Lately, that title seems more accurate than normal but for Team Torchwood, it really does seem to be the end of days. After the events of Captain Jack Harkness, Owen’s use of the rift alerted something that has been “moving through the darkness” that there was some good feasting to be had on planet earth. Bilis Manger, collector of horns, seems ready for Abadon to feast on life and drain the planet. His motivations remain unclear, as it seems a pretty lonely world but that’s just what villains do. Right?
This is one of Chris Chibnall’s stories and even with shallow villains, it had me on edge and loving every minute. With reason too! There are a lot of light touches that mark the work as something above average. Owen’s mild reminder of the hand in the bubbling jar is a nice touch especially considering what’s coming. Jack’s positivism that this is not the end is clever since we know he’s seen the future. Then there are the cool little cameos that occur, like Lisa coming back to taunt Ianto. And again, major kudos Eve Myles who completely sells Rhys’ death scene. (I do feel for the actors who have to play a part while someone screams in their ears!) Even the Mulder and Scully reference was a nice touch, especially for a show that really has a lot in common with that classic series.
The real terror of the episode, especially in the days of Covid, is not the giant Godzilla sized creature having a walk through Cardiff, but the plagues that are coming through time. Living during plague times really drives home how terrifying it would be if all the plagues throughout time could pop up out of nowhere. We’re living proof how hard it is to contain that! Owen’s fear is completely relatable, and I never expected to say a thing like that!
Tying Torchwood back to Doctor Who is a fun thing but too often things seem unconnected, like the Weevil’s I mentioned last week. But this time, we’re reminded of the outstanding two-part David Tennant episode The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit where a giant beast is imprisoned on a rock in deep space. What was it with horned giants being cast out? This creature, Abadon, is also from before time. Are there more of these creatures and is there any hope we’ll encounter more of them in the future? Considering story potential, that would be quite nice!
Speaking of story potential, the tension that grows between Jack and Owen is incredible and talk about some great stuff. Owen shooting Jack dead was unexpected to say the least. Then Jack gets better, as Jack does, and goes to give Abadon a feast he won’t ever forget. When Jack gets better from that, he goes back to the depressing view of death that never sits well with me. I still so prefer the Eugene Jones interpretation that there’s more for us after death. But Jack says that he saw nothing while dead. And that’s a bleak note to end things on. But then something incredible happened that made this one of my top 3 episodes of Torchwood. Jack mentions to Gwen that the only temptation left for him is in finding “the right kind of Doctor”. He then walks out to that dismembered hand and it starts making noise. And along with Jack, we begin to hear the sounds of the TARDIS! Jack is about to go to Utopia… (For what happens next in Jack’s timeline, see the episode link here.)
*One note about this scene: Torchwood shows Gwen as she walks out of Jack’s office to see both Jack and the hand gone. Moments later, team Torchwood walk through the main doors and no one has seen Jack walk out. It also appeared to be night during this sequence. When Utopia opens, Jack is running outside during the day with the hand strapped to his back. He is running towards the parked TARDIS which sits on the square that the elevator in the Torchwood Hub uses, so he didn’t leave that way. So, yes, there’s a discrepancy considering it looked like he was picked up by the TARDIS as it landed and no one saw him walk out the door. Similarly there may be another discrepancy when he’s returned, but we’ll talk about that next week! ML