A Tale of Two Jacks

Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness

After her first superb episode of Torchwood, Out of Time, Catherine Tregenna did not disappoint with her second episode, Captain Jack Harkness, another beautifully written tale with great characterisation of the regulars and, like Sean Alexander said, plenty of heart.

As in Out of Time there wasn’t much in the way of plot, but again that didn’t really matter, as this episode served as the first part of the series finale with End of Days, and part of its job was to set up the final episode, which it did, even though nobody in the hub knew that at the end of this episode.

I am sure quite a few people felt quite short changed in this episode when by the end of the episode we still know little more about Jack than we did at the start of the episode apart from the fact Jack Harkness is not his real name, and we found out who the real Jack Harkness was.

To be honest this was not really a big surprise as in The Doctor Dances, the Doctor saw right through him and said that he wasn’t really a captain, so if you were an eagle eared viewer you would have remembered that (I didn’t until someone reminded me, it has to be said) so that revelation wouldn’t have been surprising to anyone who had seen Jack in Doctor Who.

Having said that, if you had just seen Torchwood then that might very well have been a surprising admission, because you cannot simply assume that everyone watching Torchwood would have seen Doctor Who because I am sure there are plenty of people watching it who are not Doctor Who fans.

It also has to be said that Jack seems very much at home in the 1940s and it was obvious that he wouldn’t really have been that bothered if they weren’t able to get back, but put that to the back of his mind because of Tosh, who certainly didn’t want to be stranded in war-torn Britain and I must admit that I wouldn’t fancy being a Japanese woman in war torn Britain either. That was very nice of Jack thinking of Tosh like that and was the same kind of compassion Jack has shown on a few occasions during Torchwood.

One of the reasons that I really enjoyed the episode was because it features Tosh in quite a major way because she is one of my favourite characters from Torchwood, and if it were a toss up between Gwen and Tosh, I would pick Tosh, if you catch my drift. It was very touching I thought when Gwen read the note that Tosh had written the other half of the equation on, saying simply that she loved her family and obviously thought that she wasn’t going to make it. Poor Tosh!

Ianto got to do what a lot of people would like to do and shoot Owen. I actually don’t mind Owen that much, certainly he can be a bit of a knob and he does have a very strange looking face, but I can see why he would go to all that trouble to open the rift, as he was sure that it would bring Diane back to him. I know that I would have done the same thing if that had been me, so I can’t really argue with what he did. It would have been a very stupid thing to do, but hey you do stupid things when you are in love, which Owen certainly is.

Ianto bought up Lisa again, as he is wont to do, and they both got into a scrap about whose bird was better. Of course if Ianto had decided to bring Lisa back when she was in her Cyberwoman persona then that would have been a bad thing, but if she was bought back in her original state then that wouldn’t have been so bad, well apart from the fact that opening the rift could cause a major catastrophe. Ianto obviously wasn’t as blinded by love as Owen was at that moment as he was able to see what a bad idea it would be, unlike Owen who just basically wanted a shag.

Billis Manger was a bit of an odd character wasn’t he? He did seem a little out of place even in the 1940s but it wasn’t until he was seen in the modern day by Gwen looking not a day older (and dressed in exactly the same way) that you knew he certainly wasn’t what he seemed at all. That certainly seemed to be something that would be followed up in the final episode especially after he had part of the rift machinery in his office (as well as a folder labelled Torchwood).

I did wonder why, if the building was in disrepair and was about to be pulled down that Manger’s office seemed no different to how it did in the 1940’s. I thought that the direction was quite effective when you saw Jack and Tosh walking down the corridors and then Gwen walking down the same corridors some 60 odd years later, and also when Jack and Tosh just walked straight into a 1940’s dance. One minute they were in an abandoned building and the next minute they were in a bustling place full of people enjoying a night off. That was a nice shot I thought.

The real Captain Jack was an interesting character, well played by Matt Rippey, a lot like the Jack we knew from Doctor Who, and it turned out he was more like Jack than we thought, so you can see why Jack would have taken his identity rather than somebody else’s. Perhaps he was the only American around at that time.

I don’t think we will ever find out the complete truth about Jack in Torchwood, but that does make his character a lot more interesting, simply because we just don’t know who he really is, well it does to me anyway.

I thought this episode was very good and moving and would love to see Catherine Tregenna pen an episode of Doctor Who, as I am sure she would turn out an interesting episode, quite different from anything we have seen before. With Helen Raynor becoming the first female to write for the new series this coming season perhaps she will be in for a shout in series four. We can but hope.

Originally posted on Jan 05, 2007

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