Our long and bountiful quest has brought us to the Series Finale. Like the real-life broadcast, I'm reviewing these two episodes together, begining with the first half, Captain Jack Harkness. It has a few issues with pacing, but the episode pulls out the big guns and is mainly a character piece looking at the history of the show's main character, Jack Harkness. In some ways it was also an Owen vehicle, but all of the characters (bar Gwen, who's been through quite enough alreasy got a splattering of character development as we gear up for the final episode.
When investigating an old dancehall, Jack and Tosh are swept up by the rift and end up in 1941 at a party to celebrate the soldiers going back to war. The Dancehall is run by a strange-looking man called Billis Manger, who appears to Gwen when she follows up their disappearance in 2006. Jack becomes friends with an American Captain called Captain Jack Harkness. He later reveals to Tosh that when he was in WWII the first time (as a time-travelling conman} he stole WWII Jack's name as an alias,
Owen, who's still hung up on Dianne, uses their disappearance into the past as an excuse to open the rift, much to Ianto's chagrin. The two argue and fight. As Tosh attempts to send the equations for the Rift Machine through time (being hindered by Billis along the way}, Gwen and Owen search the Dancehall to find them as well as a piece of the rift machine that appears to be missing. Eventually they have a complete Rift Manipulator and nearly all of the equations, minus three important figures.
Seeing as not much actually happens in CJH, its writing depends more on its ideas and its characters than anything else. Over all other things, the characters are real human beings and unlike in the first half of the series there aren't any particularly huge problems. The original Captain Jack, played by Hollywood bit-actor Matt Rippy, is a great character and is a great example of a gay man in the 1940's. Billis is an intriguing villain almost immediately, his anachronistic nature presented in an incredibly subtle way.
On its own, CJH is a bit of a non-entity. It falls into that dangerous trap that a lot of penultimate episodes do in that it uses the finale as its climax, and thus the rest of the story suffers as a result. But regardless of that, CJH is an excellent character piece filled with passion and human drama as well as a sci-fi idea that the show doesn't often touch upon.
The End of Days, and the end of the series. It's been a turbulent ride, but this last half has been really good by my standards and the hopes for the finale are high. A good finale should not only be an imaginative and conclusive adventure, but also should be a summary of the series' themes and should leave us wanting more. Oh dear. Everytime I say things like this I'm horrifically disappointed.
After Owen fucked up the rift, the world has turned upside down overnight. Aliens are floating over the Taj Mahal, a hospital in Cardiff has The Plague and there are Roman soldiers in London. The team (sans immortal Jack}all receive visions of their loved ones (Toshiko sees her mother; Ianto sees Lisa; Owen sees Dianne and then Gwen sees a vision of a dead Rhys, who then dies}. Eventually the teams' hangups overrule Jack and they open the rift, which sends everyone home and resets time but also releases a 10ft demon named Abbadon that kills everyone in his shadow.
Taking it remarkably well, Jack goes up to the demon and uses his immortality to over-face him, killing both of them. Jack remains dead for days, but after a kiss from Gwen he returns to life and everyone is forgiven. He then wanders into Season 29 of Doctor Who.
|Jack has gone!|
And so, despite how great the episodes leading up to this were, I'm still disappointed with End of Days. It relied on the character drama that this half of the series had set up, but the follow-through wasn't done well and the whole thing collapsed. The villains, while creepy, are ineffective and the ending teasing the third series of its parent program felt like of a bit of a cop-out. Sorry, Torchwood.