In the present, with Gwen’s family in jeopardy, Jack Harkness finds himself the reluctant part of a prisoner exchange. In 1927, Jack befriends Italian immigrant Angelo, with unexpected consequences.


Our previous episode establishes that our villains have hacked the Torchwood Lenses and used them to force Gwen (Eve Myles) to bring them Jack (John Barrowman) in exchange for her family. Returning to the makeshift Torchwood base in LA, Gwen lures Jack out and tasers him, tying him up and heading off to the rendezvous. When Jack awakes, Gwen explains what’s going on, and resisting every attempt by Jack to talk her out of it, demands that Jack figure out what he did to cause all of this. In a particularly cold moment, Jack attempts to get Gwen to release him by telling her that his wrist unit can be reconfigured to find her daughter, but she sees through it and our villains, silent through the Lenses up till now, confirm what Gwen already knows: Jack lies.

As we travel along with the duo, we also flash back in time to 1927, where Jack is arriving in the US and getting processed through Ellis Island, or rather, he’s trying to. He has a problem in that his papers have been stolen by a young Italian man named Angelo Colasanto, but a dramatic tussle gets them back and Angelo thrown in jail. Sensing something about the young man that he likes, Jack forges some documents and gets Angelo out, and the two find a room together in New York. As they look out the window, they see a beautiful girl on a fire escape, and while Jack describes what he would like to do to her, it’s clear the seduction is of Angelo. Being able to reveal his sexuality to someone in a time far more dangerous to homosexuals than the present is liberating for Angelo, and the two begin a relationship. It’s sexual at first, but quickly grows into something more for both men, and there, well there will lie the seeds of one of the worst times in Jack’s long life.

Let’s get this out of the way. If you find sex scenes between men uncomfortable, you may have a problem here. You’re also probably watching the wrong show, since same-sex relationships have been common in TORCHWOOD from the beginning. But the move to STARZ has meant the writers and directors can get a bit more graphic, and like the earlier Jack sex scene, they push up to the limit. Personally such things don’t bother me, but it does seem like the scene is a little long. I’m sure that some viewers would disagree.

I’m kind of torn on Angelo. As played by Daniele Favilli, we have a young man both lured by the adventure of America and fleeing his small town it Italy, and swept up by the mystery and glamour that is Jack Harkness. His sense of wonder at the impossible things Jack reveals to him is reminiscent of the Doctor’s Companions from DOCTOR WHO, and if fact, Jack lets Angelo into his life because he feels like he needs a companion. That we also get a specific reference to the Doctor is nice, and for a show that hasn’t talked about Jack’s origins much, we get quite a few DOCTOR WHO nods this week.

But as interesting as Angelo’s struggle between his sexuality and his Catholic faith is, as interesting as his joy at being let into a world of alien wonders, it’s Jack’s story here that feels most like TORCHWOOD of old, and Jack’s recklessness will throw Angelo in over his head. When they get caught running alcohol by the Mob, Jack talks the boss into letting them work for them, and their first job is moving a crate from one warehouse to another, without, it’s stressed, looking inside. And while it starts as a chance for Jack to reveal an alien to Angelo, it ends with the police gunning down Jack before the young man’s horrified eyes, and a year in prison. And when Angelo gets out, a man who he watched die is waiting for him… Jack’s immortality striking again.

It’s too much for Angelo. Going back to the room they shared, Jack tries to make love to him, but Angelo’s faith is too ingrained to accept Jack’s resurrection as anything other than the work of the Devil, and he stabs him. When Jack comes back to life again, Angelo kills him once more, and brings the family that owns the rooms into it, and swiftly it spirals out of control. Trussed up in a basement room, Jack finds himself the subject of a crowd of the curious and morbid, killed over and over and over again for their blood-lust. Somewhere in this horrific chaos, Angelo realizes what he’s done, and sets out to free Jack, but not before three men in suits discuss the possibilities of owning a man who cannot die. A deal is struck between the three, and they clasp arms in a dun dun dun!!!!!!! triangle shape.

With the Christ-like imagery already everywhere, Angelo frees Jack, washing the blood from him, the camera lingering on Angelo wiping the blood from Jack’s feet. They flee into the night, but any hope of reconciliation is dashed when Jack tells Angelo that he’s going to go away without him. Before throwing himself off the roof they’re on, Jack looks at his young lover and betrayer and says:

“It always ends the same way. You kill me. Men like you kill me.”

Why am I torn? Because the reveal at the end of the episode is that in the present…. well. Lets return to the present.

Bound in the backseat of the car, Jack’s attempts to get Gwen to let him go prompt her to reveal just how much she’s emotionally damaged here. She loves Jack, and tells him so, but she loves her family more, and the situation has made her realize that her involvement with Torchwood and Jack is the reason her family is in danger. More so, it’s made her face the truth about something far worse: She’s addicted to the danger of Torchwood.

“I caused this, I made this happen. I knew Torchwood was toxic, right from the moment I joined it. The very first day, but I stayed… You know what is the worst thing of all? Out of all the shit we have seen, all the bloodshed, all the horror, you know what is the worst in all of that? I loved it. I bloody loved it.”

The adventure, the secrets, all of it, it’s what has led Gwen here, has put her family in jeopardy, and for their sake, she’s willing to sacrifice Jack, even though she does love him.

Jack of course isn’t all that willing to die for anyone, especially now that’s the last mortal man, and he makes sure Gwen knows that he’s going to fight for his life, even if that means he has to kill Gwen to do it.

This is pretty good stuff here. From the beginning of the show, Gwen has been a junkie for the excitement of Torchwood, and certainly for Jack, and several stories dealt with the lies and betrayals she inflicted on her husband because of them both. These two are the heart and soul of the show, and to have them at such odds is long coming. What’s unfortunate is what isn’t talked about, on which I’ll have more in a moment.

Arriving at their destination moments before the bad guys, Jack and Gwen share some moments of sadness and regret at where they’ve brought themselves to, and at Gwen’s prompting, Jack tells her of the most beautiful thing he’s seen in his long life. It’s an apt choice: A bird made of fire, smaller than a hummingbird, that lives only a minute, as Jack reveals that no matter how long he’s lived it hasn’t been enough. And then it’s time.

Stepping out of the arriving cars is a woman and two armed men, the woman clearly knowing Jack even as he tells Gwen he doesn’t recognize her. Suddenly shots ring out and a laser sight settles on the woman… Rex and Esther have tracked them to the rendezvous.

It seems that when Esther was checking the data cache on the Lenses, she found the messages from the bad guys, and using the system to track them, she and Rex have set up a snipers nest. More importantly, they’ve contacted Gwen’s old Welsh police friend Andy, who leads a police assault to free Gwen’s family. The tables turned, it seems as if the Woman should be afraid of what Gwen might do to her in retaliation, but she’s not, in fact as far as she’s concerned nothing has changed, except that now Jack will want to come willingly. Why? Because she can take him to the man who knows how the Miracle all began, the man who is waiting, has been waiting, for a very long… Angelo Colasanto.

OK. On one hand, this is a really good episode, and a lot of that credit goes to the writer Jane Espenson. Recognize her name? You should, as she’s written for BUFFY, FIREFLY  and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA among others. She’s also written the third and fifth episodes of this series, and is the writer of the upcoming eighth and tenth. Now I thought there were a LOT of problems with episode five, but three was good, and this one goes a decent distance in making up. But in the scheme of things it’s almost too little too late. This is EPISODE 7. Of 10. It really seems like we’ve been spinning our wheels a LOT this season, and with only three episodes left, it really would have been nice to have reached this point sooner. I don’t know, maybe the final three won’t feel rushed, but with people like Oswald Danes absent again this week, it seems like we’ve got a lot of characters with stories to resolve in not a lot of time.

Continuing this season’s genre cameos, we have Nana Visitor of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE as The Woman, and while it’s been nice to see her and Ernie Hudson and C. Thomas Howell show up in TORCHWOOD, it’s also starting to feel a little like “Hey! Look! We’ve got American Genre Actors!” I don’t know… maybe it’s just me.

There’s a line Rex (Mekhi Phifer) has after he and Esther (Alexa Havins) rescue Jack and Gwen that sums up my issues with the series so far: “I’m tired of Torchwood acting like amateurs.” So am I. And they have been for most of this series. Here it feels like they are getting back on track, and even Rex and Esther get to work as a team together. There’s a good moment where Rex is watching the fallout of the video he shot of Vera’s death on the news, and finding himself grieving. They really didn’t know each other well, more thrown together by the situation than drawn together, but they shared a bed and got a little close, and her death has hit him in a way he can’t quite define. Phifer is good here, and so is Havins, as Esther tries to comfort him. Esther also gets to use those computer skills to save the day, and after all the abuse she’s taken for her mistakes, it’s nice to see her get the important things right.

Ah yes, Angelo. I don’t know… something about Daniele Favilli’s performance didn’t quite gel for me, but for the life of me I can’t tell you why. I can tell you that he does make a good foil for Jack, well, up until the point he kills him of course. It does seem a little presumptive that he would expect Jack to take him back after the whole chained-in-a-basement-killed-over-and-over bit, but love is a strange thing, and honestly, Jack lets him get way too close way too soon. That he’s revealed to at least know what the origins of the Miracle are I can deal with, but I find myself wondering if we aren’t looking at Angelo and the Triangle guys being seperate groups. What I have a question about is why Angelo hasn’t tracked Jack down loooooong before this. I mean, Jack really isn’t known for being low profile, and if Angelo made the Miracle happen, and this all turns out to be the result of a broken heart? Yeah, I think I’m going to be ticked off.


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