Wait, who's Adam?
There's a new guy in the opening sequence, and his name is Adam. This handsome villain's main power is to make everyone around him Remember the New Guy?. He can also change their personalities, and turns Torchwood into a self-insert fanfic: Jack becomes his new best friend, Toshiko his sexy, snarky girlfriend, and Owen becomes a nervous, mousey office dork with a crush on Tosh. (Ianto just sort of hangs back.)
By planting new memories, Adam also erases old ones, and Gwen forgets ever having met Rhys. This instantly backfires on Adam, because, you know, Gwen lives with Rhys. The team quickly figure out that something's very wrong when Gwen calls to say there's a half-naked burglar in her house.
Adam convinces Jack to share his deepest memories. It turns out that Jack has one memory deliberately hidden away: that of accidentally losing track of his little brother Gray during an air raid. His memories of his home, the desert of the Boeshane Peninsula, are too painful for him.
While Gwen tries to fall in love with Rhys all over again (and happily succeeds!), Ianto reads through his Torchwood diary and realizes Adam isn't in it. Also, his blood sample isn't in the Hub database. Adam knows that he's about to be caught. He fills Ianto's memories with gruesome murders (and kisses him, because that's just how things are in Torchwood), and Ianto becomes convinced that he's an insane serial killer. Jack, of course, doesn't believe that his boyfriend would suddenly go insane, and he completely thwarts Adam's plans by...
... wait for it...
... just checking the security cameras. Seriously. Least prepared villain ever.
Adam's locked in the vault while Tosh has a breakdown over losing her boyfriend like that. Jack holds an improvised hynotherapy session to make everyone remember their true selves. Tosh's true self likes maths. Owen's true self had a cold, distant mom. Ianto's true self just wants to be loved by his co-workers. Gwen's true self loves Rhys... but not in the way she loves Jack. With that out of the way, they all take amnesia pills.
Adam argues that he didn't harm the Torchwood gang: he made them better, he claims, echoing every fanfiction writer out there. He makes Jack recall more about Gray, but infiltrates the memories so they include him as well. By erasing Adam, the memories of Gray would get corrupted. Jack decides that it's worth it and swallows his amnesia pill, erasing Adam from existence.
The next day, no one remembers a thing, although they're a bit miffed at having lost two whole days somehow. Jack manages to open a box that the crew had been fiddling around with for a while, and it contains... sand.
- Abusive Parents: Owen's mum is apparently a huge bitch:Owen: It's my birthday. I'm ten. Mum spends the whole day screaming, I love you because you're my son but that doesn't mean I have to like you. I turn 16. She packs my bags. That is the nicest thing you've done for me in years, Mother.
- A Day in the Limelight: Jack's past is shown. He lost his dad in an unseen alien attack on his homeworld where they enacted a massacre, and his brother Gray was captured because Jack got scared and ran from them.
- Backstory Invader: Nice to see you Adam. How are you?
- Even the opening credits include his actor's name as though he was always there.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Adam inserted himself not only in the team's memories, but in the opening montage sequence as well.
- Canon Sue: An Invoked Trope. Adam writes himself into the Torchwood-3 Team as one. This backfires on him when Jack realizes he has zero emotional attachment to Adam despite the memories and Ianto has no records of him in his personal diary.
- Fake Memories: Which can cause a few real memories to be lost as per Gwen.
- Hotter and Sexier: Tosh, as reinterpreted by Adam, is a confident sex maniac.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Jack uses this on everyone (himself included). Adam can only survive by putting memories of himself in other people, so he has everyone take amnesia pills to erase the guy from everyone's memories.
- Mind Rape: Adam does this to Ianto by implanting a false memory of him killing three women. He even kisses him on the lips afterwards, remarking what a rush planting false memories gives him!
- Missing Time: By the end of the episode the team realizes they've lost two days and there is no record of them, which is necessary because otherwise they would remember Adam, who survives by people remembering him.
- Rape as Drama: Although she was brainwashed at the time, this is basically what happens to Toshiko.
- Reality Ensues: Cosmic superpowers... thwarted by the first person who checks the security camera.
- Shout-Out: To the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Superstar", which also dealt with a Reality Warper mysteriously inserted into the opening credits of the episode, doing all sorts of badass things like he's been an integral part of the show all along.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Owen, as interpreted by Adam, is a much nicer, meeker guy.
- Which leads to We Want Our Jerk Back from the audience.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Adam almost eliminates this between Jack and Gwen, making them both much more flirtatious. This provides the first clue to Jack something is seriously wrong, especially after Gwen forgets about Rhys.