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Recap / Torchwood S1 E4 "Cyberwoman"

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For a victim of cyber-conversion, this one is a tad too naked to appear scary. Until she starts cannibalizing innocent people.

Jack: [enraged] You hid a Cyberman within Torchwood, and you didn't tell us?! What else are you hiding from us?!
Ianto: [scathingly] Like you care. I clear up your shit, no questions asked, and that's the way you like it. When did you last ask me anything about my life?
Jack and Ianto have a cathartic standoff

Torchwood receptionist Ianto Jones has a deep dark dirty secret. No, not the fact that he despises being Torchwood's coffee boy or that he's not invited to their impromptu basketball sessions, or that's he's left behind when they all go out for drinks. No, turns out that everyone else leaving is his perfect opportunity.

After the others leave, Ianto invites an old Japanese man named Tanizaki into Torchwood's inner sanctum and leads him to a disused area of the Hub. There, we find the source of the secret: Ianto has been keeping the title Cyberwoman hidden from everyone else. This is (or was) Lisa of Torchwood One in London, a casualty of the Battle of Canary Wharf and Ianto's lover. It turns out that when the Cybermen started losing that battle, they started desperately converting new troops out of humans wholesale, without transplanting their brains at all. Having only received a partial conversion, Lisa is only partially covered in cybernetics. Tanizaki, being the world's foremost expert of cybernetics, has been called in to see if he can reverse the cybering process. Unfortunately, before the examination can begin properly, the rest of Torchwood gets called back on a routine UFO sighting, so Ianto has to leave Tanizaki with Lisa. Uh oh.

Tosh notices rather odd power drains. Ianto explains this as a generator problem and promises to take care of it. Returning to Lisa, he finds Tanizaki dead, his "upgrade" not having taken. Ianto is horrified by this but still holds out hope that Lisa can be restored. While he goes to dispose of Tanizaki, the rest of Torchwood note further power drains and come to the conclusion that they're under attack. They arm themselves and investigate. Finding the cyber conversion unit that Ianto was using to keep Lisa alive, Jack deduces the nature of the power drains. Lisa then attacks and slaps Gwen into the conversion unit. Jack stays behind to get killed a few times over and has Tosh cut off the power, sealing everyone inside the facility. Owen and Gwen duck into a tight hiding spot and have an impromptu makeout session. Ianto is knocked unconscious and saved by Jack with some extremely effective CPR consisting of a snog. Ianto explains everything to a disapproving Jack and holds out hope that she can still be human. His pleas towards Lisa only seem to confuse her about the nature of love.

A bit of a chase ensues around the Hub as Tosh struggles to get power restored and everyone else simply tries to stay alive. A rather lucky screwdriver stab by Owen weakens Lisa, then Jack uses "barbecue sauce" to summon their pet pterodactyl. Lisa thus distracted, the crew manage to escape to the surface. Meanwhile, the pizza that Ianto ordered finally shows up, and the delivery girl blunders her way into the Hub.

Jack gives Ianto an ultimatum: head back down there and finish Lisa within ten minutes, or he comes in and takes them both out. Ianto heads back in and finds Lisa's body. He breaks down until the pizza delivery girl walks in and identifies herself as Lisa. Having believed she understands "love", Lisa transferred her brain into the delivery girl, making her "human". She offers that she and Ianto be upgraded together. Ianto is unable to shoot her, so the rest of Torchwood finish the job. Ianto resumes his duties, vowing that one day, he'll stand back and watch as Jack Harkness dies. He's apparently forgiven, but just a bit broken.


  • Alone with the Psycho: Ianto leaves Tanizaki alone with the partially converted Cyberwoman. Doesn't end well for him.
  • Body Horror: The partially converted Tanizaki has had one of his eyes replaced with its Cyberman counterpart and half a Cyberman handlebar sticking out of his head.
  • Bottle Episode: This episode definitely has the feel of one, There's minimal CGI used (only for the Pterodactyl), lots of prosthetics (for the Cyberwoman), Prop Recycling (the helmet is reused from Doomsday), and the majority of the action takes place inside the hub, with only three outside shots made specifically for the episode.
  • Brain Transplant: Lisa transplants her brain to the fully organic body of Annie the pizza delivery girl, leaving a huge scar on her forehead. Unfortunately, it does not remove her cyber-programming.
  • Cannot Kill Their Loved Ones: Ianto absolutely cannot bring himself to kill his partly Cyberman-converted girlfriend Lisa even when she's presenting an active danger to his friends and to humanity at large.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Apparently, partial conversion mostly covers the naughty bits.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Turns out that pterodactyl Torchwood has been keeping comes in handy in defending the homefront.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ianto ordered pizza earlier that night. Guess who shows up at the end?
  • Closed Circle: Tosh shutting down the power after Lisa starts running amok gives us this, as the doors automatically seal with a power failure.
  • Compromising Call: Rhys calls Gwen whilst she is trying to hide from Lisa in the hub alongside Owen, alerting Lisa to their hiding place and forcing them to escape.
  • Cut the Juice: The only way to stop the cyber-conversion unit from killing Gwen. Of course, this results in the aforementioned Closed Circle.
  • Downer Ending: With Ianto now properly girlfriend-less and a bit broken.
  • Hand Wave: Normally, Cybermen just take the human's brain and dump it in the metal body. Apparently, with the war not going in their favor, the Cybermen were going for quick upgrades that simply slapped cybernetics straight onto humans. The efficiency of this (or lack thereof) is not really elaborated upon. note 
  • High-Heeled Feet: The part-converted Cyberwoman has built-in high heels.
  • Homage: The notorious character design of the Cyberwoman, Lisa, is an homage to the work of the well-known BDSM and cyborg-fetish erotic artist Hajime Sorayama (no links due to anti-lewdness policy, but he does provide the page image for Sexbot, which is safe for work), which unfortunately shows that some costume designs don't work very well if you try to put them on an actual person. Especially if you're trying to get your audience to take the situation seriously.
  • Kiss of Life: Jack administers this to Ianto not long after the Cyberwoman drops him.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Ianto takes this particular opportunity to hypocritically call out Jack on his heartlessness.
  • Now or Never Kiss: While hiding in a cupboard, Gwen and Owen get their make out on.
    Gwen: What the hell was that?
    Owen: What?
    Gwen: Snogging me.
    Owen: Last kiss for the condemned man. Clearly embarrassing given we haven't been killed.
  • Red Shirt: Can't have someone important die. So, enter the unlucky pizza delivery lady and Dr. Tanizaki.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Ianto states his intention to not rescue Jack from a fatal situation in the future for allowing Lisa to die.
    Ianto: You could have saved her. You're worse than anything locked up down there. One day, I'll have the chance to save you, and I'll watch you suffer and die.
  • Rule of Sexy: The "Cyberwoman" half-conversion is inexplicably form-fitting Chainmail Bikini (with heels, no less).
  • Sequel Episode: To Doctor Who's "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday", focusing on a partially Cyber-converted victim of the Battle of Canary Wharf.
  • Something Only They Would Say: How Lisa-in-delivery-girl proves that it's her.
    Ianto: You're not Lisa.
    Lisa: You always said you didn't love me for what I looked like. Last time you said that, it was a Saturday. We were hungover. You made cheese toasties, and moaned I hadn't descaled my kettle. That night, we camped on a beach in Brittany. It got so freezing we wore our coats and shared one sleeping bag. When we woke up the next morning, a dog was pissing on our tent.
  • Supporting the Monster Loved One: Ianto Jones keeps his partially cyber-converted girlfriend Lisa Hallett alive in the Hub's basement.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Okay, we can buy the breast and naughty bit coverings as being part of a rush job, but what kind of Cyberman has heels?
  • There Is No Cure: Ianto has been keeping his half-Cyberman girlfriend Lisa alive in the hopes of reversing her partial Cyber-conversion by the Cybus Cybermen and getting her restored to full humanity. Jack, who has knowledge of the prime universe Cybermen's Cyber-Empires from The Future, outright tells Ianto, "There is no cure. There never will be. Those who are converted stay that way." Lisa sort-of gets around this by using the Cybermen's tech to transplant her brain into a fully organic body, but her brain's Cyber-programming sticks.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Of course you're forgiven for the deaths of two people, nearly releasing a very real threat on the entire planet, and directly threatening your leader, Ianto! Now, go back to picking up our trash and making us coffee.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: It seems to be the means by which they finally defeat the Cyberwoman. Lisa, thinking Ianto will love her, transfers her brain into the fully human pizza delivery girl. This makes her quite vulnerable to bullets.
  • You Monster!: Ianto has some very harsh words to say to this effect upon being forced to kill his girlfriend by Jack.
    Ianto: I won't do it. You can't make me. You like to think you're a hero, but you're the biggest monster of all.