Reset was the sixth episode in the second series of Torchwood. It marked the return of Martha Jones to television after her departure from Doctor Who in Last of the Time Lords. It also marked the death of Owen Harper, starting a storyline that would feature prominently for the rest of the series.
A series of seemingly-professional murders in Cardiff prompt Jack to call in UNIT medical specialist Martha Jones for help. The Torchwood team are surprised and curious about Dr Jones’ relationship with Jack, as they still do not know much about his past. Martha informs him there have been similar murders throughout the UK. Owen and Jack flirt with her. Jack is more open and lighthearted when Martha arrives, dropping hints about their travels with the Tenth Doctor. When the two sit down for a brief catch-up, Jack tells Martha she should have contacted him if she was looking for work. Martha replies that she wasn’t; UNIT rang her out of the blue, and said she was what they needed, having been recommended by an “impeccable source”. Jack and Martha conclude it must have been the Doctor, as no one else knew about Martha’s time-travelling experiences. Jack says thoughtfully that perhaps the Doctor thought he owed Martha a favor…they all did, which makes Martha thoughtful.
As the Torchwood team investigate the murders, they discover that one of the victims had been cured of diabetes and another of HIV. They trace the killings to a medical center named the Pharm. One woman had been attacked but survived and is in a hospital. She has a seizure after admittance and fly-like creatures rise out of her mouth and try to enter Owen and Martha, but die first. Owen and Jack go to the Pharm and talk to the director, Professor Aaron Copley, but fail to gain access to any areas of the facility.
After searching for ways of infiltrating the Pharm, the team learn the facility recruits people for human trials. Jack concludes it is far too dangerous to send one of their own undercover, but Martha suggests that if a doctor with the appropriate knowledge went in there, it would be less dangerous. After a verbal protest from Jack and a silent one from Owen, Martha convinces Jack to let her go in undercover as she’s “been in worse situations”. Owen follows Jack and begs him not to let her go. Jack assures him he’d rely on Martha if the world was ending…and he has.
Ianto sets up Martha with her instructions and gear. A short conversation about his relationship with Jack ensues. Toshiko fits Martha with contact lenses that act as cameras, so the team can monitor her while she is inside. Martha goes undercover as Samantha Jones, a hepatitis sufferer, to investigate the center’s real purpose.
Back at the Hub, Tosh and Owen are keeping watch over Martha in the Pharm. Tosh remarks upon seeing Owen gazing at the picture of Martha’s UNIT badge, about their quickly developing friendship and that she and Owen are a perfect match, both of them being doctors. She points out Martha’s obvious beauty and shares a laugh with Owen, who tries to feign ignorance. Owen remarks that the flirting is harmless, seeing that Martha is only interested in work and that if he tried anything, “Jack would have his kneecaps”. This seems to cheer Tosh up. Owen asks her about the pool tournament she was supposedly organizing. Tosh says it was supposed to be a date. Owen looks abashed and asks Tosh if she is still interested. Tosh eagerly says yes. If they got to know each other outside of work, something could come of it, and Owen casually agrees to one date, which excites Toshiko immensely. He points out he wouldn’t stop flirting with people just because of their situation and Tosh tells him that he can be “King Of Flirts”. The conversation disintegrates and they change topic and watch over Martha again.
Inside the Pharm, Martha discovers the facility is responsible for the drug “Reset”, which is what cured the previously incurable diseases. The problem with Reset is that it works by releasing alien parasites called Mayflies into the human bloodstream — the Mayfly larvae proceed to “reset” the human body, eliminating even incurable diseases like HIV. The downside to the drug is the Mayfly larvae eventually hatch and eat the person from the inside.
Trying to escape, Martha is attacked by an adult Mayfly. She is captured by the Pharm workers who strap her to an operating table. The medical director examines her and states that her white blood cells have mutated due to “travel in time and space”. He questions Martha about her alliance with Torchwood and her travels. All the while, Martha acts as if she doesn’t know what they are talking about. He is curious to see how her immune system will react to Reset and injects her with it.
While Gwen and Ianto track down the Pharm-hired assassin carrying out the murders, arrest him and take him to the Hub, Jack and Owen find during questioning that he has a Mayfly in him as well. Jack needs the assassin alive so Owen tries to use the singularity scalpel to vaporize the Mayfly in his body. He screws up and the fly bursts out of the assassin’s stomach instead. Toshiko concocts a program that will get them into the Pharm by controlling the car from the back while the dead assassin is strapped in the driver’s seat.
Inside the Pharm, the team split up: Tosh, Gwen and Ianto are sent to find the “research labs”, while Owen and Jack find the Director and Martha. Tosh, Gwen and Ianto discover the “labs” where alien life-forms are being held captive and tortured. By the time Jack and Owen reach Martha, the Reset drug has been injected and the Mayflies fight each other off until one remains inside. While Jack tells Prof. Copley that his team are shutting the Pharm down as a result of the damage they are doing, Owen tends to Martha, using the alien gun to extract the Mayfly from her body safely. The trio exit the Pharm before it reaches complete shut down and meet up with the other three by the vehicle they came in. Owen, who is supporting Martha as they walk, continues to flirt with her by suggesting she should spend a few days in bed, hopefully under his supervision. Martha says that she already has a boyfriend. Owen asks if he’s ever saved her life like he just did. Martha replies that he has.
As the team get ready to leave and Owen is ushering Martha towards the car, Professor Copley returns and points a gun at Martha, telling Jack and the others that he wouldn’t just stand by and watch them ruin his work and let them get away with it. Owen steps carefully in front of Martha and attempts to reason with the Professor, claiming they are both rational men and that he doesn’t really want to shoot. Professor Copley shoots Owen in the chest and Owen falls to the pavement in extreme pain, unable to even scream. Whatever mercy Jack was going to give the Professor is lost with this unforgivable act. Copley then points his gun directly in Martha’s path and voices his intent to end her next, but the precious moment he wastes on a threat gives Jack a chance to shoot the Professor in the head, killing him instantly. Martha, Jack and Toshiko run to Owen, who lies on the ground, bleeding. While Martha gets out medical supplies, Jack holds Owen’s hand and assures him he’ll be all right, while Toshiko becomes hysterical. Martha and Jack try to get him to focus. Martha attempts to treat Owen’s wound by injecting a medicine near his heart. Toshiko looks over him as a look of peace comes over Owen’s face. Martha says that he is dead.