Torchwood – Captain Jack Harkness

And so we approach the end of the first series of Torchwood. The last two episodes were shown back-to-back, but what we have here isn’t so much as a two-parter, as two interlinked stories. And so I’ll deal with them individually.

Jack and Tosh arrive at a closed down old dancehall. There have been reports of mysterious music, and that’s just the sort of thing Torchwood has to investigate. They wander around the deserted building, finding nothing unusual until they are just about to leave. Outside, it’s gone dark. It’s also 1941. Night-time in Cardiff in 1941 is not an altogether good place to be, as bombs are likely to fall at any time. They go back into the building, to find it full of people. Not ghosts or projections. Real people. Jack and Tosh are in 1941…

Back at the hub, it seems the Rift is becoming more active. Contact has been lost with Jack and Tosh, so Gwen goes looking for them.

Back in 1941, Jack and Tosh meet an officer, who introduces himself as Captain Jack Harkness. For once, Jack (that’s the Jack we know, who to avoid confusion I’ll now refer to as Torchwood Jack) is caught off guard. He invents a new name and later admits to Tosh that Jack Harkness isn’t his real name.

Tosh takes her laptop to the manager’s office to try to work out what’s happened. She needs to send a message forward in time to the Torchwood team, and uses the manager’s Polaroid camera to take a picture of her written equations. Of course, the manager shouldn’t really have a Polaroid camera in 1941, as they hadn’t actually been invented at that point. At this point, the manager, a distinctly creepy old man called Bilis Manger[1], appears and Tosh leaves the office. She hides the photograph in a services cupboard outside the building, where it quite remarkably survives intact long enough for Gwen to find in 2006.

In 2006, Gwen meets the building caretaker, who appears to be the same man we just met in 1941. There’s obviously something odd about Bilis Manger, because he doesn’t look a day older…

And that’s where it all starts to get complicated. The team find a photograph taken in 1941 which shows that Jack and Tosh have been taken back to that time. It also shows Bilis, whom Gwen recognises…

And in the Hub, there is something we haven’t seen before – a Rift Manipulator. This can, allegedly, be used to open the Rift in a controlled manner, and could be used to bring Jack and Tosh back to the present. Only there seems to be a bit missing. Owen decides to search the dancehall…

And in 1941, Tosh has realised that the photograph didn’t get all of her calculations. Down in the cellar while an air-raid goes on, she manages to write a message in her own blood and conceal it, in the hope that it will be found. And indeed it is, but not before Bilis gets to it and removes some of the details…

And Torchwood Jack is getting to know err, Real Jack, the man whose identity he took. Torchwood Jack knows that Real Jack will be killed the next day. Back when he was a conman and before he met the Doctor and Rose, Torchwood Jack adopted the name of a recently-killed officer and falsified a few records. But now he’s face to face with the man whose life he took over, and it’s clear that they’re attracted to each other[2].

At the Hub, while Gwen stays at the dancehall, Owen, having found the missing part of the Rift Manipulator and Tosh’s message in the cellar, tries to open the Rift. Ianto tries to stop him – and even shoots him, but not in time to stop the Manipulator running.

Back in 1941, the Rift opens, allowing Torchwood Jack and Tosh to return to the present. But not before Torchwood Jack gets to dance with Real Jack.

Finally, with everyone back at the Hub, Jack (we don’t need to say which Jack now…) and Tosh drink a toast to “the Captain”.

And that’s just a quick outline of one of the more complex episodes of the series, and one which leaves some questions unanswered.

  • Who (or what) is Bilis? How can he be in two times?
  • How did Bilis come to have the missing part of the Rift Manipulator?
  • Now the Rift has been opened, will there be unforeseen consequences?

Some of these questions may be answered in the next, and final episode. In a way, it was a shame the next one followed straight on from this one. It might have been nice to be able to digest and think about this one for a while.

[1] I’m sure that’s a deliberately odd name. I may work it out one day
[2] This was a deliberate Russell T Davies bit of humour. If Jack’s going to fall in love, it would have to be with himself…

5 thoughts on “Torchwood – Captain Jack Harkness

  1. susan murphy

    hya ppl john barrowman and burn gorman are out of this world they are great actors and i love there film torchwood
    love from susan

  2. Pingback: Torchwood – End of Days : Losing it

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