‘Sleeper‘ felt like preparation – and while an effective enough story itself, failed to bring the viewer to a comfortable conclusion. Beth provided a well-handled focus for the story, a confused woman torn between reality and a secret hidden from everyone, including herself. Beth wanted to be ordinary, but circumstance had pushed extraordinary upon her; whereas, the ordinary members of Torchwood embrace the extraordinary role they play, without necessarily understanding it completely. You might draw parallels between Captain Jack and the alien invaders, as both enforce strict and unsympathetic controls on the information they pass to those who serve them. Sleepers and Torchwood members alike only know what they need to know to serve their current function and nothing more.
While I thought Beth handled her character well, I found less positive thoughts surfacing about the sleeper who survived to the end. I blame the director rather than the actor, but the murder of the council member added unnecessary violence and splashes of gore with an almost comical portrayal of the alien. The distant, disinterested gaze didn’t work at all – less of the psychopath, more of the mildly aggrieved accountant. Why the story required the same guy to break his partners neck also begged an answer – as that kind of violence got cut from the Doctor Who: TV Movie and the story didn’t suffer for it at all. Has pointless and poorly directed violence started to replace the childish bouts of sex and swearing from Season One?
Highlight of the evening – a witty Ianto Jones who seemed to have an amusing quip for every occasion. Yes, it might have seemed uncharacteristic of the often morose Ianto of Season One… Yes, it looked like Ianto just got dumped with all the throwaway humourous dialog for the episode… but, it worked for me.
Overall, the episode almost worked and I trust it will lead to something more – but, how about getting on to some fuller and rounder storytelling and characterisation for Episode Three, huh?