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Recap / Torchwood S1 E5 "Small Worlds"

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Were you expecting Tinkerbell? 'Cos she would sure be a sight for sore eyes right about now...

Gwen: Are we talking alien?
Jack: Worse.
Gwen: How come?
Jack: Because they're part of us. Part of our world, yet we know nothing about them. So we pretend to know what they look like. We see them as happy, we imagine they have tiny little wings and are bathed in moonlight.
Gwen: But they're not?
Jack: No. Think dangerous. Think something you can only half-see, like a glimpse, like something out of the corner of your eye. With a touch of myth, a touch of the spirit world, a touch of reality all jumbled together, old moments and memories that are frozen in amongst it. Like debris, spinning around a ring planet, tossing, turning, whirling... backwards and forwards through time.
Jack explains to Gwen how humans have painted a pretty picture about creatures that are nothing of the sort.

The Torchwood team finds itself against its first non-alien threat yet!... Faeries.

The episode opens with nice old lady Estelle finding a hidden grove and taking some snapshots of what very much appear to be faeries. It's only after she walks away does their true monstrous form become apparent, but only to the audience.

Cut to a young schoolgirl named Jasmine waiting after class. When her stepfather is late picking her up, she decides to walk and is rather conspicuously tailed by an unsavory character. His advances are derailed by the girl's little faerie friends. While he makes his escape, he finds himself continually tailed by these friends, and begins to cough up rose petals. He eventually turns himself in to the police, but to no avail, as he's later found dead inside his cell. Also, Jack is lying on his bed shirtless, thinking about his time in the war. Since he's previously established that he doesn't sleep, one has to assume it's a hobby.


Torchwood is called in on the unusual death. Jack recognizes the culprit and contacts Estelle. The two reminisce about Estelle's history with "Jack's father" and discuss her fascination with faeries and the photographing of them. Gwen dismisses the idea that real faeries could be involved. Jack is more concerned with the fact that Estelle seems to think they're benevolent. Jack's suspicions are confirmed when Estelle is later found dead drowned by a severely localized rainstorm. It is, of course, revealed that the one who loved Estelle all those years ago was Jack himself.

Meanwhile, Jasmine's mother and stepfather are continually concerned over her antisocial behavior and not having any friends, hobbies, or interests outside of playing in the garden with her imaginary friends. An altercation with school bullies causes a severe windstorm that Torchwood picks up on and gets Jasmine's name. Jasmine's stepfather, taking a heavy dose of "jerk", decides to fence up the garden that Jasmine plays in, and even slaps her around when she protests. Naturally, the faeries take umbrage at this and their attack begins just as Torchwood arrives on the scene. The stepfather is killed by the faeries and Jasmine escapes into the garden.


Jack explains that Jasmine is a "Chosen One" to the Faeries, a human child to be taken by them and made one of them. The Faeries are ancient creatures that have considerable power over time and reality. In Jack's past, his entire company of soldiers under his command was killed after accidentally killing a "Chosen One", and the Faeries promise much worse should Jasmine be denied to them. Jack allows Jasmine to be taken, claiming he had no choice in the matter.

Thus, the Faeries get off scot-free, three people are dead, one woman is now without a boyfriend and daughter, and everyone gives Jack a proper glare for doing, well... jack-all. Torchwood literally did nothing to influence the episode's events in any way. Oh, and there's a little bit at the end where Gwen expands one of the Cottingley Fairy photos and notes that Jasmine appears in it as a Faerie.

Written by PJ Hammond, best known for Sapphire and Steel.


  • Adult Fear: Choose: Your daughter never laughing, not seeming to have anyone at school but talking about her 'friends' who can be anywhere, anytime, even in this room, right now, or losing her forever to a timeless, evil supernatural race so that she isn't even human anymore, or the paedophile in a car outside school?
  • Affably Evil: The Fair Folk, or at least the one that "speaks" through Jasmine, are remarkably polite and soft-spoken.
  • Agent Scully: Gwen reacts this way when Jack believes they're dealing with Faeries.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Gwen is initially derisive of the idea of real fairies, and remains an Agent Scully for the first half of the episode.
  • Asshole Victim: Mark Goodson, the paedophile. Roy the stepfather was a little ambivalent at first, but all bets are off once he smacks Jasmine and calls her a "little bitch".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Faeries get what they want, murder several people along the way, and Torchwood can't do jack about it.
  • Big "NO!": Gwen lets out a slightly small one when Jack gives Jasmine up to the Faeries. Lynn howls two of them when she hits her Rage Breaking Point a few moments later.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Roy is implied to be an In-Universe case. Besides Lynn being unaware of how bad he really is towards her daughter, there's a lot of people gathered at their barbeque and he does manage to come off as quite charming when he makes a speech (less than two minutes after he's just slapped Jasmine painfully hard and called her a little bitch where no-one could see or hear).
  • Blatant Lies: Jack finds a photo of "his dad". No one really buys this.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: The tenth Doctor's "I'm so sorry" is picked up by Jack at the end. No one seems to be buying it.
  • The Chosen One: Jasmine is directly referred to as this for the Faeries.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Faeries make you choke to death on rose petals. After torturing you for a while, it seems.
  • Creepy Child: The Fair Folk seem to have turned Jasmine into this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jack. Who else?
  • Decoy Antagonist: The creepy man in a car outside school in the first five minutes of the episode turns out to be nothing to do with the eventual supernatural threat.
  • Downer Ending: The Faeries get exactly what they want. Poor Lynn is out one boyfriend and one daughter, and everyone's pissed off with Jack.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Faeries implicitly threaten this if they don't get what they want.
  • The Fair Folk: The antagonist for this episode. Jack describes them as "part myth, part spirit world and part reality jumbled together, mixed with old moments and memories". The most interesting bit seems to be that they are, in fact, not alien. They've been living alongside humanity since the beginning.
  • For the Evulz: Jack claims this as the Faeries' motivation. Still, the only deaths we see are those protecting their Chosen One and a possible case of He Knows Too Much.
    • However, they can be reasoned with and appear to have a sense of morality (e.g. they did not attack Jack when his unit ran over a Chosen One, knowing that he had no part in the events). They do also reassure Jack that they will not harm Jasmine.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: The Fair Folk threatened this if they didn't get the child they wanted.
  • He Knows Too Much: Seems to be the only reason the Faeries killed Estelle, since she didn't present a direct threat against Jasmine.
    • Or because she was connected to Jack, whom they couldn't kill but could torment.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Essentially Jack's reasoning for giving up Jasmine to the Faeries.
  • Imaginary Friend: What Jasmine's mum and stepfather think the Faeries are.
  • Jerkass: Roy is a Wicked Stepfather, and then there's Jasmine's two school bullies and the pedophile. The Faeries give all of them what they deserve.
  • Karmic Death: Roy and the pedophile were both Asshole Victims, but in the pedophile's death, a Faerie killing him also becomes this when you consider that all of the Faeries are created from children taken away to the Faeries' realm.
  • Kick the Dog: Roy taunts Jasmine by telling her that her father left when she was a baby because he didn't want to deal with her.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The first victim is a convicted paedophile and potential kidnapper. He kind of had it coming.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Some of Jasmine's classmates bully her, presumably because Loners Are Freaks. Jasmine herself smiles when she sees the Faeries attack people, doesn't grieve in the slightest for her admittedly Jerkass stepfather, and cheerfully abandons her mother forever to join her friends, unable or unwilling to conceive how this might affect Lynn. Then there's the Faeries themselves...
  • My Grandson, Myself: Because Jack doesn't age anymore, he passes himself off as his own son.
  • Natural Disaster Cascade: Jasmine warns Torchwood that if the faeries (who have already demonstrated Weather Manipulation) don't get their Chosen One, they can use their powers to kill all life on the planet.
    "If they want to, they can make great storms, wild seas, turn the world to ice. Kill every living thing!"
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The whole premise of the episode. Jack spends most of the episode trying to convince everyone around him that this is the case, and it's the reason Estelle's Wrong Genre Savvy ends up getting her killed. Our fairies are... goblin-esque, vaguely demonic immortal time-benders who don't appear on any kind of surveillance equipment, weaponize weather and enjoy murder by flower petal. Fun.
  • Personal Raincloud: A tragically literal example. Estelle gets directly rained on and drowned by the Faeries while the weather all around her house is completely clear.
  • Pinball Protagonists: The faeries drive the plot. Torchwood don't manage to stop them, slow them down, or make much difference to events at all.
  • Poisonous Friend: The Faeries seem to be this for any one they take interest in.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Wicked Stepfather Roy has one when he sees Jasmine is about to discover she's been fenced off from the Faeries' forest. He gets his just deserts a few minutes later.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Tragically deconstructed with Jasmine's mother at the end. After breaking down over her boyfriend's gruesome death, it's arriving too late to watch the Faeries take Jasmine away to their realm forever that makes her hit this point. She charges at Jack, the one who let the Faeries take Jasmine, in an utter rage, but she ends up screaming and bawling her fists uselessly at his chest before she breaks down wailing against his chest.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Most of the Faerie attacks are of this nature.
  • Slasher Smile: Jasmine pulls this off to creepy effect several times when her Faerie friends are making Asshole Victims out of her tormentors.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Jasmine's mother hits her Rage Breaking Point when the Faeries take Jasmine away, but all of her strikes at Jack's chest are quite weak, and she quickly breaks down against his chest, screaming horribly in grief as Jack holds her.
  • Was Once a Man: Jack reveals that each and every one of the Faeries was originally a child, all from different time periods, who became a Chosen One like Jasmine.
  • Weather Manipulation: The Faeries can cause very specific Weather Dissonance when they want to, and it's ultimately how Torchwood tracks them down.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A lot of this is implied in Jack's reaction to the Faeries' last attack. They look on as Roy is killed and seem to be powerless to stop Jasmine's abduction.
    • While not said out loud, both Jasmine's mother and the team's expression simply imply this when Jack lets the Faeries have Jasmine.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Roy is a male stepdad version, although it's unclear if he and Jasmine's mother are actually married. Around Lynn he just seems to be aloof with Jasmine, but in actuality he's a straight-up bully towards Lynn's daughter who enjoys belittling her and barring her from the forest with a fence to hurt her feelings.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Estelle thinks she is in a fairy story. Too bad she's in actually a gritty Darker and Edgier alien monster-fighting series which kills off an average of three random bystanders per episode.