TV Something that is casting a quite a long shadow over Torchwood within Doctor Who fandom and beyond is the question of a rape scene in the very first episode. Sometimes tie-in novel author Kate Orman succinctly describes the scene and lists the issues here and the ensuing discussion includes most of the arguments I've read elsewhere.

Did Russell T Davies think through any of these moral issues as he wrote the scene? He's a clever writer (as he's not too afraid to tell everybody sometimes) and I'm sure that he did. But did he really think that it would blow into such a storm, that it would simply work within the arc of that episode (Torchwood personel can be a bit dodgy).

Was it rape? At the Manchester preview screening I attended, the audience laughed and on that first viewing I interpreted it as being as harmless as a love potion or a hyper-intense version of the The Lynx Effect. It's only on later scrutiny that the fact that neither of the parties are in their right mind and consenting to sex under duress (one of the legal definitions of rape) was at all obvious.

Could it hurt the show? I think it probably already is at least in fan circles -- people are still debating this one scene online weeks later and so by implication their reaction to ensuing episodes will be effected/tainted by that. In this week's episode, the audience was supposed to sympathise with the character but some couldn't because of his apparent history. But we'll still inevitably be watching if only to see if the real implications of this scene will be returned to at some point or if indeed it was just a sight gag. It could go either way at this point.

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