Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Torchwood 'End of Days': Rating C

Welcome gentle viewers to this evening’s production of the season finale of Torchwood. Tonight’s incoherent Buffy-mined mess is brought to you by Chris Chibnall who we hope will soon be moving on to new projects and leaving Torchwood to other writers. A lot of thought has been given to my rating and while at least one other recapper has given the episode a D, I have considered whether it really is worse than Countrycide or as bad as Day One. Both masterpieces, you’ll note, also the work of the great man himself.

So previously on Torchwood, no psychological testing was done on potential employees so everyone hired is an arrogant self-absorbed narcissistic mess running around pursuing their own agendas to the exclusion of all other interests including those of their own teammates. So Ianto hides Cybergirl in the basement, Gwen becomes the new Suzie by sleeping with Owen and drugging people with retcon at will, and Owen opens the rift because for some reason he blames it for losing a girl who was already tired of him after a whole week. And these are the people I’m supposed to care about? After everything bad I said about him, Captain Jack is fast shaping up as the guiding light of the show as he at least has integrity and Tosh should be my favourite character except I think Gareth David Lloyd is hotter. That’s shallow but hey, that’s me. My point is that the so-called alien menace at this point seems to be Torchwood themselves. Incompetence combined with arrogance: a lethal combination, as we are about to discover.

Owen, as I mentioned, recently opened the hellmouth. Oh, I mean rift. You know, I read somewhere recently where a writer called it the Riftmouth. I think that’s so cool I’m totally stealing it.

Now it’s morning in Cardiff and we pan across the Bay to the city where Gwen is lying in bed watching Rhys sleep. Now that she’s put her affair with Owen behind her and, you know, drugged Rhys into forgetting everything, she’s all happy and in love. Rhys gets up to make her a cup of tea and I so didn’t need to see his bare ass again. Of all the nudity we were promised in Torchwood, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

The phone rings and even as Rhys yells at her not to answer it she does and of course it’s work. They want to know if she’s seen the news.

In the living room, Gwen is in her robe watching the aforementioned news. She’s shot at the front of the screen like she’s in shock about what she’s watching, which is apparently the end of the world. It’s the apocalypse say the religious groups. The apocalypse apparently consists of a single UFO sighting in India and a police shootout with men in historic dress. AND THAT’S IT. That’s all. Less has happened in a single episode of Doctor Who and there’s none of this recycled garbage from ‘The Second Coming’. Oh, actually, now that I think about it, there is. Russell, like Chris, has not had an original idea in years. Anyway, apparently ‘experts’ have ruled out terrorists, probably because if it was terrorists something may have actually happened.

Rhys, who’s joined Gwen in front of the telly with a cuppa, asks if she thinks it is terrorists and as Gwen says no because terrorists bomb things, some woman on TV is crazyfying that judgement day is upon us. Man this ‘BBC feed’ device is so tired. It seems Buffy isn’t the only thing from which Chris ‘borrowed’. Oh, woman on telly says it’s ‘the end of days’, which makes no sense but gives us the title of tonight’s episode and leads us into the flick flick flick Torchwood.

"Sorry to barge in. I'm afraid we have a slight… apocalypse."
“Hand! Hey, that’s a quote from Buffy.”
“Well, I thought it appropriate under the circumstances.”
“Yes it is. So, what do you reckon? Do you really think Chris cut up little pieces of various Buffy scripts, threw them up in to the air and wrote the script based on what he could grab on their way down?”
“No I don’t, and that’s a terrible aspersion to cast on the creative talent behind this episode.”
“Yes!. He totally had bits of Angel and Doctor Who in there as well.”
“Oh, my bad.”

Anyway, all Buffy seasons have to end with an apocalypse so we cut to the hub where Ianto has inexplicably started quoting the Bible.
“And I heard, but did not understand and I said Master, what is the end of all these things? And he said go Daniel, for these things are closed up and sealed till the end of time.”

Gwen says the quote’s a “bit too close for comfort” and we cross over to Owen who’s investigating something to do with the hand in the jar.

“Hand, he said your jar is losing power. What will you do without your bubbles?”
“Enough sarcasm from you. Talk to the hand.”
“Oh, very funny.”
“Well, I wanted to say that at least once.”

Owen is clutching his shoulder as he asks sarcastically if Ianto is finished with his portents of doom. No, plenty more where that came from, says Ianto and he starts reading about Abaddon the great devourer. So, the world is ending and you’re going to throw quotes at it? Now there’s an innovative tactic.

“Yeah, thanks Ianto, I can do without the superstition,” says Jack then starts one of his ‘you funny humans’ story before launching into a pep talk about their next course of action. He says he’s been fielding calls from the Government, the CIA, Unit (high-five for UNIT) and a whole host of other people who all want to know just what Torchwood has done to imperil the fate of all existence. After all, it’s nearly been an entire year.

Tosh comes through with a statistical analysis of all the anomalous apocalyptic goings-on and it turns out Cardiff is the centre of the activity. Jack says the cracks in time are ripples and aftershocks caused by Owen’s recent bout of irresponsibility. Owen actually looks surprised that they would blame him and just because it was all his fault. How unfair.

“You opened the rift without knowing what you were doing. You’ve caused the temporal cracks to widen. Time is seeping through,” states Jack. Owen angrily says that Tosh and Jack would still be stuck in 1941 if it wasn’t for him (totally and rather conveniently forgetting the part where that particular motive was all sophistry) but the room isn’t on his side and he knows it. Ianto’s thinking he was right all along, Jack and Tosh are the two responsible ones, and no one cares about Gwen’s opinion ‘cause she’s such a complete goose. Owen’s pissed and says that instead of crying into their lattes they should do something about it.

Jack says that Phase 1 of the plan is to get everyone who’s fallen through time into the Hub’s vaults and then he’ll outline Phase 2. Owen is doing his regular routine of trying to divert attention from his culpability by putting the attention back on someone else. He’s saying that Jack can’t do anything to solve the situation, even though Jack has actually outlined a preliminary plan and Owen was complaining two seconds ago that they should stop talking and do something. Jack simply yells that they’ll think of something. “This is not the end of the world,” he says. And considering everything we’ve seen so far I’d have to agree. Couldn’t they have spent a bit longer establishing that something bad is going down?

Bleep bleep bleep bleep says the machine that goes ping and Ianto says there’s something happening at the hospital and a quarantine has been put in place. Owen says he’s off to deal with it and Jack basically says he doesn’t trust him so he’s assigning Tosh to go with him. Then Gwen the goose wades in on Owen’s side and starts prattling about his feelings. Um, Gwen, I know you’re the centre of the Universe and you’re feeling guilty about the whole Owen thing but I think deliberately and knowingly taking a course of action that could possibly end the world is reprimand time if I ever saw one. It’s not as if the whole thing was an accident. Jack essentially tells her he knows about the affair and as such her opinion doesn’t quite count for as much anymore. And she does exactly what Owen did by putting everything back on Jack to avoid the real issue.

Before Jack can retaliate, her phone rings. Oooh, it’s Constable Cutie! Oh, Constable Cutie, I’ve missed you. Anyway, Constable Cutie has a Roman soldier in his cells and says he didn’t know who else to call. Ghostbusters! Next scene, Jack’s trying to explain that Roman soldier fell through a crack in time. Constable Cutie’s sceptical (oh, his name’s Andy apparently; well you learn something new everyday) but asks ‘Mulder and Scully’ how he’s supposed to handle a prisoner who’s from 2000 years ago. Which one’s Mulder and which one’s Scully, do you think? The way this show’s going, Jack is both and Gwen is just someone who also happens to be in the room.

Jack notes that under any other circumstances, an angry Roman soldier would be his idea of a perfect morning but for now he’s going to tranquilise him and take him off Constable Cutie’s hands. He goes into the cells and we have more end of the world prattle between CC and Gwen. Yawn.

In the hospital, Tosh and Owen are all dressed up in quarantine suits. The suits, walls, floors and sheets on the beds are all white giving the whole scene a bleached look. A hospital employee of some kind is expositing that Patient 1 just appeared in the hospital then started coughing up blood. They isolated her but soon other staff started showing the same symptoms. Owen examines the first victim and even though I’ve already worked out it’s the Black Death there’s a long long time before he finally announces it. The good news is Owen seems to be ready to accept it’s his fault. The bad news is that Owen would sooner act to the detriment of others to make himself feel better then to wait around for the best solution to a problem. A guilty Owen is likely to make things worse.

As they leave, Owen recommends the standard treatment for Bubonic Plague but hospital guy isn’t letting him go so easily. He wants to know what they’re going to do about it because apparently everybody said that Torchwood would fix the problem. He must have seen the Torchwood ad on TV. Or maybe the Billboard? Na, it was probably just their standard community-paper advertisement.

Tosh says they’re working to stop the encroachments from the past and hospital guy starts yelling that it’s Torchwood’s responsibility to fix things. Owen says that people are going to start dropping through time with all sorts of diseases and they need to be ready. “Are you scared yet? ‘Cause fuck knows I am,” he yells and leaves. Tosh stays behind to remind hospital man to make sure the patients get their medicine and to call Torchwood if anything gets worse. “How much worse can it get?” asks hospital man and Tosh’s expression is, God knows but I don’t much like to think about it.

Outside the quarantine area, Tosh is looking for Owen when the film speed suddenly slows down, the soundtrack mutes and she sees an older Japanese woman standing staring at her in the corridor. “Mum,” she says disbelievingly, in Japanese, and her Mum says that the darkness is coming and that, if there’s no other way, Tosh will “have to do it”. Um, vague much? “Do what?” gasps Tosh but the vision is gone. Owen walks into the corridor and tells Tosh to stop pissing about. She looks around a bit wildly then follows him.

In the jail, the Roman soldier is now unconscious and Jack is scanning him with his sonic screwdriver. Gwen is saying…are you ready? If Owen could open the Riftmouth to get Jack and Tosh back, why can’t they do the same thing to get these people home? Since this is the end of the season, I will take this opportunity to ask for the last and final time: how stupid is this woman? They don’t know how to use the mysteriously-appearing rift manipulator safely and opening the Riftmouth was what caused all these fractures in the first place. Jack’s giving her his, ‘are you kidding’ look then ruins it with some bizarre response about how taking control of time is different from bringing two people back form the past. This is obviously one of those questions brought up in a story meeting where somebody says, why don’t they just?…and the writer has to have a character ask the question. Anyway, Jack ends it by asking if he’s ever let her down and Gwen’s face says ‘no’.

She turns around and walks off but stops when she suddenly hears her voice from inside a cell. She looks around and sees Doc Bilis. He’s not speaking, but in her head she hears the words, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Jack looks up to see her standing there staring at an empty cell and tells her to get on with it. She looks at him and when she looks back Doc is gone.

Back at the Hub, Jack is questioning Gwen’s vision of Bilis while they put still-unconscious Roman soldier in the cells. “What’s he got to be sorry for?” he asks but before Gwen can answer this obviously rhetorical question, Ianto comes in with a Weevil who’s moaning in a wee evil way. Gwen actually tells Ianto to shut the Weevil up (!) and Ianto says sure, got any suggestions as to how? Jack hypothesises that they might be time sensitive and can sense the disturbance in time emanating from the Riftmouth. So the Weevils are telepathic, time-sensitive and wear clothes. I said enough on this issue in Combat.

“We’re now full in all vaults across all nine levels,” says Ianto, forgetting to note that this is an aspect of Hub geography that he seems to have just totally made up. Then he says that there is room in the vaults below but that they’ve never used them before. Jack says fine then tells Gwen that following up her Dancehall buddy seems wise.

They leave but Ianto stays, staring at the Weevil moaning at him. I tell you, this thing is trying to communicate. There’s a flash in the lighting and when Ianto turns around, a very human Lisa is standing there in the corner. “Ianto,” she says and he flashes back to her death. “What do you want, why are you here?” he asks and then, “This isn’t happening.”

“There’s only one way to stop this before things gets worse,” she says. “People will die Ianto, thousands of people, unless you open the rift.” A flick of the lighting and once again he’s alone.

Upstairs, Owen’s back and he lets them know about the Black Death. “What! Oh my God,” yells Gwen helpfully and then I swear to God she starts looking around as though she’s trying to find the best place to have one of her patented panic attacks.
Tosh reports that the patients are being treated and the hospital’s quarantined. Owen notes that we have treatments for the Plague these days, but if something worse like Ebola or something from the future comes through then they’re screwed.

Then, because he’s freaked out and feels guilty and prefers action to planning, he turns on Jack and starts yelling at him to lead them and tell them what to do. “You’re all thinking it too,” he says to the others pointedly, “you’re the big man here, you keep all the secrets. Well now’s the time to tell us a few and tell us how the hell we’re going to get out of this.” Well, here we finally have the confrontation that they haven’t been building up to the whole season.

Jack turns around and then says the truth he’s been avoiding: there is no solution to the problem. If only Buffy were here, she’d know what to do. Oh sorry, the ‘right kind of Doctor’.
“This was never meant to happen,” he says, “The first thing you learn when you join Torchwood is ‘don’t mess with the rift’ (It is? If that’s the case, don’t you think someone might have mentioned it before this? Oh that’s right, they didn’t have a way of messing with the rift before the Riftmouth Manipulator’s sudden miraculous appearance last episode. Totally butted in on Jack’s sentence there, which ends like this) but you disobeyed those orders and now everything that’s happening is down to you.” Owen harps once again on how it was all to save the Cap’n and shouldn’t he get a medal for being so selfless? Jack’s answer is a definitive no.

“Who the fuck are you anyway?” yells Owen, “Jack Harkness! You don’t even exist, we’ve looked. So if you’re not even a real person then why should I follow your orders?” To which, Jack says fine, don’t follow them. In fact, bugger off. “I’m relieving you of your duty,” says Jack calmly. Gwen and Tosh say, “No!” but Jack’s adamant. “You’re done here,” he says and starts to walk away. Owen asks if the best Jack can do while the world’s coming to an end is fire him and, on the one hand he has a point but on the other, why bother keeping him there if all he does is disobey orders and whinge?

Gwen says they need to stick together but Jack makes the very good point that he can’t rely on Owen anymore. “If I can’t rely on you, if I don’t have your complete trust, you don’t belong here,” he says, “and that goes for the rest of you. Anyone who agrees with Owen, leave now.” But Owen is alone. He sadly notes that he probably has about 24 hours before Jack retcons him then hands back his equipment and says goodbye.

“Good luck with the end of the world,” he says and Gwen starts yelling at Jack to go after him. No Jack, please don’t. The best thing that could happen for Season 2 on this show is that Gwen goes after Owen, they both get retconned and we get new characters in their place. Ones that do their job without a constant ‘woe is me’ routine. Owen gets into the elevator to go to the surface and the orchestral music is momentous and I guess my main emotion at this point is not supposed to be relief that he’s gone? Didn’t think so.

On the streets of Cardiff town, Jack and Gwen are giving each other the cold shoulder as they track down the shop belonging to Doc Bilis. It’s imaginatively called a ‘Stitch in Time’.

The sounds of time ticking away fill the shop as Jack and Gwen walk in. Jack notes that Doc seems to scavenge antique pieces from the past and then sell them in the present. “We all have to earn a living,” says Doc as he enters the room from behind them. Jack says that Doc is from 1941 and Doc notes that Jack was as well.

“How can you be in two time zones at once?” asks Gwen and I nearly die with shock because that is actually a good question. “I can step across years, like you’d walk into another room,” explains Doc, “At first it was the most incredible gift. Now I know the reality; it’s a curse.” Gwen asks why and he looks past the camera with spooky eyes and says, “I can see the whole of history but I don’t belong anywhere within it.” He sounds like a Timelord; something that I expect Jack to realise. But as he steps forward, seemingly to speak, he doesn’t. Instead Doc outlines the impact their return to the present day had on the space-time rift under Cardiff: time splintered and according to Doc the only way to stop the effects is to open the Rift completely and let it suck back what it let through.

Jack looks sceptical and says, “no way”. He says that if they open the rift millions of people’s lives will be in danger and Doc counters that their lives are already imperilled. Jack pulls his gun on Doc and tells him that since he knows so much he’s coming back to the Hub. Doc apologises and flicks out of existence.

Jack says, “trace the temporal activity around this location, we need to find out where he is,” but I don’t know if he’s talking to Gwen or if his Bluetooth connection is on and his instructions are for the Hub. Either way, he runs out and Gwen is temporarily left alone in the store. Doc takes this opportunity to flick back and give her a vision of Rhys lying dead and bloodied in their apartment. Gwen doesn’t stop to question Doc’s motives or in fact anything; she just races off to save her boyfriend.

In the apartment of relationship angst, Gwen races in to find Rhys safe and well. She stuns him and then apologises.

In a Bar somewhere, Owen is drowning his sorrows. Did he break in ‘cause there’s nobody else there, not even a bartender? He hears his name, once, twice and then spins around to see Dianne standing behind him.

“I’m lost, Owen,” she says, “please bring me back Owen, you can do that can’t you?”
He says he doesn’t know because everything is out of sync and she’s still begging him to ‘bring her back’. A man comes between them and the spell is broken. Suddenly there’s loud music and bar staff and Dianne is gone.

Back in the Hub, Gwen has locked Rhys in the basement cells and does anybody else think this is a bad plan? Surely if he’s in danger he’d be better off upstairs with everyone else? Oh, I forgot: it was in the script.

Anyway, Rhys comes to and wants to know why she’s locked him in an ill-lit basement with only a few breathing holes in the door. He says he’s taken some shit over the past three months (it’s only been three months? Now her affair with Owen is even more ridiculous). Gwen asks him to trust her and tells him she loves him. Then she leaves him alone.

Upstairs, she asks Tosh to pull up the CCTV of the vaults so she can keep an eye on him and Tosh says she doesn’t understand how Doc was able to give Gwen a vision. Gwen explains that the vision was so real, the flat was her flat, she can still feel his blood on her hands. Jack comes over, takes her hand in his and says it’s not going to happen. Except that Doc is obviously manipulating her and he wanted Rhys in the cells for some nefarious purpose.

Ah, I think nefarious purpose is about to be revealed because the lights flicker and Tosh says they have an intruder. Downstairs, the door to Rhys’ cell opens and as he steps out into the corridor, Doc appears out of nowhere and stabs him.

Scene the next, Gwen bursts into the cells with Jack behind her and finds Rhys on the floor in puddles and puddles and lakes and oceans of blood. Jack checks his pulse and yells at her that there’s nothing they can do and she holds Rhys’ body to her and screams.

Rhys is on the slab in the autopsy room and a washed-out Gwen is sitting there, numbly watching him while Jack wipes her hand clean of the blood. Gwen’s saying that she’s going to have to tell his family that he’s dead. Ianto says “they’ll deal with him” and Gwen says that it’s her responsibility and he’s not a problem to be ‘dealt with’. Tosh says she’s sorry and Gwen laughs rather nastily and says that Tosh never met him. And that says more about Gwen than Tosh, really, but this is quite a little powerful scene so I’ll just let it unfold.

Jack puts down Gwen’s hand as she goes somewhat manic and states, smiling, that if you’re with Torchwood you end up alone. “Not me,” Gwen’s voice has dropped and is deep and quite powerful, “no way.” None of the others will meet her eyes. Gwen says Jack has to bring him back and…

...Jack says no and…

…all hell breaks loose…literally…

Gwen says there’s something wrong with time so they can go back and stop it from happening because if they can’t then WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT OF YOU! She loses it, leaping across the room and banging on Jack’s chest demanding that he bring Rhys back. Jack’s holding her and crying too and…

…Owen bursts in, sees Rhys lying there and Gwen crying and says, “Holy shit”. He comes down the stairs and ignores Tosh who’s all happy to have him back (Tosh my dear, you could do so much better, really) and tries to pry Gwen off Jack to comfort her but she’s in devoted partner grieving mode and wants no reminder of her previous crimes. Her voice breaks as she tells Owen not to touch her.

Owen finally sees an opening for his personal crusade and tells Jack he’s going to fix this by opening the Riftmouth. Jack looks at Ianto and Tosh and tells them to stop Owen. Ianto says no, Tosh says she’s going to help him and Gwen follows. She stops to tells Jack that Owen’s right because Doc said that if they opened the rift then everything will go back to normal and emotional trauma aside I don’t know how these people can believe anything so obviously blatantly antithetical to logic but then brains was never the main prerequisite for a job at Torchwood.

In the Hub, the music is telling us to get excited and mostly to ignore the fact that for some reason they have to ‘enter emergency protocol 1’ and that Gwen, who has no computing or mathematical knowledge, takes over to enter the mysterious ‘rift-opening equation’.

Jack comes up into the Hub with his gun and tries to stop them. Tosh is horrified that he would point a gun at them, but since they’re about to kill millions I don’t really blame him. They try to reason with him and he notes that in only a day they’ve become a united front against them. He says this is all part of Doc’s plan, but they’re too narcissistic to see anything but their own selfish needs, and he tells them a few home truths about their actions and motivations, finishing up with Gwen being so in love with Rhys that she spends half her time shagging Owen. At this, Gwen clocks him one, yells ‘fuck you’ and Owen grabs his gun.

Gwen turns to the machine and discovers that they now need every Torchwood employee’s retinal prints to open the Riftmouth. Jack must have installed this since last week, which shows just how much he trusts his employees. Well Jack, you hired ‘em.

Owen has the gun and as Jack gets up he yells at him to get back down. Jack taunts him about needing bigger balls to shoot somebody (which just goes to show how unaware he is of what a prat Owen truly is) and so Owen shots him…straight in the head. Gwen once again looks shocked and horrified, even though she alone of all of them knows that he can’t die. Urgh.
“I’m sick of people doubting me,” says Owen because that’s a justifiable motive. Having trouble making friends and influencing people? Try murder! Once shot between the eyes and I can guarantee they’ll never say anything negative to you again!

Still in the Hub, the fact that their brand new leader seemingly just slaughtered somebody in cold blood has not dissuaded the gang from their course of action. They’re obviously thinking that a mild genocide every now and then is really just part of their job. Owen takes a photo of Jack’s eye and they use it to feed all of Torchwood’s retinal patterns into the computer. Apparently, opening the Riftmouth will endanger the Hub’s infrastructure but hey, what the hell? Only live once, right?

As Gwen presses the Ok button, the opening of the Riftmouth is signified by a loud blaring sound from the Hub’s alarms and the Weevils escaping. A light shoots up the bit in the middle that looks likes a Tardis console and Jack wakes with a loud intake of breath. “What have you done?” he demands and Gwen’s all shocked even though, what did you think would happen, goose?

All the Rift-affected people start disappearing and Torchwood, instead of shutting the Rift down, stagger outside to find Doc waiting triumphantly in the street.

And can I just take a brief hiatus to point out what the annoying thing is about this episode? And I mean the most annoying thing. Parts of it are really really good. Eve Myles has just reminded us she can act; Jack dances around OTT but manages not to go overboard; the scenes where the main characters are being manipulated by their lost loved ones are quite powerful; and Owen shooting Jack in the head was very well done even if we know that he can’t die. Bilis Manger is also a gloriously creepy bad guy, so long as you ignore the fact that both he and this storyline are straight from Buffy, along with absolutely everything else. So although the overall quality of Torchwood is pretty poor, the episode up until now has not been that bad despite the usual plot holes you could drive entire Indian traffic jams, compete with cows and camels, through. But, to misquote the Boys from the Dwarf: everything from here on in gets rather silly.

As they’re standing in the street, Doc gives one of his patented creepy looks and says, “from out of the darkness, he is come. The son of the Great Beast, cast out before time, chained in rock and imprisoned beneath the rift. All hail, Abaddon, the Great Devourer, come to feast on life.”

No seriously, that’s actually what he said. That was his genuine dialogue: I didn’t make it up. Oh, and ‘bottom of the rift’. How can a rift in time and space have a “bottom”?

The gang looks up in horror and sees…a giant marshmallow man! Actually, that would have been more realistic and, the way this show is going, not entirely unexpected. But instead, my God! It’s a huge, computer-generated demon actually clomping across Cardiff but inexplicably not levelling any buildings. I’m surprised it wasn’t picking up handfuls of people and spitting bits of them out of its mouth as it chewed them with its big nasty teeth.

Doc explains that people die beneath his shadow (?!?) and as baby demon clomps through downtown Cardiff, people run screaming until his shadow falls upon them and they drop dead.

Doc says his work is done and Gwen looks around all like shocked and horrified because of all the people she’s killed. Then she comes up to Jack and asks him how they’re going to stop it, “tell me what to do.” Well, my suggestion was that she go and stand under the shadow but unfortunately she’s one of the stars of the show so you know, no luck. Jack tells her to get him to an open space.

In a field in Cardiff, the VOC pulls up and Jack jumps out, seemingly constipated, or something (no seriously, what is it with that pained expression and funny walk?). Jack says that if Abaddon feeds on life then let’s see how he copes with an inexpensive all-you-can-eat Jackmeister buffet. Gwen’s yelling, “no Jack, no,” as though she didn’t stand by and watch him being shot 10 minutes ago after totally undermining his authority, punching him, and doing something really homicidally wrong directly against his express orders. Jack just tells her to get out of there (so why did he bring her?).

Clomp clomp says baby demon: son of the Great Beast who existed before time and the Universe but somehow managed to procreate. Was it sexual reproduction, do you think? Is there a Mama of baby demon ‘destroyer of worlds’ out there somewhere? Maybe. Maybe not.

As Gwen watches, crying crocodile tears, demon clomps over to Jack who does stand there quite heroically waiting for it to come and get him because because life is his gift or something. The shadow falls over him and he starts screaming as the energy of the vortex streams out of him, suffusing the demon who, in the best tradition of Torchwood writing, explodes. Oh alright, it just glows white and disappears. Jack collapses and we…

…cut to another shot of unconscious Jack with Gwen running up to him and we…

…cut to another shot of unconscious Jack with goosy Gwen crying over him and we…

…cut to the apartment of relationship angst where Gwen runs in to find Rhys alive and well. Ok, how did opening the rift reverse time? Anyhoo, Gwen kisses him and she’s all happy and relieved and for some reason has been given yet another 'get out of jail free' card by the writers.

Back at the Hub, Jack is still unconscious i.e. dead and I must admit they’ve made him up to be a very attractive corpse. Death, as they say, does become him. Gwen finally tells the team that Jack told her he couldn’t die. She decides to sit with him, which would be all noble and sweet or something except, you know, she's a hypocritical bitch.

We have a short montage of Gwen sitting with him, demanding that he wake up, before cutting to Owen who asks Tosh how long Gwen is going to keep this up. In Jack’s office, Ianto is crying and cleaning up his desk. He takes down Jack’s coat and…smells it? Oookay.

“It’s been days,” says Tosh, who’s waiting with Gwen in the cryo chamber. Gwen has Vala hair and stays looking at Jack as though she’s about to say her goodbyes. She takes his hand and finally kisses him and starts to walk away. Oh, it’s the kiss of life, Sleeping Beauty! Interesting subtext. Anyway, Jack's voice says “Thank you,” behind her and she runs back and he’s weak but smiling.

In the Hub, Gwen walks in with Jack in tow. Tosh runs and hugs him, Ianto comes over and Jack totally lays one on him. Owen starts crying and Jack says he forgives him. No, goddamnit, no! Don’t forgive him! He’ll be in next season now. Goddamnit.

In Jack’s office, Gwen is asking Jack about the rift and he said it closed up when Abaddon was destroyed. This makes no sense but, you know what? This episode and this entire season is nearly over so, yay! Gwen mentions their Conversations with Dead People but instead of asking for the explanation we’d all like about what the hell that was about, who caused it and how they did it, she asks what Jack saw and Jack says he saw nothing. Then she asks what would have tempted Jack to open the rift. And Jack says, “The right kind of Doctor.”

He gets up and leaves the room wondering when the rest of the gang is coming back, ‘cause after nearly causing the end of the world, they've gone to get coffee. Bubble bubble, says the Hand and it starts to glow and pulsate. We hear the grind of the Tardis engines and when Gwen comes out of the office to find him…Jack is gone.

Back from their coffee run, the gang ask what’s happened and Gwen says that “something’s taken him, Jack’s gone.” And we pan out from the gang, above the Hub to Cardiff by day and…the end.

Wow. I know I should come up with some concluding thoughts about the final episode and the series generally but the most I can muster after these marathon thirteen weeks is the obvious: continuity, character development and originality. You need more characters and you need to introduce some that people like and want to watch. Just as the best comedies are the ones that can make you cry, the best dramas are the ones that can also make you laugh. We'd all be more forgiving of Torchwood's incompetence if they could laugh at themselves so more humour, people.

Mostly though, I will now be relaxing in the hope that my incipient alcoholism caused mostly by watching Torchwood really slowly will not come to fruition. Another martini? Yes, why not...after all there's always Season 2.

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