by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Torchwood, Season Two: Exit Wounds

Posted 11 December 2009 in by Catriona

Dear Brisbane,

This weather? It’s ridiculous. Please stop it immediately.

Love, Me.

In other words, this is the last episode of Torchwood season two. So we’ll find out in about an hour or so whether or not they’ll be heading straight into “Children of Earth.” In a way, I really hope they don’t. I’m not quite sure I’m psychologically ready to live-blog that storyline.

According to the ABC, we have another episode of Hyperdrive next. No, wait: now they’re saying Torchwood is next! I’m confused by the station promos! They’re giving me conflicting information!

Hey, looks like they’re not going to “Children of Earth”! More on that later.

This episode contains violence, but no nudity or sexual references.


JACK: And Torchwood is ready.
NICK: Well. Sort of.

We flash back to last week’s episode, the explosive devices, and Captain John Hart. Not to mention Jack’s brother Gray.

We come back at the same warehouse, but the Torchwoodmobile is gone: John has taken it. And Tosh is reading Rift activity all over the city. And Andy rings Gwen, telling her—as he walks past blood splatters all over the walls—that they really need her.

The team splits up, with Jack going back to the Hub. Tosh says it’s a trap, but Jack says that he’s the only one who could control John—that’s why the Time Agency partnered them.

RHYS: Time Agency? Don’t tell me that’s based in Cardiff, too.

At the Hub, Jack walks in to loud disco music, which John claims is “their” song.

JACK: We don’t have a song. And if we did, it wouldn’t be this.

Jack asks John what he wants, and John says he wants Jack to know that he loves him. Jack scoffs, but John says, no: he really does love Jack.

Then he shoots him. With two automatic weapons. Many, many times. And we go to credits on Jack face down in a pool of water, as John says, “Because this? Is going to get nasty.”

At the police station, Gwen finds that the four most senior officers have been taken out by weevils. Andy objects to Rhys being there, since he says that this is a crime scene.

Rhys says that he’s keeping more secrets than Andy could possibly guess. Andy asks what he means.

RHYS: Like a Time Agency based in Cardiff?
GWEN: Oh, it’s not based in Cardiff.
ANDY: Great secret. I ask, you tell.

In another site, Tosh and Ianto (Tosh hopped up on Owen’s industrial-strength painkillers) are confronted by what the staff are calling “ghosts”. They’re men in robes, with scythes, who insist that Ianto and Tosh pray to their heathen gods, before charging.

But Tosh and Ianto shoot them, without flinching.

In a hospital, Owen takes down an alien who lives to eat, by distracting it with food. Don’t ask me to spell that alien’s name.

In the Hub, Jack comes back to life, chained to the wall. There’s much banter, naturally, about bondage and John’s previous sex life with Jack. Again, John taunts Jack with the fact that though Jack has all eternity at his command, he still won’t spend time with John.

John says that he’s localising the Rift storms, but when Jack objects, John electrocutes him through the chains.

Jack says that whatever John’s planning, he, Jack, will stop him. John says, “I hope you can.” But though Jack pulls against the chains, he can’t break free. So John says they need to go and make sure that they get a good view.

He drags Jack up onto the roof of a building that I can’t identify. And he electrocutes him again, when Jack objects. He opens comms, to talk to all the Torchwood employees, and tell them to get up onto the roofs of their buildings, or they’ll miss all the fun. Or, he adds, does he mean carnage? He always gets those mixed up.

As it turns out, he means carnage, as he explodes bombs all over Cardiff, to the horror of Tosh, Ianto, Gwen, and Owen—not to mention Jack, who drew himself up in time to see the explosions. But even as he objects, Jack triggers a Rift opening, and takes Jack away with him.

This leaves Gwen in charge. She wants to know the extent of the damage. Tosh says that there were fifteen major explosions, taking all communication networks offline.

Of course, they’ve also damaged the local nuclear station. (Which really just reminds me of Plan 9 From Outer Space, which managed to be anti both nuclear power and anti solar power.)

Gwen wonders where Jack is, and we find that he’s still in Cardiff—in 27 AD. John shows Jack that there’s a bomb bonded to John’s arm, as well as something that allows “him”—whoever “he” is—to monitor John’s every word.

JACK: He has me doing everything he says. I’m not my own man, Jack. I thought you’d notice. But no: you’re so selfish. As though I want to blow up your stupid city, when I could be experiencing seventeen different pleasures in the Lotus Nebula.

He tells Jack to run, but Jack says that it’s the oldest trick in the book—just as Jack hears someone calling his name. He swings around, in a gorgeous slow-mo shot, to see his brother walking towards him against the sun flare on the lens.

They embrace, until Jack says that he’s sorry—and Gray says it’s not good enough, and stabs Jack in the belly.

As Jack falls, Gray tells John to get a shovel.

Back in the present day, Gwen mobilises the police force, and Tosh and Ianto realise they have to work on-site to restore basic requirements.

In Cardiff on 27 AD, John is binding Jack, as Gray tells Jack that the creatures in question, the ones who over-ran the Boe Shane Penisula, live to torture, that he lived for years among corpses, hoping to become one.

And he has John bury Jack alive, in Cardiff, in 27 AD, so he can choke, and die, and come back to life for the next two thousand years.

John throws his ring into the grave on Jack’s chest—when Gray challenges him, he says it’s of sentimental value—and fills in the grave, before Gray rematerialises in the Torchwood Hub.

In the police station, Gwen breaks down a little, and Rhys gives her a lovely pep talk that prompts her to ask “Will you marry me again?” When Tosh says that Gwen needs to get back to the Hub, Gwen says she can’t leave the police station, but Rhys says she can: they’ll be fine.

Back at the Hub, Gwen comes face to face with John, and, not surprisingly, draws a gun on him, and tells him to get on his knees.

JOHN: Honestly, it’s all sex, sex, sex with you people.

But he agrees, and then tells Gwen about the bomb, about Jack being buried alive, about Gray.

Gwen asks, quite rightly, why she should believe John, and he tells her something of Gray’s history (and, by extension, something of Jack’s history). He says Gray saw him as the rescuing hero, so it took him (John) too long to realise that Gray had learned terrible things from watching the creatures at work.

At that point, John screams, as the bomb molecularly bonded to his skin unbinds. He says that, apparently, he didn’t have to come back after all. He could have gone to anywhere in the galaxy. But he does tell them that they can track Jack through the ring that he threw in the grave—just as Gray triggers some noise that drives the weevils mad, making them attack people in the street.

Ianto and Tosh can’t make it to the nuclear power station. But Owen, helping at the hospital, says he’ll go: he’s king of the weevils, remember.

John is still trying to find Jack, who is not where he should be, as they’re ambushed by two weevils, sadly while separated from their guns. But Tosh and Ianto arrive in time to shoot the weevils—as Gwen, Ianto, and John are dragging them down to the cells, Gray locks them all in and blocks their comms.

Owen, in the nuclear station, tries to convince the last remaining member of staff to leave the station. She doesn’t want to, but he talks good talk, Owen. I secretly kind of like him this season.

The talk is just talk, though. As the staff member leaves, he frantically contacts Tosh, who tells him that the reactor has already gone critical, but that she can help him.

That, of course, is before Gray turns up and shoots her in the stomach.

Owen asks for her repeatedly over the comms, but she can’t talk. She reaches for the comm, but Gray, asking her to describe death to him, kicks the comm down the stairs.

Then Gray hears a knocking noise, which he follows. Owen says, “Tosh, are you there? I need your help, babe” as Tosh begins the long, slow process of dragging herself down the stairs to the comm.

And Gray, following the knocking sound through the Hub, finds Jack inside the Torchwood vault. Jack, it seems, was buried in a twenty-foot grave, and found by Torchwood. They’re horrified, since he’s supposed to be on assignment for them. He’s horrified, because he’s crossed his own timeline. So he asks then to freeze him.

And he says to Gray, “I forgive you.” And walks away. Gray follows him, demanding that Jack talk to him. But Jack says no: he gave Gray absolution, and now Gray needs to give it to him.

Gray will not. He says everything is Jack’s fault, that he prayed for death because of Jack, the favoured son, who will live forever.

And Jack says that he knows it’s all his fault, as he chloroforms Gray, and cries over him.

In the cells, John manages to recall the weevils.

And in the Hub, Tosh grabs the comm, and manages to restore power in the nuclear station. She sounds breathless, and Owen asks if she’s hurt. But she says it’s just her arm, and that she’s sorting out another painkiller—which she does by stabbing herself in the leg with a hypodermic.

But Tosh realises that there’s no way to stop the meltdown. All they can do is contain it, by channeling the flow back into the room that Owen is in. He should have time to get out.

Tosh, during all of this, is bleeding and wincing, leaning up against some over-turned medical equipment.

Jack manages to free the others from the cells, whereupon there’s some promiscuous hugging, though John doesn’t get one.

Owen manages to contain the meltdown, but Tosh tells him to run, because a power surge is triggering an emergency shutdown. And he runs, but the door slams in his face.

He screams to Tosh to help him, that he’s not going to die again.

TOSH: Please stop.
OWEN: Why should I? I’m going to rage my way to oblivion.
TOSH: Please stop, Owen.
OWEN: Why? Give me one good reason why I should?
TOSH: Because you’re breaking my heart.


He ask Tosh what’s going to happen to him. She doesn’t want to describe it, because what will happen, basically, is that his body will slowly decompose as he watches. Tosh says that it’s all her fault, but he says no: she’s saved his back so many times, right back to his second week, with the space pig. (A call back to “Aliens of London.”)

OWEN: We never did get that date, did we? We sort of missed each other. My fault. I never noticed till it was too late. I’m sorry.
TOSH: Me, too.

Whimper. Sob.

The meltdown starts.

It’s really, really hard to live-blog while you’re sobbing.

Owen fades into a blur of white life. [I’m going to leave that, though I actually meant “blur of white light.” Yet “blur of white life” seems strangely apposite.]

And Jack bursts into the room, to find Tosh bleeding on the floor. She tells them that Owen’s dead, that she couldn’t save him.

Jack and Gwen huddle over Tosh, who is looking horribly pale and sore by this point.

She doesn’t talk, just stares at Jack as she dies.

And Jack is weeping.

And Gwen is weeping.

And I’m weeping.

And Nick’s weeping.

We don’t see Ianto’s face, but I assume he’s weeping. Everyone else is.

As Cardiff recovers, Gwen lies on the sofa in her apartment and weeps in Rhys’s arms. Jack, in the Hub, cryo-freezes Gray, though John says that Gray isn’t going to recover in a hundred years. Maybe, he asks, death will be the release that Gray needs? But Jack says there’s been enough death.

John points out that Jack didn’t struggle when John buried him, and Jack says it was his penance. Then he freezes Gray.

John says he’s heading off to bits of the planet he’s never seen before, but before he goes, he kisses Jack on the cheek, and says, “I’m sorry. For your losses.”

He walks away.

Ianto logs Owen out for the last time, as Jack puts away Owen’s white coat.

Gwen packs Tosh’s glasses and other effects, as Ianto logs Tosh out for the last time. But doing so triggers a last message that she has left on her machine.

TOSH: So, if you’re seeing this, I guess this means I’m, well, dead. I hope it was impressive, not crossing the road or an incident with a toaster. I just wanted to say, it’s okay. Jack, you saved me. You showed me the mysteries of the universe. All the wonders. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And Owen—you never knew. I loved you. All of you. And I hope I did good.

Jack says that now they go on. Gwen she’s she doesn’t think she can, not after this. But Jack says she can: they all can.

“The end is where we begin,” he says.

And they say that’s the last episode of Torchwood, so I’m guessing they’re not heading straight into “Children of Earth.” I have to say, “Thank goodness.” I don’t think I could cope with that.

But, when they air it, I’ll be here, weeping and live-blogging, as usual.

Live-blogging Doctor Who: "The Waters of Mars"

Posted 6 December 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, it’s been a while since I’ve had a new episode of Doctor Who to live-blog. Not since “Planet of the Dead” in May, which is here, if you didn’t read it the first time.

Oh, dear: the ABC newsreader has just said that police in the Top End have been “dropping lines with youngsters.” I think it’s about fishing, but I’m laughing too hard to actually listen to the story.

Now, for this live-blogging I have my brother and his girlfriend, who are up from Sydney on a visit, sitting in, but I don’t know if they’ll be saying anything they want live-blogged. Let’s play it by ear, shall we?

Currently, my brother is being bewildered by the fact that Queensland ABC has a different newsreader than does Sydney ABC. He doesn’t come and visit me very often . . .

Here we are.

We open on crackly video footage of baby Susie and her mother, talking to Lindsay Duncan. The footage is breaking up, because of the solar flares, but before the woman can finish talking about her house deposit, the footage breaks up.

Then the TARDIS materialises, and out the Doctor steps in his spacesuit, saying, “Oh, the Red Planet!” That’s a beautiful shot.

But we cut away from it to a Russian chap, Yuri, who is setting a solar panel with “No Trespassers” on it outside the space base. Ed, an Australian chap, tells Yuri not to waste solar panels, just before Lindsay Duncan comes in and tells Ed she expected better of him. Ed gives her an unhappy look as she walks away.

Then the Doctor, looking over the space base, is arrested for trespassing by a robot.

No, seriously.


Beautiful shot of the dome, before we cut inside to find Lindsay Duncan holding a gun on the Doctor.

LINDSAY: State your name, rank, and purpose.
DOCTOR: The Doctor. Doctor. Fun.

People are fascinated by the Doctor’s appearance on Mars, but he’s more interested in convincing Lindsay to put down the gun that she’s holding to his head. She does, but only because Gadget, the robot, is still covering him. Gadget is being controlled through “auto-glove response” by a young American guy.

We cut to the bio-dome, where the gardeners are pulling up the first carrot grown on Mars. At which point my brother’s girlfriend, a botanist, goes into hysterics. But Andy, the gardener, washes the carrot (more hysterics), and drops to his knees in the background, where he starts convulsing.

Maggie, the other gardener, asks if he’s all right, and when he turns around, to show pale eyes and a cracked, dry mouth, she starts screaming.

Back on the control room, the Doctor has just learned that this is Bowie Base One, the first humans on Mars. And now he knows who they are.

And he runs through the names. “Oh, I’m so stupid!” he says. “You’re Captain Adelaide Brooke!” And we flip to her bio., which shows her as dying in 2059. Deputy Ed Gold, dead 2059. Tarak Ital, MD, dead 2059. Senior Technician Steffi Ehrlich, dead 2059. Junior Technician Roman Groom, dead 2059. Nurse Yuri Kerenski, dead 2059. Geologist Mia Bennet, dead 2059.

“Oh, you’re only 27,” he says to Mia, who looks more than a little freaked out by this.

The Doctor asks the date, and we flip to a news report that shows the destruction of Bowie Base One. Today.

The Doctor says he really has to go, because this is one of the rare cases where he really can’t interfere. But as he’s turning away, he asks about the other two members of the crew, Maggie and Andy. And when Ed brings up the bio-dome on the comms, we hear a strange roar.

Adelaide won’t hear of the Doctor leaving at this point, because this all started after he arrived. So she’s heading to the bio-dome, and he’s coming with her, she says. Tarak goes, too. And Gadget, though the Doctor keeps talking about how much he hates novelty robots.

ROMAN: My friend, she made her domestic robot look like a dog.
DOCTOR: Oh, well, dogs. That’s different.

As they approach the bio-dome, the Doctor asks Adelaide if it was worth it, and she says it was, talking about the environmental disasters on Earth. But the conversation is cut off—just after the Doctor rather cloyingly refers to her as “the woman with starlight in her soul”—when they see Maggie lying unconscious outside the bio-dome.

Yuri comes running with a med kit, so he can stabilise Maggie. Ed comes running because I’m quite convinced that he’s knocking off Maggie. But Adelaide gives him an official warning for leaving his post, and sends him back.

Steffi tells Adelaide that the voice print of the roar matches Andy’s voice print.

She, the Doctor, and Talak head into the bio-dome, which is a real botanical garden in Cardiff, apparently, complete with birds.

In the med. centre, Yuri tells Adelaide that Maggie is awake, but she’s in isolation for twenty-four hours. Ed asks Maggie if she remembers how she ended up in the tunnel, but Adelaide snaps at him to keep the comms clear.

In the bio-dome, Talak comes across Andy, who is standing silently at the end of a corridor, with water dripping from his sleeves in huge quantities. Talak asks Andy to turn around, and he does with the same roar that we heard when he turned on Maggie.

In the med centre, Yuri is talking about his brother, while, in soft focus behind him, Maggie starts convulsing. When she stops and looks up, her voice sounds different, as she asks Yuri where his brother lives. And when he turns and looks up at her, we see that she has the same dry, cracked mouth as Andy, and water is pouring out of her mouth.

Yuir contacts Adelaide, who tells him to calm down, but she tries to contact Talak to tell him that the area is unsafe. It’s certainly unsafe for Talak, who is currently down on his knees as Andy, who has a hand on Talak’s face, pours water over him.

They convince Andy to let Talak go, but to no real purpose, because Talak is already showing the same blank eyes and cracked mouth. The Doctor says that they need to go, and he and Adelaide leg it, followed closely by Andy and Talak. The Doctor and Adelaide make it through the sealed door, but Andy and Talak stand outside, trying to break the seals with water.

In the med. centre, Ed is looking at Maggie, who has both hands against the glass wall, with water pouring out from her palms and her mouth.

The Doctor, with his usual curiosity, wants to know if Andy can talk, but there’s no sign that he can. The Doctor has to dial his curiosity back, because he says he can’t stay, no matter what has started here. The door is airtight and therefore, Adelaide says, watertight, but it’s also electronic, so Andy and Talak fuse the circuits, and the door opens.

Luckily, since Andy and Talak can run faster than the Doctor and Adelaide, they’ve left Gadget outside, and the Doctor soups him up, so they can get to the main door ahead of their pursuers—of course, this isn’t much fun for Roman, who is still wearing the gloves, but at least they make it through the door ahead of Talak and Andy. This door is hermetically sealed, so they can’t break through, says Adelaide, but the Doctor says that water is patient, and water always wins.

Adelaide heads to the med. centre, with the Doctor trailing behind her, complaining about the distances they have to travel. In the med. centre, the Doctor speaks to Maggie in a language that he says is “ancient North Martian,” though Adelaide tells him not to be ridiculous. Maggie seems to recognise the language, though, as Ed points out.

The Doctor wonders what the creatures want, and Yuri says she was looking at the picture of Earth, with all its water.

Ed tells Adelaide that this is an unknown infection, and they need to go to Action One. The Doctor leaps in to say, “But that’s evacuation!”

Yes, it is. They need to evacuate the base, especially since these creatures seem to want Earth.

So they’re stripping the base as quickly as possible. But the Doctor takes Adelaide aside, to point out that though Talak changed immediately, Maggie did not. Any one of them could be infected, the Doctor says, and water is patient: they could take the infection back to Earth.

Adelaide agrees, and heads out to check the ice field.

There’s no reason for him to check the ice field, the Doctor says to Yuri, who isn’t paying the slightest bit of attention as he packs up the med. centre. No reason at all—before he goes haring off, screaming, “Adelaide!”

Yuri leaves the med. centre, and Maggie immediately blows out the electronic seal on the isolation bay door, steps out into the med. centre, and screams, a scream to which Andy and Talak respond.

At the ice field, the Doctor talks about the Ice Warriors, and wonders if they ever came across this creature.

As he and Adelaide access the computer data about the water flow, Adelaide says to him, “You don’t look like a coward. But all you’ve been trying to do is run.” And he explains that some moments in time are fixed, some moments in time must always occur. And this moment here, on Bowie Base One, must always happen.

What happens here? Adelaide asks.

And the Doctor says that he thinks something wonderful happened. Something that started fifty years ago. Adelaide says that she never told anyone that, but the Doctor says that she told her daughter, and maybe, one day, her daughter told the story of the time, fifty years ago in continuity, when the Earth was stolen (at the end of season four of Doctor Who), and Adelaide saw the Dalek.

She says it looked right into her, and then it simply went away. She knew that night that she would follow it.

DOCTOR: But not for revenge?
ADELAIDE: What would be the point of that?
DOCTOR: And that’s what makes you remarkable.

He tells her that she, Adelaide Brooke, is the woman who starts the human race’s movement into space, when her granddaughter, Susie Fontana Brooke is the captain of the first lightspeed shuttle to Proxima Centauri. That, he says, is the start of it all.

ADELAIDE: Why are you telling me all this?
DOCTOR: For consolation.

The computer beeps to tell them that Andy logged on to explain that the replacement water filters they sent didn’t fit. So the infection arrived today and since water is only cycled out of the central dome every week, the rest are clear.

She gives the Doctor his suit and tells him to leave.

ADELAIDE: I know which moment this is. It’s the moment we all escape.

But as they’re carrying food and equipment to the shuttle, and the Doctor watches then, we see Andy and Tarak climbing up ladders onto the top of the central dome, where they drop to their knees. Adelaide hears the beeping noise that the module sensors give, registering Andy and Talak’s presence on the roof. And from there, they start forcing water down through the structural elements of the dome.

Mia, clutching Yuri’s hand, wants to know whether they can get through. Adelaide says no: that’s ten feet of steel combination up there. But she asks Roman to keep an eye on the ceiling while the rest are loading the shuttle.

And as the film drops to slow motion and the music swells, the Doctor finally turns his back and heads out into the airlock. Adelaide watches him leave.

Ed races to the shuttle.

In the airlock, in his spacesuit, the Doctor finds that he can’t open the door. And Adelaide’s voice comes over the intercom, demanding to know what happens to the crew.

ADELAIDE: I could ramp up the pressure in there. Crush you.
DOCTOR: But you won’t. You could have shot Andy Stone, but you didn’t. I loved you for that.

And he tells her to imagine that she’s somewhere, say Pompeii. And you try to save them, he says, but what you do actually makes it happen. “Whatever I do, it makes it happen,” he says.

But he tells her that she’s taking Action One, and there are four other actions: the fifth is detonation. There’s a nuclear device in the heart of the dome, and today, Adelaide Brooke detonates that, destroying the base and all her crew. That’s what inspires her granddaughter.

DOCTOR: She takes your people out into space, because you die on Mars. You die. Today. She flies out there like she’s trying to meet you.

Adelaide asks the Doctor to help her, but he says he can’t. Most of the time he can, he says: most of the time he can at least save some of them. But not her: that’s why the Dalek spared her, because her death is fixed.

“You’ll die here, too,” she says. But he says no: she’ll save him.

She opens the door, saying “Damn you.”

And water breaks through the ceiling, at first blocking off their exit, and then blocking Steffi off from the rest of the crew. The Doctor hears all this through his helmet, as he walks away from the base.

Steffi locks herself into a small room, as Adelaide says they’ll get her from the access panels at the back. But, no: the water has broken into the room Steffi is hiding in, and she, pressed up against a comm panel, triggers a video of her family, which she’s watching as the water hits her and she begins convulsing.

The Doctor keeps walking away, and Adelaide tells the rest of her crew to get out, as Steffi opens to door and walks towards her.

In the shuttler, Ed is getting the engines online: we see them catch in the background as the Doctor walks away from the base.

As the rest of the crew hurry through the dome, Roman catches a drop of water on his face, and tells them all to go without him as he begins convulsing.

Ed, in the shuttle, is attacked by Maggie, who manages to drench him. He sets the shuttle to destruct, saying that he has no choice: they want the shuttle to get to Earth. He tells Adelaide that he hated this bloody job, that she never gave him a chance because she could never forgive him. Then he blows the shuttle—and that debris burns for quite a while in what must be a non-oxygen atmosphere.

The base burns, and the Doctor, knocked off his feet by the explosion, hears in his head all the snippets of information he has given his companions over the years, about how he’s the last of the Time Lords, that all the other Time Lords died, all of them.

And he marches back into the dome.

ADELAIDE: It can’t be stopped. Don’t die with us.
DOCTOR: Someone told me recently that I was going to die. They said “He will knock four times.” And I don’t think that meant here. Because I don’t hear anyone knocking, so you?

And then someone knocks. But only three times. The Doctor tells them that three knocks is all they get.

Adelaide tries to tell him that this futile, but he says there used to be people in charge of time, but they all died. He’s the last, and the laws of time are his to do with as he wishes.

This, right here, is the culmination of the Doctor’s Messiah complex of the last three seasons. This is the Doctor seeing himself as a god. Let’s see how well that works.

It seems as though the laws of time are going to win, as every step he takes (literally) blows up in his face, but he still has Gadget, left in storage, whom he sends haring out of the dome, in a slightly silly shot.

Maggie, down on the ice field, causes the glacier to crack.

And Adelaide initiates Action Five, setting the countdown for the nuclear device.

But Gadget reaches the TARDIS, and it’s a good thing that the Doctor didn’t forget to give him the key. I would have forgotten to give him the key.

Gadget triggers the TARDIS’s dematerialisation, but the bomb only has seconds left to countdown.

Bowie Base One explodes, and we pan back from the now-empty Mars. But, it seems, seconds were long enough, because the TARDIS rematerialises in the street, in the snow, discharging a smug Doctor, a stony Adelaide, a phlegmatic Yuri, and a heavily traumatised Mia.

They’re standing outside Adelaide’s house. Mia, seemingly, can barely cope with the fact that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside, though I think it’s more that this is the only trauma she can articulate at this point.

She runs off, and Adelaide sends Yuri off after her.

Adelaide stays, and challenges the Doctor. She accuses him of changing the entire future of the human race.

ADELAIDE: No one should have that much power.
DOCTOR: Tough.
ADELAIDE: You should have left us there.
DOCTOR: Adelaide, I’ve done this sort of thing before. Saved some little people. But no one as important as you. Oh, I’m good.
ADELAIDE: Little people? Like Yuri and Mia? Who decides that they’re so unimportant? You?
DOCTOR: For so long, I thought I was only a survivor. But I’m not. I’m a winner. The Time Lord Victorious.

I can hardly look at his face as he says this. Adelaide tells him that someone needs to stop him, and he asks who will, her?

Adelaide walks away from him, through the front door of her house—which he opened from a distance with his sonic screwdriver, drunk on his new sense of power—and shoots herself.

The Doctor staggers back against the TARDIS, hearing Adelaide’s voice telling him what she just told him: that she doesn’t care who he is, the Time Lord Victorious is wrong. The music swells behind him, as he watches history reshape itself to show that Adelaide Brooke died on Earth.

“I’ve gone too far,” he says, turning to see an Ood standing in the London street behind him. “Is this it?” he asks. “My death?”

The Ood doesn’t answer and the Doctor, heading into the TARDIS, stands and stares at the console before saying “No” and sending the TARDIS spinning off into time and space.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Fragments"

Posted 4 December 2009 in by Catriona

I’ve just noticed that I’ve labelled the last two episodes of Torchwood as season one rather than season two. I really should go back and correct those at some point, shouldn’t I?

Another important service announcement is that the most recent episode of Doctor Who—“The Waters of Mars”—is airing on the ABC this Sunday, and I will, of course, be live-blogging that. Even though my brother and his girlfriend are visiting us this weekend. See? Dedicated!

I’m also feeling a bit smug, because I sent an article draft to my co-writer. So prepare for smug live-blogging.

This episode contains violence. Dammit, Torchwood! Bring back the nudity and sexual references!


We open on what seems to be a banksia. Nick thinks it’s a thistle, which, I admit, seems more plausible. Torchwood—minus Gwen—drive up to a warehouse, where they’re identifying non-human lifesigns that they’ve never seen before. They split up and enter the warehouse on two different floors: Jack with Tosh, Ianto with Owen.

When Tosh identifies one creature at each end of the building, she and Jack split up. But the creatures aren’t creatures—they’re bombs, which go off just as each member of Torchwood (except perhaps Ianto) is standing directly over one. That’s a bit of a problem, I would think.

Gwen is woken by her mobile phone, which makes her realise that she’s horribly late for work.

But she’s about to find that being late for work is a good thing, as we cut to Jack lying unconscious in the rubble of the building.

Then we flashback to “1,392 deaths earlier,” as Jack (and his fancy muttonchops) comes back to life after being stabbed in the stomach with a broken bottle. As he comes uncomfortably to life and pulls the bottle out of his abdomen, he sees two neatly dressed Victorian ladies, one of whom beats the living daylights out of him and then shoves a rag in his mouth.

He comes back to consciousness (or life?) strapped to a chair, with the two women standing over him. They drench him with water and electrocute him but, when that doesn’t work, they shoot him.

He comes back to life, and they ask him who the Doctor is. He denies knowing the Doctor, but they’ve been transcribing his drunken conversations in pubs, as well as counting how many times he comes back to life.

They are, of course, Torchwood, and they’re still in the grip of Queen Victoria’s original plan for the institution.

They threaten to keep him where he is, and then they hire him, where he arrests one of those blowfish creatures whom he shot in the first episode of this season—this one has been drinking without paying, as well as joyriding in a horse and carriage.

Torchwood doesn’t have great long-term storage facilities, it seems, because one of the women shoots the blowfish, much to Jack’s horror.

NICK: These two just seem unnecessarily sadistic to me.

I tend to agree.

Jack tries to back out of his agreement with Torchwood, but he does need the money. He sits drinking in the pub when a little girl comes up and asks if she can read his cards—it’s the same young girl whom he approached in the episode after Owen died, when he was trying to find the second Resurrection Mitten. She tells Jack that he’ll have to wait a century for the Doctor to return, and he asks what he’s supposed to do in the meantime.

Montage! Of course, he keeps working for Torchwood, down through the ages, as we see neat handwritten documents replaced by typewritten files and, eventually, by computer printing. That’s a neat montage.

At least until he comes back to the Hub on New Year’s Eve 1999 and finds the entire crew dead. Well, nearly the entire crew: still alive is his boss, a man called Alex, who says that he’s the one who killed them. Jack pulls a gun on him, and Alex explains that this place is now Jack’s: Alex says that they thought they could control the equipment that they found, but they can’t. He’s clutching a locket and says that when he looked inside it, it showed him the future.

“The 21st century is coming,” Alex says. “And we’re not ready.”

And he shoots himself in the head.

Jack comes screaming back to life in the warehouse, much to Rhys’s horror. (Rhys had to give Gwen a lift.) And he asks where Tosh is.

Tosh is screaming herself, which is hardly surprising, since she’s trapped under what looks like half a wall.

We flash back five years, to where Tosh’s boss is telling her that she works too hard. This is a much dowdier Tosh: less make-up, ponytail, khaki trousers, high-necked T-shirt, and a cardigan. She tells her boss to have a good evening, in what is a barely polite dismissal, and he replies, “I doubt it.”

But as soon as he’s gone, Tosh checks the security cameras, to watch him out of the building. Then she runs down the stairs to a secure room. She punches in the security code, and rummages through the files stored in the room, taking one with her.

She walks out of Lodmoor Research Facility, flirting in passing with the elderly security guard (“When are you going to let me whisk you away from all this?” he asks, to which she replies, “As soon as you clear it with your wife and grandchildren”), and, once home, starts work on something based on the blueprints that she stole.

Then she’s running down a dark street, and breathlessly telling a man that she’s got it. He ushers her into a room littered with papers, and she demands to see her mother and know that she’s safe. The woman to whom she shows the “sonic modulator” gets the man to bring Tosh’s mother out, but they won’t release her, because Tosh did too good a job on the sonic modulator.

They demonstrate that they’re serious by using the sonic modulator against Tosh and her mother—and, when we see the blood on Tosh’s mother’s forehead, remember what she looked like when she appeared to Tosh in the hospital at the end of season one. She’s even wearing the same clothes.

But then UNIT burst in and cuff Tosh. Alone in a tiny cell (and a red jumpsuit), she’s told over an intercom that this is a secure UNIT facility, and that her rights as a citizen have been withdrawn. She asks about her mother, but the voice says it can’t provide that information.

Seriously, this cell is about a metre wide by six metres deep. No windows, no bed, not even, as far as we can see, a chamberpot.

Tosh gets a montage, too, but it’s not as fancy as Jack’s—it simply shows her moving into various positions on the bare floor of her cell.

Then she’s told to prepare for inspection, and, as she slowly pulls herself up against the far wall of her cell, the door swings open, and it’s Jack. He tells her that her mother is fine, but has been ret-conned. And then he tells her that they’re making an example of her, for stealing official secrets in this climate.

He tells her that the plans for the sonic modulator were faulty, that’s why they were shelved. And, as the camera focuses on Tosh’s stunned face, we see that she has a swollen, bloody mouth and a vicious black eye.

Jack’s basically offering her a job, but he’s also taunting her at the same time, saying that she’s good, but it’s a shame she’ll be locked up for life.

He tells her it’ll be dangerous,. Can she stand a little danger? he asks. And we cut back to Tosh screaming under the pile of rubble, telling Gwen that she thinks her arm is broken. Gwen leaves Rhys with Tosh, and heads off to find the others.

But as we see Ianto trying to drag himself across the floor, it’s Jack who we hear calling his name.

We flashback to 12 months earlier, as Jack is tracking a weevil, which is menacing Ianto. Ianto thanks Jack for helping him, and Jack responds, “And you are?” (But in a flirty way, not a dismissive way.)

Ianto says it looked like a weevil to him, but Jack says he doesn’t know what Ianto’s talking about. He shoulders the weevil and walks away, as Ianto calls “Love the coat.”

The next morning, Ianto is waiting outside the Hub with a cup of coffee, asking Jack for a job. Jack knows who Ianto is—including the fact that Ianto was born in 1983, which makes me feel ancient, frankly—because Ianto used to work for Torchwood Canary Wharf. But Jack says he severed all ties with that institution, and he doesn’t want to see Ianto again.

By this point, Torchwood Cardiff is clearly largely in place, because Jack, in the Torchwoodmobile, is calling to Tosh, Owen, and Suzie. But he has to stop when he sees Ianto standing in the road. He tells Ianto to get out of Cardiff, to go back to London, and to find a new life. But Ianto asks Jack if he wouldn’t like to help Ianto catch this pterodactyl.

And, of course, Jack would. And the pterodactyl, like the rest of us, finds Jack appealing.

IANTO: Must be the aftershave.
JACK: I never wear any.
IANTO: You smell like that naturally?
JACK: 51st-century pheremones. You people have no idea.

There’s a rather complicated sequence there involving Jack being carried around a warehouse by a a pterodactyl, and then Jack and Ianto lying on top of each other.

NICK: Oh, Jack. You’ll hire anyone who lands on top of you.

Ianto walks away, and Jack tells him to report to work first thing tomorrow. As Ianto walks away, Jack calls, “Like the suit, by the way,” and Ianto’s expression—I don’t know what to make of it. It looks more like a grimace of pain than a smile.

In the present, Jack puts Ianto’s dislocated bone back into place, and they head off to find Owen, who is lying flat on his back with a precarious broken window dropping slowly towards him.

We flashback four years, to Owen and his fiancee Katy planning the seating chart for their wedding. Katy asks if Owen wants tea, but, as she stands in the kitchen, we see she can’t remember how to make a cup of tea: he prompts her to put water in the cup, then reminds her that it should be from the kettle, and then prompts her to add milk. She snaps at him to stop nagging, that she doesn’t want—but she can’t remember the word “milk,” and she breaks down.

As she stands in the garden, Owen talks to her doctor, who reminds him that all the signs are that Katy has early onset Alzheimer’s—the youngest patient on record, Owen recites wearily—but Owen says he’s marrying her anyway.

As they sit and wait in a hospital corridor, Katy tells Owen that it’s like being lost in a place that you know really well: you try and find your bearings, and sometimes you do, but sometimes you don’t.

When they meet with Katy’s doctor, he says Owen was right to ask for another scan, because there’s a clear and present tumour in her brain, which they need to remove immediately. Owen asks Katy if she understands, and she says that she can’t remember his name.

As Owen waits outside the operating theatre, he’s accosted by Jack, who says that he’s sorry, and that he tried to warn them. He and Owen walk into the theatre, and everyone’s dead, including Katy, who also has a tentacle poking out of her brain. Jack says that the creature in her brain is an alien lifeform, and, when it is threatened, it emits a gas toxic to humans.

Owen freaks out, and Jack drugs him.

When Owen wakes up, no one knows anything about Jack or the accident in the theatre. The man he speaks to—an administrator at the hospital—tells him that Katy’s brain tumour was inoperable, and that the surgeon died in a car accident. And, sure enough, when Owen checks the security footage, Jack is nowhere in sight.

But he is in sight in the cemetery, where Owen goes to check out Katy’s carefully stage-managed grave. Owen hares across the cemetery and punches Jack repeatedly in the face, telling Jack with every punch that Jack could have saved Katy. But Jack says that he really couldn’t, and then offers Owen a job.

Owen is reluctant, because he says that there are no such things as aliens. “D’you think?” asks Jack, and we cut to Owen opening his eyes in the Hub, which is, admittedly, quite empty of aliens at that time. Still, Owen seems convinced.

We cut back to Owen lying on the rubble in the warehouse, watching the window fall towards him in jerks. Gwen is there, and she tells Owen she’s going to pull him out as quickly as possible. She needs to, because the glass shatters just as she pulls him away.

They reconnect outside, and ask who did this—just as Jack’s bracelet flashes into life, as we see a hologram of Captain John from the first episode, who asks what they all thought of his little gift.

Then he tells Jack to say hello to his brother, and a hologram of a shackled man flashes up next to him.

“It can’t be,” Jack exclaims.

John says he’s going to tear the world apart, starting now. Maybe then, he says, Jack will want to spend some time with him.

And he disappears.

Wow. That’s what I call a cliffhanger.



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