The Cardiff police are working at a murder scene in the driving rain. PC Gwen Cooper shows up with a cup of coffee and watches for a bit. Suddenly, everyone is given the order to move back - a group named Torchwood wants the scene cleared. Gwen Cooper asks around, but nobody can tell her who Torchwood are. They waltz over in their cool dark jackets and Gwen is left even more confused.
It occurs to her that she could get a better view of what they were doing if she popped up into the nearby parking garage. Gwen peers over the railing to see team member Suzie bring the murder victim back to life. The guy freaks out, and they learn nothing useful from him before he dies again. They argue about how they should have handled it. Jack Harkness, who appears to be Torchwood's leader, yells up to Gwen and asks what she thinks.
Gwen goes to work the next day and requests someone look up a Captain Jack Harkness for her. (Hed conveniently told the dead man his name.) Later that day, she and her friend PC Andy head down to break up a bar fight. Gwen gets knocked on the head and ends up in hospital, but its not anything serious — however, in that same hospital, she sees Jack head up a staircase.
She follows him and, in the distance, sees a strange man, who looks more and more strange as she approaches. It's an alien, who ends up killing a hospital porter. The Torchwood team enters the scene and tells her to run. She does, and then follows their black SUV when they leave the parking lot, but they seem to disappear.
Gwen goes home to her boyfriend Rhys. They talk for a bit, but she heads back out to look for Torchwood. She hatches the ingenious idea of getting in as a pizza delivery girl - and someone (read: Owen) actually orders pizza under the name of Torchwood. She gets into the hub, but was, of course, seen from miles away on Torchwood's CCTV. Jack introduces her to the team: he's the leader, Suzie's the woman with the resurrection glove, Owen's the doctor, Tosh is the Voice with an Internet Connection and Ianto looks great in a suit. Jack takes her to see the alien from earlier, called a Weevil. He also shows her how the hub can stay a secret: the lift has a perception filter on it (since a chameleon circuit was parked on it, wight over the space-time rift), making it essentially invisible.
Jack and Gwen go out for drinks. They discuss Torchwood, and we see cuts to the rest of the team using artefacts they shouldnt have brought home. Suzie tries the glove on a fly; Tosh transfers the text of an old copy of A Tale of Two Cities directly onto her computer; Owen uses an alien date rape drug to seduce a random woman and her boyfriend. Gwen says she will have to tell the police... but Jack has already laced her drink with a memory pill.
She goes home and writes it all down, but Ianto (the only one not out playing with alien artefacts) erases all of it through a direct link to her computer. When Gwen wakes up, she remembers nothing - until she sees the murder weapon schematics at the police station. Slowly she remembers where she saw it before - at the Torchwood Hub. She heads straight there, and out of the shadows comes Suzie, who helpfully draws first the original murder weapon, and then a gun. Gwen is mystified, not remembering enough to figure it out. As they talk, Jack rises up on the invisible lift.
Which apparently Suzie can see through, because she shoots him. In the head. Gwen is horrified... but Jack stands back up and tells Suzie to drop the gun. Suzie kills herself instead.
- Affably Evil: Suzie apologizes for the wait as she switches her knife for a gun. Gwen politely waits for Suzie to get it out of her handbag.
- Back from the Dead: But the glove only resurrects briefly.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The man killed by the Weevil loses more blood on camera than you were probably aware was in the human body.
- Continuity Nod: Jack mentions that the Invisible Lift is protected by a Perception Filter due to a device with a Chameleon Circuit having been parked there before. He neglects to mention that he was there when it happened.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Gwen almost dies trying to figure out Torchwood. Suzie does die trying to get the glove to work better.
- Dead Star Walking: Suzie Costello looks like she's going to be an interesting main character until she shoots herself.
- Death Is Cheap: Jack can shrug off death, thanks to Bad Wolf, but he's kept that a secret from his team.
- Delivery Guy Infiltration: Gwen delivering pizza...but it seems Jack was imagining the script going a different way.
- Description Cut: Jack claims that there's no danger of Torchwood being "the wrong hands" since it's strictly forbidden to take any alien tech off-base. Cue shots of Tosh, Owen and Suzie preparing to use some alien tech they took home.
- Elaborate Underground Base: With a bit of a sewer chic decorating style. And it's under a fountain with a paving-tile elevator.
- Empathic Environment: The rain slows to a stop whilst the Resurrection Glove is being used. When Suzie later uses it at home, a car's headlights pass by the window at the perfect moment.
- Foreshadowing: Gwen's first visit to Torchwood shows that Suzie leaves through the front door behind the others, and that Jack likes to take the Invisible Lift after Suzie departs. In the climax, Gwen runs into Suzie on her way home from work, confrontation ensues, and Jack rises into frame in the background during the standoff.
- Jedi Mind Trick: The TARDIS's perception filter rubbed off on their lift. Suzie can see right through it.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Retcon pills. However, if you are particularly clever, your memory can get jogged by seeing things you forgot. Gwen ends up following her old trail again after seeing a sketch of the murder weapon and realizing she'd seen it somewhere. She's still suffering from it somewhat when Suzie encounters her outside Torchwood 3, figures the jig is up, and goes straight into her Motive Rant, while a very confused Gwen tries to figure what she's talking about.
- The Men in Black: Torchwood 3 looks very cool and intimidating from the outside...and they do have the memory pills.
- Not a Mask: Gwen is trying really hard to convince herself the Weevil is a man in a mask...and then he rips out the hospital worker's throat.
- Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: The story opens with rain on the dead body, because it looks cooler with the blood running off into the water.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Captain Jack Harkness' monologue about the wonders of 21st century Earth that never cease to amaze him; considering he is an immortal ex-Time Agent in a World War II uniform who was native to the 51st century prior to his first appearance, he might as well be an alien from another planet.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Because Jack is just too pretty to have his head blown open.
- Retcon: Actually the name of Torchwood's memory pills.
- The Reveal: Viewers who had no idea Jack couldn't die were probably somewhat shocked when he died. In the first episode. But he got better.
- Rule of Cool: Jack likes standing on top of tall buildings. There is no explanation for this, or for how he manages to get up there.
- Stairwell Chase: Gwen follows Jack up the hospital stairwell.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Suzie thinks she's this. Other people disagree.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Certain promotional shots had Suzie standing off to one side from the rest of the team, which was clearly so they could be used beyond episode 1. This alerted some people to the possibility she wasn't going to be in the full series, which turned out to be correct.
- Troll: The entire Torchwood gang to Gwen when she infiltrates the hub as a Pizza Delivery girl. They are all seen doing various tasks with serious looks on their faces not batting an eye at her....then Toshiko and Owen start cracking up before revealing that they knew she was coming, before Jack takes her to see the Weevil. It didn't help matters when Owen thought it was a good idea to use the name of a secret organization to order pizza.
- Twist Ending: Yep, Suzie's the murderer. Bit of a surprise.
- Unreliable Voiceover: Jack says everything stays on base. Cue shots of everyone sneaking something home. One of those things provides a clue for the ending.