Shades of Gray

Torchwood: Fragments

Fragments was a very interesting episode. The framing story of the team being sent to a building which then explodes and them later finding out that it was a trap set by Captain John, and that he meant to kill them, was not the main point of the story, rather that was a just a taster of what the finale was all going to be about and the mini-cliffhanger at the end really set up what looks like being an explosive end to the series.

What made Fragments an interesting episode was what it told us about the characters we had all grown to know and like (well in most cases anyway) and about how they came to join Torchwood, apart from Gwen who we had seen joining Torchwood in the very first episode.

What was interesting though was that Captain John only set four explosive devices. If he wanted to get rid of most of the team then why didn’t he just set five devices off?

Unless he wanted one of them to be able to find and try to rescue the others, of course, which is probably more likely as I don’t think that he wanted to kill them all, he just wanted a reaction out of Jack. Still whatever his motivations it certainly makes for an interesting final episode. What we did get in this episode were four stories of how Jack, Tosh, Owen and Ianto were recruited into Torchwood.

It started with Jack, who was captured by the 1899 version of Torchwood 3 (which appeared to be two tough, no nonsense, women) after they had witnessed him being killed 14 times and keep coming back to life, which they thought was a bit odd to say the least and something that Torchwood need to deal with. What they really wanted him for was to find the Doctor because they had heard him talking about the Doctor and as he was the main reason that Torchwood was set up in the first place you can understand why Torchwood were so keen to get their hands of Jack.

Although judging by the lingering looks they were giving each other, and the non so subtle comments they made, the two female members of Torchwood at the time were more keen to get their hands on each other, than they were on Jack. But as Jack was the sort of thing that they dealt with at the time so he had to be captured but instead of killing him they let him work for them. Rather a weird recruitment policy but this is Torchwood after all.

Interestingly enough the first alien Jack encounters whilst working for Torchwood is a similar alien to that seen in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, although obviously not the same alien as the one in this episode got his head blown off by one of the trigger happy Torchwood crew who were only doing it for the security of the Empire.

It is also interesting that Jack was pretty much forced into working for Torchwood and we now know that he was worked there for over 100 years. I did wonder if they kept him in suspsended animation for a while (like they did with Tommy) and only bought him back when they needed him over time. I mean he was not on the official photo of the Torchwood crew from 1918, unless he was away that day. Or perhaps Jack was never a full member of the Torchwood team until after the events in 1999 and spent most of the time away from Cardiff. This is not mentioned in this episode but it would explain a few things.

We then move forward one hundred years to the eve of the millennium, when Jack became the leader of Torchwood after the previous head of Torchwood, Alex, killed his entire team and himself, because they weren’t ready for what was coming in the 21st century.

Next was Tosh’s story. Poor old Tosh. She had to steal some secret plans from her place of work, by unnamed people who had her mother hostage, and was then captured and put away for what seemed like life by a very nasty U.N.I.T. (and not the cuddly version we had for most of the 1970s, but more like a real organisation like UNIT would probably be) for stealing official secrets, before Jack came to her rescue.

Again is seemed like Tosh was in some way coerced into working for Torchwood. The only other option for Tosh would be to remain locked away for the rest of her life, so it would certainly have seemed like a decent proposition for her. She still wouldn’t get to see her mother, but at least she would be able to have something approximating a life, which would be more preferable to spending the rest of her days in a very small cell.

Jack also said that if she worked for Torchwood for five years then he would able to wipe her record clean, which means that she is coming towards the end of that spell. What that means for the character of Tosh is unknown at the moment but I sure hope it doesn’t mean what I think it might do for her!

Owen’s story is probably the most interesting as we learn more about him than we do about any of the other regular characters in this episode and is actually quite heartbreaking. Owen had it all five years ago, he had a good job as a Doctor, and he was engaged to Katie and they were planning a summer wedding but then it all went wrong. His fiancée was diagnosed with early onset alzeimers disease, which thankfully turned out to be tumour, which then turned out to be an alien parasite. That in the end killed both her and the Doctor’s who were trying to operate on her to save her life.

To say Owen was heartbroken, angry and pissed off would be a understatement and Jack offers him a new life and a new job which, at that moment in time, when his life was in ruins and he had no idea how to carry on and what to do with his life after Katie that he was probably glad of the opportunity to get the hell out of where he was and start again.

I think that this really explains a lot about Owen and in particular his relationship with women. After having the one woman he truly loved taken away from him, he is unable to have a meaningful relationship with another woman, because the pain of what happened to Katie, and ultimately what could happen to her, are too much for Owen to get involved.

So when Diane came along and they fell for each other it must have shook Owen to his very core but what happens, she goes and leaves him as well. Not in the same way that Katie did but the end result was the same afterwards.

I also believe that him and Tosh were meant to be together but with the issues they both have, and that fact that Owen is now dead, mean that this will never happen, but I have always had my suspicions about his true feelings for Tosh but you can hardly blame him can you?

Finally we got Ianto’s story. Now we got quite a bit of this in Cyberwoman but this fills in the gaps, although doesn’t quite explain how he was able to get Lisa into the hub in the first place either.

It turns out that he is the newest member of the Torchwood crew (other than Gwen) in that he has only been there for 21 months, and that he effectively stalked Captain Jack and got him to give him a job in Torchwood where he knew he could hide his half cybernised girlfriend and possibly save her.

That does mean that in the time between the battle of Canary Warf and Ianto meeting Captain Jack, he had to be hiding Lisa somewhere but it was god knows where. I mean where do you hide half cybernised women? Is there a page in yellow pages specialising in that sort of thing? I suppose there must be one in Cardiff at least.

For me the Ianto story was the least interesting out of the four origin stories, but this was primarily because some of it was dealt with in the season one episode Cyerwoman, but also because I don’t find Ianto that interesting a character. Sure he has been quite funny this season and fits more into the team than he did before but apart from that as a character I just don’t find him that fascinating.

Fragments was an interesting episode of Torchwood, but more for the revelations about the main characters than for anything else, and I am really looking forward to the finale now!

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One thought on “Shades of Gray

  1. “What was interesting though was that Captain John only set four explosive devices. If he wanted to get rid of most of the team then why didn’t he just set five devices off?

    Unless he wanted one of them to be able to find and try to rescue the others, of course…”

    This, I think, is likely since we know from Ct John’s first appearance that he discovered at that point that Jack can’t die so it wasn’t worth setting a charge for him. Also, the only reason Gwen wasn’t there was that she overslept and was running late or she would have been there to become the hapless recipient of the 4th device.

    Another point I just have to mention is that although I thoroughly enjoyed Tosh’s backstory and can quite imagine this version of UNIT keeping her locked away in that tiny cell, that cell had no toilet and nothing was provided. Most cells at least have something built in, but this one didn’t. How did the poor girl manage? or does she have near superhuman powers of control as there was no apparent evidence of failure on her part.

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