Reset (Torchwood)

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19 – "Reset"
Torchwood episode
Reset (Torchwood).jpg
Owen examines the Mayfly that he extracted from the Pharm's hired killer.
Directed by Ashley Way
Written by J.C. Wilsher
Script editor Brian Minchin
Produced by Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Production code 2.6
Series Series 2
Length 50 mins
Originally broadcast 13 February 2008
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Adam" "Dead Man Walking"
List of Torchwood episodes

"Reset" is the sixth episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was first broadcast by BBC Three on 13 February 2008, immediately after the broadcast of "Adam" on BBC Two.[1] This episode introduces Doctor Who companion Martha Jones into the cast, and marks the first death of Owen Harper.



A series of mysterious deaths in Cardiff prompts Jack to recruit UNIT medical specialist Martha Jones. The victims appear to have died from toxic shock, but their medical records have been deleted and closer examination by Owen and Martha reveals that all have been murdered. Further investigation shows that the victims have previously suffered from incurable diseases such as diabetes and HIV, but were cured of them prior to their deaths. All were participants in clinical drug trials at a secure medical research facility called The Pharm, run by the well respected medical researcher, Professor Copley. One victim, still alive when Torchwood find her, dies while being questioned and fly-like creatures erupt from her mouth.

Jack and Owen confront the professor who claims only to use human subjects for advanced clinical trials of disease curing drugs, but Jack detects a strong presence of alien life forms within The Pharm, and the facility's security system proves to be beyond the ability of Torchwood to hack from the outside. Martha offers to infiltrate the facility disguised as a human test subject and is accepted after claiming to be infected with hepatitis. Once inside, Martha discovers that The Pharm uses a substance called "Reset" that releases alien parasites called Mayflies into the host's body. The parasites cure the patient of any diseases and restores them to "factory condition", but at the price of infecting the patient with the parasite. When the eggs hatch, the creatures destroy the host. Copley determines that Martha's body has experienced the effects of time travel and further connects Martha to Jack and Torchwood. Feeling that she would be a remarkable test subject, Copley injects her with multiple doses of Reset, curious to determine the effect of Mayflies on her immune system.

With The Pharm's computer systems compromised by Martha, Torchwood discover the assassin employed by The Pharm to dispose of research subjects and realize he is about to kill the last living test subject. Ianto and Gwen apprehend the killer and return him to the Hub for questioning. He agrees (under duress) to help Torchwood to infiltrate The Pharm and rescue Martha, but it becomes clear that he is infected with Mayflies, likely contracted from one of his previous victims, and is about to die. Owen attempts to remove the creature with the singularity scalpel, but fails to operate the device correctly, leaving the Mayfly alive and killing the man. The team rushes to the Pharm hidden in the assassin's vehicle, using the dead man in the driver's seat to fool the security guards into letting them inside the compound.

Within the Pharm, they find numerous tormented aliens being used to produce various test substances, including the mature Mayfly that is the source of "Reset". They also find Martha near death in the professor's laboratory and Owen this time is able to successfully use the singularity scalpel to neutralize the Mayfly within her. Jack orders Tosh to shut down the Pharm, euthanizing all of the trapped aliens and crashing all computer systems. Before the team can depart, though, they are stopped at gunpoint by Professor Copley. Owen places himself between Martha and the gun while attempting to reason with the professor. Copley fires, hitting Owen in the chest and Jack responds by firing and killing Copley. Martha and the Torchwood team try to save Owen, but their efforts are unsuccessful.


  • The same Western Mail newspaper showing Margaret Blaine as the new mayor of Cardiff, as seen in "Boom Town", is attached to the door as Martha Jones enters the Torchwood reception.
  • A variation of Martha's Theme, composed by Murray Gold for Doctor Who, appears as the character's motif.
  • Several references are made to Martha's previous adventures with Jack in Doctor Who, including working under the same Doctor and Jack's recent bad experience with a politician (Harold Saxon). Jack comments that he relied on Martha to save the world. Martha subtly comments to Ianto when he tells her to remain unseen that she knew how to be invisible, a reference to "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords", where the Doctor created three TARDIS keys equipped with perception filters, making themselves unnoticed or 'invisible'. The same perception filter is part of the technology of Torchwood's invisible lift. The 'invisible' line is also a reference to the nature of Martha and the Doctor's relationship; her unrequited love for him is a running theme in the parent series.
  • Martha has earned her medical degree, and is a member of UNIT. It is hinted that Martha became a member of UNIT under the recommendation of the Doctor. After the airing of "Last of the Time Lords", the accompanying Martha Jones' MySpace blog included the line "PS: And I've just had an email offering me a job if I pass my exams! You wouldn't believe who it's from."
  • Martha states her family is still recovering after the events in "Last of the Time Lords".
  • While undercover at the Pharm, Martha uses the name "Samantha Jones". A different Samantha Jones was the Eighth Doctor's first companion in the Eighth Doctor Adventures.
  • The boyfriend who has saved Martha's life was revealed in "The Sontaran Stratagem" to be Thomas Milligan from "Last of the Time Lords".
  • Torchwood issue camera/SMS contact lenses to Martha for her undercover trip to the Pharm. The same or comparable lenses are issued to Lois Habiba in Children of Earth, and later used by Gwen in Miracle Day.
  • Martha (posing as "Samantha") tells the intake nurse at the Pharm that she has travelled to North America, France and Germany. She travelled with the Doctor to North America in "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks", and is implied to have travelled the world over in "Last of the Time Lords". She goes to North America again and to Germany in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
  • Owen and Toshiko discuss Toshiko's invitation to play pool in "Meat".
  • Copley's interest in Martha stems from the fact that her blood chemistry and immune system have been altered by travel in time and space (that is, by using the TARDIS). The effects of TARDIS travel on human physiology are brought up again in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Death of the Doctor," where it is revealed that the Doctor's former companions Ian and Barbara have barely aged since their adventures with the Doctor in the 1960s; and in the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes to War," where companion Amy Pond's baby is affected by being conceived within the TARDIS.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Jack refers to meeting Christopher Isherwood, and attributes the quotations "I am a camera" (in its full form, "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.", from "Berlin Diary", 1930) and "It's not the getting in, it's the getting out" to him. Isherwood would later be portrayed by actor Matt Smith (better known as the Eleventh Doctor), in the 2011 BBC TV film Christopher and His Kind.


  • The song "Feel Good Inc." by Gorillaz plays as Martha and Owen study the Mayfly. Also, the song "Freakin' Out" by Graham Coxon plays in the information centre as Ianto lets Martha into the hub. Both songs were written by two different former members of Blur.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"Reset" was the first episode of the second series to have an advance broadcast on the digital channel BBC Three ahead of its terrestrial debut. The episode was first broadcast on BBC Three on 13 February 2008 at 9.50pm. It received its first terrestrial broadcast a week later, 20 February, at 9.00pm on BBC Two. A pre-watershed version of the episode was aired at 7.00pm 21 February 2008.[2] According to consolidated figures the episode's BBC Three broadcast was watched by 850,000 viewers, its BBC Two debut by 3.22 million viewers and the pre-watershed version by 0.96 million viewers, amounting to an aggregated total of 5.03 million viewers across its three initial showings.[3]


  1. ^ Radio Times Online listing for 13 February 2008
  2. ^ Walker, "Part Six: Episode Guide-2.06: Reset" p. 161
  3. ^ Walker, "Appendix D: Ratings and Rankings" p. 271


External links[edit]