Because I forget stuff. Part of

Note: It appears you must have reached this page by a deep level URL. In general this site is currently down and unmaintained. See here

About This Post

Originally posted January 15 2007 at 18:01 under General. Comments Disabled. Trackbacks Disabled.

Into The Dark

This is a (quite belated) review of the final two Torchwood episodes (12 and 13) “Captain Jack Harkness” and “End of Days”. Spoilers, just in case there are those who haven’t seen them, are hidden below.


It’s the grand finale of Torchwood. Are you excited? Yeh, well, try to play along. The last two episodes are being reviewed here as one, just as they were broadcast as one. That was probably a good move, given the gap between the two shows a complete lack of the cliff hanger tension which makes for a good two-parter…

So here we go, a tumbling rush of Torchwood, with its foibles and overblown style and failings and falls. You have to give the grand conclusion credit; as a snapshot of Torchwood it is informative of the series as a whole. Which means it’s generally not that good.

As usual the whole tale starts of well enough, annoyingly a germ of what could be a decent enough idea. A blip in time, caused by Torchwood’s convenient excuse for everything that happens rift, traps Jack and Toshio back in the 1940s, a time familiar to Jack of course. As the story progresses the action back in modern day isn’t actually that bad, as the leaderless remainder of the team bicker without much idea of what to do. In the past though we get one of Torchwood’s grand coincidences. Not only in this obscure dance hall in Cardiff do we find the original Jack Harkness, from whom our Jack took the name, but it turns out to be original Jack’s last night alive. What are the odds on that? If one were to try to defend the show then it might be argued that it was all manipulation in the end but that’s never hinted at. Basically we’re just meant to drink this in as another amazing coincidence. The fact is that the writers had to come up with something vaguely interesting to happen in 1941, for getting trapped in the past—and this entire episode—is just a mechanism to get the rift open. Opening the rift involves the magical rift machine. Oh dear lord. There’s a “machine” you see (which when in operation looks a bit like a TARDIS console column), which controls the rift in a completely undefined way. You just need the right equations. Think they might have mentioned that… The equally magical equations are of course on Toshio’s laptop, in 1941 (like someone as obsessive as Tosh wouldn’t have backups). That’s the laptop which the helpful little voice and huge flashing on screen message when the battery runs low—why oh why can’t they just leave things we actually do understand acting realistically, which makes it much easier to piss around with other stuff. So Tosh starts leaving messages for the future, in the expectation that they’ll stay in place in a building which remained active for several decades, before being abandoned for several years

Somewhere in the modern day confusion it becomes clear that part of the rift machine is somehow missing (it’s never really explained how or exactly why mind you). So Owen gets into the top secret, don’t use this stuff ever again storage vaults. You just knew all those carefully stored items were going to make a reappearance to remind us all how clever the writers had been thinking them up. That’d be the locked, secure storage that is opened far too easily. Things aren’t that simple though. The missing piece really is missing, stolen (one presumes anyway) by the character which is the link between the two episodes, though really he’s almost as much a McGuffin as this silly rift machine piece. It’s another failure for Torchwood in my opinion. Billis could have been such a great character, but ends up being pretty nondescript. Step through time at will? Wow. Now, if you going to be bold you really go somewhere with that—after all this guy doesn’t even need a TARDIS! The writers having thought this up went virtually no where with it though. If the Doctor Who rumours about getting the bloody timelords back are vaguely true how bold and encompassing would it have been to have made Billis one, maybe even the Master (perhaps I thought this because I thought there was a vague resemblance to William Hartnell’s Doctor). That would have been a hell of a bold surprise, better than the basic two dimensional sketching we got. Ah well. Anyway, Owen of course finds the missing piece, which looks more like a piece of an ancient Greek artefact than a rift machine, and pieces together the equations as best he can.

Meanwhile, back in 1941, Jack is desperately trying to get his namesake to shag anything in sight, as a sort of going to die present. It turns out that what Jack wants is Jack (if you follow). Now I’m going to rant about the homosexuality of Torchwood, which is a shame because I shouldn’t have to. Torchwood, and it’s writers, have obviously went to consciously advance the portrayal of homosexual relationships on screen. The problem I have is just how far they’ve taken it. I’m tempted at this point to point out that I’m not homophobic but of course that just sounds clichéd and false (the problem with criticising anything related to “minority” movements is the issue is often seen as black and white, bad and good….) The point is this. Whilst it is perfectly obvious that there are many people going around perfectly happy to be gay, and many who are closetly so (and in fact, some who claim to be gay but aren’t), and those who are bi, there are also many who are happily heterosexual Except in the world of Torchwood everyone is a suppressed bisexual. This is NOT the real world. This rant really goes back to the fact that Torchwood insists on screwing around (pun semi-intended) with what we understand and know to be the case. Had Jack been gay fine. Had he ran into gay characters fine. But everyone he meets? Come on. Where are the attractive men and women who are attracted to just the opposite sex (like the statistically normal person)? Actually, I still probably wouldn’t have ranted about this were it not for the kiss. As the rift is opened up to rescue Jack and Toshio from the 1940s (ohh look, more bright light to walk into) Jack turns for a final kiss with the original Jack Harkness, in a hugely overblown melodramatic way. My problem is that had that been a man and woman no one (surely not even Torchwood’s writers) could have seriously left that scene in that form. It’s only there because Torchwood wants to be some gay crusader when actually the best way to do that is to forget your character is gay in the same way you forget they’re straight.

Part 2

Jack and Ianto are back in modern day Cardiff and all seems well, which is itself a problem given the lack of tension now present between episodes. All is well until various people start falling through time to arrive confused and angry (or ill) around town. From some not very clear statistics and common sense its obvious that things are centred on the rift. Getting Jack back wasn’t so hassle free after all.

As things get worse Ianto starts quoting religious texts for no good reason (in a sign of the problems Torchwood has with attention to detail, the biblical references he gives are wrong). To be fair Torchwood here does a decent job of showing the team falling apart in their confusion and fighting, with a lack of cohesion made believable by the lack of discipline they’ve shown throughout the series (even if that continued lack of discipline has never seemed particularly believable itself). The team (barring Jack) encounter a series of visions encouraging them to open the rift. These presumably have something to do with Billis though how exactly he’s supposed to be inducing them never even gets a hint of explanation. Big cheer for him stabbing boyfriend bloke though. Owen is sacked, Jack is shot (and then takes a conveniently long time to recover). He’s shot as he resists efforts to fall into the rather obvious trap of opening the rift. It seems to do this the team all need to have their retinas scanned to authorise the machine to work. That would be the machine they just used to bring Jack and Toshio back from 1941 without any of this rigmarole. Consistency? I’d say Torchwood’s lost it, but it never really had it. You’d think their super advanced tech would do live tissue verification on the scan too…

The rift opens and with impeccable Torchwood timing Jack awakens. All hell breaks loose. Sort of literally it turns out as an ending is suddenly shoe horned in. Really, at this point the writers realised something awful. They’d achieved the grand, and obvious finale from the series start, act of opening the rift. Now, something has to happen. Oh lord, something bad. Er, what. Damn. We forgot that bit. Erm. So they went and looked for inspiration, and found it in The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit Doctor Who episodes (ironically a double parter which, in the Ood, one of the most original alien species to come out of the entire revival). Let’s make it a big demon thingy, they cried, people liked that, and we’ve got all those special effects left over. Never mind the utter lack of build up, hints (moving in the dark…er, how does that tie in exactly), or anything else. Let’s just tack it on the end. And it can feed off life in some vague way so Jack can defeat it (presumably by simple over feeding) in a not well worked and rushed ending. That’ll do. We can even have some drawn out Gwen’s so emotional stuff as she waits for Jack to revive again. See how much better it would have been if Billis had been the real enemy?

So it ends, in as a disjointed manner and over forced emotional sensitivity as the rest of the series. Yet not quite over, for there’s still the last gasp. The thing that we’ve secretly all wanted all along, and, oh, how we’ve needed the sound of those TARDIS engines. And oh how this series needs a doctor.

Trackbacks (0):

Trackback URL:


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

More about me [Disclaimer]

You may subscribe to IMS_Blog using the RSS Feed, the Atom Feed or by email.

Creative Commons License

© Ian Scott. Powered by Movable Type 3.2. This blog uses valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS. All times are local UK time. For further details see the IMS_Blog about page.. All my feeds in one.