This story in a nutshell: All hell breaks loose in Cardiff…
Hunky Hero: Jack proves that he might not be the best guy for the job when Ianto discovers the answer as to why this chaos is being brewed up right on the nail and his lover tells him to shut up. If I were Ianto I would have said ‘ner ner ne ner ner’ or something of that kind when the danger was over. His management skills leave a lot to be desired too in general when Gwen tries to tell him that even Owen has feelings his dry retort is ‘well you would know’ like a jealous lover. Rule one – when the shit hits the fan you need to try and whip your team into as effective a unit as possible to deal with the crisis and not prey on their insecurities and start pointing the finger. To top off this glorious example of retarded middle management Jack declares that he cannot stop this threat and publicly humiliates Owen in front of all of his colleagues. Is Jack going for the ‘boss of the year’ award? John Barrowman is hilariously bad when he kicks Owen out of Torchwood, taking hammy to a whole new level. I love the fact that Jack grabs a hold of Gwen’s hand and half heartedly tells her that of course Rhys isn’t going to die and then a second later the entire base is bleached in the same red as her homicidal vision. Even dramatic irony is working against him. All the in fighting comes to a head when the Mickey Mouse Torchwood team are sick of Jack standing around posturing impotently and decide to take matters into their own hands. They have basically come to the same conclusion as me that he is a terrible boss and needs to be put down like Old Yeller. When he can’t get his own way he pulls a gun on his staff and threatens to murder them all and starts dissecting all their personality faults. As you do. In hysterical Torchwood fashion Jack finally steps into action by kneeling before the Abaddon like Jesus before the Devil and pours a white light into his ass and kills him. Its all so subtle I can barely perceive what is happening. Jack has been so neutered and perverted as a character it was going to take a massive intervention to try and get him back on track again so the final scene where we hear the TARDIS materialising nearby (tying in with the series three episode Utopia) it offers a glimmer of hope for the guy.
Welsh Babe: It's really nice to open this episode with Gwen watching Rhys sleep contentedly after the roller coaster cheat ride she has been on in season one. Gwen was supposed to be our audience identification character on this show but Davies did some quite perverse in making her more unlikable as the show continued, cheating on her long suffering boyfriend with an absolute asshole. It came to a point where Gwen was literally wretching up snot and tears over pizza on her own in order to connect to the audience and come to terms with what she has done and now we are at the other side of her affair where she has decided that she does love Rhys and wants to make a proper go at it with him. This whole affair malarkey leaves a really bad taste in the mouth as far as Gwen is concerned and in the future when they get married and have a baby it leaves a black cloud just on the horizon of these happy events. I don’t know if Davies thought it would make the character more interesting if she was as promiscuous as the rest of them or whether everybody has to be deeply flawed on this show but it was probably the biggest mistake the show made. Thankfully they seem ready to forget the whole sorry affair and so are we. Gwen has a smile that she uses to try and reassure people that everything is fine even though everything has actually gone to shit and that’s how Andy knows that her talk about time cracks is real. Clearly Gwen knows she is in a science fiction show because when Rhys is killed she starts suggesting they resurrect him with alien technology or that they head back in time to stop it ever occurring. Whilst its nice to know she has picked up something from her job its hardly the most stable response from somebody who has just lost their other half. When the tears do finally come its in true Torchwood style – she flings herself at Jack cussing and swearing and batters his chest as she wails like an out of control banshee. That’s a bit more realistic but without an inch of restraint it leaves Eve Myles looking like a right nana. Gwen moons over Jack’s corpse for an age after the events of the episode come to a head obviously forgetting that in the heat of the moment she threw the praise-worthy insult ‘what’s the fucking point of you?’ at him during the climax.
Dashing Doctor: Finally Owen is accountable for his out of control behaviour and attitude and he looks scared shitless at the fact. Jack has no compunction about protecting him and lays the blame directly on his doorstep. Owen is literally having palpitations as he braces himself to leave Torchwood for the last time – I can’t say that I’ve ever had that much trouble leaving a job. Owen pumps bullets into Jack because ‘he’s sick of people doubting him.’ What the hell were the psychological evaluation team doing during the Torchwood interview process? This is the man who is entrusted with powerful alien technology?
Eye Candy: I’m always happy for a show to add depth to their current episodes by referencing the past except when the past episode mentioned is Cyberwoman. Don’t do it again. We don’t need to have our memory’s refreshed that Torchwood was dishing out such ineptitude in its opening episodes.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I can see the whole of history but I don’t exist anywhere within it…’ – Billis Manger remains far more interesting than anything else in this episode.
The Shallow Bit: Rhys wobbles his considerable backside at Gwen in the first scene! Well this is Torchwood after all!
Result: Tone it down a bit Torchwood! Just because this is supposed to be a end of season spectacular it doesn’t mean that everything has to be turned up to a factor of 100! There is so much thrown at you in End of Days that halfway through the episode my brain just switched off and stopped taking it all in and it wasn’t helped that the characterisation of the regulars (which had started to come together since Random Shoes) is at its all time worst here. Jack is the worst offender who proves himself to be a terrible leader and bad friend but they all get a moment to make you cringe. Clearly the cast have been given the finale pep talk and told how to give end of season performances so everybody is screaming (Eve Myles’ ‘Rhhhhhhyyyssssss!’ as she rushes to save him deserves an award) and pulling deadly serious poses and really focussing on their devastating reaction shots – the net result is a team of regulars that you cannot take seriously for a second. The fact that the episode promotes a wealth of dangers in its opening scenes and then proceeds to ignore them all in favour of in fighting amongst the characters goes to show that Chibnall does not have the writing chops to pull of such an important episode. That the ultimate threat from the Rift is a giant unconvincing CGI monster was enough to convince a friend of mine’s husband that he was never going to watch this show again. Torchwood survived its first series and whilst I don’t want to be too hard on a show that has produced episodes as good as Ghost Machine, Random Shoes, Out of Time and Captain Jack Harkness somebody desperately needed to take a good, long look at this show and iron out its manifest of problems. The primary one is epitomised by this episode which is that it is too too…too busy, too hysterical, too graphic, too lurid and too morally bankrupt. Restraint simply does not exist in the world of Torchwood. Pulling back a bit from some of these extremes would make this series (and certainly this episode) a far more enjoyable experience: 3/10