Greeks Bearing Gifts (Torchwood)

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07 – "Greeks Bearing Gifts"
Torchwood episode
Greeks Bearing Gifts.jpg
The alien reveals herself to Tosh.
Writer Toby Whithouse
Director Colin Teague
Script editor Brian Minchin
Producer Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Production code 1.7
Series Series 1
Length 50 mins
Originally broadcast 26 November 2006
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Countrycide" "They Keep Killing Suzie"

"Greeks Bearing Gifts" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Torchwood. It is the seventh episode of the first series, which was broadcast on 26 November 2006.


The Torchwood team is called to a building site where a human skeleton and a rusted alien artifact have been discovered in the ground. Owen initially identifies the skeleton as a woman who died from a gunshot, having been buried for nearly two centuries. They return to the Hub, where Owen and Gwen flirt incessantly, infuriating Tosh. She leaves for a local bar, where she meets Mary, who claims to know about Torchwood and calls herself a "Scavenger" of alien artifacts. Mary gives Tosh a pendant that allows her to read minds; Tosh is initially overwhelmed by all the collected thoughts at the bar, but Mary has Tosh focus only on her thoughts, revealing romantic intentions. Tosh accepts the gift, and promises to not tell Torchwood from whom she got the gift.

The next day as Tosh examines the pendant, she finds she is able to read Owen and Gwen's mind, both having dismissive and contemptuous thoughts about her. She races home, only to find Mary there; Tosh attempts to return the pendant but Mary insists it can be used for good. Mary convinces Tosh to read her mind again, reveals romantic intentions for Tosh. The two spend the night together. The next day, Tosh asks Mary her true identity but she remains coy, answering "Philoctetes". Tosh wears the pendant in a crowded street, and though overwhelmed with the thoughts of everyone, identifies one man preparing to commit murder, and she is able to identify and stop him.

Tosh returns to the Hub where Owen reveals he had misidentified the skeleton, and now knows it to be a man that died of an unidentified trauma. Tosh speaks to Jack about the name "Philoctetes", which Jack recognizes as a reference to Greek mythology; Philoctetes was an archer who was exiled on the island of Lemnos during the Trojan War. Tosh returns to Mary later, who asks Tosh about the artifact recovered with the skeleton. When Tosh is unable to provide her any answers, Mary convinces Tosh to ask the others at the Hub, using the pendant as they may be hiding information from her. Tosh finds Owen lacks any information on the artifact, while she is unable to read Jack's mind. Meanwhile, Owen has discovered that the same trauma that inflicted the skeleton has been reported several times in the last few centuries, while Jack becomes aware of Tosh's strange behavior.

When Tosh returns to Mary, she reveals herself as an alien, an exiled dissident, and that the artifact is a transporter that can help her to leave the planet. Tosh offers Torchwood's services to Mary, but she refuses, and instead asks Tosh to take her to Torchwood so she can retrieve the artifact herself. At the Hub, they find that Jack has deduced that Mary is an alien and the murderer of the skeleton and others through the century. Jack explains that the artifact is a transporter for a guard and a prisoner; when the artifact first arrived in Cardiff in 1812, Mary was able to kill her guard and took the body of a human woman, killing others to keep her human form. Mary holds Tosh at knife point, demanding the artifact. Jack, now aware of Tosh's telepathic abilities, instruct Tosh to remain still as he makes the trade with Mary. As soon as Mary takes the artifact, she and it disappear; Jack explains he programmed the device to transport her directly to the center of the sun.

Owen and Gwen apologize to Tosh for their behavior to her. Jack offers Tosh the pendant for herself, but she smashes it underfoot. Tosh tells Jack in private that attempting to read his mind produced only silence, like that of a dead man.


  • The officer is killed in 1812 (per caption), and Toshiko calculates his skeleton has been there for "196 years, 11 to 11 1/2 months", placing the episode in 2008 with the concurrent Doctor Who timeline. This is in potential contrast with "Ghost Machine" in which Tommy Flannigan had arrived in Cardiff in 1941 and says he has made the city his home for sixty-six years (he also explained that he was taken out to the countryside upon arrival in 1941, so the 66 years could be counted from his subsequent return to the city).
  • A pair of 3-D glasses, originally used by the Tenth Doctor in "Doomsday" and seen in "Small Worlds", makes another fleeting appearance. Also visible is a rifle used against the Daleks in "Doomsday", and a replica of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver can be seen on Toshiko's desk. The Sycorax Leader's staff and sword from Doctor Who episode "The Christmas Invasion" are visible next to the Doomsday Rifle. Presumably the sword was retrieved with the severed hand of the Doctor or from The Sycorax Leader with the staff.
  • A man of questionable mental state is said to be having visions of Cybermen.
  • Jack has asked Toshiko to prepare "a list" for UNIT, the first verbal mention of that organisation in the series. This refers to a deleted scene in which Jack explains that UNIT wants Torchwood to handle a certain alien problem, and Jack wants Tosh to draw up a list of reasons why they can't.
  • Jack speaks to the Prime Minister on the telephone asking why documents listing Torchwood operations are being given to the opposition, believed to be Harold Saxon (i.e., the Master). This may explain how the Master knows about Jack in the Doctor Who episode "The Sound of Drums," and how the Master is able to send the rest of the Torchwood team on what he describes as "a wild goose chase" in the same episode.
  • Some scan images of the Cyberwoman are in the autopsy room where the body they find is being held.
  • Toshiko now knows about the affair between Gwen and Owen, first seen at the end of "Countrycide".
  • An alien of the same race as Mary appears in The Sarah Jane Adventures pilot episode "Invasion of the Bane", albeit this time as a "star poet". The episode clarifies that Mary's home planet is called "Arcateen 5" and that they are largely a peaceful race. Although this particular species has been referenced in the Torchwood novel Something in the Water as "Arcateenians", the Sarah Jane website originally referred to this alien species as the "Butterfly People".


Outside references[edit]

  • The phrase "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" refers to the Trojan horse described in Virgil's The Aeneid.
  • James Bond and the film Alien are referenced.
  • Jack makes a reference to the American television series Quincy, M.E. when Owen is first examining the skeleton at the building site ("Good job, Quincy").
  • Mary quotes the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The historical Kublai Khan appeared in the First Doctor serial Marco Polo (1964).
  • The overheard thought "Six cigarettes today and all of them post-coital... glorious." is a quote from Bridget Jones's Diary.
  • When Tosh enters the autopsy room, Gwen sings a part of Dem Bones to Owen ("The leg bone's connected to the... hip bone") after his prediction about the skeleton (female died from a gunshot wound) have proven entirely false (it is a male with unknown chest trauma, with only GSW ruled out).
  • Gwen teases Owen by calling him "Amanda Burton", in reference to that actress's role as a pathologist in the BBC drama series Silent Witness. She also imitates the sound played when contestants give an incorrect answer in the game show Family Fortunes.
  • There are at least five versions of the story of "Philoctetes"

External links[edit]