Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 2x12: "Fragments"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Andy Goddard

Owen (to Jim, regarding Katie): “I am losing her. I don’t know what to do. Please. What’s the point of me doing this job if I can’t help my own fiancé?”

One of the many things that I wanted to see in Season Two was one episode dedicated to see everyone beside Gwen’s journey into Torchwood and now that the season is coming to an end, that’s exactly what is given with this episode. All I’ll say – it’s about damn time you guys.

To start with the flashbacks we needed an event in the present and Jack, Owen, Toshiko and Ianto all heading to a warehouse is a good way of starting that event. For once Gwen is out of the picture and we get a taste of what the gang were possibly like before she joined Torchwood.

The warehouse stuff seems mundane and not the kind of thing that would have 80% of the gang investigating all at once but at least when four nicely timed bombs go off, there’s a suitable feeling of danger. However it was a bit stupid for everyone to just look at them before they went off. I would’ve at least tried to have run out of there.

With all of the gang separated and seriously injured, the first flashback period that we hit up is Jack’s. Had this Buffy or like the episode “Restless”, he would’ve been the last person we’d see but in all fairness while his flashback is enjoyable, there are stronger ones in this episode.

With Jack, it’s in the late 1800’s and he’s stuck. Jack doesn’t exactly deal with it well as he seems to spend most of his time boozing, getting into scraps, failing to die and generally ranting. I’m guessing at some point though he did use his more positive attributes but here he is slightly annoying.

Of course being unable to die means that he attracts the attention of Torchwood, in particular two very tough cookies who feel Jack could be of use to them. Jack doesn’t realise he’s basically screwed and when he tries to use the charm offensive, well the result has Jack gagged and knocked out by the devious pair.

Jack might have many abilities but back in the 1800’s charm certainly wasn’t one of them. The lesbian duo enjoys torturing the hell out of him before telling him to join Torchwood or become an enemy. They also weren’t that particularly impressed with him not being helpful in tracking down The Doctor either. Jack’s rant about wanting to kiss and kill The Doctor felt right however.

Becoming Torchwood’s butt monkey though had some interesting moments for Jack. We got see him captured that Blowfish creature from “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” but the ladies ended up dispatching of the damn thing in the end. It’s good to see Jack actually voice his own oppositions to the way that Torchwood happens to run things.

More interesting however was the return of Faith from “Dead Man Walking”. Still as creepy as she was in her first episode, the girl did reassure Jack that he would meet up with The Doctor again. It might have helped if she had warned him about The Master too but hey, it must be tough to be a psychic. The look on Jack’s face when he realised that he would have one hell of a wait is great though.

The last significant part of Jack’s flashbacks then lead up to New Year’s Eve 1999 where his boss Alex reacts to the impending darkness by killing every single person in Torchwood Three as well as himself. Well at least Jack didn’t have to sleep his way to the top but even still, it serves as a continuous reminder that Torchwood as an institute does more harm that actual good.

However as many hiccups as Jack might have had with his entry into Torchwood; he manages to be first outshined by Toshiko. For those of you who have been sick to the back teeth of this woman getting nothing to do in recent episode, this is a God send of an episode. Not only does Toshiko play a vital role but we also learn much more about her too.

In the present day, she’s practically in agony as Gwen and Rhys, along with Jack attempt to remove the debris from her but in the past, things are more intense. Toshiko’s always been a bit of a loner and here, it’s not surprising to see her be the last one to leave her place of work.

Of course it’s not just the fact that Toshiko is a hermit and a work crazed person that’s her motive for staying behind. No, she ends up stealing some secret files and then leaves to work on an impressive little device known as a sonic modulator.

For anyone thinking that Toshiko might have villainous intentions, it seems that she’s working on this object solely so she gets her mother back. Some nasty types have her mum hostage and are forcing Toshiko to help them in some unclear scheme. Toshiko does it unwilling but begs for her mother’s release.

Instead Toshiko and her mother nearly get killed by that sonic modulator and if that wasn’t crappy enough, UNIT storm the place and arrest Toshiko. Man, that girl certainly gets crapped on more than anything. She’s stuck in a small cell, denied all of her rights and isn’t even interviewed about why she stole secret files. Has UNIT always been this harsh?

Luckily for her, at least someone cares enough to make sure she isn’t locked away forever and that’s Jack. He’s the only one who has copped on to what a technical genius Toshiko happens to be and his offer of five years serving Torchwood is damn more alluring than UNIT cells any day of the week. Naturally Toshiko takes the job.

After false imprisonments and captive parents, Ianto’s one is something more a cheat. Here would’ve been an opportunity to have shown us his place of work within Torchwood London before and during the events of “Army Of Ghosts” and “Doomsday” but instead Ianto is stalker mode.

Ianto has never struck me as a doormat and it’s always been heavily suggested to us as viewers that there’s more than meets the eye with him as a character and his flashback plays up to that very well. I mean, something tells me he was watching Jack and the Weevil fight for a while before he stepped in to help his future boss/lover.

Apart from a metal bar, Ianto wasn’t exactly well armed but he was able to take on that Weevil without too much of a sweat. The dialogue between him and Jack is a delight. You know that there is an attractive but here it’s Ianto who is pursuing Jack. Granted Lisa’s cybernetic state at the time is the big motive but even still, there’s some freaking hot chemistry between Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman here.

When Jack refuses to give Ianto a job, it’s wonderful to see Ianto not take it lying down. In any other series, Ianto’s stalking of Jack (which includes him getting straight into Jack’s face with a cup of coffee) would annoy the heck out of me but it’s cute. Wrong in other ways too but essentially cute.

Ianto might have been using Jack to get a place into Torchwood to help Lisa but by the time the two of them are catching Myfanwy the pterodactyl and falling on top of each other at one point, it can be clearly seen that Ianto is also beginning to fall for Jack, despite his best intentions to help Lisa.

After those three different but excellent looks at Torchwood, I was hoping that Owen’s would maintain the excellence so far but his only went and became the best one of the bunch. Yes this is coming from a fella who wanted to kill Owen throughout most of Season One and began to felt for him this season.

Owen might have been a womanising jerk but there was at least one woman that very nearly got him up the aisle and that was Katie. Seeing Owen in pre-marital bliss came across as a surprise but Katie’s seeming Alzheimers was a bigger one to be honest. Owen raised a valid point with his doctor friend/boss Jim when he said that if he wasn’t able to save Katie, then what is the point of him doing his job?

The actress who played Katie was also terrific as well. She thought she was losing her mind and kept apologising to Owen, who was clearly devoted to her. Worse still is that instead of Alzheimers it turned out to be an alien that inside her brain and the aggressive bugger killed her and the doctors who were going to operate on her.

As if losing your fiancé wasn’t bad enough, Owen then had to deal with Jack being all very Torchwood on him. Instead of getting answers the outcome has Owen gagged and knocked out by Jack who then has everyone thinking Owen is a nut. Best way to win future employees – have everyone think they’re insane and ruin their lives. Only goes to show how easy Gwen has had it in comparison.

I’m not even sure if Owen got to bury Katie properly but at her graveside he does get a chance to royally punch Jack into the middle of next week before he decides to work for Torchwood. The link with all four people is that they seem to be drifting or stuck in horrible situations. Jack and Toshiko were viewed as traitors and both Ianto and Owen lost lovers. It makes think that Torchwood purposely preys on people who lack stability in some shape or form.

With everyone getting their flashback, I won’t lie in saying I was slightly disappointed with the lack of Suzie. This would’ve been a perfect episode to have brought back Indira Varma and while I appreciate that she is at least mentioned, a brief appearance really would’ve made this episode just that little bit more amazing.

However with everyone managing to get out that building alive (even Death Becomes Him Owen doesn’t seem to have anything broken), there is one more sting in the tail – Captain John, who orchestrated the whole thing.

I just knew this guy would show up at the end of the episode and just like The Master, he’s insane to the core. Not only did try to kill the gang here but he’s made a big vow to ruin Jack’s life, despite sounding like a crazed ex-boyfriend and the fact that Gray is also here doesn’t make things look good for the gang.

Also in “Fragments”

This is the latest timed episode we’ve had with it being on at 10:30pm on BBC3.

Torchwood Woman: “Why aren’t you dead yet?”
Captain Jack: “I’ve been trying to figure out that myself.”

Jack’s been killed at least 1392 times before his recruitment into Torchwood. Surely not all of them can be deliberate.

Torchwood Woman (to Captain Jack): “It’s good money, Captain. How else are you going to earn?”

Captain Jack: “It’s going to be okay.”
Alex: “No, it’s not. It’s really not.”

Jack’s clothing in the 1800s with the sideburns made me think they were vying for the Angelus look.

George: “When are you going to let me whisk you away from all of this?”
Toshiko: “As soon as you clear it with you wife and grandchildren.”
George: “Always an excuse.”

Toshiko: “Who are you?”
Captain Jack: “Nobody. I don’t exist and for a man with my charisma, that’s quite an achievement.”

Toshiko’s mum had the same cut to her head here like the way she did in “End Of Days”. I’m not sure why Jack didn’t want Toshiko to see her mother though.

Ianto: “Lucky escape.”
Captain Jack: “I had it under control.”
Ianto: “You think? Looked pretty vicious.”

Ianto: “You checked me out?”
Captain Jack: “You knew what a Weevil was. Thought I might have to deal with you.”

Ianto’s birth date here was confirmed as August 19th 1983 but in the Torchwood Magazine they had him down as December 2nd 1982.

Ianto: “You smell au naturally?”
Captain Jack: “51st Century pheromones. People have no idea.”

Ianto: “I should go.”
Captain Jack: “Hey report for work first thing tomorrow. Like the suit, by the way.”

Ianto had a conviction for shoplifting and Jack openly admitted to him that he was from the 51st Century.

Katie: “I’m sorry Owen.”
Owen: “What have you got to be sorry for?”
Katie: “I don’t want to put you through this.”

Owen: “I don’t know what happened to Katie. I don’t know who you are but there are no such things as aliens.”
Captain Jack: “You think?”

Owen and Ianto had something of a clothing reversal. Ianto went from casual clothing to smart and Owen went from smart to casual clothing.

Captain Jack (upon seeing Gray): “No, it can’t be.”
Captain John: “Been a while since you’ve seen your brother.”

Quick Note: BBC2 are airing the finale on April 4th, the day before Season 4 of Doctor Who begins on BBC1.

This was by far my favourite episode of the season. “Fragments” gave satisfying and often amazing insights into every single character with Owen and Toshiko’s tragic backgrounds and Ianto’s dubious nature. Jack’s felt the lightest of the bunch and while the John/Gray revelation might have felt a bit rushed, there’s no denying the brilliance of this episode.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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