Television and cinema have always been judged more by their endings than their beginnings. It seems to be the final images of a movie or series that survive in our minds during the time the franchises are away from our screens.
Torchwood is no different in this respect, and even if all of our questions were not answered in the series finale, we still got a nice glimpse of what the future might hold for both Doctor Who and Torchwood in the near future.
We start out in the nineteen-forties, with Toshiko and Jack coming face to face with the real Captain Jack Harkness, an identity that Jack stole. Yet as the narrative moves along we find out that actually both the genuine and fraudulent Captain Jack have a few things in common. What’s even more tantalizing is the way the mystery of Captain Jack’s origins are still kept secret for the most part, besides finding out that he was once indeed a real soldier and had to endure the loss of a friend via torture by the worst possible creatures you could imagine.
Billis Manger, meanwhile, is a villain unlike any other yet to be seen on the show. There is already much debate as to who and what this man is, but I say no matter what he is or where he’s from, he does make for a very dark and scary adversary, with his knowledge about the rift and the operational method of Torchwood, and easily manipulates the Torchwood team left in the present day to open the rift in order to return Jack and Toshiko to the right time zone. The two errant members return, but at a steep price.
All of this is accented by a great sequence between Owen and Ianto in conflict over the opening of the rift. These scenes not only justify the overly heavy violent theme of last weeks failure of a story, but also finally (too little, too late?) push Ianto’s character in a solid direction.
There are some other nice touches to this one, like the real Captain’s secret sexuality and Toshiko’s problems with the possibility of being Japanese during the times of World War Two, but as we see it’s all part of a bigger manipulation.
End of Days is exactly what it says, as it is a culmination of the emotional stresses the Torchwood team has faced throughout the series.
The rift is splintering time, and one by one the members are manipulated by the returning Billis Manger, who even goes so far as to commit physical murder to get his goal – the release of Abbadon, the Son of the Beast seen in last years Doctor Who series.
But then it all goes sour again, just a little bit, as the monster is quickly dispatched by gorging on Jack’s life (death?) energy and has his second dramatic death in a half hour of screen time. The scenes that come with this are well directed and moving to a degree, but it is difficult to accept that Jack might have been dead for a second time in that episode.
Billis remains an enigma at the end, with hopefully a resolution in the future. I think (and hope) we will get a better explanation for this man, and I think it will come to light that all is not as it seems here.
The series does finish off on a strong note, as we hear the sound effects of a TARDIS after the container containing the Doctor’s hand begins to glow and Jack smiles as he disappears to adventures yet unseen. The mystery continues, however, and it seems a little odd that as soon as Jack reveals what kind of vision he would have needed to open the rift, (and as we learned in Greeks Bearing Gifts, Jack’s mind cannot be read) we are lead to believe that Jack has gone off with the Doctor.
Coincidence? Time will tell, it always does…