‘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”)

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