John Barrowman (Captain Jack), Eve Myles (Gwen), Burn Gorman (Owen), Naoko Mori (Toshiko), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto), Kai Owen (Rhys), Anthony Lewis (Tommy), Roderic Culver (Gerald), Siobahn Hewlett (Harriet), Lizzie Rogan (Nurse), Ricky Fearon (Foreman)
|Written by||Catherine Tregenna|
|Directed by||Colin Teague|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes|
“Meat” is the fourth episode of the second series Torchwood,
Torchwood initially depicts a small team of alien-hunters known as Torchwood Three, based in the Welsh city of Cardiff. In the premiere episode of the first series Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is introduced as a newcomer to the organisation who keeps her job secret from boyfriend Rhys Williams (Kai Owen). The episode “Meat” depicts the two aspects of Gwen’s double life coming into conflict as Rhys finds himself caught up in Torchwood’s investigation into a corrupt meat trade stemming from human exploitation of a stranded benevolent alien. Rhys helps Torchwood in their attempts to apprehend the human villains of the episode and his bravery makes Gwen realise that she should no longer keep secrets from him.
The episode was filmed in and around Cardiff between June and July 2007 as part of the second production block of the series. The production team used the episode to expand Rhys’ role in the series, due to their appreciation of actor Kai Owen’s performances in the first series and the contention of executive producer Russell T Davies that the character should be seen as less of a “sap” in the second series. The alien “space whale” seen in the episode was created using computer-generated imagery, with the exception of a cut section wound where the humans had been carving meat from.
Tregenna characterised the monster as resembling “a giant kebab”. A more elaborate design was previously considered, but both Tregenna and Davies felt that this would detract from the alien’s suitability to the plot.
According to consolidated figures the episode was watched by 3.28 million viewers on its BBC two debut, aggregated to 4.74 million viewers after taking into consideration two repeat broadcasts the same week. Reviews of the episode ranged from mostly negative to very positive.
Most commentators praised the larger role of Rhys in the episode, the performance of actor Kai Owen and the realism of the acting and dialogue overall. However, a large proportion of reviewers criticised the special effects used to create the alien and it was subsequently compared by some to resembling a sock puppet or hand puppet. Whilst some reviewers identified with the plight of the alien, others felt that its poor realisation meant that it was hard to feel any sympathy for it.