10 December 2006
|Written by||Jacquetta May|
|Directed by||James Erskine|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes & Sophie Fante|
“Random Shoes” is an episode in the British science fiction television series Torchwood, It is the ninth episode of the first series.A young man named Eugene Jones wakes up to find that he appears to be ethereal, his body lies dead on the ground after a hit-and-run accident, but his memory of how he got there is missing. He recognises the Torchwood team as they are brought in to investigate the accident, the team had several run-ins with Eugene before, but had written him off as a crank. Eugene’s mobile phone goes off, and Gwen answers it, and explains to the caller, Eugene’s mother, that her son is dead. Upon examining the phone, she finds pictures of random shoes, and becomes intrigued by it, investigating the matter further.
Much of the rest of the episode is presented as a mix of flashblacks to Eugene’s past along with Gwen’s investigation in the present, with Eugene following her around as memories come back to him. Eugene was an excellent student in maths, but blanked on an inter-school competition, losing it for his school, and disappointing his father, his father left that same night, and Eugene felt he was the cause, though believed his father to be happy with a new job in America.
His science teacher tried to cheer him up by giving him an eye-like object, claiming it to have fallen from the sky. This piqued Eugene’s interest in extraterrestrial life, and he began studying and collecting such alien artifacts, even approaching Torchwood several times but was always rebuffed.
The string of events leading to Eugene’s death occurred when Eugene decided to try to sell the eye object on eBay in order to raise enough money to buy tickets to Australia for his co-worker, Linda. Initially, there were no bids, but the bids started to rise up to a few hundred pounds. A surprise bid of £15, 000.00 was made near the end of the auction, and Eugene surmised it must have been the alien that had lost the eye, but was beat out by the final highest bid of £15, 005.50. Eugene contacted the buyers and arranged to meet at the Happy Cook, a restaurant near where he later died. Arriving there, he found that Gary, a co-worker, and Josh, a DVD store clerk, were the actual final bidders. They had raised the price initially to get Eugene’s hopes up, but when the first large bid came in from a large collector, they realised that if they could get the eye, they could resell it for that much. Eugene, realizing he has been set up, takes photos of Gary, Josh, and the waitress’ shoes in case he needed the evidence for later, then swallows the eye and flees the restaurant. He was able to escape from Gary and Josh, but unwittingly walked right into traffic, causing the hit-and-run accident that killed him. Gwen is able to follow Eugene’s footsteps, and learns the truth from his mother, Linda, Gary, and Josh.
In the present, Jack reveals to Gwen that the eye was likely a Dogon Sixth Eye, which, if ingested, allows that person to gain a fresh perspective on their past life.
Gwen finds that Eugene’s father is actually working as a car mechanic nearby, and informs him about Eugene’s death. Eugene’s family and friends gather for his cremation, and Gwen is able to recover the eye from the ashes and travels to Eugene’s wake with the rest of the team. As she watches across the street as Eugene’s mother and father reunite, she is unaware of a car about to run her over, Eugene attempts to push Gwen aside and finds he is able to do so, to everyone’s amazement he has become corporeal.
Eugene knows he cannot stay without the eye in his body and that he has served a better purpose. As his family watches in amazement of seeing Eugene, Gwen gives him a goodbye kiss for saving her life and for being real. Eugene is bathed in a white glow as he is pulled into the heavens.