|09 – "Random Shoes"|
|Directed by||James Erskine|
|Written by||Jacquetta May|
|Script editor||Brian Minchin|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Originally broadcast||10 December 2006|
A young man named Eugene Jones wakes up to find that he appears to be ethereal; his body lies dead on the ground after a hit-and-run accident, but his memory of how he got there is missing. He recognizes the Torchwood team as they are brought in to investigate the accident; the team had several run-ins with Eugene before, but had written him off as a crank. Eugene's mobile phone goes off, and Gwen answers it, and explains to the caller, Eugene's mother, that her son is dead. Upon examining the phone, she finds pictures of random shoes, and becomes intrigued enough to investigate the matter further.
Much of the rest of the episode is presented as a mix of flashbacks to Eugene's past along with Gwen's investigation in the present, with Eugene following her around as memories come back to him. Eugene was an excellent student in maths, but blanked on an inter-school competition, losing it for his school and disappointing his father; his father left that same night, and Eugene felt he was the cause, though he believed his father to be happy with a new job in America. His science teacher tried to cheer him up by giving him an eye-like object, claiming that it had fallen from the sky. This piqued Eugene's interest in extraterrestrial life, and he began studying and collecting such alien artefacts. He approached Torchwood several times but was always rebuffed.
The string of events leading to Eugene's death occurred when Eugene decided to try to sell the "eye" on eBay in order to raise enough money to buy tickets to Australia for his co-worker, Linda. Initially, there were no bids, but the bids started to rise up to a few hundred pounds. A surprise bid of £15,000.00 was made near the end of the auction, and Eugene surmised it must have been the alien that had lost the eye, but was beaten by the final highest bid of £15,005.50. Eugene contacted the buyers and arranged to meet at the Happy Cook, a restaurant near where he later died. Arriving there, he found that Gary, a co-worker, and Josh, a DVD store clerk, were the winning bidders. They had raised the price initially to get Eugene's hopes up, but, when the first large bid came in from a collector, they realised that, if they could get the eye, they could resell it for more. Eugene, realising he has been set up, took photos of Gary, Josh, and the waitress's shoes in case he needed the evidence for later, then swallowed the eye and fled the restaurant. He escaped from Gary and Josh, but unwittingly walked right into traffic, causing the hit-and-run accident that killed him. Gwen is able to follow Eugene's footsteps, and learns the truth from his mother, Linda, Gary, and Josh.
In the present, Jack reveals to Gwen that the eye was probably a Dogon Sixth Eye, which, if ingested, allows the person who swallows it to gain a fresh perspective on his or her past life. Gwen finds that Eugene's father is actually working as a car mechanic nearby, and informs him about Eugene's death. Eugene's family and friends gather for his cremation, and Gwen recovers the eye from the ashes and travels to Eugene's wake with the rest of the team. As she watches across the street and Eugene's mother and father reunite, she is unaware of a car about to run her over; Eugene attempts to push Gwen aside and finds he is able to do so; to everyone's amazement he has become corporeal. Eugene knows he cannot stay without the eye in his body and that he has served a better purpose. As his family watches in amazement at seeing Eugene, Gwen gives him a goodbye kiss for saving her life and for being real. Eugene is bathed in a white glow as he is pulled into the heavens.
- This episode was originally titled "Invisible Eugene" up until two weeks before it aired. It was then changed to its present title. It was still listed as "Invisible Eugene" in the Radio Times and other television listings.
- Screenshots of Eugene's website as posted on the Torchwood Institute website suggest it to be hosted on the fictional Cheapserve webhost. Cheapserve has been used before by the Doctor Who production team.
- This story bears some structural similarities to the Doctor Who episode "Love & Monsters," in particular the heavy use of flashbacks and voice-overs by a guest character as narrative devices.
- Producer Richard Stokes likened this episode to the 1946 comedy/drama film It's a Wonderful Life, in which the main character is afforded the chance to look back over his own life and reevaluate it, while remaining invisible to the other characters.
- Like "Love & Monsters," "Blink," "Midnight" and "Turn Left," this episode is a "double-banked" episode, meaning that it was filmed at the same time as another episode, in this case "Captain Jack Harkness." This explains why this episode focuses so heavily on Gwen out of the regular cast, while the rest of the cast appear only briefly. Conversely, Gwen appears little in "Captain Jack Harkness," which instead heavily features Jack and Tosh.
- The songs "Starman" by David Bowie and "Hope There's Someone" by Antony and the Johnsons are featured in this episode.
- Eugene's father sings "Danny Boy" at the funeral.
- The Internet auction website eBay is mentioned, but the actual website used in the episode is not eBay's own.
- The DVD Owen is watching is the 1960s version of the BBC science fiction drama A for Andromeda.
- In the video shop the show playing is Walking with Dinosaurs.
- The restaurant where Gwen talks to Gary's coworker Linda can be identified by decorations as La Tasca, a Spanish tapas chain in the UK.
- "Torchwood External Hub Interface - Investigation - Eugene". BBC Online. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
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