Tuesday 12 December 2017

End of Days - Torchwood 1.13

In which the consequences of Owen opening the Rift begin to be felt. Reports start coming into the Hub of strange appearances across the globe. A fleet of spaceships is seen above the Taj Mahal in India, and figures in historical costume begin to turn up, such as Civil War era soldiers on the streets of London. Tosh runs a computer simulation which shows that Cardiff is at the epicentre of these occurrences, with cracks spreading out across the planet. Jack and Gwen go to the police station after she receives a call for help from her ex-colleague Andy. In the cells he has a Roman soldier. Owen and Tosh meanwhile respond to calls from the hospital. Strange illnesses are being seen. Owen sees a woman who is dressed in medieval fashion, and he realises that the people falling through the cracks in time are bringing sicknesses with them - such as the Black Death. Tosh has a vision of her mother, who tells her that darkness is coming and she must open the Rift to stop all this.
Back at the Hub, Jack blames events on Owen, who is angry as he only opened the Rift to save Jack and Tosh from being trapped in the 1940's.

Gwen briefly sees a vision of Bilis Manger, and later Ianto sees his girlfriend Lisa in the cell area, as she was before she fell into the hands of the Cybermen. She urges him to open the Rift. Jack and Owen argue further, and things come to a head. Jack sacks Owen, who leaves the Hub. He goes to a bar to drown his sorrows, and sees Diane Holmes. She tells him that if he opens the Rift she can come back to him. Jack and Gwen track down Bilis Manger to a shop specialising in antique time pieces. He explains that he can travel through time with ease. He vanishes. Jack leaves, but Bilis returns and shares a vision with Gwen. She sees Rhys dead, covered in blood. She rushes home to find him alright, but insists that he be taken to the Hub for protection. He is knocked out and put in one of the cells. Soon after, the power fails in the Hub. Rhys is confronted by Bilis Manger, who stabs and kills him. Rhys' body is taken to the mortuary area, where Gwen is furious at Jack for failing to save him. Owen returns, and insists that they must open the Rift to correct everything. Jack refuses, and accuses each member of the team of acting against him at one point or another. Tensions mount, and Owen shoots Jack dead. The rest of the team then open the Rift.

History seems to have been reset, with Rhys alive again. Everyone - except for Gwen, who has seen this before - is shocked to see Jack revive. The city is hit by an earth tremor. They all rush outside to see what is happening, and find Bilis, who speaks in awe of the Beast named Abaddon. He has manipulated them all in order to free this creature - a massive, grey-skinned demon which is the son of the Beast encountered by the Doctor and Rose on Krop-Tor. Anyone whom its shadow falls upon drops dead. Jack asks to be taken to a piece of wasteland away from the city. He knows he cannot die, so he will allow the creature to feed on him. As it lives on death, so his immortality destroys it. Jack is left lifeless. He is taken back to the Hub, but fails to revive. Gwen refuses to leave his body, and eventually he returns to life. His colleagues are amazed to see Gwen bring him back upstairs. He pardons them all for acting against him - especially Owen. Some time later, the team hear a strange wheezing, groaning sound. When they go to investigate they discover that Jack has vanished...

End of Days was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 1st January, 2007. BBC 3 elected to show it immediately after Episode 12. It marks the finale of the first series.
As this has a different writer it is not, technically, the second half of a two-part story, though the events here are a result of actions taken in Captain Jack Harkness - namely Owen's opening of the Rift - and we have the return of Bilis Manger.
When Jack berates his team for their failings, he references a number of earlier episodes - e.g. Tosh jumping into bed with any alien who offered her a pendant. After Cyberwoman, this episode features the closest links to its parent programme. UNIT is mentioned. When asked what sort of vision might have tempted Jack to open the Rift, he says "The right kind of Doctor", and his disappearance at the end is foreshadowed by the sound of the TARDIS materialisation, with the Doctor's hand bubbling away in its jar. The ending is obviously a set up for Jack's return to Doctor Who in Utopia, though it would be half a year before we saw how this panned out.

Fans weren't terribly impressed by this story, feeling that the massive CGI demon stomping over Cardiff was a bit overblown. The first series overall had been patchy, to say the least. Clearly this was a series that its makers really didn't know what to do with. The biggest complaints were the unlikeability of the team members, and the throwing out of everything that had made Captain Jack popular in Doctor Who. Being "adult" seems to have been translated as being poe-faced.
At least we get to see more of the wonderful Murray Melvin as Bilis Manger. The series could have done with him being seeded through it from an earlier point. Also rejoining the programme here we have Caroline Chikezie, as Lisa, and Louise Delamere as Diane. Tosh's mother is played by Noriko Aida, who we will see a little more of in the second series episode Fragments.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment. At least Jack gets to tell his team what he thinks of them, which clears the air a little for the second series, which will be much better.
Things you might like to know:

  • This episode started of as End of Days, but was then renamed "Apocalypse", before reverting back to End of Days.
  • The ending doesn't exactly match up with what we see at the start of Utopia. Here, the implication seems to be that the TARDIS has materialised in the Hub itself. Jack hears the sound, as do the rest of the team who then find paperwork blown all round the room. In the Doctor Who story, however, the TARDIS has landed up in the plaza, so it's unknown how its arrival managed to create the wind in the Hub. Jack might have enhanced hearing, but it's unlikely all the others would have heard it.
  • The Beast from The Satan Pit was also referred to as Abaddon, though here it is claimed that it is that creature's offspring.
  • The spaceships which are seen hovering over the Taj Mahal appear to be Jathaa Sungliders, one of which was seen in Torchwood One's warehouse in Army of Ghosts. The clip of the Indian monument is also taken from that story, where it was seen first with "ghosts" then with Cybermen in front of it.
  • We get a quick history lesson from Gwen when she and Jack find that PC Andy has a Roman soldier in his cells. She mentions Caerleon - the Roman fort which is situated just outside Newport. Romans did not speak the Latin that some of us might have learned at school, but a version known as Vulgar Latin.

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