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Recap / Torchwood S 2 E 4 Meat

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Rhys's eyes are opened to the existence of aliens... by peering into the eye of an alien.

Rhys: What, exactly, do I need protecting from?!
(long string of profanities)
Rhys: Piss off! Aliens? In Cardiff?!
Gwen finally has to tell skeptical Rhys the truth about Torchwood, leading to a verbal crossfire

The team investigates a meat company whose product seems to be extraterrestrial in origin. Jack makes the requisite bad innuendo puns about "eating alien meat". By complete coincidence, the meat is transported by... Rhys's company. Gwen doesn't like that at all, because inevitably, Rhys follows them and finally learns what Gwen does for a living.

The meat comes from a giant sentient Space Whale that regenerates infinitely. Sort of like Jack, only half asleep, immobile and very large. Doctor Who spoilers  Jack feels strong empathy for the beast and vows to save it. He also merrily flirts with Rhys's Hollywood Homely secretary, who looks like she hadn't been flirted with in years.

The gang, including Rhys, inflitrate the bad guys' lair, but they all get caught. Rhys takes a bullet for Gwen. The villains are defeated and given amnesia drugs, but Owen has to put the Space Whale down.


Gwen refuses to make Rhys take an amnesia pill. Jack reluctantly agrees.


  • Action Survivor: Rhys
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The Trope Namer
  • Bowdlerise: The pre-watershed edit of this episode was the only one to have an actual dialogue change, rather than just having objectionable content cut out: Rhys's line "you fucking him or what?" became "you seeing him or what?"
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Jack sees the conversation between him and Rhys in the Hub as this.
  • Karma Houdini: The three people dealing alien meat on the black market get Retconned because it's easier for Torchwood to just have them forget their actions and go on like they never got involved with shady dealings rather than try to keep them under lock and key. Lampshaded and explained in the book The Torchwood Archives; The team thought they let the guys off too easy, but apparently, Jack gave them so much Retcon, their minds reverted to that of teenagers.
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  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Lampshaded.
    Ianto: Well, this is unprecedented, the fiancé finding out.
    Tosh: Mainly because we're all sad and single. [Ianto looks pleased with himself for a second]
    Owen: Speak for yourself. I am better off without all that kind of hassle.
    Tosh: Maybe the answer's to go out with someone who knows what you do?
    Owen: Look around you, Tosh. Only we know what we do.
  • Mercy Kill: Jack has to euthanize that poor alien creature after it was being tortured, since it has grown too big to be dealt with.
  • No, You: During Gwen and Rhys’s argument:
    Rhys: Piss off.
    Gwen: No, you piss off.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Rhys accuses Jack of being a show off.
    Jack: [to Ianto] Do I show off?
    Ianto: Just a bit.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: When Rhys gets taken hostage Gwen immediately complies with the order. Later Jack and Tosh do the same when Ianto gets a gun to his head too.
  • Secret-Keeper: Rhys becomes one for Torchwood as of this episode.
  • Space Whale Aesop:
    • Kids, don't capture an extraterrestrial being and chop it up for meat!
    • It also has a more relatable moral: Don't take an exotic animal, exploit/torture it, then try to justify yourself as anything other a greedy, amoral opportunist, especially if you try to ignore its suffering.
    • Of course, bonus points for getting this across with a literal space whale.
  • The Unmasking: Gwen reveals the truth about her job to Rhys. It sticks.