by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "The Lazarus Experiment"

Posted 28 September 2009 in by Catriona

I can’t think of anything clever to write at the beginning of this live-blogging post—except that I’m listening to the strangest mash-up of “Hit from the Bong” and “Sex on Fire,” which is rather ingenious. (I wish I could remember who these the people were, because this is working strangely well.)

Dear lord, I’m tired. Do I say that every Monday? It’s always true.

When they say that for some stars, being famous is incredibly difficult, I don’t think of Mickey Rourke. I tend to think of Leonard Nimoy. And that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about me.

(That was relevant in context, you know.)

And here’s the TARDIS landing—a perfect landing, the Doctor says. And Martha asks where they are: the Doctor says “the end of the line.” And, of course, they’re in Martha’s living room, the morning after they left. She’s been gone for four episodes and twelve hours.

Just then, Martha’s mother rings to say that Tish, Martha’s sister, is on the news, standing behind an artificially aged Mark Gatiss. And, though the Doctor has been all edgy, planning to leg it as soon as possible, he looks curiously interested in the news bulletin.

Of course, he still gets back into the TARDIS and dematerialises, leaving Martha looking heartbroken.

But then he’s back, popping out and saying, “No, I’m sorry. Did he [Gatiss] say he was going to change what it means to be human?”

Yes. Yes, he did.


Actually, how did the Doctor manage to bring the TARDIS back to exactly the same point in time and space? He couldn’t normally control it that accurately.

Oh, Saxon reference. Drink! (Don’t mind if I do.)

Gatiss (the Professor) and his wife are talking about the billions of pounds of investment they have riding on this new project for Lazarus Laboratories, as Tish comes in with some documents. The Professor sniffs her, which Tish doesn’t care for. Can’t say I blame her.

Now Martha (in a fancy frock) and the Doctor (in a tuxedo, complaining that every time he wears black tie, something bad happens) head to the laboratories, and chat to Tish. The Doctor asks Tish what the machine is, saying it looks like a “sonic microfilter,” before Tish categorises him as “a science geek”—the Doctor doesn’t know what that means—and wanders off.

Ooh, I didn’t know Martha was tattooed. Edgy.

Martha introduces the Doctor to her mother, and the Doctor rather awkwardly manages to convey an entirely unfortunate impression of his relationship with Martha—well, unfortunate if you’re meeting her mother for the first time.

Then Professor Lazarus (subtle naming, hey?) spouts some bombastic technobabble, and steps into the sonic microfilter—which promptly overloads. Of course, the Doctor leaps onto the controls, and eventually pulls the power cord out. I don’t know why that isn’t always the first thing they try.

But when the machine stops spinning and Professor Lazarus steps out, he’s no longer five-hundred years old (well, seventy-six years old), but some thirty or forty years younger than that.

Oh, now: I’m sure I’ve seen Gob do that trick—sorry, illusion—on Arrested Development.

But when Martha asks if it’s a trick, the Doctor says no.

Lazarus’s wife wanders over to him, praising him for making them all wealthy. But he seems uninterested in her, and, also, extremely hungry.

Lazarus dismisses the Doctor’s knowledge of the theory of the science behind the experiment—telling him that what went wrong was a “simple engineering problem”—but since we’ve seen him doing an odd twitch-and-crunch spasm while chatting to his wife, I don’t think we’ll take Lazarus’s word for it, shall we?

Though, as Nick points out when the Doctor is spouting off about this being all about Lazarus and his customers living a little longer, the Doctor is one to talk, since he’s at least a thousand years old by this point (though I believe he’s currently lying and claiming to be seven hundred).

Lazarus and his wife, upstairs, reminisce about the war, and the destruction of his childhood home in the bombing. He used to shelter in the crypt of the cathedral, the living cowering with the dead. His wife says it’s fine: they’ll establish their own empire, and rule together. But he snorts, and forces her to face the window, telling her to look at herself.

Meanwhile, Martha and the Doctor notice that Lazarus’s DNA is constantly changing, rather than settling into the rejuvenated form.

Lazarus’s wife is ranting about how her money made it all possible, and they planned to rejuvenate together, but Lazarus says he’d never waste another lifetime on her—before he starts the twitching-and-crunching spasm we saw downstairs.

Only this time he emerges as some kind of scorpion creature. Odd, that.

Downstairs, Martha’s family are divided on the subject of Martha, before Lazarus reemerges and heads straight for Tish.

The Doctor ad Martha are upstairs, but, just as they decide they need to head back downstairs to find Lazarus at the reception, they see the desiccated corpse of his wife. Martha wonders if this means the change is complete, but the Doctor says that it may require much more energy.

Back downstairs, they hear that Lazarus has wandered off with Tish, and they dash off to find them, the Doctor knocking a glass of champagne over Martha’s mother as he goes. Well, that won’t help his case. As Martha’s mother mops the wine off her dress, a mysterious man wanders over and tells her that perhaps her daughter should choose her friends more carefully.

The Doctor confronts Lazarus on the roof, and there’s a brief exchange of Eliot quotations, while Martha tries to convince Tish to move away from Lazarus. It helps that, as Tish is complaining, Lazarus is transforming behind her.

NICK: That is terrible CGI.

I wholeheartedly concur.

MARTHA: Are you all right?
TISH: I was going to snog him.

Hmm. Can’t say giant, skeletal, vaguely humanoid scorpions are my type, but to each their own, I suppose. How else are new, monstrous meta-humans supposed to reproduce?

Cue the running and screaming, as Lazarus rampages through the laboratories.

A woman who was snarky to the Doctor when he tried to get them all to leave—telling him that the only danger is choking on an olive, which, frankly, is pretty dangerous—is grabbed by Lazarus and drained.

I really dislike that kind of narrative punishment for being rude to the hero, actually.

The Doctor distracts the Lazarus monster, as Martha tries to get everyone out of the building, including her poor concussed brother. But, of course, the security protocols have come into force, and the doors are all locked. Martha says there must be an over-ride switch and since she still has the sonic screwdriver in her hand, she’s able to get the doors open.

Martha, with her family, says that she has to go back inside, though her mother objects vociferously to this, despite the fact that the Doctor physically put himself in between her (and her son) and the monster not five minutes ago. How ungrateful!

The Doctor, while all this is going on, has been running, with some pauses for a bit of taunting.

Martha’s mother is still ranting about the Doctor when the mysterious man from before comes up again, and tells her that the Doctor is dangerous, and there are things she needs to know about him. When Martha’s mother demands to know what those things are, he leans over and whispers in her ear, but we don’t hear what he says.

The Doctor and Martha throw themselves into the sonic microfilter (if that’s what I’d been calling it: I can’t remember now), on the grounds that this is Lazarus’s masterpiece, and he won’t destroy it.

Unfortunately, while the Doctor is admiring Martha’s shoes—and they are lovely—Lazarus turns the machine on. After some spinning and screeching, the Doctor manages to reverse the polarity, which throws Lazarus back into his own body (technobabble!) and gives the Doctor another chance to quote Eliot.

Lazarus is carted off in an ambulance.

Then Martha’s mother slaps the Doctor in the face—but, honestly, if she thinks that (firstly) that the Doctor is dangerous and (secondly) that Martha is in love with him, why would she think slapping him in the face would work?

Just then, we hear the sound of an ambulance being torn apart, and the Doctor runs off to see what’s happening—followed closely by Martha and Tish.

DOCTOR: Lazarus, back from the dead. Should have known, really.

They find Lazarus in Southwark Cathedral, still talking about his experiences in the Blitz, though he’s still doing the twitching, crunchy spasms.

He manages to alienate the Doctor by saying that all the people who died were worthless compared to him, because he changed the course of human history. He then uses the phrase “ordinary human,” which always annoys the Doctor.

This conversation is interesting, though, because it’s the first time since the Time Lords were destroyed that we’ve seen two old men with young men’s faces talking about the weight of the history that they carry.

Then Martha offers herself (and, by extension, her sister) as bait, leading Lazarus up the narrow stone stairs to the very top of the bell tower, in accordance with a vague plan that the Doctor mentioned in passing earlier.

They don’t pause to kick their high heels off first, which would have been my first move. I used to waitress three nights a week in two- or three-inch heels, but I wouldn’t run up the stairs to a cathedral’s bell tower in them.

The plan involves an organ. Of course it does.

While Martha is hanging from the belfry, the Doctor tries to amplify the organ, saying he needs to “turn this up to eleven.” Oh, bless: an unexpected Spinal Tap reference.

Lazarus is driven mad or dizzy by the noise, and falls to his death from the belfry; Martha is saved from following him by her sister, so I suppose it’s a good thing she used her sister as bait.

Traditional end-of-episode promiscuous hugging.

Now, back in Martha’s flat, the Doctor is about to leap back into the TARDIS—and he offers Martha one more trip.

But she says no.

Go on, Martha: it’s only episode five!

But Martha says that she can’t go on being just a passenger, being taken along for one more trip. And the Doctor says “okay”—which Martha completely misinterprets. Honestly, all those years travelling with young girls, and he still doesn’t understand them.

But as the TARDIS dematerialises, we hear Martha’s mother leaving an answering-machine message insisting that Martha call her back, because her information about the Doctor being dangerous comes from Harold Saxon himself.


Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Sleeper"

Posted 25 September 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, I am so not psychologically prepared for this episode.

In fact, I’m struggling to even spell “psychologically,” but I strongly suspect that that’s an entirely different problem.

I warned you about this season, and we’re about to see more of what Torchwood is becoming. Last week’s episode wasn’t representative, but this one is.

Opening monologue! Jack standing on buildings! Me being unable to type “Jack” correctly!

And here’s a woman, waking up in bed to hear strange noises. She asks her partner if he hears them, and he pulls a cricket bat from under the bed as she rings the police. But the husband is thrown back into the room by two men in balaclavas, who then hear the police talking through the phone, which she dropped under the bed.

And we see a lamp lying on the floor and hear begging and screaming.


Then Torchwood tear up un the Torchwoodmobile, because two people have been thrown out of a window.

I take a brief pause from live-blogging to argue with a sixteen-year-old girl about whether or not Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet is a bit rubbish or not. That’s an exercise is futility, right there.

The policeman thinks that the husband did it, and that he was looking for trouble, or why else would he keep sports equipment in the bedroom? Jack says that the policeman should come round to his house for a game of hockey.

At the hospital, Owen says he thinks it’s the wife, because it’s always the one you least expect. Jack tells them to stay at the hospital, but Owen lies and says Gwen should stay on her own.

Then things start going odd about the hospital, like lights flashing.

But when one of the burglars wakes up (before promptly dying), he tells Gwen that the woman did it, and to keep her away from him—and so, next thing she knows, she’s in Torchwood with a sack over her head, and Jack reminding her of the details about Torchwood being outside the government and the police.

And then the lights go out again, which reminds Gwen of the hospital.

Gwen sends Jack out of the room, so she can use her lovely Welsh vowels to seduce Beth into making a confession.

Meanwhile, Ianto and Jack are flirting adorably about Jack’s dodgy interrogation techniques. Tosh tells Jack that there was a technobabble build-up around Beth, and Owen mentions the hospital.

Beth is taken for tests, and though she’s terrified, she’s also kind of blown away by the sheer scale and the steam-punk aesthetic of the Hub.

Owen goes to take some medical tests, but both needles and then a scalpel snap as Owen tries to pierce her skin. Jack asks her what planet she is from, and then shouts, “Stop wasting our time! We know you’re an alien!”

Ianto’s right: his interrogation techniques suck.

So Jack takes her down to introduce her to Janet the weevil.

But then Janet the weevil starts keening and backing away from Beth, and both she and Jack are slightly freaked out by this—not to mention Janet the weevil’s freaking out.

Beth asks how she can prove she’s not an alien.

So Jack gets out a mind probe, though Ianto reminds him what happened last time they used that. Jack says that’s not a problem: that species had unusually high blood pressure. So, as Ianto suggests, apparently their heads were supposed to explode like that.

Beth asks if it will hurt, and Jack says yes, it will.

BETH: Your bedside manner is dreadful.
GWEN: You should see his manners in bed. They’re atrocious. Or so I’ve heard.
IANTO: Oh, yes.

Most unprofessional outfit ever.

Sure enough, it looks as though it hurts like hell—Beth is screaming, and they’re not getting any readings that show her as not human, despite Jack telling them to go deeper—until the lights start flashing, and Beth stops convulsing and goes limp.

And then her forearm opens up.

I don’t know how else to describe it: apparently, it’s a buried compartment in her brain. Beth couldn’t have been aware of it.

Jack asks her who she is, and we get the same response to every question—I’m betting that’s name, rank, and serial number.

When they switch the probe off, she goes back to being Beth, and the strange mark on her arm disappears. She asks if they found anything, and no one answers.

Jack, in the conference room, tells his staff that Beth is a sleeper agent for a species that doesn’t leave any survivors. He says if they’re lucky, she’s the only one: an advance guard. But by the time her species attacks, they’ll know everything about the planet.

The point is that Beth doesn’t know she’s not human. Her false personality and false memories are dominant.

But Jack says they need to tell her, and they show her the video.

Gwen can’t cope with this, and tells Beth that her fake life with Mike, her fake memories, are real: she asks what makes her human, her mind or her body? But Beth says she wanted children and an ordinary life, and feeling human isn’t enough for that.

She asks them to make her human, but Jack says they can’t: one day she’ll activate, and then the invasion will begin.

Beth wonders if they’ll kill her, but Gwen says they only kill aliens as a last resort, when it’s kill or be killed.

Jack says they can’t let her go, because she’s too dangerous. Tosh recommends that they freeze her instead, using their alien cryostasis technology. (I think I spelt “cryostasis” wrong there.) But as they’re taking Beth to freeze her, her real memories of the attack on the burglars start coming back.

And, as she waits on the table for the procedure, Beth asks Gwen to promise that if they can’t find a way to make her human again, not to wake her up at all, but just to turn off the machine. Gwen says she can’t promise that, so Beth asks Jack—and Jack promises.

Tosh knocks out the transceiver, and Owen starts to knock Beth out.

But the transceiver is still transmitting—and now the other sleeper agents on the planet are waking up, including a white-collar worker who breaks his wife’s neck, an EMT guy who walks away from the man he’s performing CPR on, and a young mother who lets her baby carriage roll out into traffic.

As we watch the back of the young woman as she walks away, we hear the screaming of brakes and a dull thump.

Back at the Hub, Beth is vaulted in number 7 vault—in which she quickly wakes up.

I guess cryogenics don’t work on her planet.

The first thing Torchwood knows, the lights go out and Beth is gone. And, of course, she has all that information about Torchwood saved in the transceiver in her arm.

Owen says that perhaps Beth can disguise all her vital signs, so that she can looks as though she’s frozen, when really the opposite is happening.

Jack wonders why they aren’t all dead, but he assumes that Beth has some other agenda—and, sure enough, she’s in the hospital talking to her husband, telling him that she has to go away and stay away, or she might end up hurting him.

But even as they hug, they weapon embedded in her arm activates, and she stabs him through the abdomen. Wow, that’s a lot of blood.

Fortunately, Torchwood are there to take Beth back into custody.

Meanwhile, a man calls Patrick Grainger answers his door and is stabbed through the abdomen by the white-collar worker from a previous scene. And the EMT worker bombs a petrol tanker that takes out an underground fuel line used by the military in emergencies. Ianto realises that Patrick Grainger was the man on the council who had all the emergency protocols.

Jack realises that Beth is part of a cell and that they’ve activated.

Gwen asks how Beth got out of Torchwood, and Beth says that the technology is part of her, and she can turn it on and off. Gwen asks if she can track her cell mates, and, after some demurring, she agrees to: she says that there is one member of the cell left—the white-collar worker. (Both the EMT worker and the young mother turned out to be suicide bombers.)

But the white-collar worker is heading for an abandoned farm on the outskirts of the city, though they can’t work out why he would do that. Apparently, it used to be a coal mine—and, sure enough, Tosh says that the military is using the mine shaft to store heavy weapons.

Specifically, nuclear warheads.

Specifically, ten nuclear warheads.

Well, that’s just brilliant.

Naturally, everyone starts despairing. Well, everyone except Jack.

JACK: With a dashing hero like me on the trail, how can we fail?
IANTO: He is dashing, You have to admit that.

Ianto is much happier and cheekier this season, isn’t he? It’s amazing what the love of a good man will do for you.

Back at the Hub, the rest of Torchwood is less sanguine about the outcome.

OWEN (to Tosh and Ianto): Let’s all have sex.
IANTO: And I thought the end of the world couldn’t get any worse.

That transcription of dialogue brought to you by an extended shoot-out at the army’s secret nuclear-weapons facility.

Jack runs over the last sleeper agent, but he fails to reverse over him, which is what I would have done. So, as Jack questions him, he stabs Jack. Gwen manages to turn off the transceiver and forcefield, but the alien fortuitously provided himself with a bomb, and he blows himself up after telling Jack that the others aren’t coming—they’re already here.

Back at the Hub, Gwen tells Beth that they’ve refigured the casket, so that the cryogenics will work around the implant.

Beth asks what they’ll do when she activates. Gwen says they’ll work around it, but Beth says they won’t: she’s too dangerous, and they both know it.

The human side of Beth is paramount here, but she knows that the human side isn’t the only side, and she worries what will happen when she reactivates.

She’s right to worry, because she (seemingly) reactivates right now, and she takes Gwen hostage, holding her knife to Gwen’s throat. Every other member of Torchwood is armed here, all pointing their guns at Beth.

And Beth hasn’t reactivated, or not fully. But she knows that if she threatens Gwen, they’ll shoot her.

And they do.

Suicide by Torchwood.

Gwen attacks Owen for not realising that Beth was bluffing. But Owen says she must have known what they’d do, and Jack says she did—she just wanted to make it easier for them.

And we slowly pan up from Beth’s dead body to a satellite view of Cardiff’s brightly lit highways—which, from this angle, look remarkably like the neural pathways that we saw light up in Beth’s brain when Torchwood forced her to activate.

Gwen wanders into Jack’s office, and he asks about her wedding plans but, as she’s halfway through a spirited imitation of her mother, he cuts her off and tells her to go home and be human.

Well, that was a little rude.

But at least it was a change from the generally depressing tone of the episode.

Next week: frozen soldier.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Evolution of the Daleks"

Posted 21 September 2009 in by Catriona

Well, it’s just been on of those days, you know? By which I mean, it’s Monday. And I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes distracting a restless Nick with shiny things, which led to this monologue:

ME: Honey, why don’t you have some brandy? Oh. Is that the only soft drink we have? Don’t we have any lemonade? Well, what’s that? Citrus flavour? Well, it’s brandy—how bad can it be?

Then we started singing, “Brandy, brandy, brandy, I can’t let you go.”

Then we had the following conversation:

NICK: What’s wrong?!
ME: It’s all right. It’s not an insect.
ME: No. It’s a Ferrero Rocher wrapper.
NICK: Oh. Well, they are quite similar. They’re both brown.
ME: Yes. And . . . crunchy.

Actually, maybe there’s more to this than it simply being Monday. It has been rather warm and muggy the last couple of days, so I’ve barely slept. That might be it.

Perhaps I should just wait until the actual episode starts, shall I?

Okay, I’m back and being more sensible now. I have finished my brandy, though, and I didn’t care much for this episode last time around, so we’ll see how long I can continue to behave myself.

We begin with a recap of last week’s episode, complete with hysterical Daleks with a deadline, and the disturbing/improbable human-Dalek hybrid.

We come straight back into the episode with the human Dalek saying that all the intelligent humans (as they were divided last week) will all be hybridised. But then the Doctor leaps out and taunts the Daleks a little: it seems they managed an “emergency temporal shift” to the 1930s, which, as the Doctor points out, must have burned up their power cells. As he says, at one time, four Daleks could have taken over the world.

(But, just quietly, that’s mainly because the props are so extremely expensive in the pre-CGI days.)

The Doctor asks Dalek Sek, the human Dalek, what he thinks of humanity, but becomes frustrated by Sek’s insistence that humanity is, at its heart, quite Dalek. So he makes his radio—remember he was carrying a radio?—make a hideous noise, and they all leg it.

They’re pursued by Daleks and pig slaves, but, though they meet up with Tallulah as they flee, there’s no sign of Laszlo.

The humans escape via the ladders, which the Daleks cannot ascend.

Then two Daleks discuss their doubts about Dalek Sek, and this scene has my favourite bit in the entire series—when the first Dalek asks if the second Dalek has doubts, the second Dalek carefully swivels his head to check his boss isn’t behind him, before saying, “Affirmative.”

Love it. It’s so . . . human.

Back in Hooverville, the Doctor tells everyone they have to flee, because they’re basically breeding stock. But it’s too late: the Daleks and their pig slaves are already coming.

Thank goodness for the Second Amendment, because this is one well-armed camp of extremely impoverished people. You’d think that those rifles might have been worth selling, wouldn’t you?

Still, the rifles won’t do any good against Daleks, and that’s what we’re facing now: first pig slaves, herding everyone back into the camp, and then the flying Daleks.

Solomon steps forward to talk to the Daleks, despite the Doctor telling him to stop. Oh, this never goes well.

Dalek Sek admires Solomon’s courage, as Solomon says that, underneath, they’re all kin: they’re all outcasts. He speaks to them about his new knowledge about the breadth of the universe, and how it gives him hope for a better tomorrow. And he begs them, if they have any compassion, to meet with him, and stop this fight.

Of course, they exterminate him.

The Doctor then steps forward, demanding that the Daleks kill him, if it will stop them killing these people. And one of the Daleks is absolutely willing to exterminate the Doctor—which, from a Dalek perspective, makes perfect sense—but Sek steps in and says no: he wants the Doctor alive.

Behind Sek, all the other Daleks are swivelling their heads towards him, as though to say, “You what?”

The Doctor convinces the Daleks to spare the humans, and Sek tells them to obey the Doctor. We don’t see it, but I imagine that there are some “You what?” head swivels behind him at that point.

And, indeed, the other Daleks are getting a little stroppy with Sek: his argument that the Doctor is a “genius” and they can use him sounds a little thin, even to me.

Before he leaves, the Doctor gives Martha the psychic paper (with what sounds like an Elvis impersonation, but I might be wrong about that), but she doesn’t know what to do with it.

Back at Dalek HQ, the Doctor attacks the Daleks for killing people—and Nick points out that it’s odd that the Doctor is always so affronted when the Daleks kill people. I mean, sure: he doesn’t like killing, but these are Daleks. That’s what they do. And he knows that. And he’s committed genocide against them once (well, once at this stage), and attempted it on at least three other occasions, so why is he always so bewildered?

Sek is explaining to the Doctor that humans are the greatest resource on this planet—and he flips the lights to show dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands, of “empty” humans, ready to be filled with new Dalek ideas.

(As Sek explains his ideas to the Doctor, we see some more “You what?” head swivels from the rest of the Cult of Skaro.)

Back at Hooverville, Martha remembers that the Daleks were talking about the energy conductor, and she wonders where it might possibly be? So she asks poor young Frank from Tennessee, who has been hit pretty hard by Solomon’s death, and he points out that most of them were working on the Empire State Building.

Ah, technobabble! How I have missed thee! Let’s leave what they’re saying at this: what the Daleks are planning is especially impossible. And involves a giant solar flare. And the Empire State Building.

Dalek Sek questions Davros’s original plan for the supremacy of the Daleks—and we’re well past the “You what?” head gestures here, as the rest of the Cult of Skaro leap forward and say, no: Daleks are supreme.

But Sek says no: he wants them to evolve and change. Think, he says, of where they are now: skulking in the sewers, only four of them left in the universe. He says that if they don’t change now, they deserve to become extinct.

The Doctor taunts the Cult of Skaro, and they say, yes: they’ll support Sek, because Daleks must follow orders. The Doctor tries to argue, but Sek says he can take the new race of Daleks to a new planet, where they can start over. And the Doctor agrees, since he already knows that the “empty” humans can’t be brought back to their humanity.

Martha, Frank, and Tallulah are up on the top floor of the Empire State Building, trying to figure out what the Daleks are planning on doing with the building. Tallulah wanders off and rhapsodises about New York City.

Back in Dalek HQ, the Doctor, helping the Daleks, learns that the pig slaves only have a life span of a few weeks, and he tells Laszlo that he can’t reverse what’s been done to him.

Ah, there’s the obligatory “the Doctor is a medical doctor” joke.

Tallulah chats about what a great partnership the Doctor and Martha would be, and how the Doctor is different. Martha tells her that she has no idea how different he is, and Tallulah says, “He’s a man, honey. That’s different enough.”

In context, that makes absolutely no sense. “You’d be a great partnership, if only he weren’t so different, but then he’d always be different, because he’s a man.” Nope: still can’t figure that out.

Tallulah also rants against the Daleks for taking Laszlo away from her.

The Doctor helps the Daleks, while Martha and Tallulah figure out that the Daleks have added the Dalek bumps to the Empire State Building tower.

But finally, finally, the Daleks turn against Dalek Sek. That’s what happens, sadly, when you attempt to make yourself a hybrid creature and retain control over a psychotically xenophobic species.

Nevertheless, the Daleks have over-ridden the “gene feed”—meaning, in terms of the technobabble, that the new “empty” humans will not be brought to life with Sek’s blend of human and Dalek genes, but with pure Dalek genes.

With the help of Laszlo, the Doctor legs it, and heads up to Martha.

SEK: You have betrayed me.
OTHER DALEK: You told us to imagine. And we imagined your irrelevance.

It’s almost impossible to write bad dialogue for Daleks, isn’t it?

The Doctor, telling Martha that she needs to stay and fight, climbs up to the mast of the building to remove the Dalek bumps.

Apparently, the pig slaves are trained to “slit your throats with their bare teeth.” “Bare teeth”? Is that even a thing?

The pig slaves are heading up in the elevator, bopping quietly along to the elevator music, as Martha figures out that they can use the lightning as a weapon, if they create a metal pathway between the lightning—how can they predict where it’s going to strike?—and the elevator.

Meanwhile, the Doctor dropped his sonic screwdriver. He is remarkably careless with that thing, you know. So in the absence of any practical tools, he wraps himself around the mast, while Martha et. al. brutally slaughter some hapless pig slaves.

The Daleks’ human (well, humanish) army wakes up.

Martha, having brutally slaughtered some pig slaves, experiences a crisis of conscience, but it doesn’t last long, and she dashes outside to find the Doctor.

The remaining Daleks are checking that their army really think they’re Daleks, and then arming them, and sending them out to take over Manhattan.

Martha wakes the Doctor up—wow, two hearts come in handy—and gives him back his sonic screwdriver. But he didn’t manage to get all the Dalek bumps off, so I wonder what that will mean for the Daleks’ master plan?

Sek is chained up against the wall. I wonder—not that it’s highly relevant—whether the Daleks brought their own manacles with them, just in case, or whether they just found some lying around in the sewers?

The Daleks, the Doctor points out, are on a war footing, and using the sewer system to spread their foot soldiers around the city. But, he says, the “gamma strike” went through him first. Martha asks what that means, and Nick tells her it’s gibberish. I don’t think she heard him, though.

The Doctor activates his sonic screwdriver, telling the Daleks where he is, which is in Tallulah’s theatre. And the human foot soldiers come in first, followed by the Daleks, who have Dalek Sek crawling in chains before them.

Nick and I have long considered writing a joint paper on the theatricality of Doctor Who, and this is yet another example of this: the two Daleks on stage with Sek between them, as the Doctor stands on the red-velvet seats and talks to them across the footlights.

The Doctor taunts the Daleks with their humiliation of Dalek Sek, and they threaten to exterminate the Doctor—but Sek leaps in front of them and is killed.

The Doctor maneuvers the Daleks to the point where they agree to let the human Daleks kill the Doctor, but they revolt. When the Daleks give orders, the human Daleks say, “But why? But why?”, which freaks me out a little, because that’s what I always say to my students when I want them to give me the reasoning or rule behind something that they say.

But the human Daleks exterminate the two Daleks on stage—and, oddly, it never occurred to the Doctor that the Daleks might have built a destruct switch into their human Daleks, so he’s horrified and surprised when they all die.

He start ranting about genocide, but I ignore him, because—well, see my comments above about the Doctor and genocide.

All that’s left is Dalek Khan, down in the basement, controlling the battle. He tells the Doctor that he will be exterminated, but the Doctor says Khan should let him, the Doctor, show some compassion and help Khan.

But Khan’s having none of it, and he activates an “emergency temporal shift.”

Now here come Martha and Tallulah, carrying Laszlo with them. He’s dying, but Tallulah asks the Doctor if he can’t help. And the Doctor says “Just you watch me.” This is the tenth Doctor’s equivalent of the ninth Doctor’s “just this once, Rose, everybody lives!” speech at the end of “The Doctor Dances” in season one—though I preferred that one.

And Laszlo finds a home in Hooverville, despite the fact that he’s a pig-slave-mutant-Dalek-hybrid, to use the Doctor’s term.

And Martha and the Doctor leave, with the Doctor’s insistence that, yes, he’ll see the Dalek again. One day.

Next week, we’re back in London with Martha’s family.

[Tonight’s interesting live-blogging trivia: despite fewer typing errors than usual—and no, that’s not a challenge, so stop looking for them!—I must have typed “Doctor” as “Dalek” at least fifteen times while blogging this, though I caught it all but once. I’m assuming that’s a Freudian slip.]

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"

Posted 18 September 2009 in by Catriona

Whoops, running late!

But this is the beginning of season two of Torchwood, and we’re on a quiet Cardiff street, following an old woman as a fin-headed alien drives by in a sportscar, and stops opposite her at the lights.

The woman watches him drive off as the lights change, and there’s the Torchwoodmobile. Gwen leans out the window and asks, “Have you seen a blowfish driving a sportscar?”

The woman points down the road, and Gwen thanks her as Owen drives off.

The woman watches them leave, and says, “Bloody Torchwood.”

Tosh and Ianto are in the back of the car, as Gwen taunts Owen about being scared of the “big fish.”

“Big fish with a gun,” Owen points out, and he has a point.

The main point of this scene—until they catch up with the blowfish, who has run into someone’s living room—is that Jack still isn’t back after the events of the end of season three of Doctor Who.

The blowfish is smacked out of his brain on cocaine, by the way, and is taunting them all about their weakness, while he holds a gun to a teenage girl’s head, having already shot her father.

But then the blowfish’s head explodes—because Jack has turned up behind Ianto to say, “Hello kids. Did you miss me?”

NICK: You’re a charming psychopath, Jack.

Back at the Hub, the team is going about their business in a slightly manic fashion, until Jack speaks up—at which point Gwen slams Jack into a wall and demands to know where he’s been.

Jack says he found his Doctor, but he came back for them—he’s looking at Ianto, but he modifies it to “All of you.”

Then there’s rift activity, and James Marsters steps through. Hey, James!

He strolls through the city in simply the most fabulous boots I have ever seen, and comes across a man holding another man against the bonnet of a car, threatening to cut his throat.

But James Marsters grabs the man with the knife, holds him over the edge of the multi-story carpark they’re on (Heather! Carpark!) and then drops him over the side.

Oh. So he’s Batman.

Then he decides he’s thirsty, wanders into a bar, kicks out all the ugly people, and orders “one of everything.” When the bouncers arrive, he pulls out two guns, and asks, “Oh. Did I mention I’m armed?”

Cue screaming.

Torchwood are with the dead body, the one James Marsters dropped off a building: there are traces of rift activity around the dead man’s neck.

But then Jack’s wrist thingie starts beeping—and here’s a hologram of James Marsters complaining that he got the answering machine. Then he does a Princess Leia impersonation.

Jack, looking stunned, tells his crew not to follow him, but to stay where they are and wait for him. They’re furious, and Ianto calls a taxi.

But Jack is at the pub, where James Marsters is drinking alone as Jack pushes open the double doors and moseys on into the saloon.

Do they fight or do they kiss, I wonder?

And kiss it is—and then James Marsters punches Jack in the face, and we have a serious punch up to the tune of a Blur song. See, I said this season was more fun than season one!

Meanwhile, the Torchwood team are tracking Jack, and learning that there’s a bar disturbance at the same coordinates.

GWEN: He’s our boss, and we know nothing about him. Drives me crazy.
IANTO: It is more fun when he’s around, though.
ALL: Oh, definitely.

Apparently, James Marsters is Captain John. Jack says he worked his way up through the ranks, and Captain John says he’s sure the ranks were very grateful.

After telling Jack that he’s been through drink, drug, sex, and murder rehabs, Captain John explains that the Time Agency has been closed down, and that there are only seven of them left now.

That’s when the others turn up, and Captain John simultaneously praises their prettiness and mocks their name.

Captain John tells the team that he and Jack were partners—in every way. Jack insists it was only a fortnight, but Captain John says that during the two weeks, they were trapped in a time loop, so they were together for five years.

After some more banter, John says he’s tracing some highly explosive alien technology that fell through the rift, and which has the potential to destroy the entire planet.

At the Hub, John is taken in through the “entrance for tourists.”

JOHN: I remember the last time you said that.

Oh, the homoerotic banter has been dialed up to eleven for this one. My, those boots are just beautiful, though.

Jack disarms John, not without some out-and-out lies from John about how many weapons he’s carrying.

Gwen tries to push Jack to tell her more about what John meant when he said that Jack was a “time agent,” but Jack says the past isn’t important. Gwen tries to bully him into it by telling her that the policy of disclosure is one-sided, that he knows everything about her, and she knows nothing about him. And he does tell her, obliquely, that he saw the end of the world, but he’s distracted by the sight of Gwen’s engagement ring—and her adorable little face as she tells him.

JACK: Did he get down on one knee?
GWEN: Well, he tried to, but he got a twinge in his back and had to lie on the sofa. That’s when he popped the question.
JACK: And you said yes?
GWEN: Well, no one else will have me.

And that’s this season for you: flipping from adorable to heart-breaking in a single scene.

The team break up to check other parts of the city, and Gwen says she’s heading off with John, though Jack is less than thrilled about this. He gives three rules: never believe anything he says, always keep him in front of you, and never under any circumstances kiss him.

Now, if only Buffy had adhered to those three rules.

In the dockyards, checking out shipping containers, Gwen is gently pushing John for information about the dead woman who told him about the dangerous devices, but Gwen isn’t entirely subtle about it, and John pushes her away.

Then Rhys rings to tell her about his promotion, and Gwen turns her back on John. Hey, Gwen? How long have you been following those three rules for?

But John turns up again, telling her that she’s too trusting, and that, as far as Jack’s concerned, once a con man, always a con man. He opens a shipping container, to see a device inside. But she’s so excited that she dashes ahead of John (the rules! the rules!), and then he snogs her.

It looks fun, except he’s wearing paralysing lip gloss. If she isn’t found, her organs will shut down in two hours, which makes it all the more problematic when John shuts her in a shipping container and throws her phone away.

In another location, Owen and Tosh wander into a warehouse full of rubbish, which Owen points out will only make it more difficult to find the canister. He asks Tosh why they’re doing this with their life, and Tosh says yes: they could be out having fun.

There’s a little banter about Owen not being bothered to go out on the pull, and Tosh thinks she’s flirting with him a little, but at that point John shows up and smacks Tosh around before pulling a gun on Owen, and disarming them both.

John briefly wanders whether to use “the efficiency of a gun or the brutality of wood” (a cricket bat) on Owen, but Owen taunts him sufficiently that he just shoots him.

In another location, Jack and Ianto are in an office space, and Jack is wittering about office romances and photocopying your butt. Ianto is being very formal (when Jack asks how he’s been, Ianto says, “All the better for seeing you, sir!” in an unusually perky fashion), but then Jack asks him out for dinner and a movie, and Ianto gets all flustered, though he says yes.

Ianto wonders why Jack is so keen to help John, but Jack says John is a reminder of his past—and he wants him gone.

As Ianto tears the office apart, he hears what sounds like the lift, and he heads out with his gun drawn, but John, behind him, says “Into the lift, eye candy.”

He tells Ianto that his friends are bleeding, dying, and he barely has time to save them. He tells Ianto that when he hits the ground floor, he should run, see if he could save them, because if he comes back upstairs, John will shoot on sight.

And Jack finds the canister on the roof just as we see Ianto driving off down in the street.

Jack asks John is all he wanted was for Jack’s “dolly birds” to do all the leg work for him, to find the radiation cluster bombs he’s been seeking, but John says he wants Jack to come back to his senses, and join up with John again. He wonders how Jack can stick to one planet, but Jack says the temptation spiel isn’t so interesting now John is older.

JACK: And what are those, wrinkles around your eyes?
JOHN: Laugh lines.
JACK: Hell of a good joke.

Jack drops the canister off the building, and John pushes Jack off the building.

Ianto drives, and, luckily for poor old gunshot Owen, he finds Tosh and Owen first.

John moseys on out of the building, to find Jack in—oh, ew! Oh, wow, that’s really, really painful looking. (He’s landed over a park bench, if you’re not watching this at home.) He tells Jack that “rehab”—I’m guessing murder rehab?—didn’t really work, and nicks Jack’s keys.

Now Tosh, Gwen, and Ianto are looking for Gwen, but her phone, of course, has been thrown away. But Tosh can trace where Gwen made her last call—she says “made the call,” anyway, but Gwen only answered a phone call, surely? Eh, c’est la vie. And this is why it’s convenient that Ianto found Owen and Tosh first, because Owen can use the anti-toxin kit to bring her back.

John is in the Hub, and chatting to the dead fish, whom he clearly knows. But the Torchwood team are all there: well, minus Jack. They’re all armed, and all pretty pissed.

John tries to throw them off by telling them that Jack is dead, but Jack just strolls in and tells the gobsmacked John that he can’t die.

John asks what it costs, though: every time he has to drag himself back, all the pain, and trauma? He says he pities Jack, but his face is saying something else entirely.

Gwen asks John what’s actually in the canisters, and John says it’s an extremely rare gemstone, or at least the location of it. Tosh says he said he was carrying out a dying woman’s wish, and John says she was dying: he’d shot her.

John opens the canister, and there’s a hologram of the woman. She says there’s no diamond—only this: and the canister forms into a bomb that latches onto the DNA of whoever killed her.

John begs for help, but when they’re reluctant, he grabs Gwen and handcuffs himself to her with unbreakable handcuffs. Now, he points out, they have to help her.

Gwen’s idea is that she and John throw themselves into the rift when it opens—the crack in the rift in the carpark where John arrived is still open. (Heather! Carpark!) John asks how this helps them, but Gwen says it doesn’t.

John, in the car, says he’s beginning to see what Jack likes about this planet—all the people are gorgeous, including the poodle that he’s just seen.

They’re running out of time, but here’s Jack in the blowfish’s sportscar, and he leaps on John and injects him with something. It should confuse the disc, he says—and, sure enough, it falls off just in time for Jack to throw it through the rift.

And now it’s night. Well, that’s weird.

But Jack says everything has reverted to the point where John came through the rift.

JACK: Now we have to avoid ourselves. Great.

He says he wants John gone, which is easier once John unlocks the handcuffs (conveniently allowing Gwen to punch him in the face, which he rather deserves).

Jack orders John to leave, and he does after giving Jack a quick snog—but as he disappears, he says, “Oh, I meant to tell you. I found Gray.” And Jack is horrified, staring at where John was, but he tells his team it’s “nothing,” and they should get back to work.

And we end on a flashforward over the key moments of what, I’m not going to lie to you, is going to be a slightly depressing ride.

(I have to break one of my own live-blogging rules, and come back in here to note that, according to Torchwood Declassified, currently airing, Captain John wasn’t even in a real carpark! When you have to descend to a green-screen carpark, there’s something wrong.)

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Daleks in Manhattan"

Posted 14 September 2009 in by Catriona

Well, it’s hit and miss as to whether Twitter wants to tweet this blog post or not. I’ll wait and see what happens, shall I?

Well, what do you know? Twitter has decide to behave itself, after all. Now I’m just bewildered about why it has been intermittently failing to tweet them over the last week or so.

What’s that you say? This is my most boring introduction to a live-blogging ever?

Well, you might have a point.

Still, it’s better than tweeting what I’m watching at the moment, which would not only be spoileriffic but would also probably be bitter. Man, it’s a shame when you don’t really enjoy something that you used to love.

Of course, now I think I’m running late with the actual live-blogging.

No! We’ve just flipped it over, and here we are in Manhattan, with enthusiastic chorus girls rapping on a door and shouting for “Tallulah” to let “Laszlo” go, and to come out onto stage.

I may have spelt either of them wrong, but I haven’t time to check right now.

Of course, as soon as Tallulah disappears, Laszlo hears an odd noise and, like an idiot, he heads out to investigate. (The noise, by the way, can’t decide if it’s more of an oinking, a purring, or a growling.)

It’s certainly not being made by that statue of a pirate.

Instead, it’s coming from that man with a pig’s head. Well, you don’t see one of those every day.

I stopped there to have a quick chat with Nick on a subject of no relevance to this live-blogging, and, in the interim, the Doctor and Martha have landed in New York in November 1930. And, of course, the Doctor notices a mystery in Hooverville, and decides that they’re going to stay a little longer to help solve the mystery.

Hooverville, it seems, is a shanty town in the middle of Central Park, filled with people who have lost their jobs and homes, and can’t find anywhere else to live. We arrive just in time to see “Solomon” break up a fight by dividing a loaf of bread in half.

Good thing they weren’t fighting over a baby.

Solomon, of course, is the man that the Doctor wants to talk to, because he’s the man in charge.

(And drink, if you’re playing Nick’s game of “how many times do people assume he’s a medical doctor,” by the way. Why does no one ever assume he’s a Ph.D.?)

Yes, I should be talking about the plot, but it’s really just a discourse on economics at this point, which is dull to read (I would imagine) and also difficult to recap. But, luckily for my attention span, the scene has flipped to the Empire State Building, where the shift boss is telling the man in charge that he’ll have his men walk out if the “new bosses” don’t stop over-working them.

But, of course, the “new bosses” are Daleks, and Daleks don’t take kindly to threats of industrial stoppages. Ah, and there are also two pig people.

The Dalek tells the pig people to take the shift boss “for the final experiment,” and to replace him with someone who is less likely to care if his men are worked half to death. The Daleks have plans for the Empire State Building.

Back in Hooverville, the Doctor confronts Solomon about the missing men from the shanty town. He tells them that the men are lured away, and that they leave behind them all their possessions, despite owning next to nothing.

But at that point, the boss from the Empire State Building arrives, looking for men to work for a dollar a day. Solomon tells them those are “slave wages,” but the Doctor, of course, volunteers, leaving Martha with no choice but to follow suit. Frank—a young man from Tennessee—and Solomon both volunteer, as well.

And they all head down the sewers. They have torches, but it’s still not my idea of a good time.

Naturally, at that point, they come across what looks like a radioactive jellyfish in the tunnel.

MARTHA: And you just have to pick it up.

The Doctor asks Martha for her opinion, and she says she knows it’s not human. The Doctor’s quite thrilled about that.

Ack! Dalek bumps!


The boss wants his workers to attach the Dalek bumps to the mast of the Empire State Building, but the work has to be done tonight. They object vociferously, because it’s November: their hands will freeze, and the chances of falling are vastly increased.

But the boss doesn’t care, because he’s horrible.

Then a Dalek appears in the lift, and insists—well, he insists that Daleks “have no concept of ‘worry,’” which doesn’t seem true, or why is he pushing for the conductor to be finished tonight, and sounding quite hysterical about it?

Ah, I see: it’s jealousy. The Dalek is now talking about the devastation of Skaro in the Time War, yet Earth continues in various forms through history.

Then we see three more Daleks, who ask the jealous Dalek to bring the boss to them for the “final experiment.” I know this much: if you’re invited to take part in such a thing, it’s never to your advantage.

This goes double if the experiment is being conducted by Daleks. (Also? There are pig people.)

You know, I have a feeling that this is my most incoherent live-blogging in a long time, but there’s really not much to get a grip on in this episode. It’s not what you’d call the most dynamic and exciting of Dalek episodes.

The boss thanks Dalek Sek, the leader of the Cult of Skaro—remember them? From “Doomsday”?—for the chance to rise to power, but Dalek Sek is perhaps the most dismissive Dalek we’ve ever met. Dalek Sek has the pig people bind the boss.

At this point, I’m wishing I’d taken the trouble to learn the boss’s name in advance. I’m not enjoying typing “the boss” over and over.

THE DOCTOR: Oh, but what are you?
ME: A pig person.

Of course, I’ve skipped a step: they’ve found a lachrymose pig person in the sewers, and while the Doctor is comforting him, a posse of pig people appear and chase them.

Well, you know what Hamlet said about pig people: they come not as single spies, but in whole battalions.

Then poor Frank from Tennessee, who left home and hitch-hiked to New York to save his mother the cost of another mouth to feed—poor Frank is dragged from the ladder, and pulled screaming into the pile of pig people.

Poor Frank. He had “red shirt” written all over him.

But the others are safe, and being held at gun point by Tallulah, who demands to know what they did with Laszlo.

Then she tells us what happened to Laszlo, but we know what happened to Laszlo, because we saw it happen.

Still, though, the Doctor does drag the radioactive jellyfish out of his pocket, which prompts Nick to say that Janis Joplin would be very disappointed in how the Doctor is treating that coat.

Solomon is guilt-stricken that he stopped the others from helping Frank, because he—pursued, for the first time in his life, by a posse of pig people—was frightened. I think pig people are fairly frightening.

Martha and Tallulah chat as Tallulah gets ready to go on stage. She’s explaining why she’s able to keep performing when she’s so worried about Laszlo. And Martha finds someone to sympathise with her about the fact that the Doctor is “into musical theatre.” Well, that’s Tallulah’s take on it, but, of course, she’s never heard of Rose.

Back in Hooverville, Solomon is rousing the rabble. Basically, he’s setting up guards, and having them protect Hooverville against the people who appear in the night.

And at the top of the Empire State Building, the men are attaching the Dalek bumps to the mast, despite the fact that they can’t feel their fingers.

In the basement of the Empire State Building, the boss is being restrained by two pig slaves, while Dalek Sek tells him that they “need his flesh.” That’s not something you ever want to hear.

Well, not very often, anyway.

Once the other members of the Cult of Skaro hear this, their xenophobia boils over, and they object vociferously.

NICK: Why is it that senior management always wait until the final meeting before complaining?

But Dalek Sek points out that they’ve all made sacrifices (and the Dalek nose pieces droop plaintively, as they contemplate the missing bits of their skirts, currently being riveted to the building’s mast), and then Sek opens his casing, and sucks the boss inside.

NICK: That’s both gross and implausible.

As we head into an extended musical number (not, I must say, my cup of tea), the Doctor realises that his radioactive jellyfish is genetically engineered.

And Martha sneaks across stage, stepping on devil’s tails and knocking dancers everywhere, because she sees a pig slave standing in the wings—just as the Doctor realises that the jellyfish’s planet of origin is Skaro.

Good thing he took that advanced course in “DNA identification by serial number and, occasionally, taste” at the Academy.

Martha is kidnapped, but she screams loudly enough to alert the Doctor—who is followed by Tallulah, firmly refusing to leave because the Doctor might lead her to Laszlo.

And, hey! There’s Frank. He’s not dead, after all!

Tallulah—talking too loudly—is dragged into a side tunnel by the Doctor, who hears a Dalek coming. Luckily—since the side tunnel is only four feet deep—the Dalek doesn’t look sideways as it passes. I hope it’s not on patrol, but just, I don’t know, nipping out for a carton of milk, or something.

The Doctor rants about Daleks for a little while.

In the basement, the Cult of Skaro want to stop the experiment, because they say that Dalek Sek is “failing.” But Dalek Sek says that the experiment must continue, that they must evolve.

Well, that’s directly counter to everything we’ve ever been told about the Dalek mythos, isn’t it? Still, I suppose a war will do that to the most xenophobic of people.

In the tunnels, Tallulah and the Doctor run across Laszlo, though it takes Tallulah an inordinately long time to realise that it’s Laszlo. To her credit, though, she doesn’t seem too freaked out by the fact that he now looks like a pig. Unlike the other pig slaves, he still seems to have his own mind, though.

Martha and Frank, corralled with the other missing people, are confronted by two Daleks, who discuss their secret plans in front of the prisoners (apparently, the conductor is ready), and then settle down to separating the prisoners into people of low and high intelligence: those of low intelligence are taken to be turned into pig slaves, while those of high intelligence are taken to the “transgenic laboratory” to be used in the final experiment.

Laszlo tries to get the Doctor to leave, but he won’t—so Laszlo sends Tallulah off, while he and the Doctor join the group of highly intelligent prisoners. (The Doctor tells Martha she can kiss him later, which is just mean.)

In the transgenic laboratory, Dalek Sek is entering the final stage of evolution, and the other Daleks “prepare for birth.” Martha wonders what’s going on, and the Doctor tells her to ask them. He’s right, though: as Nick points out, Daleks can be quite chatty.

And they tell her their secret plans: they need to evolve a life outside the shell, because they’re the only four Daleks left in existence.

I don’t quite see the advantages that walking would give them, since the human-Dalek hybrid that’s just stepped out of Sek’s casing looks as though it would be more damageable than your usual Dalek.

Plus, there’s the question of the xenophobia, of course.

Still, we’ll see how they deal with this next week, shall we?

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "End of Days"

Posted 11 September 2009 in by Catriona

So, here we are for the last episode of season one of Torchwood. I don’t know yet whether they’re heading straight into season two: if they do, I’ll certainly live-blog it, but I think it might be the death of Nick.

Season two was nearly the death of Nick the first time around, actually.

On another note, Twitter keeps refusing to automatically update my blog posts. Why? Why does Twitter hate me so much? (This has no bearing on Torchwood, of course, but I become bored if I have to stop typing for more than a minute or so.)

Speaking to this American woman who asks me if I could go back and do it all again, would I? The answer to that is “Hell, no.” I’d actually go to great lengths to avoid being a teenager again.

But let’s get back to Torchwood, shall we? Ooh, this one contains coarse language and violence! What, no sex?

We flash back to Bilis from last week’s “Captain Jack Harkness,” so we’ll assume he’s also in this episode.

But we begin with Gwen, staring at Rhys as he sleeps. Apparently they’re on good terms again, then. Oh, and he’s naked! That’s fabulous—I really needed to see that at this time of night.

Then Jack rings to ask Gwen if she’s watching the news.

Apparently, there are sightings of UFOs, and also people in “historic dress” across London. Religious extremists are calling it “Judgement Day”—the end of days. And we have episode title!

Cut to Ianto reading from Daniel 12:10 about the end of days, and moving on to read more until Jack cuts him off.

JACK: You people love any story that denies the randomness of existence.

Well, Torchwood is doing its best to counteract the lack of nihilism in modern story-telling, isn’t it, Jack?

Jack points out that this is Owen’s fault, to which Owen responds with a highly offended “What?” But Jack’s right: Owen opened the rift without knowing what he was doing, and these are the aftershocks. Meanwhile, Owen is just mouthing off to Jack and trying to get out of taking Tosh with him to the hospital.

When Tosh and Owen leave, Gwen has a go at Jack about telling Owen off in public, saying all of his staff have feelings, even Owen. “Well, you’d know,” says Jack.

Then Gwen’s friend Andy calls, and points out that they have a Roman soldier in the cells, and what’s he supposed to do about it?

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the main point.

JACK: Under any other circumstances, an exuberant Roman soldier would be my idea of a perfect morning.

We know, Jack.

Gwen tries to reassure Andy that this isn’t the end of days, but he’s not going to believe her because he knows her too well.

In the hospital, Owen and Tosh are investigating a mysterious death: the woman isn’t wearing contemporary clothes, and she’s died of the Black Death. Bubonic plague: fabulous.

Now Owen realises that it’s his fault. For some reason, the bubonic plague is what it takes to trigger it. I find that an odd kink, for some reason.

Then Owen lays into the doctor, just because the doctor is slightly confused by the sudden outbreak of bubonic plague in the middle of Cardiff.

Then Tosh has a vision of a woman with a head wound—Tosh’s mother. She tells Tosh that it’s coming out of the darkness, and also has a secondary purpose of giving Owen an excuse to treat Tosh badly. Again.

Jack explains, quite sensibly, to Gwen why they can’t just open the rift again, but she walks away from him—only to see Bilis in a cell, telling her he’s “so sorry.”

She tells Jack this, back at the Hub, but she can’t tell him anything interesting before Ianto comes in with a weevil: apparently, the weevils are reacting badly to the disturbances. (Jack suspects they might be “time sensitive.” We’re all bloody time sensitive, Jack—just ask my wrinkles.)

Then Ianto gets a vision of his dead Cybergirlfriend (before she was all cyber-y) and she tells him that the only way to stop this is to open the rift.

Owen is a highly insubordinate second in command, isn’t he? If I were Jack, I’d have punched him by now. What does he expect Jack to do? Time is unravelling! How are you supposed to fix it? Great big pair of knitting needles?

But then Owen pushes it too far, telling Jack that since Jack doesn’t even technically exist, there’s no reason for Owen to follow his orders.

Jack fires him.

And Owen responds, as he did before, with “What?”

Nick points out that he’d think better of Owen if he just said, “Fine!” instead.

Jack tells anyone who agrees with Owen that they can leave, too. No one stands forward. And Owen starts getting a little distressed—or is this emotional blackmail?—about the idea that he’s going to be ret-conned within twenty-four hours.

No, not emotional blackmail. He has a genuine breakdown outside. But, you see, Owen, this is what we mean when we say all actions have consequences. You can’t really swear at your boss and tell him he’s an incompetent figment of someone’s imagination (I’m paraphrasing), and then not expect him to sack you, can you?

Jack and Gwen head down to Bilis’s clock shop. He says he can “step across eras,” as someone else would walk into another room. He says it’s a curse: he can see all of history, but he doesn’t belong anywhere.

And Bilis offers the same advice as the apparitions are offering: the rift needs to be opened again.

Jack refuses again, though Gwen seems tempted. And Jack tries to arrest Bilis, but he steps out of time—only to pop up again behind Gwen after Jack has gone, to tell Gwen that he’s not her enemy.

He tells Gwen to hold his hands, and he shows her the future—Rhys’s ugly and violent death. She’s seriously freaked out by this, as you would be, and goes tearing past Jack and straight back home, where Rhys is cleaning the oven.

She grabs Rhys, and tries to pull him out of the house, but when he resists she tasers him.

Hmm, I would think that would be something that she’d have to buy flowers to make up for. Maybe flowers, a pint down the local, and a curry.

Owen, getting smashed in some generic nightclub, sees Diane, who tells him that she’s lost, and he needs to open the rift to bring her back.

This is like a Brannon Braga episode of Star Trek.

Rhys wakes up in the cells, and Gwen tells him that this is where she works. Rhys is, oddly, not really comfortable with this new arrangement.

Gwen tells him that he needs to trust her, but she still doesn’t give him any information, and then she just leaves him in the cell, with wailing weevils next door. Yep, there’s a great deal of trust in this relationship right here.

Gwen is being honest with her co-workers, though: she’s telling them how tactile and real the vision was, so that she could even feel the blood on her hands.

And then there’s a security breach in the hub. Which means the cells are open. And Rhys, since he hasn’t the faintest idea how dangerous things are down there, is happily wandering around. And there’s Bilis, whom Rhys thinks is a co-worker of Gwen’s. But, instead, Bilis stabs Rhys in the guts. Wow. That was unpleasant.

Bilis walks away as the security alarms end, and Gwen and Jack comes haring into the room to find Rhys dead and covered in blood.

Gwen is in screaming hysterics. It’s actually really, really difficult to watch, or even listen to. She’s trying to tell Jack that they can bring him back, but Jack says there’s nothing they can do.

Gwen sits next to the body, and she tells Ianto that she’ll have to tell Rhys’s family. Ianto says they’ll deal with it, but Gwen says, “No.” She says they won’t “deal with” Rhys the way they dealt with the porter the first time she met them.

Gwen is really quite horrible to Tosh here, but I’ll give her a pass. (It’s not as though Tosh said anything horrible. If she’d said, “At least he’s not suffering any more,” I could understand. But “I’m so sorry” is pretty benign. Still, grief.)

And then Owen charges in. And he says he’s going to open the rift. Jack asks Ianto to make sure he stops Owen, but Ianto says no. And they all say no. They say they’re going to help him.

Jack says this is a trap, that it’s exactly what Bilis wants.

OWEN: What are you afraid of, Jack?
ME: Destroying the world?

Jack pulls a gun on them—and, as though that’s not enough, he pulls out every single unpleasant characteristic they’ve ever shown and every unpleasant thing they’ve ever done.

Oddly enough, this doesn’t take as long as you’d think it would.

Then he taunts Gwen with her relationship with Owen, and Gwen punches him in the face.

It’s all about context, Jack.

Owen holds the gun on Jack while the others open the rift, but when Jack taunts Owen, Owen shoots him.

Three times.

I mean, that’s some serious repressed rage there.

And they open the rift.

Jack comes back to life just as the Hub—and, by extension—the world in general, starts going to hell in a handbasket. You know how every time the Doctor tries a fancy maneuver in the TARDIS, sparks come out of everywhere? That’s what’s happening with the Hub.

They flee, as Gwen insists that everything is going to go back to normal now, so they shouldn’t be worrying any more.

But, of course, as they see Bilis in the street, he’s now spouting apocalyptic prophecies, and there’s a—

Oh. Wow. That’s—

Excuse me a moment. I’ll be back as soon as I work out a decent alphabetical representation for repressing hysterical giggles.

Oh, wait. People are lying dead in the streets. That’s suddenly not so funny. Ah, but there we get another shot of Satan—that’s really what it is: Satan—and I start giggling again.

And Gwen asks Jack what they’re going to do. Um, Gwen? Remember the mutiny? And how your co-worker shot Jack? Three times?

Anyway, Jack needs to get out into an open space, since this Satan-creature feeds on life, and Jack is an “all-you-can-eat buffet.”

Wow. This is really silly. I’m sorry, Torchwood. I love you. I do. But this is deeply, deeply silly.

Oh. Jack’s dead. Again. But he looks really bad this time. Gwen’s weeping over him.

But not for long, because now she’s back in her flat with no transition whatsoever, only to find Rhys there. Wait, how? How did the destruction of the Satan-creature reverse what happened before the rift even opened? Let alone reversing the effects of opening the rift?

Oh, never mind. Let’s just put it all down as [technobabble]. Minus the actual babble, of course.

Gwen sits with Jack’s corpse. She thinks he’ll be coming to life again, but there’s no sign of it. They’ve got him all ready to slide into one of the vaults.

Ianto, Owen, and Tosh watch Gwen watch Jack.

Ianto cries as he rearranges the papers on Jack’s desk. He takes down Jack’s coat, and buries his face in it.

Tosh says to Gwen that it’s been days.

No, but wait. Has Gwen stood there for days? And if it’s been days, has Jack been rotting all this time? Or did they preserve him? Because either of those would probably answer the question of whether he’s coming back.

Then Gwen gives him a kiss. And he comes back to life.

NICK: He’ll always come back for a kiss.

Aw, that’s fairy tale, that is.

Ianto runs up and throws himself into Jack’s arms: they embrace and kiss. Then Jack forgives Owen, and Owen throws himself into Jack’s arms, weeping. (They embrace, but don’t kiss.)

Torchwood has really, really lax policies on inter-office romances, doesn’t it?

Jack tells Gwen that the rift closed when the Satan-creature was destroyed, but that it will be more volatile than ever. Gwen tells him about their visions, and asks Jack what he saw. He says nothing: “There was nothing.”

Most nihilistic show on television.

And she asks Jack what would have tempted him, and he says the right kind of Doctor—and we end the show with music that sounds suspiciously familiar, and the sound of the TARDIS materialising.

(Unfortunate, really, that they changed their mind about how that happened before they got to the end of season three of Doctor Who.)

And that’s the end of season one. But Torchwood continues next week, so come back for the live-blogging of the (in my opinion, which is far from humble) definitely superior season two.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Gridlock"

Posted 7 September 2009 in by Catriona

Dear lord, I’m tired. I just thought I’d put that out there at the beginning of this episode, in case I pass out on the keyboard halfway through.

Or make some embarrassing typing errors.

Either, really.

Still, it’s been a productive day: I just wish I didn’t have night classes tomorrow night, since I would very much like to stay in bed all day.

But that’s enough about me. Why don’t we talk about the Doctor and Martha for a little while?

We begin with Sally Calypso bringing us the traffic news: all car-jackings and accidents, which terrifies the couple in the car, who are dressed as though they’ve just escaped from American Gothic.

Still, in the time it took me to find that link, they were killed by a mysterious creature, so that’s all right then.

Post-credits, we’re in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Martha. He tells her that he’ll stretch the terms of their agreement: one trip into the past and one trip into the future. Martha asks if they can visit his planet, and the Doctor tries to stall. As she pushes him further, he talks about Gallifrey for the first real time in the series: the Citadel enclosed in a glass bubble, with, beyond it, the mountains going on for ever, with deep-red grass and capped with snow.

I cry a little.

But the Doctor snaps out of it, and says no: where’s the fun for him? he asks. He doesn’t want to go home, so instead they’ll head to New Earth, to visit New New York.

Martha is not stupid: she knows that there’s something hinky about taking her to the same planets as he took Rose to.

But before they can thrash this issue out once and for all, and get over the tension, a series of vendors throw up their shutters and start trying to sell the Doctor and Martha suspicious-sounding wares.

Martha asks if they’re selling drugs, but the Doctor says he thinks they’re selling moods: “Same thing,” says Martha.

They watch a young girl buy “forget” to, well, forget that her parents have “gone on the Motorway.” But before they can do more than react to this, Martha is kidnapped by a young couple who, claiming that “they just need three,” drug her to sleep and shove her in a van before flying off as the Doctor chases after them, shouting.

Hey, it’s Annie! Now why didn’t I recognise her from Being Human, when I’ve already seen this episode before?

The Doctor dashes back to the vendors, and asks them to explain what just happened to Martha. They explain about the “car-sharing” policy: you get special benefits when you have three people in the car.

Though they answer all the Doctor’s questions quite happily and without pausing, he then tells them to cash up and shut down, because when he’s found Martha alive and well, he’s coming back to shut them down.

Martha wakes up, and finds the gun that her kidnappers used to take her, but Cheen (the female member of the couple) says that it’s not a real gun.

So Martha listens to Cheen explain that she and Milo are expecting a child, and so they’re heading out the suburbs. Once they get there, they’ll let Martha go. Martha’s keen on that idea, until she hears that the journey will take roughly six years.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is picked up by Thomas Kincade Brannigan, who is a giant cat person (like the nuns from season one) and his wife Valerie—and their kittens. Yes, literal kittens. They’ve been driving for twelve years, and have covered a distance of five miles in that time.

The Doctor tries to leap out, but Brannigan points out that they’ve passed the lay-by: the next one should be in another six months or so.

Martha learns about how one lives in a tiny little van for years on end.

The Doctor, meanwhile, tries to locate Martha. Valerie says that the motorway is completely enclosed: you can’t make outside calls. Brannigan says they can call other cars, as long as they’re on your “friends” list: he calls an elderly couple (he calls them sisters, to which one of them responds acidly that he knows they’re not sisters: they’re married). Fortunately, one of them is a car spotter, so at least she can put the Doctor on the right path.

Back in Cheen and Milo’s van, Martha hears a strange noise: Milo says it’s just the air vents, but Cheen repeats a horror story about monsters that wait for you to go astray and then destroy you.

Martha points out that, given the density of the fumes, it doesn’t look as though the air vents are working, but Milo—looking visibly shaken—insists that Cheen’s stories are just myths.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is destroying his travellers’ faith in their lives, asking them if they ever see police cars? Or ambulances? Or anything?

Unsurprisingly, they’re not thrilled by this interpretation, but, thankfully, at this point, Sally Calypso pops up again to initiate a motorway-wide singalong of “The Old Rugged Cross.”

Martha cries.

Cheen and Milo’s van finally gets access to the fast lane. But the Doctor, not noticeably softened by the hymn, says that if Brannigan and Valerie still refuse to take him down to the fast lane, he’ll find his own way.

He takes his coat off—telling them to take care of it, since Janis Joplin gave it to him and he loves it—then leaps out of the van, saying that he hardly knows Martha, because he was too busy showing off and, besides, he lied to her.

VALERIE: He’s completely insane.
BRANNIGAN: That, and a bit magnificent.

The Doctor works his way down through various vans occupied by a broad range of aliens.

Down in the fast lane, Cheen and Milo are finding that all the Brooklyn tunnels are closed. Milo says they’ll just drive around and around, but a car some fifty yards behind them calls them on the radio, telling them that the tunnels are closed, they’re always closed, and that there’s something down here, something dangerous.

Cue the screaming, both from the car behind and from Milo and Cheen’s car.

The Doctor finally hits the bottom layer, and opens the hatch in the base of the car, looking down into the motorway. He wants to see what’s down there.

Back in Brannigan’s car, a nun jumps through their roof, demanding to see the Doctor.

The Doctor manages to trigger the fans, clearing the smoke, so he can see what’s below. It’s the Macra. Oooh, they’re old-school villains, they are—though, admittedly, they mostly look just like giant crabs.

In the interim, they’ve nearly managed to catch Cheen, Milo, and Martha’s van, but Martha suggests they go to silent running, as submarines do. Of course, Milo points out, they need to turn the engine back on if they want oxygen.

Just as the Doctor is explaining how the Macra once had a mighty empire based on human slaves, the nun leaps down into the van: it’s Novice Hame from the original New Earth episode. She transports the Doctor back up to New New York—and as he insists he needs to see the Senate, she says they’re in the Senate. She triggers the light, and we see the bodies everywhere.

They’re all dead, everyone in the city, and have been for twenty-four years, killed by a new mood called “Bliss,” which mutated to a virus that killed the world in seven minutes.

There was enough time to seal the world off and keep the people on the motorway safe.

Novice Hame said they did everything that they could to keep the system running, and the Doctor asks who “they” are?

Of course, as we know from earlier in the episode, it’s the Face of Boe, who has been giving his life force to keep the city’s systems running. The Doctor asks why they never called for help, and Novice Hame says that the Senate’s last act was to declare New Earth unsafe: the automatic quarantine lasts for one-hundred years. So the Face of Boe and Novice Hame have stayed to keep the only people left on the world, the people on the motorway, alive and safe.

In Milo and Cheen’s van, they talk a little about faith: Martha says they have their faith and their hymns, and she has faith in the Doctor.

They turn the engines back on, so now they’re frantically fleeing the Macra.

NICK: Oh, I don’t see how they can possibly get out of this one!

The Doctor’s trying to wire up the computers, but there’s a problem with the wiring, until the Face of Boe intervenes, to his own peril.

And, suddenly, the roof of the motorway opens up, so sunlight comes streaming down on the cars.

Then the Doctor pops up on the screens of the vans, telling everyone to drive up, so that they can clear the fast lane.

It takes a remarkably short amount of time for all those cars to clear out of the motorway, doesn’t it?

Martha’s faith has been rewarded, but, in a way, the general population’s faith has been rewarded, as well: Sally Calypso might have just been a hologram, but behind that hologram were two people who devoted much of their lives to keeping those people safe.

Well, the rest of their lives, in the Face of Boe’s case. Because the Face of Boe is dying. (Somehow, he’s much creepier out of the glass jar, just a giant face on the floor.)

The Doctor tells Martha he doesn’t know what the Face of Boe is: that legend says that the Face of Bo is billions of years old. And Novice Hame tells them that there’s another legend: that the Face of Boe will speak his last secret at the end of his life.

The Doctor tries to brush this off, but the Face of Boe says no: everything must die, and he is the last of his kind, as the Doctor is the last of his.

This comes as a shock to Martha.

Then the Face of Boe dies, saying, “Know this, Time Lord: you are not alone.”

Walking through the closed-down Pharmacy Town where they came in, Martha asks the Doctor what the Face of Boe was talking about. He tries to blow her off, as he always does.

But Martha sits and refuses to move, saying that the Doctor never talks, never says anything. (And, for the record, I like this pushing past the Doctor’s inhibitions.)

And, as they hear the new inhabitants of New New York singing a hymn in unison, the Doctor tells Martha that all his people are dead, that he is the last of the Time Lords.

Martha asks what happened, and the Doctor sits opposite her, and tells her that his people fought the last of the great Time Wars, for the sake of all mankind—and they lost.

The Doctor talks again about Gallifrey, and the rising of the second sun, the silver leaves on the trees—and his voice fades out against the back drop of the hymn.

David Tennant is crying when he gives that speech about the lost beauties of Gallifrey. (And so was I.)

Next week: Daleks!

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Captain Jack Harkness"

Posted 4 September 2009 in by Catriona

Here’s what I have done thus far today:

  • paid the rent
  • done some grocery shopping
  • marked an enormous pile of assessment
  • played a small amount of Plants versus Zombies in my spare moments
  • drunk too much coffee
  • managed a minimal amount of rearranging in the new-shelf-for-the-spare-room debacle, which I might blog about later
  • come up with a new idea for a novel, even though I haven’t finished the first one, yet (or the sequels for it that I’ve been planning in my head since I started it)

It’s not much, when you look at it, is it? And yet I’m strangely exhausted.

Also? My Internet connection is flaky. So I’m slightly worried that I might lose parts of this blog, as I did with “Random Shoes.” Still, at least Twitter is picking up my blog postings, again. I wonder why it missed the last one?

Yes, it’s true: I’ve started blogging too early again, and the episode hasn’t even started.

But it should start any minute, and, oh, how I have been looking forward to this episode.

Yep: here’s the opening monologue. You know the drill by now, surely?

Flashback to Owen, Diane, and the weevils—not all in the same scenes, obviously. And here’s the Torchwoodmobile, as Tosh, dressed up to the nines in a beautiful purple velvet coat and chattering on her phone in Japanese, and Captain Jack turn up at an old dance hall.

(Tosh is supposed to be heading to London for her grandfather’s 88th birthday, by the way.)

Apparently, people have been complaining of hearing 1940s’ music coming out of the building.

JACK: Just handsome young soldiers and pretty young girls, and, as they danced, the girls would look at them, and say . . .
TOSH: Jack, mind my laptop!

And, at that moment, they hear music, and head up to the dance room, to see it full of handsome young soldiers and pretty young girls. It’s not an illusion: it’s a temporal shift.

Tosh says they need to leave, though Jack is reluctant. But they leave, and a vaguely sinister man tells them to come again soon. Jack says sincerely that he would love to.

But as they leave, they notice it’s dark outside, and the car is gone. Tosh asks if it’s been stolen, but Jack says no: they have.


Back at the Hub, Owen is sleeping on a sofa before he’s woken by the insistent beeping of Tosh’s rift monitor. Ianto is checking it, because he says Owen has been “off.” So they ask Gwen to find Jack and Tosh.

Tosh and Jack head back into the building, because it’s where they “crossed over.” Jack tells her they need to “blend in,” but Tosh says it’s easy for him: she’s the only Asian there.

Jack tells her not to worry: “You’re with the Captain.”

Owen is ranting about Diane again, but I don’t care.

Jack tries to buy drinks, but he hasn’t any money. They’re bought for them by a young soldier, on condition that Tosh dances with him. Jack finds this hilarious, until the soldier’s girlfriend asks why George is dancing with “a Jap.”

Gwen turns up at the dance hall, and heads in.

Oooh, did you see the “Vote Saxon” poster on the door? Nice.

Jack tries to break in on the dance with Tosh, and George objects. Jack says it’s fine: George can dance with him, instead.

George punches him in the face.

But the fight is broken up by a handsome officer, who then introduces himself to Jack as “Captain Jack Harkness.” Jack stares at him in astonishment as a man takes a photograph—just in time for Ianto and Owen to find that photograph in a database about the dance hall.

Original Jack asks Our Jack’s name, and Our Jack introduces himself as “James Harper.” Original Jack offers to buy drinks, but Our Jack says they need to leave.

Tosh demands to know why Original Jack has Our Jack’s name, but Our Jack says he knows too much, and she doesn’t want the knowledge he has.

Gwen calls Tosh’s name, and Tosh can hear it, even through the temporal barrier.

Owen and Ianto realise that they only have half the equation they need, because the other half is in Tosh’s laptop.

Tosh starts frantically writing down the equation but, although she never goes anywhere without her laptop, she apparently doesn’t keep the battery charged, so she has trouble getting it all down.

Tosh and Jack are in the manager’s office, and he walks in, being thoroughly creepy. (He’s called Bilis, but I may have spelt that wrong.) He has a Polaroid camera, and, as though that isn’t creepy enough, a file marked “Torchwood.”

Back in our time, Gwen can hear music just before Bilis turns up, calling himself the caretaker. He agrees to open the building for her.

Tosh is worried about what will happen to her: her grandfather stayed in London, but he was persecuted. Jack says he’ll take care of her—and he tells her that he fought in the war in 1941.

He took Captain Jack Harkness’s name, because he needed an identity. But Tosh says that means he must have been . . .

And Jack says yes: Original Jack dies. In battle. Tomorrow.

Tosh and Jack join a group of young soldiers, and Tosh expertly disengages the best navigator from the group, as Original Jack takes Our Jack off to a small table, to have a drink.

George joins them, and boasts about Original Jack’s war record.

Original Jack heads over to the bar—closely watched by Our Jack—where he is accosted by a beautiful but clearly nervous blonde woman. She says she knew he was having a night with the boys, but she thought she’d just pop in.

Meanwhile, Gwen—in conversation with Ianto and Owen—realises that Bilis is the same man who managed the dance hall in the 1940s. Owen wants her to stay, but Ianto orders Gwen to get out.

Tosh is accosted by a group of aggressive soldiers’ girlfriends, who wonder what she’s doing there, when she’s hardly an ally. (And bless Tosh: she admits to being Japanese.)

Our Jack tells them that Tosh is a decoder, and Original Jack jumps in and toasts her work.

Tosh needs to leave a message for the Torchwood gang, but when Our Jack tries to leave, Original Jack jumps in and says he can’t leave: Original Jack just bought him a drink.

Tosh says she’s fine on her own, and Our Jack stays with Original Jack—though the nervous blonde woman is seemingly not thrilled by the competition.

Tosh uses Bilis’s Polaroid to take a photograph of the equation for the Torchwood team to find, while Owen plans to open the rift—perhaps to get Our Jack and Tosh back, but more likely to try and get Diane back.

While doing this, he taunts Ianto about his dead Cyber-girlfriend. Don’t pick on Ianto, Owen.

OWEN: You don’t have any power over me!
ME: Goblin king!

Back in the 1940s, the two Jacks are chatting while the nervous blonde watches from across the room.

NICK: Poor woman. It’s not easy being a beard.

But the nervous woman, Nancy, knows when she’s been out-maneuvered. She makes a half-hearted attempt to convince Original Jack to spend the night with her, but he says he needs to stay with his men.

Our Jack, though, says that you never know what’s ahead, and convinces Original Jack to go after Nancy and kiss her goodbye—where we’re treated to a lovely shot of Our Jack, head bowed, in focus in the foreground, while a blurry Original Jack kisses Nancy in the background.

Nancy tells Original Jack that she loves him, and Original Jack storms back to the table and tells Our Jack that he’s just made things a hundred times worse.

But Our Jack chases Original Jack down the stairs, and tells him that he knows what it’s like: Our Jack says he went to war as a boy, with his best friend, and, when they were caught crossing enemy lines, his friend was tortured to death in front of him.

Original Jack says his men—his boys—haven’t even lived, but Our Jack asks whether any of them have.

Tosh leaves a clue for the the members of the team, as Owen heads off to the dance hall, saying that Bilis has crossed through the rift, and he’ll know how to cross back.

But, back in the 1940s, Tosh notices that she didn’t line up the photograph properly—part of the equation is missing. She hides the photograph anyway, just as bombs begin falling.

Owen searches Bilis’s office as Gwen searches outside and, back in the 1940s, Our Jack and Tosh take shelter from the bombs.

Owen finds a safe, and he’s more excited about that than I am.

In the bomb shelter, Tosh says she needs to finish the message, as Captains Jack make eye contact, and Original Jack smiles, charmingly but almost against his will.

Tosh slashes her own palm open with a rusty paint can, because her blood is more durable a medium than pencil. She writes the rest of the equation down, dipping a makeshift brush into the pool of blood in her palm as a woman sings “The White Cliffs of Dover” to the soldiers and their girls gathered in the bomb shelter.

Owen opens the safe—and it’s empty. But he notes how many timepieces there are around the room as they all chime at once.

He sees Gwen in the corridor, but tells her he didn’t find anything and he needs to get back to the Hub.

Original Jack finds Our Jack in the corner of the bomb shelter and says that of course he’s scared, as Tosh seals the equation in an airtight tin.

Gwen is looking for the equations, and she’s down in the bomb shelter now.

But in 1941, the all clear sounds, and Bilis announces “Let the dancing continue.”

One of Original Jack’s soldiers offers to buy him a brandy, but Original Jack says he’d like some time alone with Our Jack. And now it’s Our Jack’s turn to give a charming but slightly shy smile.

Gwen finds the other half of the equation, and tells Ianto it is written in blood. But the equation is incomplete. Someone—we can see, in a flashback, that it’s Bilis—has scribbled out the last three numbers. Tosh has added the message “Tell my family I love them.”

In her own blood.

Upstairs, Original Jack asks Our Jack why he made him kiss Nancy the nervous blonde. Our Jack says that he should live every moment as though it were his last: he should go to his woman, and lose himself in her.

Original Jack asks if Tosh is Our Jack’s woman, but Our Jack says no: “There’s no one.”

NICK: No one—and every one.

Original Jack leaves.

Owen opens Jack’s safe, over Ianto’s objections, saying that there must be something in there that they can use.

What’s in there is mostly flashbacks to earlier episodes, but Owen does find blueprints for the rift machine.

But back in 1941, Original Jack comes back.

OUR JACK: This could be your last chance.
ORIGINAL JACK: That’s why I came back.
OUR JACK: I might need to leave before the night is over.
ORIGINAL JACK: Then make the most of now.

They twine their fingers together tightly.

But then a soldier and his girl come up, saying that they need “Lover’s Corner.”

Original Jack leaps away from Our Jack, and says they were just discussing “strategy.”

Our Jack says they’ll go somewhere else, but Original Jack says no: “You’ve told me all I need to know.”

Ianto tries to convince Owen that Bilis has set this whole situation up as a way to force them to open the rift, but Owen knocks Ianto down and goes ahead.

Back in 1941, Our Jack tells Tosh the story of how Original Jack was shot down—tomorrow—during a routine mission. He tells Tosh, too, a little of his past life as a conman. He tells Tosh that he’ll take care of her, but he breaks down when he says he can’t do anything for Original Jack.

Back with Owen’s attempts to open the rift:

IANTO: You have to let her go, like I did Lisa.
OWEN: Don’t compare yourself to me.
ME: Oh, you’re vastly superior to Owen, Ianto.

Owen taunts Ianto, telling him that he’s only Our Jack’s part-time shag, and insists that the rift machine has to be turned on. Ianto shoots him (I love you, Ianto!) but the machine is turned on.

Back in 1941, Our Jack decides that there is something that he can do for Original Jack—and, much to the horror of Original Jack’s men, the two Jacks take each other in their arms, and they dance and they dance and they dance.

And then, as the rift opens and Tosh runs back to her own time, Our Jack tells Original Jack that he has to go, that it’s his duty.

He walks away.

But then he turns back, grabs Original Jack, and they kiss and kiss and kiss.

And then he walks back into the 21st century, leaving Original Jack with his men and his doom.

He turns back at the door and sees Original Jack standing alone in the middle of the room, saluting.

But Tosh and Jack are back in 21st-century Cardiff, and Gwen is hugging them delightedly.

Owen insists that he knows he did the right thing, opening the rift, while Ianto insists that he was aiming for Owen’s shoulder all along.

And Our Jack and Tosh go into Our Jack’s office and drink a toast in brandy to Captain Jack.

Damn, that’s a beautiful episode. But I have to ask: what do you think the chances are that Original Jack was killed by his own men? I’ve always wondered that.



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