Torchwood: Fragments

Tosh: "What do you do?"
Jack: "Protect people. At least that's what I'm aiming for. It's kind of a work in progress."

An episode like this one fills you with foreboding, even while you're having a grand old time. It felt like they were saying goodbye, like this was the end.

We finally got a backstory on Jack, and it was surprisingly pedestrian. He was recruited into Torchwood Cardiff in 1899 by two operatives who were immune to his charms, and since he needed money, he just kept on doing it. Why not? It was a lot more fun and challenging than digging ditches, and Jack was certainly qualified for the job. After a hundred years as a field agent, he became the boss by a rather gory process of attrition after his boss Alex caught a glimpse of the future and killed everyone in Torchwood but Jack. What did Alex see? The series finale?

We saw Jack recruit Tosh, Owen, and most intriguingly and enjoyably, Ianto. Poor Tosh. Now we know how she wound up in prison. No wonder she's so controlled and so dedicated to her job. But didn't she say in "Countrycide" that there wasn't a prison she couldn't get out of? She didn't get herself out; Jack got her out.

I was surprised to see Ianto actually stalking Jack in order to get into Torchwood Cardiff, and at the sexual vibe between them from the moment they met; I don't know why I thought their romantic relationship didn't start until much later. I also noticed that from the moment they met, Ianto kept touching Jack, and Jack kept pulling away. Why did Jack resist hiring Ianto so strenuously? Was it because Ianto was so young? Because he worked for Torchwood London? It couldn't have been because Jack was attracted to Ianto and didn't want to end up sleeping with an employee, could it? I didn't think Jack cared about those sorts of rules, anyway.

Whatever. Jack and Ianto baiting the pterodactyl with chocolate and ending up in a clinch on the floor was my favorite scene in the episode, and one of my favorites in the series. Even the bad CGI couldn't ruin it. It was just great fun.

Leaving aside the total incredulity of all four of them next to exploding bombs and none of them getting permanently damaged, that glass poised above Owen was definitely the most shuddery. What if it had cut his head off? Would he still be conscious as a disembodied head? I also didn't quite swallow them manufacturing a tragic past for Owen in order to give him some belated depth as well as a good reason to be a jerk for so long.

Cliffhanger. John Hart has Gray? To quote Star Wars, I have a bad feeling about this.

Bits and pieces:

-- Tosh was recruited five years ago, Owen four, and Ianto 21 months ago.

-- 1,392 deaths earlier? Yes, Jack was a Torchwood field operative for a hundred years and has a tendency to get into trouble anyway, but 1,392? What does that average out to? Let's see, 1,392 divided by 109 years... that averages out to around once a month. Really?

-- Torchwood 1899 was pretty bloodthirsty. The two of them just killed everything. I guess you could take your charge of protecting the world from aliens that way, I suppose. But did they have to show two lesbians as angry man-hating killers with no sense of humor?

-- That UNIT prison was completely inhumane. That surprised me. I'd expect them to have futuristic plastic prisons.

-- Jack met Faith, the little girl with the Tarot cards from "Dead Man Walking," over a hundred years ago.

-- Ianto was born on August 19, 1983. I thought Ianto looked terrific in denim. He should wear it more often.

-- What a gorgeous cemetery.

-- Jack died so many times in this episode that I lost count. Rhys was shocked to see Jack come back from the dead. Gwen didn't tell Rhys everything, then.

Quotes:

Jack: "Ladies! Torso of steel, shilling a feel. Any takers?" Was this how he was making a living before Torchwood?

Jack: "When I said about getting a room, I meant somewhere with linen! Time was, electrodes to the nipples meant the start of a good night."

Faith: "He's coming. The one you're looking for. But the century will turn twice before you find each other."

Tosh: "Who are you?"
Jack: "Nobody. I don't exist. And for a man with my charisma, that's quite an achievement."

Jack: "Thanks for the assistance."
Ianto: "Any time. By the way, love the coat."

Ianto: "That is the only special equipment you've got?"
Jack: "Yeah. Because I keep dinosaur nuts in the back of the SUV."

Jack: "It's quite excitable."
Ianto: "Must be the aftershave."
Jack: "Never wear any."
Ianto: "You smell like that naturally?"
Jack: "Fifty-first century pheromones. People have no idea."
That was interesting. Not so much the pheromones, but that Jack told Ianto he was from the 51st century. Ianto probably thought it was bull.

Ianto: "So you let the pterodactyl in, but not me?"
Jack: "I need a guard dog."
Ianto: "I could be that!"

Jack: "Dinosaurs? Had them for breakfast. Had to. Only source of food protein after the asteroid crashed."
What?

Loved this episode. Four out of four stars,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

Iago said...

I loved this episode too, in fact this run of three episodes is probably my favourite season finale of any show apart from BSG.

I loved the explanation of why Tosh was in Aliens of London, I thought it was a very nice nod to fans, and I adored Ianto's flashback.

I think the reference to Jack eating dinosaur meat was a reference to his con-artist days: perhaps he used the asteroid as an alternative to WW2 or Vesuvius for conning people?

Maria said...

Actually, Ianto and Jack only started their romantic relationship after Lisa died (season 1).

Anonymous said...

"By the way, love the coat". Didn't Spike said that to the 70's slayer? You know, Nikky Robin mum?

shawnlunn2002 said...

Stunning episode. This and Exit Wounds really do end the second season on a high.

I loved all of the backstories, all of which had their own degree of tragedy - Ianto and Owen losing their lovers, Toshiko nearly losing her freedom as well as Jack given how he was enrolled into Torchwood.

The end scene with John telling Jack about Gray was also a rather nice touch too.

Anonymous said...

That year that never was from Doctor Who was also counted I think. I asume he died lot of time then. Master and his personality...

Patryk said...

I love flashback episodes in shows involving some sort of immortal being. Fantastic episode despite the fact that the Ianto and Owen flashbacks were created from a season two perspective. Ianto flirting with Jack from the start and Owen having a lost love who would have thought in season 1. ;)