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Dead Man Walking
Series: Torchwood - TV Stories
Series Number: Series 2
Story Number: 20
Enemy: Durac
Setting: Cardiff, 2009
Writer: Matt Jones
Director: Andy Goddard
Producer: Richard Stokes & Chris Chibnall
Broadcast: 20th February 2008
Previous Story: Reset
Following Story: A Day in the Death



"I'm bringing Owen back."

Owen has died. Jack decides to return him to life for a few minutes. But no one could have guessed what will happen as a consequence of this decision.


The Death Card

Owen Harper lays dead of a gunshot wound, about to be opened up for autopsy by Martha Jones back at the Hub. Jack orders the team to do nothing until he comes. Jack enters a strange café, where a girl, about 12 years old, reads tarot. She says to Jack that he owes her a favour. The young girl tells him where to find what it is he is looking for, though as he leaves she is seen holding the Death card.

Jack goes to St. Mary's, an abandoned church where Weevils go to sleep and where they store collected bric-a-brac. He breaks into a safe and retrieves from it a box from it. To the astonishment of the team back at the Hub, it contains a resurrection gauntlet. Gwen objects to what Jack is about to do, reminding him of what had happened before with Suzie. Jack ignores her and hopes to bring Owen back for two minutes or so for everybody to say their goodbyes to him. He resurrects Owen, who is confused and scared. Tosh tells Owen that she loves him, and Jack - after initially upsetting Owen by asking for the morgue access code - tries to prepare Owen for death. The connection is lost, Owen stops breathing, and Jack holds Owen's hand, believing he is dead. We then hear Owen's voice saying that he will need his hand back.

The glove has brought Owen back from beyond death permanently, although unlike with Suzie, there is no obvious source of life energy. No energy is being drained from Jack, as Suzie was draining energy from Gwen, but Owen is getting energy from somewhere. Toshiko tells Owen she didn't mean it when she told him that she loved him and Owen says that this is a textbook reaction to grief, but does not want to discuss it further. He changes the subject and leaves the room.

Owen then finds himself occasionally having visions of himself in a place shrouded in darkness and hearing eerie whispers. He also temporarily loses control of his body during which his pupils turn black and he speaks a phrase in an unknown language. Although he has been put in quarantine, Owen escapes and goes out to a bar in Cardiff, where he discovers that he is no longer able to digest drinks, or get an erection (which depends on blood flow) so he can no longer have sex. He is now the walking dead. All his life processes have stopped.

Jack catches him and they have a bar brawl. When Owen begins to shout that he belongs to Torchwood "special ops", Jack puts on a fake English accent and denies it. This results in them both being put in a police cell. During their time in the cell, to Jack's amused disgust, Owen intentionally vomits up the drinks that would have otherwise been stuck in his stomach (since his digestive processes have now stopped) and starts to panic. He and Jack bond, and Jack reveals that he once dated Marcel Proust and that his immortality, which Owen is coveting in his position, is not the gift that Owen now envies. They then leave after Jack reveals his thoughts on immortality. Once outside they encounter numerous Weevils that chase Owen and Jack until they are cornered on a rooftop. They are surprised that instead of killing them, the Weevils bow to Owen who again temporarily loses control of his body and addresses the Weevils in the same unknown language.

Upon analysis, it is found that Owen's cells are changing slowly, and upon 100% transformation something will take over Owen's body. Research by shows that a similar situation occurred in legend, and that Death itself comes back with the revived and searches for 13 victims whose consumed souls will enable Death to remain in the world; Death would otherwise quickly perish. The story says that 'faith' was what stopped the entity. Believing this legend is in the process of repeating, Owen suggests that he must have his neural pathways closed by being embalmed in order to stop Death from using him as a gateway. During the embalming process, the resurrection gauntlet comes to life and attacks Martha before being destroyed, draining the life from her and reducing her to an old woman. Owen shoots the gauntlet, and as his cells fully change, he loses control again, and the gauntlet transforms into a dust which appears to possess him. He speaks in the same voice as he did when changed earlier, and says 'I will walk the earth forever, and my hunger shall know no bounds' - a phrase attributed earlier to Death itself.

Death escapes from Owen and heads to a hospital, being drawn to those close to death, and begins taking their souls. Martha is also brought to the hospital in her heavily aged state, where a nurse says that as her red blood cell count is low and as she is over eighty, her chances of survival are slim. The team evacuates everyone from the building while Death, after taking twelve souls, chases after a young leukaemia patient who had been accidentally left behind. Owen saves the child and helps him and Tosh to escape. Ianto, who is waiting with Martha, explains to the team that the 'faith' which defeated Death before was in fact the resurrected child, whose name was Faith. Owen then realizes that he himself is the only one who can fight Death as he is already dead and therefore has nothing to lose. After kissing Tosh (and stealing her alien lockpick device), Owen locks the other members of the team out of the hospital and begins a brawl with Death, eventually consuming its energy and forcing it back into the darkness.

Upon returning to the Hub, Martha explains to Owen that now the energy keeping him 'alive' is dissipating but could take an unknown amount of time to do so, anywhere between 30 seconds and 30 years. Jack explains to Toshiko that you can never defeat death, only escape it. Owen asks Jack to let him work again, as by doing his job as a doctor he can try and repay the lives of those lost when Jack brought Owen back.


Production crew

to be added


  • Martha asks Jack why he didn't inform UNIT about his ability to bring back the dead.
  • The glove Jack removes from the church is different to the one Torchwood 3 previously encountered.
  • Jack visits a psychic fortune teller.
  • Gwen mentions the resurrection glove's last usage on Suzie Costello.
  • Owen has previously shown a connection with the Weevils.
  • Jack appears to have a thing for writers. After mentioning a relationship with Christopher Isherwood in Reset, in this episode he mentions having a short-lived relationship with Marcel Proust.
  • After escaping from the Hub, the pub Owen visits is in the midst of a costume party where a number of people are, appropriately, dressed as angels. Aside from the connection to Owen's situation, the costumes also resemble the Heavenly Hosts of DW: Voyage of the Damned.

Story notes

to be added


  • Official BARB rating - 3.31 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

to be added

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Why would Jack need to bring Owen back for the alien morgue if Torchwood had the device that can unlock any lock in under 45 seconds? He needed an excuse for bringing him back. The alien morgue may be an exemption to this lock, there is always one.
  • Death had claimed 13 souls as it killed Jack when Owen changed and released it. Jack is seen reviving in the SUV. Death should have not been able to have been stopped by Owen as it had killed 13 times already. It didn't steal Jack's soul, merely one of his infinite numer of lives.
  • When Owen flashed to the darkness we are able to see that there is a source of light as we can see him. There is also a source of gravity as he is standing and able to move about freely. And finally there is an atmosphere as you here sound. TV shows are surely allowed some artisic license, otherwise we wouldn't be able to hear or see Owen, so it would just be a black screen for a while


  • The Resurrection glove last appeared in They Keep Killing Suzie; this episode features the second glove of the pair, obliquely referenced by Ianto in the earlier episode. This second glove is also destroyed.
  • Owen last displayed a connection with the Weevils in Combat.
  • The Weevils recoiled in the presense of a Sleeper agent in a similar way to Owen. (TW: Sleeper)
  • This episode, Reset and the following episode, A Day in the Death, all take place within a period of about three days (based upon dialogue in the third episode).
  • It is odd that Jack, being the head of Torchwood, would not be in possession of the morgue access code. However, the events of Exit Wounds provide a convincing reason for why Jack was not allowed to have the code.

DVD releases

  • This story along with the rest of Torchwood Series 2 was released in a complete series boxset in 2008.

See also

to be added

External links

Torchwood Series 2
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang  • Sleeper  • To the Last Man  • Meat  • Adam  • Reset  • Dead Man Walking  • A Day in the Death  • Something Borrowed  • From Out of the Rain  • Adrift  • Fragments  • Exit Wounds

This article uses material from the "Dead Man Walking" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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