Day One (Torchwood)
|02 – "Day One"|
A gaseous alien takes over Carys's body.
|Directed by||Brian Kelly|
|Written by||Chris Chibnall|
|Script editor||Brian Minchin|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Originally broadcast||22 October 2006|
"Day One" is the second episode of the first series of the British science fiction television series Torchwood. Directed by Brian Kelly, the episode was first broadcast on the digital channel BBC Three on 22 October 2006 with the series pilot, "Everything Changes", and later repeated on terrestrial channel BBC Two on 25 October. It was the first work in the Doctor Who universe to be written by future Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall.
The episode centres on Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) working her first case with Torchwood Three in Cardiff. A purple alien gas is loose in the city and takes Carys Fletcher (Sara Lloyd Gregory) host; the gas kills its victims by orgasm, leaving behind a pile of dust. Over the course of the episode, the team hunt for Carys before the gas kills her. In the end they track her down to a fertility clinic; the gas leaves Carys to take Gwen host, but is stopped by a portable prison cell and dies out.
Originally entitled "New Girl", the episode was written to interpret Gwen's "first day in hell". On the sex gas, series creator Russell T Davies stated "when we're launching a new adult science fiction drama, it's kind of inevitable you're going to do the sex monster". The episode was filmed during a three- to four-week period in May 2006, with much of it filmed before the first episode in the same production block. "Day One" was originally seen by 2.3 million viewers, making it one of the highest-rated BBC Three broadcasts of all time, but was met with generally mixed reviews.
A date between Gwen Cooper and her boyfriend Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) is cut short when they witness a meteor crashing outside Cardiff. Gwen receives a message on her mobile phone, and is called into action. As the Army secures the area, Torchwood investigate the meteor. Colleague Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) taunts Gwen by calling her the "new girl". In an attempt to retaliate, she throws a chisel at him, but misses and cracks open the meteor, allowing a purple gas entity to escape. The gas finds a young woman, Carys Fletcher, outside a nightclub and takes her host. In the club, a possessed Carys seduces a man and takes him to a restroom, where they proceed to have sex. At the moment of climax however, the man dissolves into dust while Carys absorbs the energy that remains.
The Torchwood team become aware of the bizarre death and realises through CCTV that the gas has taken over Carys. Gwen feels guilty at having caused the man's death, but team leader Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) assures her that everybody makes mistakes. Gwen also learns that she is the only team member who's in a relationship, as the others are too busy working to find time. They later find where Carys lives and arrives there before she could harm a postman. When she tries to escape, Owen traps her using a portable prison cell, much to Jack's chagrin, as he forbids the removal of alien technology from Torchwood's base without his permission.
Carys is placed in a Torchwood holding cell. As tests are run on Carys, Gwen feels uncontrollable urges to kiss her, showing that Carys is emitting high levels of pheromones, effectively becoming a "walking aphrodisiac", but the gas is also slowly killing her. Later, Carys escapes from her cell after seducing Owen. Jack attempts to apprehend her, but she manages to get hold of a jar containing a severed hand, which Jack finds valuable. He allows her to leave for the jar's safety, but she destroys it anyway.
In an attempt to capture her again, the team run on Toshiko Sato's (Naoko Mori) hunch that she will be after her ex-boyfriend; they arrive at his house to find Carys already killed him. Later they discover Carys works as a temp at a fertility clinic. They race to the clinic to find Carys has been inside for some time killing some of the clients. After eventually cornering Carys, they find that she has moments before she dies. Jack buys her some time by kissing her, transferring some of his "excess" of life onto her. Gwen offers the gas presence her own body as a host to save Carys; it leaves Carys, but before it could enter Gwen, Jack throws the portable prison cell at it. Since it cannot survive in Earth's atmosphere for long, the gas dies out. As Jack inspects its remains, Gwen kisses Jack on the lips, saying "thank you", leaving Jack puzzled.
In the end, Carys is reunited with her father. The team returns to Torchwood, and as she leaves for home, Jack advises Gwen not to let the job consume her because her perspective is important to the team. He then encourages Gwen to go home and spend time with Rhys.
The working title for the episode was "New Girl", which changed to the current "Day One" by the beginning of October 2006. Head writer Chris Chibnall, who wrote the episode, found that writing the second episode was hard, as there was a challenge to demonstrate how Torchwood works, and set the formula for the rest of the series. He wanted to write an episode that would centre on Gwen about her "first day in hell", and show the audience that Torchwood is unlike any normal job, as one small mistake can have major ramifications on the city. The scene where Gwen accidentally opens the meteor was meant to "extend the metaphor of breaking the photocopier on your first day at work". It is also set to show the separate dynamic between the team and Gwen. Series creator Russell T Davies stated that as the rest of the team are for the aliens, science, technology and mythology, Gwen is for "the people"; she's the only person in the team who cares about what happens to Carys. Eve Myles also noted in the episode's audio commentary that throughout the episode, it added a mix between her domestic life and the science fiction.
The idea behind using the sex gas came from Chibnall, but he admitted to having "genuinely no idea where the episode came from". Davies stated "when we're launching a new adult science fiction drama, it's kind of inevitable you're going to do the sex monster." He also emphasised that the episode is not solely about "having a laugh" with the sex gas, as it also has "something to say about the world". The scene where Carys walks down the street featuring sex in advertisements and couples kissing in public was one of Davies' favourite scenes in the episode, as it explores how sexualised the Western world is. The episode was originally much lighter in tone, however, the majority of the comedic moments had to be cut on the final script, as they got in the way of the plot. Also, Carys was originally meant to have two or three boyfriends, but because of scheduling restrictions, there could only be one. This ended up being beneficial to the episode, as it made it more emotive. There was a scene that would be filmed with Carys and a second boyfriend, but that would be cut and added on the deleted scenes on the DVD boxset of the first series.
After it was written, BBC controller of fiction, Jane Tranter, fed back to the producers and suggested that the Torchwood team take a "breather" and talk about the mysteries behind Captain Jack while having a Chinese takeway. Through the read through of the script before filming, Burn Gorman noted that he saw "big smiles" and giggling from several readers because of its content. Sara Gregory read the script with her mother.
Much of the episode was filmed in the first production block along with "Everything Changes", but much of it was filmed before the pilot. It took place during a three- to four-week period in May 2006 in and around Cardiff, the city where the series was set. The majority of the episode was filmed during the night, to keep with the style that the majority of the series is set during the night as well. However, because it was approaching summer, where nights are shorter, night sequences had to be shot between 10 pm and 4:30 am during each night of filming. Even the scenes set in the Torchwood hub were mostly filmed at nighttime. The first sequence to be shot was where the team stop Carys from having sex with the postman. However, the sequence had to be shot again twelve days later.
The meteor crash site was filmed at a natural erosion site just outside Cardiff, which the location managers found by chance, and felt it was the perfect location for a crash site. The producers included an easter egg in the Torchwood Hub set by including the picture of Craig-y-Nos Castle, used as a location of Torchwood House in the Doctor Who episode "Tooth and Claw"; in the end of the episode the Torchwood Institute was established by Queen Victoria. To film the scene where Gwen and Carys kiss, actresses Eve Myles and Sara Gregory discussed how they would execute it beforehand and agreed that they have to imagine Gregory as Johnny Depp, and Myles as Brad Pitt. To film the exploding rat sequence, episode director Brian Kelly filmed a rat in a cage, and then replace it with a fur covered condom filled with "chicken bits" and red dye to simulate guts, then exploded with a squib.
"Day One" was the first episode to include a teaser in the beginning with shots from the series. The episode's visual effects were produced by The Mill. To complete the effect of the gas, 3D artist Paul Burton based his design of the alien from the water creature in The Abyss.
The Doctor's severed hand appears in this episode when Carys uses it as her bargaining chip to escape.
Broadcast and reception
"Day One" was broadcast on Sunday, 22 October 2006 on BBC Three, just after the first episode, "Everything Changes". The second episode received overnight viewing figures of 2.3 million with a 13.8% audience share, holding the majority of the audience from the first episode. Together both episodes received the largest multichannel audience for a UK-originated non-sports programme and the at the time largest audience for BBC Three. The finale figure for the episode was 2.498 million viewers. The record would be held until the broadcast of EastEnders Live: The Aftermath on 19 February 2010. The repeat of "Day One" on analogue channel BBC Two on 25 October was seen by 2.8 million with a 13% audience share. "Day One" was given an Appreciation Index of 83.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy of Den of Geek stated "After the excellent pilot episode, 'Day One' is both a step forward and a step backward. As silly as the idea of a nymphomaniac extra-terrestrial gas is, the cast throw themselves into it with aplomb, quipping their way to the relatively gripping conclusion." Patrick Holm of Total Sci-Fi felt that the second episode "equates the word 'adult' with sex and swearing – more of a playground definition than a serious drama. In the conclusion of his review, Jonathan Capps of Noise to Signal felt that the episode was "certainly nothing to get excited about, but I think it won't be too indicative of later episodes, as we're still getting to know these characters, and that has to take the fore in the first few episodes. However, Chris' [Chibnall] painfully simplistic, heavy-handed and often clichéd interpretation of sci-fi (some of Jack's techno-babble is frankly embarrassing) could prove to be a worrying factor later in the series." A reviewer of TV Fodder felt "Day One" was a "great second episode", adding "there doesn't seem to be anything I don't like about this show".
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