Why Owen’s Death Makes No Sense

This post will contain spoilers for Torchwood season one and two. 


In the middle of Torchwood season two, Owen Harper dies. He is shot in the chest. Captain Jack Harkness can’t deal with this, and brings him back to life with a resurrection gauntlet, releasing Death, who kills a lot of people, before Owen sends him back to the afterlife. He remains alive after this, with a few key differences, which make little sense from a logical and medical point of view. 


Firstly, the team keeps referring to Owen as dead. Owen is not dead. Owen is walking around and talking and most importantly, thinking. His brain is still functioning. Most dictionaries define death as ‘the cessation of all vital functions of an organism. The activity of the brain is a vital function of an organism. He is not dead. This can sort of be justified within the narrative, as the team might just be misinformed about the definition of death. But there are still a lot of other things that don’t make sense. 

Let’s take a look at the resurrection gauntlet. The Torchwood team don’t really know where it’s from, but it’s clearly some form of alien technology. It has the ability to bring people back to life (releasing an evil spirit in the process, but that’s beside the point). How does it do this, you ask? Well, we don’t know. Haters will say ‘magic’, but everyone knows that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So, this is some kind of advanced technology. But before we can understand how the gauntlet brought Owen back to life, we have to look at why he died. 


Owen has been shot in the chest. He most likely died of blood loss, but the bullet might have also ruptured a lung or his heart. (However, it seems unlikely that it was his heart, as his circulatory system is seen to be functioning normally later.) This would pose a problem. He kind of needs to be able to breathe. And he needs to have blood. That’s kind of important too. So, it seems that only solution is that the gauntlet is somehow producing energy for Owen. But this doesn’t really make sense either, as the gauntlet is destroyed later in the episode, while Owen remains alive. So, there seems to be no way for Owen to survive. However, the gauntlet might have done some futuristic thing I haven’t thought of. This isn’t really the bit I care about. 


When Owen comes back to life, he seems to be functioning normally, for the most part. (Apart from being possessed by death. But once again, that’s not really important.) His brain is working, and he capable of normal movement, and when he gets cut, he bleed, which suggests that his circulatory system is working normally too. However, Martha says that the cut will never heal, so his immune system isn’t working. Also, he can’t eat food or breathe, so his respiratory, digestive and excretory systems aren’t working. He also can’t feel anything, and he can’t feel pain. This makes no sense! If his respiratory and digestive systems aren’t working, he can’t gather energy in the normal way, so the gauntlet must get it to him another way. But anyway, why would it be able to make some of his body work normally again, but not other parts? I suppose that his lung could have been damaged by the bullet, and not healed, that would somewhat explain the respiratory system’s lack of function, but the immune system? Why would that not work? Also, if he has no immune system, surely he would get sick really easily? Why doesn’t he? And why can’t he feel anything? His other senses are functioning normally. It doesn’t make any sense!


Anyway, rant over. It’s probably worth mentioning I haven’t actually seen any episodes after A Day in The Death, so maybe some of these things will be disproven. But it doesn’t seem like it.