In which the Torchwood team pursue an alien Blowfish through the streets of Cardiff. The creature has stolen a sports car, and is high on alcohol and drugs. It abandons the vehicle and runs into a house, taking one of the family there hostage. As the team attempt to negotiate, it becomes clear that the alien will not co-operate. A shot rings out and it falls to the floor dead - a bullet through its brain. Everyone turns to see Jack, his gun raised. He asks if they have missed him...
Back at the Hub, Jack finds that his return has not been universally welcomed. His colleagues are angry that he disappeared without any explanation. In his absence, Gwen has become the de facto team leader - and she is now engaged to Rhys. An alarm sounds, indicating Rift activity in the area. On the upper level of a multi-storey car park a uniformed figure emerges from the Rift. A mugger is robbing someone close by. The man intervenes, and the mugger is thrown to his death. Torchwood trace the man to a nearby bar, where he has forced everyone to flee. Jack orders his colleagues to stand back. He and the man embrace passionately, then start a fist fight, before having a drink together. Jack introduces everyone to his old Time Agency colleague Captain John Hart.
Back at the Hub, John manages to offend everyone before revealing why he has come here. He claims that a number of powerful bombs have been scattered around Cardiff, which must be found in the next few hours before they detonate. The team agree to split up to search for the devices. Owen will accompany Tosh to a large warehouse, Jack and Ianto will go to an office block, and John will go with Gwen to the container terminal at the docks. The device at the docks is located hidden in one of the containers. However, John uses a toxic paralysing drug on Gwen, and leaves her locked in the container, throwing away her phone. He goes to the warehouse, where he shoots and wounds Owen before removing the second device. At the office block, he locates Jack on the roof - and throws him off. Owen's wounds are not serious, and he and Tosh locate Ianto. They go to the docks and manage to find Gwen in time to stop the toxin.
John now has all three of the devices, and he returns with them to the Hub. However, the team are all waiting for him. John is shocked to see that Jack is still alive. He is forced to give the real explanation of what the devices are. It transpires that they are the components to a machine that will tell him where a fabulous treasure is located. He and a partner had been searching for this, but she is now dead. The machine is assembled, and a hologram appears - a message from the dead partner. She explains that she knew that John would betray her, so she left a trap. Instead of giving the treasure's location, the device attaches itself to John's chest, homing in on his DNA. It is a bomb, which will explode in a few minutes. John handcuffs himself to Gwen. If the team don't save him, she will die as well. They return to the roof of the car park where John first arrived. If the worst comes to the worst, he will be thrown back into the Rift to save the city. Owen has collected blood samples from the whole team, and he mixes them together and injects them into John. This confuses the bomb, as his DNA has altered, and the device falls off. It is thrown into the Rift and explodes, resetting time to the moment when John first arrived. He is allowed to depart back through the Rift. However, he leaves a message for Jack - telling him that he has found someone called Gray, which shocks Jack...
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 16th January 2008. Following the success of the first series, Torchwood would now be broadcast on BBC 2 instead of the more niche BBC 3. The episode shows Jack's return to his team after his sojourn with the Doctor and Martha in the concluding three episodes of Doctor Who's third season. Their lack of involvement in the events of The Sound of Drums had been explained in that episode, when the Master told Jack that he had sent his friends off on a wild goose chase to the Himalayas.
Some time must have passed since End of Days, as Gwen has now become engaged to boyfriend Rhys.
We begin to learn a little more about Jack's background, as we are introduced to a fellow Time Agent - another Captain called John Hart (Buffy's James Marsters). He is a sort of anti-Jack - funny, sexy but totally untrustworthy. He is heavily armed, and wears an odd mix of military uniform elements. Marsters had contacted the production team as he wanted to appear in the programme - and it was well known that Buffy was one of the shows Russell T Davies wanted to model his new version of Doctor Who on. There is also mention of Gray - whose identity and fate will be revealed mid-season, before he makes a devastating appearance in the series finale.
Torchwood have never made their presence in Cardiff very secret, driving around the city in a big black SUV with the word "Torchwood" stamped on it. During the opening car chase, a woman crossing the road after encountering the Blowfish mutters "Bloody Torchwood...".
The Blowfish is one of those aliens common to RTD stories, where a new creature is simply a humanoid with an animal's head - in this case a lion fish, inspired by the film Finding Nemo. All we know of them is that they are irresponsible thrill-seekers. We will see one more of their kind - which meets the same fate as this one - later in the series, before they finally turn up as part of the Pandorica Alliance, rather bizarrely.
The story title derives from James Bond - in particular the movie Thunderball. That film's title song was originally going to be called "Mr Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang".
Overall, it is a promising start to the new series - funny and fast. Someone like Captain John is just the sort of character who was missing from the first season.
Things you might like to know:
- A little more on the Bond connection. Thunderball features a nightclub called Club Kiss Kiss. An Italian journalist had described the cinema Bond as "Mr Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". The film had this as its title song, as we've said - sung initially by Cardiff's own Shirley Bassey. This version was deemed not quite right, so it was re-recorded by Dionne Warwick, with a longer instrumental part. The producers were still not happy, so a new song was composed, called "Thunderball" and sung by that other great Welsh export Tom Jones.
- It was originally intended that Captain John would first appear from the Rift riding a pan-dimensional surf-board - as had first featured in Boom Town. It was decided that it would be cooler if he just simply strode out onto the car park roof.
- Barrowman and Marsters did almost all of their own stunts in the bar-room sequence, which took a whole day to shoot. Marsters had learned a lot of martial arts for his role as Spike in Buffy and Angel.
- John lets Torchwood know where he is by sending a hologram message to Jack's Vortex Manipulator - thus facilitating a Star Wars reference as he says "Help me, Obi-Wan...".
- John is somewhat disappointed with the name "Torchwood" and suggests some alternative titles. One of these is "Excalibur" - which is what Torchwood was originally going to be called.
- Russell T Davies was going to write this episode and got as far as the opening Blowfish in a sports car pre-titles sequence before he handed it over to Chibnall.