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Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness / End of Days (season finale)

by Martin Conaghan, posted Jan 3rd 2007 9:01PM
Torchwood villain(S01E12 / S01E13) I really only have one minor complaint about this end-of-season double-bill of Torchwood, and it's barely worth mentioning.

For a debut season of a large budget sci-fi show on the BBC, scheduled late in a poor slot on a digital channel with limited viewers and decidedly adult themes, strong language and graphic violence, this show succeeded where so many others fail miserably.

And it achieved its success by giving viewers a taste of something usually only witnessed in much higher-profile shows, such as its big sister show Doctor Who; originality.

Sure, we can all cite the references and influences (or "rip-offs", as they're more commonly known), but I don't really care about all that; all I care about is passing an hour without feeling like I'm watching an episode of King of the Rocket Men or Flash Gordon from the 1950s.

Two major things happened in this well-rounded two parter which stand out as significant in the overall 13 episodes of Torchwood; firstly, Captain Jack turned out to be human after all, if only in the emotional sense, and we got a cliffhanger so good that it'll be worth waiting a year to experience he conclusion.

It all started when Toshiko and Jack found themselves accidentally transported back in time to the Blitz in 1941, while the rest of the Torchwood team searched for long-lost clues in the present which would aid their return.

At the heart of the story was a mysterious (and rather creepy) old chap called Bilis Manger, who seemed to be able to bridge the time gap between the two eras and cause mayhem.

Meanwhile, Jack made an unfortunate discovery, when he found himself being introduced to none other than Captain Jack Harkness -- and here is where my review meets with its only complaint. In meeting the man whose identity he stole before venturing back and forth through time, Jack found himself falling in love. Worse still, the real Captain Jack fell in love back.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for strong gay characters and more mature approaches to sexuality in science-fiction; but it all seemed unnecessary, out of place and, well, weak. It felt entirely an indulgence on the part of Russell T Davies.

But as I said, it was only a minor complaint, and in some small way gave us a deeper insight into Jack's psyche, but not before he was yanked back to the future thanks to some ad-hoc manipulation by an obsessed Owen of the 'rift' in space and time above Cardiff.

Despite the meddling with the rift allowing the return of Jack and Tosh (along with some fairly basic time-travelling tricks which really should have been better thought out), all of this spelled certain doom, not only for Torchwood, but for the world.

When things picked up in the second half, everything was in turmoil. People from all across time were being sucked into the future; plague victims, Roman gladiators and UFOs -- causing all sort of chaos.

And then mister Manger played his trump card and gave everyone in the team a vision of the future, which in Gwen's case meant death for her partner, and the incentive to open up the rift against Jack's wishes, which bought about the release of a terrible creature I haven't seen the likes of since the Stay Puft Marshmallowman in Ghostbusters (second complaint: please don't make the villain at 80-foot demon who stomps on people).

Despite these minor discrepancies in an otherwise entertaining finale, I simply wanted more, and when the end came -- cute cliffhanger and all, I truly felt like I'd taken a ride with the Torchwood team over the last three months which ended with me jumping eagerly to the back of the queue to do it all over again.

And as for the cliffhanger for next season?

Well, let's just say a familiar materialisation sound from Torchwood's big sister show made an appearance at the very end and a prominent character vanished into thin air.

Season Two can't come soon enough for me.

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Lisa

I loved Cyberwoman they should bring her back and Harkness should be fired into the heart of a black sun.

January 10 2007 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mac

alt.binaries.drwho

January 08 2007 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dennis

Also did any of you see the Gregory House reference?

It's in the last ep where owen is in the hospital and gives order to give some medicine. The doctore replies "Hey that is plague medicine"
to wich Owen answers soemthing like:
"Well done, House"

January 07 2007 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Luke

i think that jack will only travel with the doctor for a few episodes becoz they sed there going to make a series 2 of torchwood. btw did anyone know that some of the actors in torchwood were in doctor who series 1!

January 06 2007 at 8:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roland Hulme

Of course Torchwood has a gay agenda.

Russel T. Davies is an incredibly talented and visionary man, as he's shown us with Queer as Folk, Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Adventures. But with Torchwood, he's combined sloppy writing with over the top, totally out of character gay adventures that snap us out of any belief in this series.

John Barrowman is an attractive and charismatic lead and the only reason I keep watching this badly written tripe. It's got a Welsh (bloody, hell, it's so Welsh, and there's nothing wrong with that, but can they tone it down) agenda and it's got a gay (nothing wrong with that, but characters shouldn't change their sexual identities like they change pants) agenda. It's all ridiculous.

How Russell could have gone SO FAR WRONG boggles my mind.

Captain Jack was cheerful, bisexual and lovable. Now the ONLY good thing about Torchwood has been shoved aside and replaced by a cast of incompetent, unlikeable characters who bumble uselessly through various sci-fi fantasy storylines and hackneyed 'relationship' plotlines that lack any credibility, even for a sci fi show.

January 05 2007 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A.S

I have to disagree about Captain Jack Harkness (Ep 12). I enjoyed that episode more than any other in the season, including the finale. I don't think that 'our' Jack truly fell in love. He never had to face the man whose identity he stole until now. It was about painful regret, remorse, and sorrow that he had stolen someone's name and life without a second thought, just to fulfill his cons. It was Jack's way of saying, "I'm sorry." I saw it more as a realization that the life Jack is living as "Captain Harkness" used to belong to someone else - a real person, whose death Jack never had to think about. Why else would he try so hard to encourage Cptn. Harkness to live the night like it was his last?

As for the finale, I thought it could have been done better. It highlighted all the weakpoints of the season. The show doesn't know what it wants to be just yet. The characters haven't been fleshed out enough, the episodes were barely tied together, and there was very little foreshadowing to the BIG MONSTER at the end. That doesn't mean the show is entirely horrible. I still enjoyed watching it every week (minus Cyberwoman, Small Worlds, and Day One).

Oh well. In spite of how disappointed I was in the last episode, I laughed very hard during John Barrowman's flailing at the big CGI monster.

January 04 2007 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cmk

I have to agree with the other posters -- I find Torchwood to be so full of promise but so full of holes. I keep watching it anyway.

January 04 2007 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

The real problem with Torchwood was evident in its second episode. A vicious alien who killed every man she could have sex with escaped from the Torchwood facilities by stripping Owen down and tying him up. Why didn't she kill him like all the others? Why wasn't anyone paying attention to this alien - other than when she was snogging Gwen? Sloppy. Sloppy. Sloppy. So concerned with tacking on "adult" content for shock value that it didn't bother to notice that the rest of its content was of a pre-teen mentality, though with none of the joy of "The Sarah Jane Adventures." What can you say about a show where even the positive reviews are filled with caveats and nit-picks? Torchwood is a low point in an otherwise wonderful television writer's career.

January 04 2007 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gene

I think that people are missing the forest for the gay trees -- the culmination of the short-lived "relationship" between the two Captain Jacks was the courage that the first Jack showed in opening embracing the second Jack in front of a room full of people in 1941, knowing that it might be his last day. He finally embraced who he was rather than who people expected him to be. It was a wonderful moment.

The monster... well, it seemed pretty pointless and silly, didn't it? I was expecting far more after the "something is coming in the darkness" that they'd been hitting us over the head with. I mean, it would have been marginally better if it had been the same satanic monster from "The Satan Pit" on Dr Who. Instead we got a throw-away, 80-foot monster that frankly reminded me of watching "Ultraman" when I was a kid.

As for the cliffhanger -- I don't think we have to wait a year for the resolution, we only have to wait until this spring's season of Dr Who, since that's where Jack will turn up next...

January 04 2007 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
FAP

I'm a who fan and I hated this series. The plots were weak, the dialog par, but the biggest flaw was the internal character interactions.

First why would this dopey group be given responsibility for the rift with such a small staff and little oversight.

And why would the yuts who kept a cyber-woman in the basement (that he could keep such a thing in the basement for months also stretches credulity) not be fired/killed/made to forget torchwood after he threatens to kill jack sometime in the future when he's vulnerable.

Unless torchwood is out of cash it'd be hard to find a group of less capable or professional people to run this opp.

It wanted to be Doctor Who meets X-files, sadly it took the worst of both shows and wallowed in it. I'm disappointed to hear it was renewed.

January 04 2007 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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