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Torchwood: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Gwen: "Taking charge again, are you?"
Jack: "I was hoping for a little power struggle, resolved by some naked wrestling."

I loved every moment of this episode. And not just because I'm a big fan of the talented James Marsters.

Coincidentally, considering the guest star, the opening scenes with the coked-up blowfish reminded me a lot of Buffy when she was gone and the Scoobies were trying to slay vampires on their own. Frankly, I didn't think the rest of Torchwood had any right to be angry at Jack for taking off without notice, seeing as they'd killed him and all. He had all the validation he could ever need or want to skip town for as long as he chose.

So Jack comes back, newly committed to his mates at Torchwood, and what does he get? His past arrives and tries to kill everybody. "John Hart" was a lot like Jack, except without a conscience or anything resembling restraint. That bar scene was something special. Scorching kisses, gratuitous violence, what more could a fan of both John Barrowman and James Marsters ask for?

Hart is a killer with impulse control issues. I had gotten the impression that he was obsessively in love with Jack, but then he tossed Jack off that building without even hesitating. Jack coming back completely freaked Hart out, which was great fun. And Torchwood wasn't as easy to take down as Hart thought, either. The Torchies all got to be cool in this episode, and seem to be clicking together much better now.

The other really fun bit was Jack and his office romances. I really liked Eve Myles' performance in that hallway scene where Jack started to kiss Gwen, and stopped when he noticed her ring. She was very droll; it was almost like she was daring Jack to go further. Like son of a gun, look at my engagement ring, what are you going to do about it, mister? Did she want Jack to do something about it? I bet she did. Why didn't he?

After Gwen told Jack she was engaged, Jack backed off, switched gears, and asked Ianto out on a date. At least Jack is consistent; it's always been Gwen and Ianto, and sadly for Ianto, in pretty much that order. (I can't see him ever hitting on Owen or Tosh.) Ianto also had to deal with Jack's crazy ex, and suffered the indignity of being referred to as "eye candy." Poor Ianto.

This entire episode was a noticeable step up from season one – witty and on target, and it never stopped moving for a moment. Best of all, it revolved around something important: the rest of Torchwood accepting Jack for who and what he really is. They know a lot more about Jack now: time agent from the future, con man, and they already knew he couldn't die. Maybe Jack will find it easier to trust them and confide in them now. Although they did kill him last season, so... maybe not.

"I found Gray." Gray who? Stay tuned.

Bits and pieces:

-- So I guess all time agents are omnisexual. Or maybe all 51st century people are. (Loved Hart's comment about the poodle.)

-- Hart referred to identities as what they were wearing. Notice how we didn't get real names from either of them. But they both seem to prefer the initials JH, as well as period military. Is it a time agent thing?

-- Apparently, the Time Agency isn't doing too well. There are only seven agents left. Maybe they do to all of their employees what they did to Jack. (In "The Doctor Dances," Jack said he quit after he'd inexplicably lost two years of memories.)

-- Owen said he has stopped sleeping around and is looking for something meaningful. And he was very protective of Tosh when Hart hurt her. What a nice change. I liked it.

-- Owen got shot again. He's been getting shot a lot lately. But at least he got to save the day this time. After all the badness he pulled last season, it was about time. So to speak.

-- Loved the little tribute to Star Wars. The "thirsty now" comment Hart made was a bit of a Buffyism, too.

-- Ianto again had fun with a stopwatch. He really does like them.

-- Rhys got a better job. Good timing.

Quotes (and I had to restrain myself; this section was originally twice as long):

Gwen: "Excuse me. Have you seen a blowfish driving a sports car? (Woman points down the street) Thank you."
Woman: "Bloody Torchwood."

Gwen: "All I'm saying is, you are speeding and there are children."
Owen: "Well, if kids are out at midnight, they've got it coming."

Gwen: "Can you deal with the body when it's cold?"
Ianto: "My pleasure. And I shall be making sushi."

Tosh: "Where were you?"
Jack: "I found my Doctor."
Owen: "Did he fix you?"
Jack: "What's to fix? You don't mess with this level of perfection."
In other words, no.

Jack: "Hey, I worked my way up through the ranks."
Hart: "I bet the ranks were very grateful."

Jack: "You went to murder rehab?"
Hart: "I know! Ridiculous. The odd kill, who does it hurt?"

Hart: "It was like having a wife."
Jack: "You were the wife."
Hart: "You were the wife."
Jack: "No, you were the wife."
Hart: "Oh, but I was a good wife."

Hart: "Get two time agents in the same room together, it's always about the size of the wrist strap."

Hart: "You live in a sculpture. Could you be any more pretentious?"

Hart: "What is this? Sewer chic?"

Jack: "Down on one knee?"
Gwen: "Well, he tried to, and then he had a twinge in his back and had to lie on the settee."

Ianto: "Are you asking me out on a date?"
Jack: "Interested?"
Ianto: "Well, as long as it's not in an office. Some fetishes should be kept to yourself."

Loved it. Four out of four stars,

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


  1. Without a doubt my all time, absolute favourite episode of Torchwood. The entire cast have all settled into their roles and are more likeable. Still can’t stand Owen, mind. James Masters was brilliant as John Hart, the first really great villain the series has given us. Hopefully he will return one day.

    Everything feels more confident after the unevenness of the first season. They even started poking fun at the series’ own silliness (loved Ianto’s remark about Jack and roofs). This is the sort of show I hoped Torchwood would be.

    By the way, Billie, I took your advice about sticking with True Blood. It does improve after the first few episodes and now I’m really into it. Just finished season one and hope to catch up with season two before the finale next week. Thanks.

  2. Really good episode. The Jack/John kiss kiss bang bang stuff really had echoes of Buffy and Spike in "Smashed". Scorching hot. And loved the bloody Torchwood line.

  3. Fun fact: James Masters has stated that John Barrowman is a better kisser than Sarah Michelle Gellar.

  4. It surprises me that James would be that indiscreet, but I know I'd rather kiss John Barrowman than SMG, too. :)

  5. In a lot of ways, John Hart reminded me of Spike, even James himself said there were similiarities to the characters.

    The writing for this episode was superb, tight and confident. The team have gone from people who could just about tolerate each other to those who do care for each other.

    Anything that gives us more on Jack has got to be good and count me for being delighted with Jack asking Ianto out.

  6. The you can call me Vera (Jayn'es gun hehe) line and the poisonous kiss were also nice allusions to Firefly. :)

  7. I'm officially addicted now. I'm even streaming episodes on my laptop in between Netflix deliveries, despite the ensuing headache.

    But now I've got a question for everyone: I officially like Torchwood, and I officially love Captain Jack Harkness. But the 15 minutes of some random David Tennant Dr. Who episode left me completely cold.

    Is there enough Jack in Dr. Who to make it worth my while? Can I skip right to his episodes, or would I be lost? (I almost never skip episodes--it's like starting a book in the middle.) Any advice would be much appreciated.

  8. Hi Josie. Tough one. In the first season of Doctor Who, Jack appears in "The Empty Child", "The Doctor Dances", "Boom Town", "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways". "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" (a two-parter) is Jack's first story and can be watched (more or less), as a stand-alone. "Boom Town" is harder to watch in isolation as it's dependent upon "Aliens of London" and "World War Three". Likewise, "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways" are dependent on at least "The Long Game" and "Dalek".

    My advice would be to try "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" and see how it goes. Captain Jack's a slightly different character in Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a family show, so there's no bad language, and the innuendo's kept to a minimum. You do see him naked once, though ;o)

    After season one he only appears in a handful of episodes, and usually they're season finales. Those episodes, again, are much harder to view in isolation as they depend so much on what's gone before. But "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" introduce us to his character, and "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways" reveal why he's like he is.

  9. Woo-hoo! Josie, I think Paul has it right. I also started with Torchwood, fell in love with Captain Jack, wanted to know his origins, and tried the Who episodes in which he was introduced. And was unsatisfied with just them. So I started watching Who from the beginning.

    I still don't own Torchwood because the DVD sets are really expensive, but I've rented them all three times, and I'll probably do it a fourth time before it comes back. Probably would have been cheaper if I'd bought them.

  10. Hi, Josie. I would fully recommend trying the entire first season. It’s the most Captain Jack heavy of Doctor Who and even though he doesn’t show up until the near the end some of the early episodes, such as ‘The Unquiet Dead’ lay much of the groundwork for Torchwood.

    As Paul said ‘The Empty Child/Doctor Dances’ can be watched as a standalone adventure. But ‘Boom Town’, ‘Bad Wolf’ and ‘The Parting of the Ways’ do require some knowledge of past events in the season.

    And even though it doesn’t feature as single drop of Jack season two is also recommended as the overall arc of that season is the origins of Torchwood. Plus if ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ doesn’t make you fall completely in love with David Tennant as the Doctor I don’t know what will.

  11. Mark, thank you for your comment. I just finished season one, and was debating skipping season two entirely since Captain Jack isn't in it, but your comment has changed my mind.

    A great burden rests on your shoulders now, though: if I hate it, it's all your fault. :-)

  12. Oh bugger, I hate great burdens. They never do my back any favours.

    And I’ve only just realised I recommended a season that includes ‘Fear Her’, ‘Love & Monsters’, the Cybermen two-parter, ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ and ‘New Earth’.

    Uh-oh, I'm in trouble, aren't I? Is it too late to say Paul Kelly put me up to it?

    By the by, Josie, what did you think of the first season?

  13. Josie, don't listen to Mark. I'm innocent. Innocent, I tells ya!

    In my opinion, if season one didn't float your boat (assuming you have a boat), season two isn't going to do much for you. As Mark's already pointed out, it contains some spectacularly bad episodes. Some good ones too. But none that feature Captain Jack.

    His appearance in "Utopia" (season three) is vaguely interesting. Other than that, most of his performances are mere cameos, and unnecessary for your continued enjoyment of Torchwood. You'd be better off reading wikipedia.

  14. Paul, you might be innocent but if I’m going down I’m taking you all with me.

  15. Hi Mark and Paul,

    My boat--well, my dinghy--is still afloat. I'm pumping the bilge like a good swabbie.

    In other, non-sailory words, I like Doctor Who, but I don't love it. I think it's because the cast is so small: since they seem unwilling to do much with the Doctor's relationship with Rose, there's a real focus on the plot-of-the-week, which just isn't my favorite thing. "The Girl in the Fireplace" was really good--but then it was over.

    I have enjoyed the Torchwood mentions in some of the episodes (in some, you're right, it's just weird), and I'm consistently impressed by the acting. But I don't feel that sense of "ooh, I have to watch another episode Right This Minute!" Then again, I just finished "Love and Monsters" last night, so it's not like I'm ignoring a cliffhanger.

    I am looking forward to the last three episodes of Season Two--I want to see what happens, and I haven't been spoiled yet. And I'll keep watching through Season Three for Cap'n Jack, and to see what Martha Jones is like.

    I do love the reviews and the comments, though. That's something, right?


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