“Torchwood” seems to be attracting interesting guest stars. Last week, in Chris Chibnall’s well-titled “Countrycide”, Owen Teale popped up towards the end of the episode as the leader of a group of Brecon Beacon villagers intent on cannibalism once every decade, almost as though he’d stayed on at the end of “Vengeance on Varos” ready to appear in “The Two Doctors”! And this week, starring throughout Toby Whithouse’s “Greeks Bearing Gifts”, Daniela Denby-Ashe, best known for long running sitcom “My Family”, played exiled and abandoned alien “Mary” who worms her way into Toshiko’s affections, with the present of a pendant that enables the wearer to read the innermost thoughts of others, in order to eventually invite herself into the Hub of Torchwood itself to retrieve her ship. Said thoughts made for a depressing indictment of the human race.
The balance between the personal relationships of the heroes and the science fiction strands of the story worked better in “Greeks Bearing Gifts” than it has previously, in both “Torchwood” and new “Doctor Who”, maybe because the alien artefact was a direct link between the two elements, making it an excellent plot device. Toby’s script benefited from his earlier experience writing “Doctor Who” episode “School Reunion” where the balance wasn’t as well executed. Daniela sustained a convincing performance throughout, possibly not an easy thing to do when alternating between tearing out the hearts of her victims down through time with present-day lesbian liaisons in Cardiff cafés! She played it as a femme fatale, which worked well enough, eventually brought to book by Captain Jack resetting her transport home to burn her up in the heart of the Sun. Hot stuff!!