Thursday, 4 July 2013

Review: Torchwood 2.12: Fragments
Amy Manson as one of Torchwood's many kinky bisexual
members in the Victorian Era.
Torchwood - Series Two, Episode Twelve - Fragments
Written 16/4/13

Fragments is a rather deliberately apt name for this penultimate episode of the series that follows the rather odd path of deciding to infodump us on our four non-Gwen characters. As opposed to one continuous story, the episode was seperated into four distinct flashback sequences, with a loose connector inbetween. An opportunity for fanservice of the most pure and concentrated kind, Fragments takes enough joy and intrigue in the series' own mythology to make an otherwise sedate episode worthwhile.
      Gwen oversleeps, and arrives at set co-ordinates to discover that the team have been caught up in an explosion in a set of old buildings. As each member is found, they relive how they joined Torchwood. Jack was recruited in the 1800s, working as an operative while waiting for the Doctor and eventually taking over that cell when his leader committed murder-suicide at the turn of the millenium. Tosh was hired as a way to pardon a life-sentence aquired by manufacturing alien tech for a terrorist cell who were holding her mother hostage. Ianto, fresh from the collapse of Torchwood One, begged Jack for a job and then earnt it by helping Jack catch the Pterodactyl. Owen was recruited when his fiancee was accidentally killed by an alien brain parasite. The explosions turn out to have been set by Captain John Hart, who has returned with Gray.
     I think that Torchwood is one of those shows where the backstory on its own doesn't fundamentally matter. Like Lost, you can easily watch the present story and the characters shine through on their own. Flashbacks are thus like seasonings, enhancing what's already there. Such is the task faced by anyone writing a predominantly flashback-based story in any medium, and I think that Chibnall actually pulls it off quite well.
Owen's doomed fianceƩ Katie.
    And that was probably because I really did enjoy seeing the characters' pasts. As a Lost fan, I'm pretty used to having an entire storyline set out in flashbacks, and the way that Chibnall handed this material was just as satisfying. I especially enjoyed Jack's segment, which filled in a few of the gaps in his own enormous personal mythology, as well as Owen's, which gave insight into how he came to be such an opportunist near the start of the series. I felt that Tosh's flashback was a little odd - UNIT don't really seem the type of organisation to hold people in gulag-style prison camps - but it had some nice character moments thrown in there to make up for it.
     This look back into Torchwood's mythology may have not meant a lot in the long run, but it was a fun hour that shone a light on most of our major characters. I'm rather sad that we're this close to the end of this run, really - I've been having a lot of fun looking back over my favourite series of the show, and it's for episodes like these that I can say that's true.


NEXT WEEK: Series Two ends with the return of John and Gray in Exit Wounds.

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