Torchwood: Immortal Sins

Posted on August 20, 2011

Dammit.

We hoped we could get through these reviews without getting too far into the weeds of Doctor Who continuity because we assumed the show, in search of a larger American audience, would have offered just enough backstory on Jack and Torchwood without going too far into the whys and wherefores of it all. But not only did they wallow around in some obscure Who-viana (The Trickster’s Brigade and its seemingly endless supply of history-altering bugs and slugs), they seem to have contradicted a huge chunk of Jack’s backstory.

The short version: Jack was a time-traveling con man from the 51st Century who hooked up with the Doctor when they met up during WWII, traveled through time to the far flung future, died, and was resurrected by a companion of the Doctor’s who briefly gained the power of a god to alter reality. He was left in the future by the Doctor but managed to travel backwards in time in the hopes of meeting up with the Doctor and getting some answers as to why he was suddenly immortal. He overshot his mark and wound up in 1869 in Cardiff and no way to time travel. Immortal, he spent the major portion of the next 135+ years working for Torchwood and waiting for the Doctor to return. Eventually he did and in 2007 he finally got an answer from the Doctor as to why he’s immortal and why the Doctor can’t cure him of that.

And yet in last night’s episode, we saw a Jack in 1927 who seemed pretty aware of why and how he’s immortal. That doesn’t quite scan (Edit: See the comments section for a pretty good explanation). The other thing that doesn’t quite scan is the inference that Jack’s immortality is somehow biological. That’s not how it was explained before nor is it how his immortality has been shown to work. According to the Doctor, he’s immortal because he’s a “fixed point in time” and cannot be altered. In other words, it is a “fixed point” that Jack Harkness is always alive and well. During those times when he’s not alive or well, reality fixes itself to make it so. That’s how we’ve always understood it and a lot of his resurrections (like coming back from being blown to bits) supported this. We’ve always assumed that Jack’s body is perfectly normal. It’s reality that keeps him immortal.

But with the gruesome scenes of his evisceration at the hands of bloodthirsty Catholics (WTF?), there’s a heavy inference that there’s something in his blood worth looking into. And when three strange men show up and give a secret 3-part handshake that forms a triangle (dun dun DUN!!!!!), it’s implied not only that his blood is worthy, but that it has something to do with Miracle Day.

Hunh. We don’t know how to deal with that. If there’s some slight retconning of Jack’s background, we don’t particularly mind. If his immortal state is explained as purely biological in nature, that’s going to be harder to accept. Still, the fact that Jack was earlier going on about “morphic fields” tells us the answer to Miracle Day is a little more complicated than whatever may be found in Jack’s blood. We’re just disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be any aliens involved. This entire story comes down to Jack sleeping with the wrong guy.

Don’t get us wrong, they hooked us at the end with the reveal of who seems to be behind everything. We can’t even try and formulate a theory about where this is going and that’s a damn good thing in a serialized story. But there’s going to have to be a near-perfect dismount on this story in order for everything to work and make sense. Given how rocky the episodes have been so far, we’re not entirely confident that we’re going to love all the explanations.

What we DID love was that this felt exactly like a very good early episode of Torchwood. Despite all the backstory and time-jumping going on, at its heart, this was a story about Torchwood; specifically Jack and Gwen’s Torchwood (with a fantastic last-minute save by Rex and Esther). Jack had some great moments in this story, but Eve Myles tore up the screen as Gwen.

We discovered Gwen free of online fandom and opinions when we started watching the original show on Netflix. We were surprised to find out later that a vocal portion of the show’s fans detested the character. We always loved her for being passionate and fun, but also occasionally morally questionable and even unlikeable. We like characters that aren’t always easy to pin down and Gwen definitely fits that bill. Watching her tearfully tell Jack she’d kill him in a second to get her baby back in her arms was both heartbreaking and thrilling. Watching her stoically accept his response that he’d rip her face from her skull before he’d let that happen, you see she’s a warrior who understands and respects another warrior’s threat but doesn’t flinch from it. And having her admit that despite all the pain in her life that its caused, she loves her time with Torchwood and loves that it makes her feel special because she knows secrets and she’s survived past almost all of her original teammates was a bold move on the part of the writer. It’s a revelation that makes her sound selfish if you’re only looking at the surface, but to us, it made her all the more human. Of course the hero loves being the hero because it confirms to them that they’re special. It’s just that you rarely ever hear a hero admit that. We thought that was a fantastic revelation and one that informs all of Gwen’s actions, both backwards and forwards.

And yes, we did a little cheer at the end when Rex and Esther showed up. This team is finally feeling like a team. Even though the jaw-dropping threat delivered at the end of last week’s episode was nullified so quickly we think we got whiplash,  Andy got to shoot a bad guy and that’s always worth watching. By the way, with the ovens temporarily shut down, what’s going on with Gwen’s father?

A mostly fun episode, even if it did drag quite a bit in the flashbacks. We think you could have told the story of Jack and Angelo without so much screentime. Despite the gay sex on display, it mostly bored and us and we only really sat up straight when we flashed back to Jack and Gwen in the car. But if you’re going to hinge this story on a heretofore-unheard-of relationship of Jack’s, we suppose you have to spend the time setting up in order to pay it off down the road.

So where is this going? Honestly, we have no clue. And like we said, that speaks well of the story in a lot of ways. Although the sense that the ending is going to disappoint keeps growing. Russell T Davies is always good about the buildup, but not always so good about the payoff. We’ll see.

Oh, and one more thing: two episodes in a row without Oswald Danes or endless discussions about a healthcare crisis is making this story far more palatable and fun. More and more, the earlier episodes are looking like a lot of filler. We’re sure Danes and Phicorp and all of that will pay off, but we’re not so sure we needed to spend that much time on them.

    • http://twitter.com/loserfairy loserfairy

      SIGH. I’m having a hard time liking Starz’s Torchwood, because it seems to deviate from it’s source material that it may as well be a whole different series. They’re absolutely throwing away what happened with the Doctor and it disappoints me. How can anything about Jack’s immortality be biological, when he was simply brought back to life by a surge from the Time Vortex? OH WELL.

      • MilaXX

        I can’t be too upset about jack being mortal knowing that he’s the face of Boe which means at some point he once again becomes immortal. I try not to remember that, but then I watch the DW repeats and remember.

        • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

          Not necessarily true — in one episode (the one with the cat nurses) of DW, the Face of Boe is near to death, supposedly, and it’s implied that some day the Face will die.  And the evolution of Jack into the Face of Boe does suggest that there’s something going on that still isn’t understood — Jack doesn’t age, so how does he evolve?  The Face of Boe thing is very confusing….

          • MilaXX

            I phrased that wrong. What I should have said is that Jack lives long enough to become the Face of Boe and by how revered he is I assume the Face of Boe is very important. Perhaps, that’s the importance of Jack being a fixed point? I agree the Face of Boe thing is very confusing.

            • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

              I’m still not totally sure that Jack IS the Face.  I keep waiting to find out that the Face was just something he somehow caused that named itself after him, honestly.  Mainly because I can’t figure out HOW he evolves that way!  It’s one of the more frustrating things about DW for me:) 

            • MilaXX

              Could be. I just hope they don;t leave that bit dangling. I’d really like to know about Boe.

            • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

              I know, me too!  I never believe anything I see or hear in DW until it’s SO firmly established that they CAN’T change their mind — too many times I’ve gotten burned:)

            • Anonymous

              Same way the Doctor ends up looking like a very weirdly shaped person at the end of S3, perhaps? Just gets older and older and older – he explicitly does age, just really slowly.

            • http://twitter.com/chelwi Christine

              RTD hasn’t confirmed (and he says he won’t) that Jack is or will become the Face of Boe. He thinks of it as just a joke. There’s a snippet about it on the Face of Boe wiki page. Yes, I’ve read it and explicitly remember it. :)

            • MilaXX

              I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.

          • Anonymous

            Doesn’t TFOB actually die in that episode?

            • http://twitter.com/Athenabast Athena Bast

              The Face of Boe appears in 2 episodes. It’s implied that Jack is the Face at the end of one ep that has him wondering what he’s going to become since he’ll still age while being immortal. While he’s running off he mentions how on some worlds he’s known as the Face of Boe. This has The Doctor and (I forget the companion at the time) in disbelief as to the correlation.

            • Anonymous

              Actually he appears in three episodes – two Rose episodes and a Martha episode. And I’m pretty sure he dies at the end of the third (Gridlock, a Martha episode. the one with the massive, three-dimensional traffic jam). I’ve always taken from that, because I like the Jack-is-the-Face canon, that Jack’s fixed-point immortality is either semi-biological or limited somehow, because the Face does die of old age/using up his life force to help others – something Jack’s been able to do in the past.

              The episode in which it’s implied that he’s the FOB is also a Martha episode – I think it’s the end of that season (OK, I gave up and Wiki’d, yes, it’s right at the end of S3, Last of the Timelords).

    • Anonymous

      I am impressed with your knowledge of Who obscure trivia, because I was far from reading all that into this episode myself. I did squeal “aliens, finally” when the wormy bug appeared. Mostly I enjoyed this episode, and the lack of Danes and Jilly was refreshing. It may be the the first of this series I will rewatch, especially so I will better catch the Who discontinuity. The back story with Angelo could indeed have been condensed. The drama with Jack and Gwen in the car was top-notch, I felt their passion and anger, especially Gwen’s.

      The moments with the continuous stabbings and beatings Jack endured were especially horrific. I was cringing.

    • http://twitter.com/bentley1530 F E B

      Really enjoyed this episode.  I did not mind the flashbacks and in fact I am still wondering if there is more to the Angelo than we know like why did try to steal Captain Jack’s identity.  Also my brain does not compute time travel so I will go with the flow on what Jack knew and when he knew it.  Lastly, I love when they remind us that Jack is not a nice guy and never was.  He has schemed, lied and killed his way across the universe and he has been tortured and killed and betrayed by lovers (including Ianto) more times than we can count.

    • http://twitter.com/lbcubbison Laurie Cubbison

      It’s the “heretofore-unheard-of relationship of Jack’s” bit that always drives me up the wall. I felt the same way about Jack’s daughter in COE. I never really get the sense from Davies’ writing that he builds from season to season, so all these important relationships just seem to pop up out of nowhere. I never really cared for Gwen because she’s not someone I identify with, but I was there in the online fandom, and I saw all the Gwen-bashing. A lot seemed to be based on a disconnect between what Davies said about her in interviews as the entry character and how fans saw the more unpleasant aspects of her personality (the selfishness you mention). Plus many of the fans fell in love with Ianto, and they resented Gwen on his behalf.

      • MilaXX

        In Series 2 (I think) didn’t Jack have a box of old photos of himself? I think one even included a wedding photo. So the daughter story was believable to me, because I could see Jack getting lonely enough to marry and have a child even knowing it wasn’t a good idea since he’d outlive everyone.

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        See, that’s never bothered me.  I mean, in DW, River Song just came out of nowhere and has since become fairly critical.   In a world that spans that much, there’s always going to be things that haven’t been mentioned that come up?  I mean, look at how long Gallifrey was talked up during Tennant’s series, only to find out he was the one to lock it away because it became such a horrible place.

    • Lindsay Jolin

      I have to say this was my favorite episode so far.  It felt like an episode of Torchwood, it took out all the unnecessary bumbling annoyingness of the new characters, and, as a Doctor Who fan, I appreciated the acknowledgment. 

    • http://twitter.com/lovelyrita_mm Lovely Rita

      It’s like midichlorians all over again!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1109100017 Mitchell Gilburne

      Everything else aside, I’m just not feeling Jack’s “magic” this season. I always loved him on Who and thought he still maintained some of the charm that made him worth watching through the original run of Torchwood, but I’m not getting much more from his character than “plot device” these days and it’s a dissapointment b/c I’ve always loved the character and grew to love John Barrowman too.

      In other news, while the plot lines are running tired I do love it when Jilly’s on screen. Sure she’s a caricature, but I think she’s infectious.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HBS4KWJ6XTPDEL2JMD37ZS5YHA Ben

      The car scene really brought it home.

    • MilaXX

      I have to admit that I really enjoyed this episode. Yes I find it puzzling that they are making it seem as if that vial of blood they took from Jack was somehow used to create Miracle Day and that Angelo may have sold Jack to The Triangle as well as the timeline on when Jack finds out that the Doctor can’t cure his immortality.
      I have to admit up until this season I was one of those that disliked Gwen. In part because RTD would often say that Gwen was the heart & soul of Torchwood, but also because it seemed like at times they were trying to make Gwen and Jack a couple. I wasn’t a Jack/Ianto shipper, but with RTD already making Rose/Ten OTP, it was a bit nauseating at best and Gwen came across to me as a lying know it all. With Miracle Day they seem to have somehow found the balance between making Gwen and Jack close as colleagues, letting Gwen be badass and allowing her to be human all at the same time.
      So do I have this correct? We get no aliens other than the slug in the box, but Angelo has Catholic guilt and because he’s in search of God’s blessings he’s destroys the rest of the world via Miracle Day?

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        I think any two people in that situation are going to have some hints toward romance — not because of any true romantic feelings for each other, but because of the shared bond of “no one knows what we’ve done/been through except for this one other person” (providing that the orientations sync up — hence why you don’t have it during WWII movies:).  So I didn’t mind those moments with Gwen and Jack.  And I loved the Rose Tyler/Ten relationship.  I did wish it hadn’t been followed by Martha’s crush, though.  I would have liked to skip Martha altogether and go straight to Donna.  I also love the relationship with Eleven, Amy and Rory:)

        • MilaXX

          Except that Jack never had that relationship with the rest of Torchwood, even with Ianto. Altogether Gwen came across as this super saint Gwen who was very, very annoying & it felt like we were to supposed to view her as special. I also cannot stand Rose and I didn’t think the Ten/Rose relationship was great, in fact I pretty much hated it as much as I hated Rose. While I did dislike Martha’s crush on the doctor, I like that she realized it was unrequited and knew when to cut her losses. I’m rather the opposite in that I will re-watch a Martha ep but tend to skip the Rose ones because she makes me want to smack her silly. ADORE Donna and quite like Eleven/Amy & Rory.

          • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

            Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point with that one.  I always kind of thought of it as the combination of Jack’s omnisexual presence and a certain type of charm with the pressure and peril of the Torchwood sparked some romantic inklings, but no real feelings.  Some people are more inclined toward that kind of reaction, I just figured Gwen was one of them.  And Jack’s in a weird spot — he’s always been so adrift that connecting with her would maybe seem like a good idea to him: a good on paper sort of relationship.

            I didn’t dislike Martha as a character so much as I hated her storylines; I just thought the whole unrequited love thing was annoying.  If it had come 3 companions after Rose, that would have been fine.  But for Rose and Ten to fall in love and then Martha to also fall for him, just made him a bit too Capt. Kirk for me (though I do understand as I’m more than a little in love with David Tennant myself:)  I think they realized it which was why they went with NO romantic undertone at all with Donna, who was just so fantastic.  The Dr. Donna made me so sad…

            I will concede, however, that River Song is FAR more interesting a partner for the Doctor than Rose ever was.

            • MilaXX

              When river was introduced I could not stand her. All that running around smirking, “spoilers!” worked my last nerve. Yet somehow gradually she grew on me and now i really like her. And YES River & the Doctor is a much more interesting couple. I can’t wait for series 6 to resume.

            • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

              Funny side note: I was watching a recent episode where we learn who she is the other day and said that River’s name gave away her origins (trying hard to give away nothing for those who haven’t seen it:), and discovered that my husband has been mis-hearing River’s name the whole time — he thought it was River SOONG, not SONG. 

            • MilaXX

              lol Funny!

    • http://twitter.com/TorchwoodPride Torchwood Pride

      You’re forgetting/overlooking two major and important things here. One – it’s Russell. T. Davies writing it – there are three more episodes to fill out – there’ll be plenty of twists to this tale! Two – in the confessional booth Jack mentions it’s been 700 years since his last confession? – That kind of indicates – he’s living through the pivotal year of 1941 for a fifth time – with a stop over in 1927/1928. And who says Jack/Angelo meet in the past? Who say’s they’re not yet to meet in the past – since Jack’s weird flash-whatevers happen on that drive in the car? – And does anyone think the WWII twist Jack mentions around the alien mind-bug thing reminiscent of what’s going on in the Who-niverse?

      • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

        Jack knew who Angelo was when his granddaughter mentioned him. Jack met Angelo in his past; not some future trip to the past that hasn’t happened yet.

        Also, help me out: Jack was in 1941 when he met the Doctor, he returned to 1941 with Tosh, and he spent 1941 in suspended animation. Those are the only three instances of Jack being in 1941 we can think of. What’s the 4th one?

        And to be perfectly honest, if there’s a further time travel element to this story, we’ll be disappointed.

        • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

          Oh, wait. Just remembered: he traveled thru 1941 “the slow way” after he landed in 1869.

        • http://profiles.google.com/eszubert Elizabeth Szubert

          When Jack was left the Doctor, he went back in time to the 19th Century and met Torchwood in 1899.  There’s also what happens at the end of season 2 of Torchwood – I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t seen it.  It is more than possible that Jack goes back in time once again because he was asked to, either by the Doctor or by Torchwood, after what happens during the end of season 3 of Doctor Who.

          So I see the going back in time more of a nod to the fans of Torchwood and Doctor Who who have been with the show since the beginning.  The writers might have felt they were losing them.

        • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

          Disappointed?  By time travel in the Who universe?  How?  That’s one of my favorite parts — not only do you have all of the universe to play with, but all of history as well!

    • http://profiles.google.com/richixcore Richi Robilotto

      I don’t remember anyone saying it was biological, Jack’s immortality. He said it himself to Angelo that he was a fixed point in time. The Catholics who were collecting his blood were doing it out of superstition and not because they knew for a fact that his blood would give them immortality. 

      • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

        ” I don’t remember anyone saying it was biological, Jack’s immortality”

        Hence the use of the term “inference.” The creators went out of their way to show people collecting Jack’s blood which they then followed up with 2 mysterious “Triangle” guys agreeing to buy him. It could be a misdirect, but the scene strongly implies that Jack’s blood has something to do with Miracle Day.

        • http://twitter.com/TorchwoodPride Torchwood Pride

          I liked your inference that Jack’s immortality stems from him being a fixed point in time – and that the world ‘corrects’ itself around him. How do you make that work with the Doctor and the Tardis’ uneasiness with Jack? – It’s true that the time travel aspect may feel like a cop-out – on the other hand. I found it ‘suspicious’ that the Angelo episodes were all inserted as apparent flashbacks during that drive. As if Jack could only think of one thing to be connected to this scenario. – And I think Richie is entirely right that the blood was collected through superstition – it may have some ‘power’ but I don’t think it had the power the triangle through it did. – So I’m as curious as anyone else to see why Angelo uses mob methods to get to talk to Jack again – why not just call him directly? Eh?

          • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

            To be honest, the Doctor’s “uneasiness” with Jack always sounded like a copout on the part of the writers attempting to explain why the Doctor abandoned him in the 51st Century. The TARDIS, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. If Jack is the living embodiment of a fixed point in time, it makes a certain amount of sense that a sentient time traveling machine would treat him like some sort of invading virus.

            I didn’t get the sense that Jack was thinking about Angelo during the car ride. There were two stories going on (that converged at the end) and the script was bouncing back and forth between both stories.

            • http://twitter.com/TorchwoodPride Torchwood Pride

              You could be right. But I still withhold judgement until I’ve seen the end, or RTDs writing isn’t likely to make any kind of sense :-D 

            • http://twitter.com/TorchwoodPride Torchwood Pride

              PS. Several people on AfterElton’s hilarious rewrite/review of the episode http://www.afterelton.com/tv/torchwood-miracle-day-recap-107?page=0%2C3 commented on the fact that Captain Jack is wearing his WWII coat in 1927/1928 – and his gun, which is also a WWII thing, as far as I recal. Therefore – he must have gone back in time after having met the Doctor post break-time between Torchwood season one and two. – So, the time travel element is definetely there. – You could be right about the Angelo thing not being Jack’s flashback during the car-ride. But I still withihold judgement until I’ve seen the end, RTDs writing is always cheeky, deviant, and intriguing – and often rather interestingly audacious in how he will tease the viewer simply to elicit a reaction. 

            • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

              The funny thing is, I was just looking at the pictures in this post and said out loud “Waitaminnit…they didn’t have big rubber soled boots like that in 1927…sonofabitch! That IS future Jack!”

              Hmm. Don’t like that there’s a future time travel incident playing out in this story.

            • http://twitter.com/MilaXX MNS

              Jane Epenson tweeted that “Jack may have run through the timeline more times than we have previously known.”
              So yeah, future!Jack is in 1927.

            • http://twitter.com/bentley1530 F E B

              This makes sense to me.  Jack is a time traveler so who knows where and when he has traveled.  I never had the sense that we were given his full history.  Because of this I do not see it as a gimmick when we learn about past relationships or families. 

            • http://twitter.com/MilaXX MNS

              “The TARDIS, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. If Jack is the
              living embodiment of a fixed point in time, it makes a certain amount of
              sense that a sentient time traveling machine would treat him like some
              sort of invading virus.”

              That makes sense. The Doctor always said Jack was wrong & know the
              connection between the Doctor and the TARDIS, if she felt he was wrong
              then of course the Doctor would pick up on it.

            • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

              I disagree.  The same reason you give for the TARDIS being uncomfortable with Jack is every bit as valid for the Doctor, because he’s a Time Lord and because of his connection with the TARDIS.  Time Lords are intimately connected to the fabric of time themselves, which would lead to him getting freaked by Jack just as much as the TARDIS does.  And then through his bond with the TARDIS, it would only be reinforced.

            • http://twitter.com/Athenabast Athena Bast

              After seeing “The Doctor’s Wife” you can almost see the TARDIS thinking of Jack as the child she could never have.

        • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

          I think it could be both — if reality is designed in such a way that Jack is a constant, that would most likely have some kind of biological effect.  Either the original resurrection was done in such a way that a biological change triggered reality to bond to him as a constant, or turning him into a constant resulted in a change in his biology.  It could very well be both biological and reality-based at the same time, with a circular cause-and-effect relationship. 

    • Anonymous

      I never disliked Gwen, and didn’t understand those who did. She’s always been a strong-willed, flawed character. There may have been some “toying” with the concept of Jack+Gwen in previous TW series, but I never took it seriously. If I recall correctly, she was quite confused with her initial contacts with Torchwood, and was often left out of explanations that would have cleared things up. She had to let her badass side out to be a survivor in that environment. Even with her brief hookup with Owen and all the lies to Rhys, I saw these actions as mistakes that many folks make in the name of infatuation/love, things they later regret.

    • Anonymous

      i think you made a good point about the blood –it ould seem to me that CJ would have followed through on any biological causes in the days when he wanted to be rid of his immotrtality-disagree about the ending –iit had no rhyme or reason  and was just to contrived and easy–i know we saw this kind of thing in the first 2 series when TW was not taking itself so seriously but in the current format it just felt like poor writing.
      I preferred Gwen in season 1/2 but she allways had a tendency to bore me and at times i felt she was just overwritten.Since then she has just become irritating and unbelievable.I love flawed charactors but ther is just something about Gwen that is over the top and histronic–so a whole episode with only CJ and Gwen was a but trying–however as the alternative in this case was worse i guess i should be thankful.

    • ArKane Fyre

      It’s not that I don’t like watching two perfectly good looking men getting it on; I do. It’s just that this Jack/Angelo thing feels a lot more Queer as Folk than Torchwood.

      Davies is so focused on, “look guys, gay sex in mainstream TV!” that he’s willing to contort Jack’s sexuality to shove this point down our throats. Jack isn’t homosexual or heterosexual, or even bisexual. He’s a sexual person who loves the beauty in the person/alien he’s with, no matter the gender, race or species. This overt “I’m a campy gay man” is a dumbed down version of who Jack really is.

      So even though I was “Yay, finally, more aliens, less politics!”, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes during every moment of the flashback. Their romance was so melodramatic.

      On the other hand, the biological angle really makes no sense in terms of the Who canon, but I’m willing to suspend my already suspended disbelief to see what sort of explanation Davies come up with.

      (I get a kick however, every time somebody says, “Run.” I appreciate that throwback; it’s like a signal for the beginning of adventure.)

      I love this season’s Gwen. If there’s one thing this season is doing well, it’s making Gwen into a rounded, complex, kick ass character that I can finally like, sympathize with and root for.

      This episode picked up near the end, finally. See Davies? Do what Torchwood does best, and stay away from the politics and uninformed social commentary.

      • http://twitter.com/MilaXX MNS

        Yes Jack is omni-sexual and I agree if you have seen previous TW or DW jack just comes across as gay, but I buy the Jack/Angelo relationship because Jack has had other relationships.

        I do agree that they have finally made Gwen likable.

      • http://twitter.com/Athenabast Athena Bast

        I’ve come to see Jack as a kind of Anti-Doctor. Jack will do whatever the Doctor won’t. The Doctor enjoys having companions for his journey and Jack tries to avoid any kind of entanglements.

    • http://twitter.com/kittycat2302 Rachel Stevens

      I’m not so sure there was an implication Jack’s blood was truly a big deal- I mean, think about it. If you’re crazy, Catholic, and living in the 1920s and having a guy in front of you that, despite repeated killings, JUST WON’T STAY DEAD… don’t you think you’d collect some of the blood and try to make a profit (or 2) from the blood/body? Might have just been a “this is what people would do” nod rather than a “switching up Jack’s whole backstory” nod….

    • Anonymous

      Angelo was about 20 in 1927 so he’d be over 100 today. If they give us a character who’s not in his dotage, then it seems like Jack’s blood did have some kind of healing/lifegiving properties, the Triangle guys figured it out and Angelo got involved with them somehow. What all that has to do with Miracle Day, I’ve got no idea. And they really didn’t need as much of the flashback filler as we got to get us to this point.
      The Gwen/Jack carride and especially Esther and Rex showing up to the rescue really felt like the old Torchwood. Finally, the two super-CIA agents weren’t a couple of useless bumblers.

      • MilaXX

        If Angelo was 20 in 1927 it’s possible for him to be very old but still of good mind.My grandfather passed just short of 102 and up until he was around 100/101 was fairly lucid. His main problem was ambulation. So I could buy a modern day Angelo wheelchair bound but still functional. If Angelo had been planning this for years as implied then you have an 80 or 90 year old putting these plans into motion, not to mention what sort of stories he has shared and passed on to his granddaughter about Jack.

    • Anonymous

      I loved it. I loved every moment of it. It showed us such a range of what’s beautiful about humanity, what’s admirable, and of course, what’s detestable about humanity. What I hated about that scene of “blood lust” was that it was so psychologically real. I loved the extreme tension between Jack and Gwen in that car ride. The knowledge that yes they love each other fiercely, but that there were more important things than that love for the both of them, that there had to be, and that it was okay. Esther and Rex have grown so much and with that wonderful ending it really became Team Torchwood instead of Gwen and Jack and their two tag-alongs. I’m actually excited for next week’s episode and think this was a very good episode despite yes, also being confused about the confusion they’ve added to Jack’s established story line.

    • http://twitter.com/jennawaterford Jenna Waterford

      Oh, good! Another version of RTD’s, “Oh, did I forget to tell you that Jack is a cold-hearted bastard who sacrificed children to save a bunch of mealy-mouthed bureaucrats and then murdered his own grandson to stop the aliens? Oh, did I forget to tell you Jack had a grandson? And a daughter? And a whole family who kind of hate him? Damn, I knew there was something pivotal to just this story that didn’t feel even remotely organic or true to the character as we’d known him up to this point that I’d left out. My bad!”

    • Anonymous

      Thanks TLo for posting this so quickly. The whole time I was watching this episode I was thinking I would need to re-watch it after reading your post. I was rather lost never having watched Torchwood prior to this season.

      As a recovering Catholic school girl, the blood thing made perfect sense to me. Blood is very important in Catholicism. Sacramental wine represents the blood of Christ. The whole torture and kill Jack repeatedly thing was where they lost me. I would expect Catholics of the time to believe in miracles and treat him like Lazarus. Regardless, it went on too long and was completely gratuitous.

      On a happier note, did anyone else catch a flash of a stiffy during Jack and Angelo’s sex scene? :)

      I also loved the car scene with Jack and Gwen – even better was the make-up chest bump afterward.

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        It would depend on which group of Catholics.  The “tests” for witchcraft all resulted in your death proving you weren’t a witch, after all.  A lot of Catholic sects see the devil in the unexplainable rather than God.  (In no way is this a slam on Catholicism!  Every group has its loonies:)

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        It would depend on which group of Catholics.  The “tests” for witchcraft all resulted in your death proving you weren’t a witch, after all.  A lot of Catholic sects see the devil in the unexplainable rather than God.  (In no way is this a slam on Catholicism!  Every group has its loonies:)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks TLo for posting this so quickly. The whole time I was watching this episode I was thinking I would need to re-watch it after reading your post. I was rather lost never having watched Torchwood prior to this season.

      As a recovering Catholic school girl, the blood thing made perfect sense to me. Blood is very important in Catholicism. Sacramental wine represents the blood of Christ. The whole torture and kill Jack repeatedly thing was where they lost me. I would expect Catholics of the time to believe in miracles and treat him like Lazarus. Regardless, it went on too long and was completely gratuitous.

      On a happier note, did anyone else catch a flash of a stiffy during Jack and Angelo’s sex scene? :)

      I also loved the car scene with Jack and Gwen – even better was the make-up chest bump afterward.

    • http://twitter.com/dianasof Diana Z.

      I loved how at the end of the episode Rex alluded to the fact that he was sick of Torchwood acting like a bunch of amateurs. At least they realize that that’s one of the flaws of Torchwood. I got so confused during the whole “torture and bloodlust” scene. I get that they were probably terrified and amazed by Jack’s whole immortality deal, but at one point they were like beating him with chains or something. Why?

      • MilaXX

        I got the sense that they were trying every weapon possible to kill Jack so whatever was handy.

    • Anonymous

      I was really sorry to learn that it isn’t an alien invasion but, rather, a boyfriend scorned.

    • Anonymous

      Good post and I’m enjoying reading the comments. As for this episode: Too much time on the backstory and too much gratuitous violence for me; Jack & Gwen scenes were good; happy to see Esther pull her head out of her ass.

      My son pegged the scorned boyfriend thing. He said when they showed so much of the relationship with Angelo, he immediately thought about that old “how do you know if someone is a sociopath” question.*  My guess as to where this is going is that Angelo found (or was found by) the three men who were going to “buy” Jack from the butcher. They might be alien, be agents of aliens, or from the future. They could have some way of prolonging life or figured out how to use Jack’s blood to do so, which would explain a not dead or ridiculously ancient Angelo next episode.

      * You know the one:
      Q: Man meets wonderful woman at his dad’s funeral. Doesn’t know who she is or how to reach her afterwards How does he find her again?
      A: If he’s a sociopath, he kills a family member so she’ll come to the next funeral.

    • Rand Ortega

      God, this is fun. No matter how inconsistent this series is, I have to appreciate the fact that it allows me the company of so many smart, questing minds who force me to think beyond the usual cop/procedural medical fare. & my usual comfort zone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=768540908 Badriya Al-Badi’a

      Two things:  one, didn’t Jack say to Angelo that he was a fixed point in time?  I remember thinking “well, that’s going to mean exactly nothing to Angelo” as he said it.  So I don’t think the source of Jack’s immortality is being rewritten.

      Other thing:  I wouldn’t dismiss some kind of biological impact of being a fixed point in time, though.  Way back when, Jack kept the Doctor’s spare hand in a jar at Torchwood for study, implying that there was something to be learned from it.  I don’t think that would just be acuriousity about a bit of an alien; Jack can be cold, but experimenting on your friend’s discarded hand, even if it was a spare, couldn’t be that emtotionally easy.  All that to say, there might be some precedent in the show for there being something to Jack’s blood/body.

      LOVED the car conversation between Jack and Gwen.  *That* was Torchwood!

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        That was exactly what I thought too!  Who knows what sort of physical changes came from becoming a fixed point? 

    • Scott Hester-Johnson

      Took forever to read through that whole thread below. What a bunch of geeks.

      That being said, the temporal state of Jack’s body is sure to have biological repercussions, yes? He may be a temporal anomaly, but he is also a human who was not built to live in a “fixed point in time”. Thus, there may be something about the blood being altered (which is where I think this is heading).

      And how awesome was it to get DS9’s Kira Nerys? I saw Nana Vistor’s name in the opening credits and got all excited.

      But you guys are still geeks.

      Meanwhile, WTF with Angelo’s eye? I did find it hilarious and totally Jack that he doesn’t clock the eye thing until AFTER their marathon sex session (implying no eye contact during).

      “Hello. I’m up HERE Jack!”

    • Anonymous

      I was impressed that they chose an actor who could actually speak Italian for the handsome boyfriend part; the old lady was really awful, almost gibberish. And yes catholics are often bloodthirsty freaks, let me tell you as one who fled the flock…

    • http://twitter.com/dialmformichele Michele Rosenthal

      Your recap of Jack’s history (or what we know of it) is hilarious and spot on. He is quite the convoluted character, isn’t he?

      Watching this episode, I also felt that it evoked old Torchwood in a very fun way. And Gwen’s monologue was riveting. I never cared for her much in the first two seasons, because what you call difficult to pin down, I thought of as sloppy character writing. And she never seemed to contribute anything to the team, ever, except “caring” more, and that wasn’t nearly as interesting to me as the flawed person who drugged her boyfriend so she could confess something he’d never remember. Anyway. CoE redeemed Gwen for me because she finally seemed good at her job, and this season she’s the star of the show.

      As for Jack’s biology, the more I think about it the more I’m hoping the vial of blood was misdirection. I just can’t imagine how Jack’s condition would effect him physically. We’ve met his grandson, and that kid certainly didn’t inherit any immortal blood. And even if it did alter Jack biologically, there’s no way that could be shared with others without the time vortex getting involved. I’m just hoping that the answer is far more complicated, and also, that there are aliens. Please let there be aliens.

      • Shane Hopkins

        We’re so used to anthropomorphism that when Jack or the Doctor says that “[Jack] is a fixed point in time [so he can't die]“, we think that he as a person is fixed. It could very well be that the whole package (body and mind) is fixed, so his blood would be fixed too. If you have a sample of Jack’s blood (or skin, or hair, or brain tissue, etc.) you might be able to pin down exactly what sorts of anomalies exist in him. Say that Jack has a link to the time vortex, preserving him (almost as-is), that might manifest as a certain wavelength of particle radiation. Put that wavelength into a morphic field generator, apply a bit of phlebotinum, and make it so that instead of him being connected to the time vortex, the whole Earth is. Apply a bit more phlebotinum to explain why his immortality gets cancelled out, and why the whole Earth hasn’t inherited his mostly-eternal youth, and we have about as sensible an explanation as any RTD has given before.