Too Much, Too Soon: could Torchwood have been saved?

Torchwood met an early demise, but could the series have been saved and go on to live a full life?


A spin-off of the BBC’s Doctor Who, Torchwood follows the activities of a branch of the Torchwood Institute, a highly secretive agency that aims to protect Earth from an alien invasion by investigating extra-terrestrial incursions and scavenging and studying alien technology. While Doctor Who is considered a family program, Torchwood was aimed at an adult audience.

The Torchwood Institute first appears in the second season of the rebooted Doctor Who in 2006. It is set up by Queen Victoria after she experiences a terrifying attack by aliens. Growing ever stronger and broader in scope, the Torchwood Institute survives into the 21st century when its London headquarters are destroyed during an all-out war between Daleks and Cybermen in the ‘Battle of Canary Wharf’ which closes the season. The Torchwood series focuses on one of the remnant branches of the institute in Cardiff, Wales (where, incidentally, Doctor Who is filmed) which lies above a rift in time and space.

The team is headed by Captain Jack Harkness, a brave, brash, handsome, sexy and charismatic man from the distant future, who also began life as a character in the first season of the rebooted Doctor Who. A time-travelling conman, Jack is inspired by the Doctor to leave his life of crime and become one of the good guys. However, in a complex series of events, Jack has become immortal. Although he can die, he immediately comes back to life.

His Torchwood team comprises cynical, rebellious physician Owen Harper, highly focussed scientist Toshiko Sato, empathetic police officer Gwen Cooper and self-effacing receptionist and general dog’s-body Ianto Jones. Not averse to an adventure with any gender or species, Jack develops feelings for Gwen when she first becomes part of the team, but Gwen is in a permanent relationship with Rhys. By the end of the first season, it is established that Jack and Ianto have become lovers. (For more detail see Torchwood: Sex, Politics and Integrity)

Torchwood ran for four seasons between 2006 and 2011, two seasons of 13 episodes each, followed by two miniseries: Children of Earth, and Miracle Day which was a co-production with the American Starz network. The series is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer, in the USA on HBO Max, and on Stan in Australia.

Queen Victoria recovers from her run-in with an alien
Queen Victoria recovers from her run-in with an alien

According to Wikipedia, Russell T Davies was inspired by Joss Whedon’s Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel, to create a British science-fiction/crime drama series, even before he headed the revival of Doctor Who in 2005, and developed the idea as a Doctor Who spin-off when he was invited by the BBC to produce an adult science fiction series. (Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who and was used by the production team to disguise Doctor Who tapes and scripts and protect them from would-be pirates.)

Obviously written by the production team itself, the Wikipedia entry goes on to laud Torchwood’s ever-growing audience on the BBC in Britain on its initial release, improving reviews and increasing budgets. However, that is not the impression I got as a viewer here in Australia. In fact, I got the impression that the BBC had little real confidence in Torchwood. Logic would dictate that, as a spin-off of Doctor Who, the best way to market Torchwood would be to tap into that ready-made audience and bundle it together with Doctor Who. However, that does not seem to have been the case.

It was not initially shown here in Australia by the ABC (our equivalent of the BBC) which airs Doctor Who. Instead, it was bought by the commercial station Network Ten which condemned Series One to a late-night spot and exiled Series Two to one of their secondary channels. According to Wikipedia, the ABC initially passed on Series One and Two, but eventually acquired them and was the first to air Series Three and Four. However, most Australian fans of Doctor Who would have initially seen the first two series of Torchwood, as I did, on DVD, which, as evidence of their popularity, were still only available on short term loan a year after they first aired.

One wonders how this happened. American networks are known to bundle shows together so that Australian networks are forced to accept shows they are not particularly interested in in order to get the ones they really want. Was the BBC reluctant to do this? Did they not offer the ABC a good enough deal, or did their lack of enthusiasm for the show sway the ABC buyers? It is doubtful that reputedly cash-strapped Network Ten paid much for Torchwood if they aired it in such unpopular slots.

The program’s trajectory also gives the impression of a show desperately struggling to survive in the face of management’s indifference. Both Series One and Two seemed to have been rushed in their development and production. Noticeable and numerous gaps and inconsistencies in the narrative and character development makes one think that Series One was embarked upon without mapping out a detailed back story, and that Series Two was written on the run, indicating that the producers were given little time to develop Series One and were kept waiting until the last minute for the go-ahead to make Series Two. The mini-series format for Series Three and Four would also suggest that management was unwilling to commit to a long-term future.

Wikipedia tells us that Russell T Davies put Torchwood into hiatus for ‘personal reasons.’ Could those personal reasons be that he was tired of fighting the BBC for Torchwood’s survival and was dis-heartened by its failure to catch on in the American market?

While I felt that the two mini-series were a mistake, overall, I enjoyed the first two series of Torchwood. Series One was very impressive. Each episode was a gem. Several of the episodes in Series Two were equally superb. However, I felt overwhelmed by Series Two which moved at a frenetic pace that was quite at odds with the first series.

Furthermore, in its reliance on action rather than character development, as I noted in an earlier article (see Torchwood: Sex, Politics and Integrity), Series Two virtually abandoned any attempt to develop Captain Jack Harkness as a character, as flawed as that development had been. One wonders if this attempt had been the cause of the ‘uneven tone’ so condemned by the critics, and that was ‘largely smoothed out’ in the second series by aborting it altogether.

Russell T. Davies has said that the producers felt that they needed to top Series One with Series Two, but in trying to do more in the second series the writers sometimes burdened individual episodes with so much content that they had to take a few shortcuts, letting the story fall short of its full potential. In fact, it seemed that the producers had tried to cram everything they had into that one series as though they were afraid they wouldn’t get another.

poster for Torchwood Children of Earth

They were almost right, but were these efforts, in effect, self-defeating? In using all their best ideas on Series Two, had they left themselves little avenue for future development as well as cutting off any scope to follow through on existing ideas? With nowhere else to go, their only option had been the mini-series, but they did little to revive Torchwood’s prospects. Children of Earth was based on a sickening premise and made what remained of the Torchwood team look foolish, while Miracle Day did little better.

Although much of the work may have had to be done on spec, it might have behoved Davies to have spent more time on mapping out the future of Torchwood. Perhaps if he had been able to present the BBC’s management with a long-term plan, he might have been able to persuade them to give Torchwood those few extra series it needed to bring all of his great ideas to fruition.

As we have seen, Davies was inspired by Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Angel, both of which had the luxury of seasons of twenty-two episodes. To keep some continuity in these long seasons Whedon used the device of a unifying story arc. This structure gave the series a forward impetus, while allowing time for digressions into tangents or one-off stories. Some of the story ideas from Series Two of Torchwood, with some development, would have made powerful story arcs that could have carried several seasons. Although it is too late to save Torchwood, let me dare to suggest how this might have been done.

I’ll begin by critically examining those episodes in Series Two that contained promising ideas, then propose how those ideas could be reworked into extended story arcs. Replacing the existing Series Two and the two mini-series, these story arcs could have extended Torchwood to a respectable and satisfying run of five 13-episode seasons.

Series Two Episodes

Episode One – Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Series Two opens with a trail of death and mayhem when Cardiff is visited by a dashing, murderous stranger, Captain John Hart, Jack’s former partner ‘in every way’. Before he met the Doctor, Jack worked with John for the Time Agency, a mysterious organisation Jack left when he discovered they had taken two years of his memories.

Jack with Capt John Hart
Jack with Capt John Hart

Although Jack knows he isn’t trustworthy, he and the team help John find three alien items which John describes as dangerous nuclear devices, but which he actually believes to be clues to the location of a priceless diamond. They turn out to be neither, but explosive devices which latch onto their maker’s killer – Captain John Hart.  The team risk their lives in order to save the city from being destroyed along with him. As Jack finally sends John on his way, as a parting shot, John tells Jack he has found Gray. Gray is Jack’s long lost younger brother who was taken by enemy aliens as a child when he was in Jack’s care and for which Jack has always blamed himself. (In Episode Thirteen, John re-unites the brothers, but with deadly consequences.)

I have analysed this episode in more detail elsewhere (see Torchwood: Sex, Politics and Integrity), but for the purposes of this analysis, suffice to say that I felt that the development of the relationship between Jack and his former lover was sacrificed to the action. More time was needed to explore their relationship more deeply.

Furthermore, for all that is made of Jack and John’s partnership as time agents, we still learn nothing about the work they did there. Instead when they do reminisce together we hear about all the mischief they made. Given John’s character, it would seem he is talking about their partnership as conmen rather than agents of the Time Agency. In fact, time and again the Time Agency is mentioned, but nothing more is said about it. What exactly did Jack’s career as a time agent entail and what happened during those two years he was made to forget?

My other problem with this episode is that the story of Captain John has been bundled together with the story of Gray. Both characters and their stories hold great promise, but in being combined and restricted to the first and last episodes, their full potential is left unexplored.

These stories are obviously tied together because they both come from Jack’s past, but they are from very different phases of his life. Given what we find out later – that Jack has locked away the painful memories of Gray – would he have told John about him? From what we see of their relationship I would suggest not. I also wonder how John would have recognised Gray when he found him, since he would never have met him before. It seems that these two stories have been thrown together as an expediency – a quick, dramatic way of re-uniting Jack and Gray, but at the cost of letting us develop any real understanding or sympathy for either character.

Episode Five – Adam

There is a new face in the Torchwood team, but even though the viewers have never met Adam before, the team treat him as though he has been there forever. However, there have been some changes. Relations between Toshiko and Owen have been reversed. Toshiko is confident and sexy, and Owen is diffident and geeky, pining away for Toshiko who is in a relationship with Adam. When Gwen returns after a weekend away with her partner Rhys, she does not seem to recognise Adam at first, but he puts his hand on her shoulder and her memories of him rush past. That evening when she goes home, Gwen doesn’t recognise Rhys and treats him as an intruder. She has lost her memories of him and their relationship must be rebuilt from scratch.

Adam joins the Torchwood team
Adam joins the Torchwood team

Adam doesn’t actually exist. He comes from the Void and only exists in the false memories he implants in his victims. He also has the power to unlock buried memories, which is what he does with Jack’s memories of his childhood and the loss of his brother. However, Adam has little control of physical records and when Ianto discovers that there is no mention of him in his diary, he confronts Adam. Adam defends himself by implanting in Ianto horrifying memories of being a serial killer. When Ianto confesses his supposed guilt to Jack, Jack refuses to believe him and uncovers the truth.

To get rid of Adam, Jack sits his team down, helps them to recall the selves they were before Adam turned up and gives them Retcon, the amnesia pill, so that they will forget him. He then goes down to the cells where Adam is held and confronts him. Fighting for his life, Adam offers to unlock Jack’s last happy memory of his family, but Adam inserts himself in that memory and makes trouble between Jack and his father. Losing all sympathy for him, Jack takes his Retcon pill and Adam disappears.

Again, there is so much crammed into this episode that we don’t really get to know Adam or what really motivates him apart from the bare necessity to survive. Nor do we ever find out how he came upon the Torchwood team. He says he latched onto Jack’s memories, but he doesn’t tell us how or why he chose Jack. In fact, this episode is more about Jack than about Adam, and I wondered if Jack’s memories are unlocked because Adam is there or whether Adam is there to unlock Jack’s memories.

Episode Six – Reset

In this episode, Doctor Martha Jones, the Doctor’s former companion who now works for UNIT, comes to help Jack and the team solve a series of mysterious deaths in Cardiff. Jack met Martha when he rejoined the Doctor between Series One and Two of Torchwood.

This is one of those superb episodes I would not dare critique, but it does raise one nagging question. Jack has never told his team about the Doctor, nor does he tell them much about how he knows Martha. When Martha is asked, she gives a vague answer. Obviously, the producers want to keep the Torchwood team ignorant of the Doctor but, unfortunately, this creates another anomaly. The Doctor is Torchwood’s very raison d’être. Torchwood London knew about him and so does UNIT. So why doesn’t Torchwood Cardiff?

Episodes Seven and Eight – Dead Man Walking/A Day in the Death

To make sense of these episodes we have to revisit Series One and Suzie Costello. Suzie is a member of the original Torchwood Team Gwen Cooper meets in the pilot episode. Her speciality is operating the Resurrection Glove, an alien metal gauntlet which can revive the dead. The team is using it to resuscitate recent murder victims to find out if they were killed by aliens. Unfortunately, the effect only lasts for about two minutes, during which time the victims are too shocked and bewildered to say anything useful before dying again. Suzie eventually confesses to Gwen that she has been killing the victims herself in order to work out how to make the glove’s effect permanent. When confronted by Jack, Suzie shoots herself dead. The team stores her body in the vaults beneath the Hub and locks away the glove to never be used again.

Sometime later, a series of gruesome murders turns out to be part of a plan Suzie instigated before her death. The team decides to break out the Resurrection Glove in order to question her and discovers that only Gwen can operate it. Gwen revives Suzie, but instead of dying after a few minutes, Suzie stays alive and continues to gain strength even while her body is still dead and her wounds can’t heal. The team discovers that Suzie is draining that strength from Gwen and in order to save Gwen’s life they have to kill Suzie again by destroying the gauntlet. However, as Ianto notes, gloves usually come in pairs.

Back to Series Two.

Jack revives Owen
Jack revives Owen

At the end of the previous episode Owen was shot dead. This storyline begins with an emotional Torchwood team gathered to watch Martha Jones perform an autopsy on him. Just as Martha picks up a gruesome saw to make the first incision, Jack dramatically stops the autopsy and goes in search of the second Resurrection Glove. Despite warnings of the dangers it might bring, Jack uses the glove to revive Owen. When his two minutes are up Owen collapses momentarily then wakes up again. His body is dead, but Owen is still there. The team is naturally wary of this unnatural phenomenon and tests show his body is slowly being taken over by a foreign force. This proves to be Death itself and this association makes Owen an object of worship for the Weevils, savage alien creatures of the night. At the end of Episode Seven, Owen meets Death in one-to-one combat and defeats it.

Owen has regained control, but his body is still dead and he must come to terms with his new situation. His body can no longer function in its usual way. He cannot eat, or sleep or even feel touch, and without a heartbeat he can’t have sex. He cannot kill himself because he is already dead, but at the same time his body is fragile. It cannot heal itself, so any injuries he incurs are permanent.

Except for a clumsy device in which Owen tells his whole bizarre story to a totally innocent stranger, Episode Eight is generally quite strong. Episode Seven, however, is problematic. Why is an autopsy about to be performed on Owen? There is no mystery about his death. He was shot dead by a human with an ordinary gun right in front of his teammates’ eyes and there is no question of alien contamination or any other physical problem. Is it only so we could have that dramatic moment when Jack stops it?

Nor is Jack’s motivation for using the Resurrection Glove strong enough. With the mischief it caused in the Series One, if anyone else proposed using it, Jack would be the first to forbid it. One could perhaps understand if it was for Gwen or Ianto – but Jack has never shown any particular passion for Owen. When questioned, Jack says he wasn’t ready to give up on Owen and was hoping for a miracle, but surely the best he could have hoped for was the awful fate that befell Suzie – a living death.

Eventually Owen is reconciled to his situation and resumes his position in Torchwood. It makes little difference to his work or his relationships. In fact it just gives him another reason for ignoring Toshiko just as he was beginning to warm to her. His ultimate fate would be the same except for a certain added poignancy. Again one feels that this was a great idea that failed to fulfil its potential.

Episode Twelve – Fragments

All the team (except for Gwen, who has slept in) are called out to investigate alien activity in an old warehouse. Splitting up to investigate four separate signals, they discover four explosive devices which go off simultaneously, leaving each member covered in rubble and fighting for their lives alone. With Rhys’s help Gwen rescues each one, and the team soon discovers that the devices are another of Captain John Hart’s calling cards.

As they wait to be rescued, each member of the team recalls how they were recruited by Torchwood.

After being inadvertently abandoned by the Doctor at the time he became immortal in the year 200100, Jack got himself back to Earth in 1869, but was stuck there when his time-travel device burnt out. In the 1890s he came to Cardiff where he knew the Doctor might come to refuel the Tardis from the Rift. Living (and dying) from one bar-room brawl to the next, Jack and his unique gift came to the attention of Torchwood Cardiff, run by two very feisty, but rather un-Victorian, ladies. After capturing and torturing him, the ladies offered him employment, in effect an offer he couldn’t refuse. Having learnt from a young seer that he would have to wait over a century for the Doctor’s return, Jack took up their offer just as something to do in the meantime.

Jack is recruited to Torchwood
Jack is recruited to Torchwood

By the eve of 2000 Torchwood Cardiff had lost its purpose. When all the team, except Jack for obvious reasons, were killed in a murder-suicide, Jack took over. He then went about recruiting a team of his own. He rescued Toshiko from UNIT’s dungeons where she was being held for stealing military secrets to ransom her kidnapped mother. He recruited Owen after his fiancée was colonised and killed by a parasitic alien. Ianto came to him begging for a job after Torchwood London had been destroyed.

Again, we have a situation in which a host of good ideas are wasted. This episode smacks of self-indulgence with a plot that is just a flimsy and clumsy device for getting in the characters’ back stories. In the context of Series Two, the information we are given is interesting, but, except for some of Jack’s history, has little bearing on what follows. We would feel the same way about what happens in the next episode with or without it.

Episode Thirteen – Exit Wounds

Wreaking havoc on Cardiff which keeps the rest of the team occupied, Captain John takes Jack captive and carries him back to 27AD where he is re-united with his brother Gray. But Gray’s horrific experiences with the aliens have filled him with hate which he has focussed on Jack. His terrible revenge on his brother is to bury him alive under Cardiff. Fortunately, John, who is helping Gray against his will, buries a signalling device with Jack and he is discovered in the 1890s by Torchwood. So that he doesn’t cross his own timelines, he persuades them to freeze him, put him in the vaults and set him to wake up in 2008, just in time to save the day. Although he cannot save Owen and Toshiko who are tragically killed.

Jack is confronted by Gray
Jack is confronted by Gray

Gray could be a compelling character, but with only a minor share of a very busy and emotional episode to himself, we see much too little of him. All his years of suffering and his hatred for Jack must be expressed in one short scene. The revenge he exacts on Jack is horrific. He is buried alive for 2000 years, yet we see nothing of it. Nor does it seem to have much effect on Jack himself. Again, we see some great ideas sold short.

Proposed Story Arcs

Series Two – The Torchwood Institute

To a large extent, even by the end of the existing Series Two, the Torchwood Institute is still a mysterious organisation. We know from Doctor Who how it began and how its London headquarters were destroyed. We know from Jack and Ianto’s memories in the episode Fragments how Jack got recruited to Torchwood, how he came to be in charge of the Cardiff branch and that he has severed ties with the rest of Torchwood. And we know from what Jack told Gwen in the pilot episode that there are only a few remnants of Torchwood left: the Cardiff branch, an office in Glasgow run by ‘a very strange man’ and another branch that is still missing and that Jack expects they will find some day.

Jack describes the Torchwood Institute as a body ‘separate from government, outside the police and beyond the United Nations.’ However, this leaves certain questions open. How is the Torchwood Institute funded? Under whose authority does it operate? And, if Jack has severed ties with the rest of Torchwood, how is the Cardiff branch funded?

In his discussions with the Doctor, when he re-joins him between Series One and Two, Jack tells him that his branch of Torchwood is not like the London office that the Doctor found overbearing and arrogant. He tells the Doctor that he has remodelled Torchwood Cardiff in the Doctor’s image. Yet Jack kills aliens, detains and tortures suspected aliens, takes and makes use of alien technology, and claims precedence over all other authorities, just as Torchwood London did. In fact, when Jack occasionally feels compassion for an alien his team is amazed. So wherein, exactly, lies the difference?

A new Series Two could fill in some of these blanks and resolve the contradictions, with a story arc that focusses on the Torchwood Institute itself.

Just as in the episode Reset, Cardiff will be threatened by a series of strange deaths, but instead of calling in Martha Jones and UNIT, Jack will turn to what is left of the Torchwood Institute. The series would also incorporate the team’s backstories as revealed in the episode Fragments.

The story arc would go as follows:

There have been a series of strange deaths in Cardiff. Although all this is new for Jack’s team, Jack remembers that similar events have occurred before. He and the team scour their records for clues. This recourse to the past prompts Jack’s memories of his career with Torchwood and discussions and flashbacks about the past for the whole team.

While grappling with the deaths in Cardiff, the team learns that the phenomenon is not restricted to one city, but is happening all over the UK. Jack realises that he will have to turn to what is left of Torchwood to find the answers. Overcoming his own doubts and distrust, he approaches the Glasgow office where he meets resistance and distrust in return from the strange man who runs it. They manage to work together, but Glasgow can only help to a point. They will have to find the missing branch of Torchwood and get its help. In fact, it is that missing branch that, having gone rogue, is actually causing the problem.

In resolving this situation, Jack must come to terms with his own shortcomings as a Torchwood operative, and find a way of moving forward while living up to his ideals.

Series Three – Captain John Hart

As I argued earlier, the story of Captain John Hart should be separated from Gray’s story and allowed to stand on its own strengths. We have a lot of potential here. Jack and John had a long association in which they must have worked together in exciting and dangerous circumstances. Their personal relationship was passionate, yet Jack cannot trust John. They worked together for the Time Agency, but one suspects they also did a bit of freelance work on the side that bordered on criminal. Jack left the Time Agency, and presumably his relationship with John, and embarked on a solo career as a conman, when he found out that the Agency had taken two years of his memories.

So our story arc could go like so:

Captain John Hart has left the Time Agency to go freelance and looks up his former workmate and lover to offer him a partnership. Jack is pleased to see his old friend, and his presence revives memories of their time together. However, knowing John too well, Jack is wary and distrustful of him and his plans. In order to convince Jack of his trustworthiness, John works with Torchwood and helps them out on a few cases. However, John’s gung-ho methods, his attempts to seduce Jack away and his flirtations with every member of the team cause mayhem. When Jack tries to get rid of him, John plays his trump card – he knows how to find out what was in those stolen two years. But there is something else John hasn’t told Jack. He stole something precious from the Time Agency that they want back, and he is willing to betray even the love of his life to keep himself and his treasure out of their hands.

Series Four – Gray and Adam

Gray’s story, and Jack’s feelings of guilt for letting him be captured could be the basis for a powerful and emotional story line. Gray was abducted by enemy aliens as a child, something for which his big brother Jack has always felt responsible. As a young man, Jack went to war against the aliens in the hope of finding Gray, but to no avail. In an attempt to find him, Jack and his friend were captured by the enemy and Jack was forced to watch his friend being tortured to death before he himself was released. Jack was so traumatised he had to be given psychiatric treatment which largely buried those horrific memories together with his memories of Gray.

This story is all about memory and emotion, two elements which are major components of the character of Adam. Taken over an entire season their two stories could make for a compelling story line, as such:

When the series opens a new member has joined the team. For quite some time the viewers will assume Adam joined in the break between series, but they will soon realise that something is not quite right. The team treats him as though he has been there since the beginning, and there are subtle differences in them and their relationships.

Adam, we will only learn over time, is a creature of the Void which can only exist through the memories and emotions of others, especially negative emotions like fear, hatred and guilt. In his random searching for a victim, he latched onto Gray who, after years as a captive of the aliens, was filled with fear and hatred. Feeding and fuelling that hatred, Adam realised that Gray’s emotions could be further stoked if he were reunited with his brother Jack, whom he blames for his capture. Adam has sought out Jack and joined the Torchwood team, implanting himself in their memories. He has especially singled out Jack, unlocking his memories of Gray and the war, and putting him through terrible torment. Eventually Adam engineers Gray’s reunion with Jack.

At first Gray seems to be happy to be reunited with his brother, if somewhat reserved. Jack finds this reunion difficult and is uneasy about Gray’s behaviour, but he is desperate for this chance to redeem himself. However, Gray is dissembling. He is there to exact his revenge on Jack.

Series Five – Dead Man Walking

Some interesting ideas came out of this story line that were barely exploited in the two episodes it covered. As mentioned, we have Owen’s possession by Death itself. While thus possessed, Owen becomes, in his words, ‘King of the Weevils’ who worship him as the personification of Death. There is also an interesting concept that comes out when Jack and Owen finally have a heart-to-heart – that while Jack will live forever, Owen will be dead forever. My main criticism of this story line is that Jack doesn’t have enough motivation to use the Resurrection Glove. But what difference would it make if it isn’t Owen who dies, but Ianto?

So shall we try this version?

Relations between Jack and Ianto have been rather rocky lately. Jack has been straying and neglecting Ianto and Ianto is getting rebellious. One night the team go out on a routine mission when, through a miscalculation on Jack’s part, brought about to a large extent by the conflict between them, Ianto is killed. Overcome with grief and guilt, Jack seeks out the Resurrection Glove to revive Ianto long enough to apologise and tell him he loves him. But when the two minutes are up, Ianto doesn’t die again. His body is dead, but he is still there.

At first Ianto tries to take up his life where he left off. Still feeling guilty, Jack is much more considerate of him and spends more time with him, but their sexual relationship is perforce over. Ianto realises that while Jack will live forever, he will be dead forever, and this makes him bitter and jealous. He suppresses expression of these feelings, but they allow him to succumb to Death which finally succeeds in possessing him. At first secretly, and then openly, Ianto turns against the team and uses his newfound power over the Weevils, and other creatures of the night, against them.

The team must fight desperately against Ianto’s power, but Jack cannot give up on him. Finally, Jack confronts Ianto, and Death makes Jack an offer: he can give his life force to Ianto, that is, Jack can die so that Ianto can live. Jack is sorely tempted to accept.


Unfortunately, this is just an exercise in might-have-been. These great ideas have been squandered and, unlike Jack, cannot be revived. But, if they can be of any use at all, I bequeath the above story lines to Russell T. Davies and his team, since they are theirs already.

© Pauline Montagna 2022



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