker, Owen hears the drinks in his stomach sloshing and realises that he can no longer digest them so they'll just sit there if left. Also unable to force himself to be sick by sticking his fingers down his throat, he is forced to stand on his head until the liquid comes back through his throat allowing him to vomit, much to Jack's amused disgust. After a moment of panic, Owen and Jack bond. Jack says that he once dated Marcel Proust and that his immortality, which Owen covets in his position, is not the gift that Owen envies. They leave after Jack reveals his thoughts on immortality. Outside they encounter Weevils which chase Owen and Jack until they are cornered on a rooftop. Instead of killing them, the Weevils bow to Owen, who again temporarily loses control of his body and addresses the Weevils in the same unknown language.
At the Hub, the team learn that Owen's cells are changing slowly. When complete, something will take over Owen's body. Research shows a similar incident occurred in legend, at the town that predated Cardiff during the time of the Black Death: a little girl died, and the town priest (undoubtedly using the same resurrection gauntlet that has brought Owen back) subsequently performed a miracle to resurrect her, but Death itself came back with the revived girl. Death sought to kill thirteen victims, as doing so would allow it to enter the world permanently. But before Death could take more than twelve victims, what the story simply describes as "faith" stopped the entity.
Believing this legend is recurring, Owen suggests he must have his neural pathways closed by embalming to stop Death from using him as a gateway. As the team are getting Owen ready for the process, the resurrection gauntlet springs to life and attacks Martha. Owen destroys the gauntlet with a gunshot, but not before it has drained Martha's life and reduced her to an old woman. Before the team can get Martha help or do anything about Owen, the cellular conversion completes, allowing Death to fully possess and then emerge from Owen.
Upon manifesting, Death kills Jack, and heads to a hospital, drawn to those close to death. It begins going after patients who are helpless or alone, sucking each one dry and adding their death to its count. As Jack resurrects, the Torchwood team rush Martha to the hospital in her greatly aged state, where a nurse says that as her red blood cell count is low and as she is over eighty, her chances of survival are slim. Upon realising from the Weevils gathering outside that Death is here, the team evacuates everyone from the building, while Death, after taking twelve souls, chases after Jamie Burton; a young leukaemia patient who has been left behind.
Owen saves Jamie and helps Tosh and him escape. Ianto, who is waiting with Martha, explains to the team that according to research he's uncovered, the "faith" which defeated Death before was the resurrected child, whose name was Faith. Owen realises that he is the only one who can fight Death; he is already dead and has nothing to lose. After kissing Tosh (and stealing her alien lockpick device), Owen locks the other team members out of the hospital and begins a brawl with Death, finally consuming its energy and forcing it back into the darkness.
On returning to the Hub, Martha explains to Owen that the energy keeping him "alive" is dissipating but it could take anywhere between thirty seconds and thirty years to die out completely and end Owen's "life." Owen asks Jack to let him work again, as by doing his job as a doctor, he can try to repay the twelve lives that have been lost as a consequence of his resurrection. Toshiko and Jack discuss Owen literally fighting off Death in the hospital; Jack gravely declares, "Ah, you can never really beat Death. Never escape it. It's always in the shadows, waiting!"
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Owen Harper - Burn Gorman
- Toshiko Sato - Naoko Mori
- Ianto Jones - Gareth David-Lloyd
- Rhys Williams - Kai Owen
- Little Girl - Skye Bennett
- Weevil - Paul Kasey
- Nurse - Joanna Griffiths
- Jamie Burton - Ben Walker
- Hen Night Girl - Lauren Phillips
- Doctor - Golda Reshhuevel
- Hospital Patient - Janie Booth
- Police Officer - Rhys Ap Williams
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting department
|Make-up and prosthetics
General post-production staff
Special and visual effects
|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.|
This episode did not have a "created by Russell T Davies" credit.
- Martha asks Jack why he didn't inform UNIT about his ability to bring back the dead.
- The glove Jack removes from the church is different from the one Torchwood 3 previously had. It is the other half of the pair, fitted for the opposite hand. Owen later shoots the glove and destroys it.
- Jack visits a psychic fortune teller.
- Gwen mentions the resurrection glove's last use on Suzie Costello.
- Owen has previously shown a connection with the Weevils.
- After escaping from the Hub, the pub Owen visits is in the midst of a costume party where a number of people are dressed as angels.
- After Owen is resurrected from the dead, he soon loses many bodily functions, including the ability to produce flatulence after his bodily gases run out, enjoy sex due to inability to produce an erectile arousal, digest food or drink (forcing him to vomit them back up or go without), breathe, heal from injuries, sensation of touch and physical pain, sleep, and susceptibility to certain conditions that would cause a normal human being to die. His body also begins to deteriorate from the loss of cellular regeneration, but does not suffer malnutrition as he no longer requires nourishment.
- A Shrek poster is pinned to the wall of the children's ward.
Story notes Edit
- This episode continues on directly from TV: Reset, at the end of which Owen was killed.
- This episode, Reset and the following episode, A Day in the Death, all take place within a period of about three days (based upon dialogue in the third episode).
- Suzie Costello's resurrection in They Keep Killing Suzie, as well as her statement about what the afterlife was like, are mentioned and referenced to several times in this episode. Her final warning to Jack before her second death also comes to fruition when the creature lurking in the darkness escapes and comes after him.
- Jack appears to have a thing for writers. After mentioning a relationship with Christopher Isherwood in Reset, in this episode he mentions having a short-lived relationship with Marcel Proust.
- Jack's immortality is shown to be so complete that even an entity claiming to be the embodiment of death itself cannot kill him permanently. This was previously alluded to in End of Days, when the demon Abaddon cannot kill him for long.
Filming locations Edit
to be added
Production errors Edit
- At 41:30, while Gwen and Jack are walking during the conversation "I'm getting reports of twelve people dead", the camera can be clearly seen reflected in the glass as they approach the door.
- When the black smoke it coming out of Owens mouth you can see the screen that is keeping progress of how human he is and the screen shows 5%, probably discluding the tens place. But the flash to the screen a couple.moments later and it says 100%
- The resurrection gauntlet last appeared in They Keep Killing Suzie; this episode features the second glove of the pair, obliquely referenced by Ianto in the earlier episode. Gwen bemoans that Jack can't use it after what happened to Suzie. She also says that Jack couldn't even use the glove. This second glove is also destroyed, in the same way as the first.
- Owen remembers shortly after resurrection that he got shot. (TV: Reset) Most of the victims that got resurrected, including Suzie, remembered how they died. (TV: Everything Changes, They Keep Killing Suzie)
- Owen last displayed a connection with the Weevils in Combat.
- The Weevils recoiled in the presence of a sleeper agent in a way similar to Owen. (TV: Sleeper) Owen also made them recoil once before in TV: Combat through intimidation.
- Martha is rapidly aged by the resurrection gauntlet. She and Jack had previously witnessed the Tenth Doctor being rapidly aged by the Master using his laser screwdriver. (TV: The Sound of Drums)
- The fortune teller Jack visits once told him that he would have to wait over a century for the Doctor to return to Cardiff; she appears not to have aged since then. (TV: Fragments)
- Before being shown in this episode, the concept of the afterlife as an empty black nothingness inhabited by a lurking entity in the dark was addressed by Jack and Suzie in Everything Changes, They Keep Killing Suzie and Out of Time.
DVD releases Edit
- Dead Man Walking along with the rest of Torchwood Series 2 was released in a complete series box set in 2008.
- Dead Man Walking at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Dead Man Walking at The Locations Guide