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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

‘Torchwood’ blogging: “Fragments”

Time to finish up Torchwood Season 2 blogging before Season 3 is upon us (which looks like it’s gonna be in June or July). (Before commenting, please read the intro to my Doctor Who blogging; the same caveats apply to Torchwood.)

(previous: Episode 11: “Adrift”)
Captain Jack is dead! Long live Captain Jack!

Can’t kill the guy. You just can’t. Oh, you can set traps for him, blow him up, but — as Captain John Hart knows — the only way to really hurt him is to hurt the people he loves.

Oh, but that doesn’t come till later. For now, this episode is all about the mean ol’ Torchwood writers hurting the people we love.

Look: 1,392 deaths for Jack? Crap. I mean, I guess we had to have figured the number was high, but look at the one we see as exemplary of what Jack went through when he first arrived back on 19th-century Earth as an immortal: a broken bottle in the gut. And clearly, it hurts like hell, no matter that he survives it. And — as the scary Torchwood psycho ladies let us know — he’s been killed 14 times in the prior six months. You gotta be living pretty dangerously for an average of a death every two weeks. Maybe he’s testing himself, trying to find out if he really is immortal. Maybe he’s gone a little crazy (though I think the next episode is when that should have happened, if it happened at all). Maybe he just figures, Hey, why not have a little fun? I dunno: You’d think, if dying and resurrecting were so painful, he’d try to avoid it, live a quiet life, not make trouble. But he ain’t doin’ that.

Still: I’ve been waiting for this, waiting to learn more about Jack’s life on primitive Earth three millennia in his own history. I’ve been wanting to know how he ended up in early-21st-century Cardiff heading up Torchwood. And here we have it, or at least the grand scope of it. There’s gotta be lots of awesome adventures for Jack in the gaps here, and of course there are many mysterious questions that need to be answered. Like: How did the Doctor, who was stuck on Earth in the 1960s and 1970s and worked openly for UNIT, escape Jack’s notice? (Or did the Doctor not escape Jack’s notice, but Jack knew he couldn’t contact the Doctor then because it was before Jack met him? Oh, that must have been torture for Jack… and I think I must write that fanfic story!) And on New Year’s Eve 1999:

Surely Torchwood and/or UNIT in San Francisco must have taken note of the Doctor’s presence there, when he fought the Master? (That was the story of the Fox TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Eric Roberts as the Master.) Surely UNIT, at least, if not Torchwood too (and maybe not, since its mission does seem expressly concerned with England alone), has outposts all over the world…

And, see, we know that Torchwood and UNIT must cooperate very closely in some ways, otherwise Jack wouldn’t have been able to just swan in UNIT’s Guantanamo Bay and offer Tosh a deal. (I love that we’re seeing the darker side of UNIT, which I always knew had to be there. Well, I say “love,” but of course I’d prefer if there were not grim real-life parallels being played with here. “They’re going to keep you here without charge, forever”? Yeah, that’s striking too close to home these days.)

Oh, poor Ianto, begging Jack for a job, because “I saw what they did at Canary Wharf! What am I supposed to do with those memories?” It takes some convincing on Ianto’s part, but how do you not hire a guy who can catch a pterodactyl using only a bar of chocolate?

Oh, poor Owen! He’s like a different man, back in the past, when he was engaged to be married, before his fiancée’s brain got eaten by an alien. Is this when Owen turned cynical and hard and cold, when he turned into a man with no use for love? Not that I blame him, of course…

Random thoughts on “Fragments”:

• Nice sequence, following Jack’s service at Torchwood through the decades, how the typewriters get more advanced, then become computers…

• So, on New Year’s Eve, 1999, Torchwood team member Alex goes crazy and kills all the other members of the team except Jack. He explains himself: “I looked inside, it showed me what’s coming.” He looked inside this:

Okay, what? What is it? What did he see? What did he think was going to happen that was so bad that he considered his murder of his teammates “mercy killings.” Surely we haven’t seen this yet, because nothing quite that bad has happened yet. Oh, shit…

• Tosh is not alone in that secret UNIT facility that makes its prisoners unpersons:

Who are they?

• Ianto and I have the same birthday, August 19.

• I was right there!

I wandered all around the Cardiff waterside one afternoon last autumn, searching for a glimpse of Jack or a weevil or something. But no luck — rift activity was low that day, I guess.

• Hot!

Like I always say: Torchwood is preslashed for our enjoyment.

• Great quotes:

“I used to date a guy with no mouth… surprisingly creative…” –Jack

“51st-century pheromones… You people have no idea.” –Jack

(next: Episode 13: “Exit Wounds”)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
  • One of the things I don’t like about Torchwood is how Jack’s immortality has made it so easy to just kill him as a plot point. Over and over and over again. What kind of hero dies this often?

  • Joan

    Duncan MacLeod?

  • Katie Dvorak

    This episode was so interesting. So much information just packed into an hour. It sets up the next episode perfectly. I really enjoyed everyone’s back story and was pretty desperate for more. Especially Ianto’s since he’s the one that has much more history than we got. Everyone else was pretty much wrapped up but Ianto…there’s just so much still to wonder about.

    And Jack…oh Jack. I remember around the time of the episode first airing there was some talk that where we started with Jack’s history was shortly after he was abandoned by the Doctor, hence his “death wish” but I don’t know if that was ever confirmed. Regardless…there’s so much there and I just want more. More more more.

  • Keith

    Oh my God! They killed Jack! Bastards!

    Another reason Jack might not have been able to track down the Doctor in the 60s and 70s is a combination of a few things. The Torchwood reports on Jack indicated that he was still trying to locate the Doctor, which they they were too, but neither was having any luck finding him. Jack didn’t know exactly where and when the Doctor would turn up, which is why he based himself at the rift. Torchwood had Jack on a bit of a leash and he probably didn’t have the freedom to go hang out at UNIT, which is probably how both agencies liked it in those days. We don’t know when Torchwood and UNIT first became aware of the other and how cooperative they were in the early days.

    It was a cool episode to get the backstory on the rest of the Torchwood team. We got to know Torchwood with Gwen, so we already knew her story. We can wonder how Suzie (who was mentioned briefly, but not shown) joined the team, but since she went bad and didn’t really survive beyond the pilot we will probably never know.

    We get to see how Jack came to know the fortuneteller girl. We learn that she seems to have some sort of immortality too, appearing the same age then as she does in current Torchwood time. The episode earlier this season Owen beats death and they talk of a girl in the past doing the same named Faith. This is the episode where one can make the argument that the fortuneteller girl is Faith. For some reason she is clairevoyant, which is probably why she was able to beat death all on her own. This ability probably allows her to keep a low profile and off Torchwood’s radar. Does make you wonder what other contact Jack has had with her. Probably not much as she is a resource Jack would also prefer the rest of Torchwood not be aware.

  • Lisa

    I always thought that Jack told Tennant that he didn’t want to cross the timelines and that was why he was waiting at the rift in Cardiff cos he knew sooner or later after Boomtown he would turn up?

    e.g. He watched Billie Piper grow up on the Powell estate.

    (actually thinking about that -if I have remembered it right – he was taking a chance that he was meeting the dr in the Dr’s right timeline. How was he gonna know if it was an earlier version of the Dr?)

  • What kind of hero dies this often?




    The Doctor?

    Remo Williams?

    Okay, what? What is it? What did he see?

    That item looks a bit like that watch Professor Yana had in “Utopia.”

    Oh, no. It couldn’t be…

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