Thursday, 13 September 2007

Torchwood ‘Captain Jack Harkness’: Rating A

Previously on Torchwood: Owen met Dianne, Owen lost Dianne, Owen got mauled by a Weevil, Owen wanted to die. And after all that you’d be forgiven for thinking this is going to be an Owen episode. But it isn’t.

Cardiff by day, the VOC comes round a corner with a screech of brakes and blares its horn as it races across an intersection without pausing. It pulls up in front of an old building and we hear Tosh speaking Japanese before she and Jack get out of the car. See, I bet you thought they were on their way to an emergency situation but no, that’s just how Jack drives.

Tosh is all dressed up in a suit and heels and says it’s her Grandfather’s 88th birthday today, an auspicious birthday for the Japanese. Jack says he thought she went to all that effort just for him. There’s some banter. You know, the thing about these two is that you kind of get the impression they like each other and enjoy working together. And yes, it is bloody nice to have some screen time on Tosh since the writers don’t seem to know what to do with her and she is the best character by far. Sorry Ianto, I don’t know where your original understated wit and intelligence went but my love that burnt so bright and hot is gone. It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s just be friends, ok?

Where was I? Oh yes, recapping a television show.

So Tosh reminds us of her Japanese heritage and also reminds us of her impressive Grandfather who worked as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

“Down to business,” says Jack and there’s one of Torchwood’s weird zoomy-whoosing-out camera shots as they enter the building and Tosh expositions that it’s ‘The Ritz’ dancehall. There’re chequered tiles on the floor and a staircase reaching up to another level. Tosh says the dancehall’s been closed down since 1989 but that people have complained about hearing music from the 1940s.

As if on cue, the subtle sound of dance music begins in the background and Jack shooshes her to listen. He smiles wistfully, excited about the mystery and possibly reminiscing about his own time dancing to this music. “You coming up?” he asks and leaps up the stairs. Tosh follows, more sedately.

Upstairs, they walk into the main ballroom and Jack comments on the romance of the chandelier before pulling Tosh into a dance and reminiscing about soldiers going off to war and young women enjoying one last dance before their lover goes off to fight.
“The girls would look into their partners’ eyes, smile softly and say…” starts Jack and Tosh pulls away and says, “Jack, mind my laptop.”
Not quite, notes Jack. They walk out the other side of the ballroom and down another flight of stairs.

“Well, there’s nothing here but memories and dust,” says Jack, a little sadly. Another cue for music to start up, but this time there’s nothing soft or subtle about the raucous voices and swing echoing from the ballroom they just examined. Jack and Tosh look round and head back upstairs to find a room full of dancing, drinking and the desperate fun of people facing their own mortality.

Tosh remarks that the people look so real but Jack examines his wrist device and says they’re not ghosts. “It’s just a simple temporal shift,” he says. My first thought is that, if it’s a temporal shift, they’re smack bang in the middle of it but he seems unconcerned. In fact, he seems delighted.

“Ha-ha,” he exclaims, “it’s beautiful!”. A dance through the past, a nice place to visit. Maybe, but Tosh is more concerned about living there and hustles them out quickly. The stairs are now filled with people and the ground floor is set up with a bar. As Jack and Tosh leave, a distinguished older silver-haired man in a dapper suit asks them in educated tones to please call again. As they walk out the door, the camera spins around to a close up on dapper man whose smile drops as soon as Jack’s back is turned and…ooh, evil person. He is evil. Hello…evil person right behind you!

Outside the Hall it’s now night and Jack and Tosh are all what the…? Considering everyone they were just talking to was in the early 1940s and the street is decked out with more Union flags, I wouldn’t have expected Tosh’s first thought to be that the VOC had been stolen. But I guess denial is also a nice place to visit, with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Jack’s an old dab at time travel, however. He’s looking at his wrist device and we zoom in on a flyer advertising the dance they were just attending: in January 1941. Oh, I stepped on their cue for the credits. Sorry. Um, CREDITS.

Flick, flick, flick Torchwood.

In the Hub of poor lighting, Owen is trying to sleep when some sort of alarm awakens him. He turns over on the couch to find Ianto looking at the monitors. Everything’s blurry; so he either just woke up or he’s very very drunk.
“What the hell is that?” he asks about the bleeping and Ianto says it’s ‘Tosh’s rift monitor program’. What rift monitor program? There’s a rift monitor program?
Anyway, Ianto expositions that Tosh set it up to warn them if there was rift activity and that the rift’s been opening more and more. Since when?

Owen joins Ianto at the monitor as Ianto explains that Tosh thinks the ‘equations are forming some sort of pattern’. What the hell does that mean? Ianto picks up his mobile and tries to call Tosh as he thinks she may have readings on her end. Using what? Her portable rift-monitoring device?

You know, this is the second last episode of this show and I’ve decided not to care. I don’t care that the technobabble makes no sense or the character development has been inconsistent (or even nonexistent) or the continuity is poor. No, just enjoying the ride. That’s me: not caring.

Owen asks why he wasn’t in the loop and Ianto notes that he’s been doing the depression thing. He then puts his mobile down and says Tosh’s line is dead. Wouldn’t it just go to voicemail because the network would see it as being out of range?

The dark streets of 1941: It’s night because all stories and films set in WWII are at night: it helps us to remember it as a dark time. Interesting, isn’t it? In the street, Tosh is also trying to use her mobile but realises it’s dead. Jack suggests they get back into the dance hall because it’s where they crossed the first time.

Present day in Cardiff town: Ianto calls Gwen who’s, well, somewhere that’s not the Hub, and asks her to drop by the Ritz because they need to talk to Tosh.

“We really are in 1941,” announces Tosh as we flick back to the past. That sounds like a Gwen line actually, except Gwen would then have a tantrum because she never wanted to be in 1941 and she therefore can’t accept it’s really happening.
“What if we can’t get back?” asks Tosh. Jack notes that flotsam and jetsam slip through all the time and they’ll get back. Except for that episode where you told all those people they couldn’t get back.

At this point, Jack’s mostly excited to be stuck at a party but Tosh was much happier with the life she had in 2007 or 2008 or whenever this show is supposed to be set. Then Tosh says that they can’t help them back at the Hub because she has the latest readings on her. Ah, those portable rift monitors must come in handy.

The partygoers have noticed the new arrivals and one young naval officer is laying appreciative eyes on Tosh. Tosh looks concerned at the attention as Jack removes his earpiece. Finally! I hate that earpiece. It looks ridiculous. Jack says they need to try to blend in and Tosh notes that the white man in 1940s clothing might find that easier than the Japanese woman. Jack assures her that she’ll be fine since she’s with the Cap’n.

Back in the Hub, Owen has hacked into Tosh’s files and pulled up the data from the day Dianne flew through the rift. Oh, a flashback. It was only two episodes ago people and you’ve ‘previouslied’ it seven hundred times since. Ianto observes more than asks that Owen was in love with her. “If Tosh knows a way of opening the rift, maybe we can get Dianne back,” says Owen.
“Jack would never allow it,” says Ianto definitely, “opening the rift could devastate the city.” Since Owen cares only about himself, this argument doesn’t much wash and Ianto looks concerned.

Jack and Tosh are chilling in the ballrooms of 1941. Jack orders a drink then does a Doctor and can’t pay for it. A young RAF officer comes over and offers to pay for their drinks, but mostly because he wants to dance with Tosh. Jack’s laughing, enjoying her discomfort and the dance and the night generally, when a young woman stands by him and disgustedly asks why George is dancing with a Jap. Jack’s smile fades. I think he’s romanticised this period of time in his head to the point where he’s forgotten what was rotten about it. The tricks the mind plays about the past.

Gwen's outside the Dancehall in the Cardiff that is now, where she’s discovered the abandoned VOC and goes inside to investigate. She calls out and then starts to hear music at which point we are…

…back in 1941. Jack turns his head quickly as though he heard Gwen’s call and the camera does its whooshing thing to show us the couples still dancing. Tosh looks trapped and uncomfortable dancing with RAF officer, who we now know is called George, so Jack comes along to save her. He tries to cut in but RAF officer gets a bit nasty. “You can always dance with me if you like,” says Jack and for once the poor dialogue they give John Barrowman works. He’s making fun of bully officer George and bully officer George knows it. He starts getting aggressive on Jack’s ass and Jack stays calm and suave. He turns and tries to walk away from the encounter but bully guy grabs him, spins him and clocks him in the face.

Jack engages, but still only pushes him away rather than smacking him one. Just as things are about to get really ugly, an American officer intervenes and tells bully officer George to cut it out.

“Sorry about that,” intervening officer says to Jack, “men are a bit lively tonight.” He explains it’s their last night before OTU and tells George to apologise.”
“I was only dancing,” says George defensively, and intervening officer says “I think it was your fist in his face he didn’t like, not your foxtrot.” Nice line.
George apologises and Jack points to his damaged cheek and says it’s ok ‘cause George barely got him. There are wry smiles of forgiveness all round and then George apologises to Tosh as well.

As they leave the dance floor, clean-cut intervening American officer asks Jack if he’s also a volunteer. Jack says yes and starts to introduce himself but stops and asks clean-cut, square-jawed intervening American officer to go first.
“Captain Jack Harkness, 103rd squadron,” says the real Jack and ‘oh crap’ says the expression of our Jack.

“Look this way please,” says the cultured voice of evil and dapper man takes a photo of them.

Meanwhile in the Hub (man the English language really wasn’t designed to handle these past-present/future-present tenses), Ianto and Owen are investigating the dancehall when they come across the photo of Tosh, Jack and Jack. This Jack Jack thing is going to be as confusing as the tenses and we...

…are back in 1941 where evil dapper man, whom I shall call Doc, has taken the photo Ianto and Owen are even now perusing in 2008. He walks over to the group and stands between the Jacks, insisting on taking a photo with all four of them in it.
“Thank you gentlemen,” he says politely before walking off. Nothing creepier than manners. All the best creepy villains have impeccable manners.

As Doc departs, Jack tries to excuse himself but real Jack reminds him he hasn’t introduced them yet. “Toshiko Sato,” says Tosh in a voice that says she’s far more interested in Jack’s answer really. “Captain James Harper, 71st,” says Jack and real Jack offers to buy them a drink. Jack says he and Tosh were actually in the middle of something and he finally escapes.

“Why does that man have your name?” asks Tosh as they exit the ballroom, and then when Jack refuses to answer, “I’m lost enough here without you holding back on me.”
“It’s not my name, it’s his,” explains Jack, “I took his. I didn’t realise…he was so hot.” Hee.

Tosh asks him to tell her the whole story and he does his clammed up, secretive, mysterioso act that is far less annoying in a quality character piece like this than in previous episodes. He says he knows too much and it wouldn’t be fair on Tosh to burden her with it. Ok, that is a poor excuse really.

“We have to get back,” says Jack suddenly changing the subject to the present and leaving the past and the future to deal with itself for a while. Tosh looks at her laptop and says she has half the equation there but the other half is back at the Hub.

1, 2, 3, 4…sorry, I’m counting to 10 and reminding myself that this episode is about people confronting the realities that led them to be the person they are today. It’s about their flaws and the way imperfect memories of their own personal history and their selfish desires to recreate mythical utopian pasts can impact them so strongly today. It is not about the faux science fiction. The so-called ‘rift opening formula’ that is mysteriously split between the Hub and Tosh’s laptop doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Deep breath. I’m back.

Anyway, the rift-opening formula is split between 1941 and the Hub in 2008. This gives Tosh what she really needs, which is a mystery to solve and a course of action to plot. Jack looks at her fondly as she says that she has to find a way to get the figures back to base so they can combine them, open the rift, and let them back through. Ok let’s go, says Jack and as they walk off we pan in on a door that opens…

…to let through Gwen in the modern day. Nice transition that. There was a good one earlier too with the camera flash. Anyway, Gwen is trying doors all over the Dancehall building and thinking out loud that if she can hear 1941 maybe 1941 can hear her. “Jack!” she yells. “Tosh!”

And back in 1941, Tosh hears her name.

In the Hub, Owen is powering ahead with his plan to open the rift using Tosh’s calculation, ostensibly to save his colleagues but really so he can get Dianne back. He too is trying to recapture an ill-remembered perfect past and is little concerned with the consequences of his actions on the present. Ianto says they can’t open the rift and although he’s talking about the bigger picture he settles for the micro and notes only that half the equation’s missing.

As Owen starts stressing about finding the other half, Ianto says it’s probably in Tosh’s laptop, which she apparently “never goes anywhere without” even though we’ve never seen her with it before and I mean ever. “Shit!” yells Owen and we can see he’s building himself up to one of his obsessive crusades of action to avoid dealing with painful emotions.

Back to the Dancehall (I think I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who or something because I keep wanting to add the words ‘of death!’ to the end of all my nouns and unfortunately I don’t think this is a very accurate description of the Dancehall) Jack and Tosh have found Doc’s office and Tosh is quickly copying the equation from her computer to a piece of paper. Of course, her laptop chooses this moment to die but Tosh says she has everything she needs except for “the exact coordinates of the Dancehall so she can integrate them into the waveform equation”.

“What are you doing in here?” asks Doc from the doorway; Jack and Tosh look startled and guilty as hell.
“Who are you?” asks Doc in a suitably creepy voice and we get a suitably creepy close up to go with it. So creepy I half expected him to follow it up with, “What do you want?

Jack introduces himself and Tosh, who is hugging her laptop to her chest like a baby. “I’m Bilis, the manager,” says Doc and notes that Jack is not in full uniform. As Jack explains that he’s on 48 hours leave, Tosh spots Bilis’ camera and realises she and Jack are not the only things in the room that are somewhat anachronistic. Doc says it takes photographs instantly and Tosh warily says that she didn’t know they could do that…yet. Jack picks up on her tone and looks a bit wary himself.

“And I didn’t know they made an attaché case out of metal,” counters Doc. He asks where she got it as all the clocks in the room start to chime. Tosh says it, and her, are both from London and Doc suggests she go back as ‘they’re coming for us now’.
As they leave, Doc looks, well, creepy as he pulls a file out of his desk marked ‘Torchwood’. Ooh, maybe he isn’t evil. Maybe he’s Torchwood.

On that note, wouldn’t it make more sense to find Torchwood in 1941, explain the situation and plant the laptop in the Hub? Just a thought.

In the now, Gwen is outside the Dancehall explaining to Ianto that all the doors are locked and there’s nobody around. As she stands looking at the building from the road, the camera pans back and Doc is behind her! Gwen startles and spins around. Doc introduces himself as the ‘Caretaker, Bilis Manger’. Gwen says she thinks her friends got locked into the Dancehall and asks Doc if he could open it all up for her. He acquiesces and she follows him in.

1941, the Dancehall…of death…Tosh is starting to freak out at the thought of being stuck in a past where the Pearl Harbour attack is imminent. Jack tries to comfort her by saying that it didn’t happen until the end of the year. “My Grandad stayed in London but he was persecuted,” she says, “if we get stuck here what will happen to me?”

Unfortunately for Tosh, Jack has spotted the hottie that is his namesake and briefly gets distracted before re-focussing his attention on her. “I’ll take care of you,” he says kindly. Tosh is touched but not convinced. She also senses the assurance in his voice and asks if he’s been in 1941 before because he seems to fit in. Only a small pause before Jack says that he took Jack’s name because he was undercover and needed a false identity. He doesn’t mention he was a con man.

“Who were you before you took his name?” asks Tosh, but that’s one question Jack’s not prepared to answer quite yet. She follows it up with why he chose Jack Harkness particularly and Jack voices what we’ve all worked out: that Cap’n Jack is about to die.

Scene the next, Jack and Tosh join George and Jack and friends. They’re all having a drink and a laugh: George is telling a story about a woman who wouldn’t get into a bomb shelter because she was afraid of the rats. “Excuse me,” says Tosh as she joins the group, “who’s the best navigator here?” Apparently the best navigator is a very young, earnest officer named Tim.

“He can’t fly for toffee but at least when he goes down he’ll know where he is,” says George with a laugh. Tosh asks Tim for a chat and George interprets this as a come on ‘cause he’s a lovable prat. The real Cap’n says Tim’s come a long way in five weeks and as long as they all remember their training they’ll be alright. He pats Jack on the shoulder and buys him a drink.

Meanwhile, Doc Bilis has let Gwen into the basement. He asks why her friends were in the building and she says it was “just a silly dare” because there were rumours it was haunted. A dare? My God, how old is this woman, twelve? Doc creepily says she looks worried and he’ll make her a cup of tea.

1941, Tosh is getting information on the Dancehall’s coordinates from Tim, the young earnest navigator. He says he jots down the time and coordinates of sunrise every morning, something that’s probably a bit silly. “It’s fantastic,” says Tosh, quite genuinely and Tim looks pleased. Oh, Tim is sweet. Everyone else on this show gets lots of snogs; I think Tosh should get one too. Snog the sweet navigator. For me.

At Jack Jack’s table, George is doing the macho talk of a man who’s never actually been in a war. He’s saying that real Jack is a fantastic pilot who’s never lost a man and he can’t wait to get up there and give Jerry hell etc etc. RJ (the real Jack) tries to change the subject and offers Jack a drink. As he goes to the bar to get one, a very pretty girl with blonde hair and lots of lipstick comes in and tells him she was hoping she could join him, even though it’s his night with the boys. RJ looks unenthused but says ok anyway.

Dancehall of the present day, Doc takes Gwen into his office and goes to put the kettle one while she checks in at the Hub. Ianto says it’s encouraging that they haven’t found any photographic evidence of Tosh and Jack since that night and Owen thinks that could mean they got blown up. Ianto mentions Bilis to Gwen who mentions Bilis back and they suddenly realise he’s in two time periods. He must have come through the rift! Owen wants Gwen to do some more investigation but Ianto orders her to leave and wait for backup.
“We can’t lose Gwen,” says Ianto, “maybe this is a trap and he’s sending them back in time one by one.” That’s a great theory, actually. I like it.
“I’m sorry, but who exactly put you in charge?” yells Owen because Ianto’s getting in the way of his personal narcissistic campaign. Gwen, tellingly, obeys Ianto and leaves.

Back in the warm tones of 1941, Tosh says she has everything she needs equation-wise; she just has to find a way to get it Back to the Future (sorry, I had to use it once).

As she and Jack move out of the room, Tosh gets confronted by the Nasty woman from earlier who accuses her of being a spy. “The Chinese are on our side, aren’t they?” asks an officer. Ha! Tosh’s 21st century pride kicks in and she automatically corrects him by saying she’s Japanese. Mean woman asks whose side she’s on and wants to know what’s in her bag. Jack may be thrilling on the romance of the ‘40s but for Tosh the reality will be a lot nastier and possible more brutal. She starts tugging at Tosh’s things before Jack intervenes to say that she can’t show anyone her work because it’s all top secret. “Without ladies like her we’d have no way of defending the country,” says RJ and raises his glass in a toast to Tosh. And if you think this story is far-fetched, remember her grandfather was at Bletchley Park and would have had to put up with this sort of crap all the time. Nasty woman looks miffed that the only target she’s found for her repressed aggression got off scot free.

Tosh is straight back down to business because concentrating on her problem is the only thing that’s going to stop her from panicking. She tells Jack she needs the Doc’s camera because a photo will last. Jack asks if she wants him to go with her and RJ appears behind him with a drink saying that Jack can’t run out on him.

“It’s fine, you carry on,” says Tosh, but her tone says ‘no really, stay here flirting while the world comes to an end’. The two American Captains drink to ‘a fellow Captain’ and RJ explains that he’s on leave because he hurt his back.
“And that’s his excuse for not dancing,” says ‘defensive but trying to seem happy and reasonable’ blonde woman on the steps behind them. She asks if she can join them and RJ says yes but not with much zeal.

In the Doc’s office, Tosh takes a photo of the page and slips the negative into her bag as Doc comes in and springs her. She says she just wanted to have a go at the camera. “This little beauty’s very unusual and rare,” says Doc walking toward the table as Tosh backs toward the door, “kind of like yourself.”
He picks up the paper from the table and tells her not to forget it. “I could think of better things to photograph than numbers, my dear,” drawls Doc as he eyes Tosh strangely and if he’d been a different man you’d think he was talking about pornography. Either way, Tosh is freaked out. As she leaves, Doc looks thoughtful.

As we come back from the ads, we’re back at the Hub. Owen is doing something that seems to involve randomly pulling wires out of the floor, while Ianto is trying to stay calm about the fact that Owen wants to open the rift without the complete equation.
“We’re going to have to improvise with the rift manipulator,” says Owen in between the wire pulling. The rift what? Agh! The rift manipulator and the rift-opening-program? You know, they’ve had 12 episodes to throw in a line or two about this so why didn’t they? It’s called continuity people. It means stuff like this shouldn’t pop out of you all of the sudden at the end of the season.
1,2,3,4…I’m back.

“We can’t, it’s risky enough with the equation, if we don’t do this properly anything can happen,” says Ianto. Oh no, NOT THE RIFT MANIPULATOR.
“Bombs are falling, they’re stuck in the middle of the Cardiff Blitz, it’s our duty to get them out,” counters Owen. The Cardiff Blitz? Well, apparently there were a few German bombing campaigns during the Blitz that targeted Cardiff. Thank you internet; that I did not know.

Eerie moment in the Dancehall…of death…for Gwen who’s leaving the ballroom and hears laughter. She spins around and yells, “Jack!” and a couple swing by behind her. She turns around again but there’s nothing.

“Open the rift now and the whole world could suffer. We could get sucked in and who know what will come out.” Ianto is getting angry now, trying to reason with an unreasonable Owen who is still walking purposefully around the Hub and doing stuff with wiring. What stuff? Who knows? I’m not caring, remember? Ianto tries intelligence, anger and finally truth. “When will you accept that she chose to leave?” asks Ianto angrily, saying out loud the certainty that punctures Owen’s delusions.

Hit, Owen turns and lashes back, bringing up Lisa and Cybergirl in the cellar. Ianto says that was different but Owen’s not finished deflecting attention from his flawed logic and selfish actions.
“It was [different],” he breathes, “mainly because Dianne didn’t try to kill us all and oh yeah she also happened to be a human being not some screwed-up metal monster.” As a tactic it works, because Ianto’s talking about himself and not about Owen’s actions right now. He says he loved Lisa and then points out that Owen only knew Dianne for a week. “And it wasn’t enough!” yells Owen.

He’s still wiring and says that maybe the manipulator can calculate the missing figures. Whatever he was trying to do he’s finished because he flicks a switch then exclaims that it isn’t working. “Good,” says Ianto, “Jack would never have wanted us to use it this way.”

Oh, what Owen was wiring in must have been this mysterious rift manipulator because he suddenly says that there’s a piece missing! I’m finding this not caring thing difficult. It would have been so bloody simple to establish this miraculous machine that’s so bloody central to the plot of the show but they didn’t. And if they really did have a rift manipulator, wouldn’t Owen have been demanding they use it before now?

Anyway, a piece of the rift manipulator is missing and Owen sets off to find it. Ianto rather earnestly tells him that maybe he should go home. Owen starts getting snotty and tells Ianto he doesn’t have any power over him but then backs in because at the moment he doesn’t have what he needs and an argument is pointless. “Ok Ianto, we’ll play it your way; safe and boring,” he says contemptuously.

Back to 1941 again where Jack Jack is having a drink. Blonde girlfriend has had enough of being ignored and she gets up to leave. RJ is polite but distant as he says goodbye and kisses her on the cheek before dismissing her. Jack, armed with the knowledge of RJ’s death wants him to give her a better goodbye. “Anything can happen tomorrow,” he says, “you don’t know what’s ahead. Kiss her goodbye.” RJ does and Nancy tells him she loves him.

When he comes back to the table, RJ is pissed and says things are now 20 times worse because now she thinks she’s in love with him, and then he walks off. Jack follows him out of the ballroom and down the stairs, arguing that her falling for him is hardly his fault. Because as it turns out, RJ’s mood is nothing to do with Nancy. It’s to do with fear: his fear of war and of what he’s seen. Jack says he understands and RJ says he doubts it so Jack tells us the first original piece of information about himself.

“I went to war when I was a boy. I was with my best friend. We got caught crossing the border over enemy lines. They tortured him not me because he was weaker. I had to watch him die. And then they let me go,” finishes Jack and RJ asks who ‘they’ were. “The worst possible creatures you could imagine,” says Jack and adds that he persuaded his friend to join up because he thought it would be an adventure. “He hadn’t lived,” says Jack and RJ asks rhetorically, “have any of us?”

Outside of the Dancehall, Tosh protects the photo with the plastic wrapping of her Grandfather’s card.

In the Hub, Owen decides to check out the Doc’s office figuring he must know more about the rift than they do.

Outside the Dancehall in the now, but not the then that is now, Gwen thinks she sees Doc and follows him round the corner. Whoever’s edited this has put in those annoying flick flick flashes of light between moments. Anyway, she finds some sort of circuit box and flick flash flick flash finds the photos. She scans them back to the Hub and Ianto says some of the equation’s missing. That’s the cue to…

…cut back to the Dancehall in the now that was then and Tosh realises that the photo has cut off the top right hand corner of the equation. She hides the photo anyway as an air-raid siren goes off and bombs start falling. We see everyone running down to the cellar. Tosh worriedly asks if the gang will keep looking when they keep realise the equation is incomplete.

Gwen is still looking outside the Dancehall while Owen tears Doc’s office apart looking for…something. Clues? Information? The mysterious piece of the rift manipulator? He finds a safe and says, “Oh yes”.

In the bomb shelter…of death…the partygoers are hiding out while the bombs fall. One officer is trying on his ‘but I might die’ routine to get Nasty girl to kiss him and it works. Tosh goes into the back of the cellar, writes the rest of the equation in blood on her Grandfather’s birthday card and puts it in a coffee tin. Obviously she was out of pens and apparently blood lasts 50 years. Jack swaps meaningful looks with his namesake while the Ballroom singer poignantly performs ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’.

Meanwhile, Owen has cracked the Doc’s safe but it’s totally empty. Then the clocks all begin to chime the hour. For some reason, Owen is inspired by this and wrenches open an old Grandfather clock to find the missing piece of the mysterious rift manipulator as the clock’s pendulum. So, Doc stole the final component of Torchwood’s rift manipulator and he hid it so that…character piece, character piece, character piece. Anyway, Owen looks victorious. As he leaves the room, he comes across Gwen and tells her he didn’t find any equations and is heading back to the Hub. An obfuscation worthy of John Howard himself. Gwen stays to keep looking.

RJ approaches Jack and says, “Yes, of course I’m scared”. They look at each other meaningfully, Tosh hides the tin and…

…Gwen is back looking in the cellar. She hears the ghostly voice of the singer and the clarinet and we…

…cut back to the cellar in 1941 where the ‘all-clear’ has sounded. Doc appears at the top of the stairs and declares that the dancing should continue. Tosh appears and sweet Tim notices she’s cut. He offers to patch up her hand and Jack looks amused as she goes with him. George offers Jack Jack a drink but RJ turns him down and requests some time in private with Captain Harper.

In the present future, Gwen has found the tin with the card in it and the equations written in blood. She calls Ianto and starts to read the equation out to him. You know, considering how much anyone with a basic knowledge of mathematics has torn this equation apart, I think the production team should have avoided showing it so clearly.

Owen is back at the Hub with the part and Ianto tells him Gwen has the rest of Tosh’s readings. As Owen types them in he says they’re not enough and they ‘need three more numbers’. How he knows, I don’t know, but he does, ok?
Gwen says somebody has scraped out the final numbers and, as she’s telling us, we see the Doc doing just that. Ooh, the plot thickens. Why lead them to the messages but deprive them of the final digits? It seems Doc wants them to open the Rift without the full equation.

Gwen reads out the rest of the card, which has a message from Tosh at the end. It says, ‘tell my family I love them’ and it’s written in her own smeared blood.

Music, dancing, chandeliers and Jack Jack standing overlooking the room from a balcony, talking about the meaning of life and death.
“Why did you want me to kiss her goodbye?” asks RJ and Jack tells him to live every night like it’s his last, dance like no one’s watching…oh wait, that’s later. No, he tells him to make tonight the best night of his life. “You’re alive, right here, right now. Your men are fine.” There really is a lovely dynamic between these two. “What are you trying to say?” asks RJ and Jack just pauses meaningfully and tells him to go to his girlfriend. RJ says that maybe he will and asks Jack if Toshiko is his woman. Jack says no, that there’s no one. “Go to her,” he says again and RJ leaves.

In the Hub, Owen has the majority of the equation and the missing piece of the rift manipulator and he’s all ready to sacrifice an uncertain future because of the certain traumas of his past. Ianto notes they still don’t have the whole equation and Owen says that maybe the machine can work it out. And this isn’t poor continuity; it’s Owen’s brain making excuses so that he can do what he always intended to.

Something goes wrong, however and Owen runs over to the safe believing there’ll be some instructions in there. Ianto tells him he has no right to open the safe because Jack likes to keep his secrets. “I’m not going to play with his toys, Ianto,” says Owen angrily. He opens the safe and pulls out the ‘life knife’, the artefact from Ghost Machine and, ready, blueprints for the rift machine.
Ianto grabs the blueprints and runs off.

Back in 1941, RJ has come back to find Jack still sitting there looking a little sad. “I thought you were gone,” says Jack and tells him that this could be his last chance. RJ says he knows, but his last chance is not the one Jack is thinking of. Jack understands but says, “I might have to leave before the night is over.” RJ tells him to make the most of now and we close in on him taking Jack’s hand and it is beautiful.

They’re interrupted by a couple that wants to canoodle and RJ makes his excuses and runs off. “We’ll go somewhere else,” suggests Jack but RJ has remembered who and where he is and says no. “You’d told me all I need to know,” he says and leaves.

Back in the Hub, Ianto and Owen are fighting over the blueprints. The problem is that Owen is a world-record-holding shit and there’s no way Ianto can compete with him. He is going to lose. Ianto has worked out the whole thing is a trap set by Doc. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ianto leaves everyone else but Tosh for dead in the brains department. Why does he just make tea?

Owen asks why Doc would want the rift opened and Ianto, angry and spitting and yelling, says that he must want to incite chaos and destruction. It’s poor dialogue of course but I buy it. Then Ianto seals the deal by saying that everything that’s happened, everything, even the reports about the Dancehall that sent them over to look in the first place, must have been Doc. “Please listen to me!” he finishes and Ianto, you are officially back. Yes, Tosh should still be my favourite character but she’s not exactly my type. Trial basis only of course; can’t have you slipping back on your dull expressionless ways.

“I’m tired of being in awe of the Rift,” counters Owen, “I’m tired of living with Jack’s secrets; we don’t even know who he is.”

“He’s our leader,” says Ianto and Owen says “not anymore”. Then Ianto crash tackles him and they have a short but vicious fight that ends in Owen’s victory. He grabs the papers, kicks Ianto in the gut and runs off as we…

..start the countdown to the episode’s end in 1941. Everyone’s singing, dancing and swinging and Tosh is approaching Jack who’s standing pensively on the balcony. He tells Tosh about RJ’s death on a training exercise tomorrow. Jack’s affected by his heroism and attracted by his looks and charm but it never occurs to him to try to save his life and it would go against Tosh’s every belief as well. A jaded man and a principled intelligent woman and no harm done from their foray into the past except that…

...back at the Hub we have a repressed narcissist on a high from the adrenalin of ‘doing something’. The same man from Ghost Machine but his tendencies warped by arrogance and self-pity. A man who, unlike his colleagues, is willing to let the whole world go to hell to pursue his own selfish needs. A man who is about to open the rift.
“Put the key down or I’ll shoot,” says an angry voice. It’s Ianto with a gun.

The missing piece was a key? Why did Doc have the key to the Rift Manipulator? Why do I keep asking these questions?

“Who were you?” asks Tosh of Jack and the transition from loud anger to the muted calm of piano is a poignant reminder of the calm at the middle of the storm raging in the Hub. Jack finally admits he was a conman who took RJ’s identity to hide and Tosh asks how he ended up in Torchwood.

“Someone saved my life, brought me back from death, and ever since then it’s like they’re keeping me for something and I don’t know what it is. I’m sorry for dragging you into this,” finishes Jack and Tosh says that it was her choice and she means it. “I’ll look after you,” he promises. He chokes back tears, says there’s nothing he can do for RJ, and Tosh takes his hand.

Back to the raging storm: Ianto says Owen has to let Dianne go like Ianto did with Lisa. “Don’t compare yourself with me,” says Owen contemptuously, “you’re just a tea boy.” Ianto says he’s much more than that because Jack needs him, and considering his behaviour this evening I have to agree with him. “In your dreams, Ianto, your sad wet dreams where you’re his part-time shag. That rift took my lover and our Captain and if I die trying to beat it then it will be in the line of duty.”

He moves to put the final piece in and Ianto shoots him in the shoulder. Owen cries out in pain but slams the final cog in with his other hand. “You don’t know what you’ve done,” says Ianto as the manipulator roars into life.

Back in the eye, RJ is looking longingly across at Jack holding hands with Tosh in the corner. He slowly moves across the dance floor, takes Jack’s hand and pulls him into a dance. “What’s he doing?” asks George as they start to slow dance and the floor empties around them. They move in for a kiss when the rift suddenly bursts open with a bright light around them. Tosh starts yelling that they have to get out of there.
“I have to go, “ says Jack to RJ, “it’s my duty,” and he walks toward the light.

He suddenly stops and takes his own ‘seizing the moment’ advice. He turns back and kisses RJ. It is a great kiss and, I mean, really one of the better screen kisses and while I hate to spoil the mood, I can’t help thinking that, with all this extraordinary romance in front of 50 or so members of the armed forces, RJ’s death on a training exercise suddenly makes sense and it had nothing to do with German planes. It was after all 1941.

Sadly, and with a single perfect tear sliding down his cheek, Captain Jack Harkness stands and watches Captain Jack Harkness disappear in the white light of the rift. And if you’re wondering why I’m ignoring the salute, it’s because it’s lame under normal circumstances but more so when they’ve just shared a passionate kiss. So it didn’t happen. The white fades away and Jack and Tosh are back in an empty ballroom. Doc is politely, creepily, dappily happy. We haven’t seen the last of him.

Outside the Dancehall, Owen and Tosh emerge into the daylight and Gwen appears and launches herself on them saying how good it is to have them back. Jack looks sad.

In the aftermath of the storm, Tosh is helping Owen patch himself up and Owen is patting himself on the back for a job well done. Ianto briefly looks as though he’d love to argue but can’t when everyone seems safe and well. He settles for saying there’s no sign of Doc. Owen notes that the world didn’t end and then thanks Ianto for being a suck shot. Ianto says he was aiming for Owen’s shoulder and you just know that if the shoe had been on the other foot, Ianto would now be dead.

“It was wartime, I know,” Tosh is explaining, “but it was beautiful.”
“There were angels dancing at the Ritz,” says Jack. He walks into his office and Tosh goes after him to drink a brandy and tell him how proud RJ would be of him saving the world with his name.
“To Captain Jack,” toasts Tosh.
“To Captain Jack.”

1 comment:

Leanne N. said...

Okay then comments it is chaps (I thought I'd get into the 1940's spirit *cue haunting clarinet* wait should I have made that nostalgic?) Anyhoo

First OMG I wish I could have been Ianto and shot Owen. I actually think that Ianto chose to shoot him in the shoulder because:
1. It might stop him from opening the RIFT (of doom)
2. It might accidently kill him, or
3. It'd hurt a lot but he'd live and Ianto would get to shoot him again sometime later. YAY!

Second - I think Toshiko kept half of the equation on her laptop just so Owen couldn't get to it, as he clearly has no problem with invading his workmates privacy (I suppose they say every workplace has a psycho - who knew it wouldn't be a Weevil) AND so he couldn't get his grubby hands on the equation to open the rift to bring back Dianne - conveniently forgetting that she left him (sensible lady)

And I have a question, dear Recapper, what has happened to Capt. Jack's leather pant fetish? During the 'Bad Wolf' episodes of Doctor Who he galivanted around in them quite fetchingly. I miss them.

Oh and as an aside, do you think that that they made this thing a dance hall for the sole purpose of
a) So Jack could dance again
b) so they could introduce the 'Bad Guy' Doc Bilis
c) so the hand could make an appearence and we could make jazz hand jokes?

ALl in all I liked this episode ( not the least because Owen got shot, Gwen said very little and Jack snogged someone:) and I think your recap did it justice.

L.