Torchwood: Day Five – The Hit

P1000496

Bad Jack.

I wasn’t quite sure whether Day Five was going to deliver, or whether it could possibly live up to the tour de force of Day’s One to Four. Well, one thing’s for sure, we didn’t get a happy ending. It was bleak and uncompromising in a way I don’t think anyone in fandom is used to and, as a result, I imagine that there will be quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Some of the nonsense that I’ve read about fan reaction to Day Four’s shock death might pale in to insignificance relative to the shock of Captain Jack turning from hero to anti-hero and then in to something approaching a villain. Perhaps in a similar fashion to the rogue that we first met opposite Rose and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor in Series One of Doctor Who. The subtle humour of previous episodes was necessarily absent as the government’s plan was rolled in to action. Then, when all hope was seemingly lost, that awful solution was found.

There were more sensational scenes and performances, directed with aplomb by Euros Lynn. Numerous examples abound but at least three are worthy of mention:

  1. When the Colonel asked the 456 what the children were to be used for, the answer was simply “The hit”… these bad guys were just junkies who’d turned to crime to feed their habit, and somehow that made it all seem 10 times worse.
  2. Frobisher’s final realisation that he and his family had been used and backed in to a corner and the ultimate sacrifice that he then had to make was awful to watch… and that wait for the fourth gunshot was interminable.
  3. Bridget Spears’ final endeavour to do something good that effectively overthrew the insidious Prime Minister Green was ultimately a futile act as the even more insidious sidekick appeared ready to take over.

Of course, the big talking point will be the final 10 minutes [Look away now if you haven’t seen… spoilers approach].

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Mr Dekker’s advice that a child would be needed to feedback the deadly signal to the 456 and that that child would fry was met with obvious reluctance from Jack but in the end he knew that he what he was going to do and knew that he would be sacrificing his own self worth as well at the same.  Six months later and we find out that Jack is running away: it is exactly the behaviour that we would have expected of the Jack that we met in The Empty Child. Perhaps he goes off around the universe, never dying, trying to make amends for his behaviour and slowly turning into the Face of Boe. It would appear, given that conclusion that we’re not going to see Torchwood continue in its current form. Hopefully, we’ll get more sci-fi drama like this over the years to come though.

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    • fazzinchi
    • July 11th, 2009

    Great comments everyone, thanks for posting your thoughts!

    Nick – parallels to the Doctor’s role in the Time War are something I hadn’t considered. May be that’s why the Time War has remained off-screen… it might not be comfortable seeing our childhood hero make those kind of decisions.

    Kara, shar – Yep, I’m still feeling emotionally drained this morning.

    Doughboy – great analysis, thanks. Gwen and Jack juxtaposed against the roles of companion and Doctor is interesting. We know that Jack tried to rebuild Torchwood using the Doctor’s morality as some kind of template but there’s no denying that the Doctor would never be written to sacrifice an innocent to save the day. That’s why, ultimately, Torchwood as a spin-off has been so appreciated (especially when it gives us stories like this).

    Cheers, Kev

    • Doughboy
    • July 11th, 2009

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree about your thoughts on Jack. From the beginning the series was thought of, by some, as adult Doctor Who. But to me it has become a story of what would happen if a person had the Doctor’s powers but was human. That’s what makes the show so great to me, it’s all the flaws of a human trying to play the Doctor’s role. And Jack doesn’t fail in that role, but he gets a reality check of what it means to be the Doctor. People die and even though it isn’t your fault, it is your fault. Jack wants to do good but doing good costs others more then he can stand.

    This series brought that reality to Jack in a way he never faced before. The best part of the series was what Jack said at the end about changing faces. Somehow he becomes the Face of Boa, I mean physical appearance. Now I think we might see how it starts. Russel T Davies has opened the door for other actors to play Jack’s part, sort of like the Doctor.

    Another thing that was great about the episode was Gwen’s last lines. In a way she became the Doctor’s companion, left wondering what to do next without Jack.

    In the end Jack didn’t become an anti-hero, he became more like the Doctor and didn’t like what it meant.

  1. I feel completely empty after that ending. Possibly the most horrifying hour of television I’ve ever watched, which is really a strange sort of compliment.

    • shar
    • July 10th, 2009

    John Frobisher was one of the most compelling characters in the whole thing and the worst part was that what he did in the end was so futile because it all worked out. Reminded me of the ending of that movie The Mist.
    It was such a bleak ending and I feel numb. I feel like it’s the end of a show I’ve loved is over. I mourned yesterday for the whole day and I think that helped me to watch the finale and accept how good it was without focussing on how sad it made me feel.

  2. I think there will be more, but in the form of specials like this – my phrase du jour is ‘Torchwood is the 21st Century Quatermass’.

    My guess would be that Gwen finds herself in control of the assets of the Torchwood Institute (as the last employee standing) and rebuilds it, then Jack will return in something akin to the freelance role he had with the Institute up to 2000.

    But I think the fact he had to sacrifice his grandchild was RTD making a clear parallel to the Doctor’s actions in the Time War – is he a monster for sacrificing his grandchild for the greater good?

  3. Great review as always sir.

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