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Retro Recap: Torchwood 2.13 “Exit Wounds”

Well here were are, the season finale. This season has had its ups and downs and pulled every conceivable emotion out of viewers. The finale is no exception and it pulls no punches in the feelings department. The last time I watched this episode before now was it’s official airing on BBC America and it destroyed me so much, I’ve never been able to watch it again. So, deep breathe and here we go…

The action picks up right where “Fragments” left off. Captain John Hart has decided to make Jack’s life hell for rejecting him and has Jack’s brother Gray as incentive to come after him. Tosh has a handy scanner thing that tells her there are 4 different spikes of rift activity in different parts of the city. The team splits up as Rhys drops them all off in various locations to investigate. Gwen heads to the police station after she gets a call from Andy asking for help. Tosh and Ianto head to the Central Service Station and Owen heads to St. Helen’s Hospital. The SUV is back at Torchwood so that’s where Jack heads since he’s the only one who has ever been able to reason with Hart. These are most definitely traps, but they don’t have a choice, they just need to do their jobs.

Captain John Hart and his very nice cheekbones
Can’t decide if he’s deadly or just his cheekbones.

Jack arrives at the Hub to find Hart dancing around to the beat of,  “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,” by Sarah Brightman.

Hart: It’s our song!

Jack: We don’t have a song. And if we did have a song, it wouldn’t be this song.

Hart doesn’t seem too worried that his explosions didn’t kill anyone; they were just prototypes. Instead, he states that he really does love Jack, which is weird because the next instant he pulls out two Uzis and shoots Jack (and in light of the Newtown, CT shooting it was more disturbing than the first time I watched it). As Hart stands over Jack’s body, he proclaims that things are about to get nasty. Oh really?

Weevils have taken out the foremost senior police officers in Cardiff, almost as if they were targeted. At least that’s what Andy tells Gwen and Rhys when they arrive at the station. Odd since Weevils mostly kill indiscriminately. Tosh and Ianto arrive at the Central Server Building, which controls services for the army and the nuclear power station in Turnmill (the last one will be important later on). There’s been reports of ghosts, which is new. They turn the corner and find three figures dressed as Grim Reapers. After calling the pair blasphemers who they will cast out, they go on the attack. Tosh and Ianto just look at each other, pull their guns and kill them. Just another day. At St. Helen’s, Owen encounters a Hoixe, which basically just likes to eat. It’s quickly taken care of with an all-species sedative he keeps on him at all times. All threats seemed to have been neutralized easily, but given that this is Torchwood, it’s most definitely the set up for something bigger.

Jack comes back to life and is chained up and suspended and pissed. Hart’s just wondering why Jack is suddenly so anti-bondage. Jack of course says that they’ll stop whatever Hart is planning, which is cliche, but Hart’s response isn’t; he simply tells Jack he hopes he does stop him.

Hart takes Jack to the City Centre, keeping Jack at bay by using his time travel wrist band for electroshock. He calls the rest of the team and tells them to head to the roof of whatever building they’re in. As Torchwood watches, Hart sets off 15 different explosions and pretty much destroys Cardiff. Everyone is freaking out as Hart tells Jack to hold him and they both time jump, leaving Torchwood without its leader and the city in ruins. Gwen has to assume command on the spot and try to save the city because one of the explosions damaged the systems controlling the Turnmill Nuclear Power Center.

Jack and Gray face-to-face, looking grim.
Jack reuniting with his brother Gray. It doesn’t go well.

Jack wakes up in an empty field, which will be Cardiff in about two thousand years. He’s in 27AD with Hart, who has an explosive device melded to his skin and is having his every word and movement monitored. He’d rather be getting his rocks off somewhere else than blowing up Cardiff. Turns out Hart is the red herring; the strings are being pulled by Gray, who has been looking for his brother for  a very long time. The two embrace, but it’s pretty far from a happy reunion as Gray drives a knife in Jack’s heart. When Jack wakes up (again), his brother tells him that after Jack lost him during the attack on their colony, he was taken prisoner and tortured for years. He’s going to bury Jack alive so that every time Jack is revived, he can remember what Gray had to endure. His bones will be Cardiff’s foundation. Hart reluctantly buries Jack, but throws in a ring before he finishes, citing sentimental value. Honestly, I really wish I could buy Gray as a malevolent force, filled with hate, but I can’t. The actor playing him just doesn’t convince me he’s a tortured, psychopathic soul so while I love the POTENTIAL of this story arc, it just never gripped me. Shame because it’s a great twist.

Back in the present, the nuclear power plant is about to go into meltdown and they’ll have to restart the cooling system onsite. Ianto volunteers even though it’s basically suicide. Gwen’s panicking because she basically has to save the city, but Rhys is there to support her. Awwww. As everyone scrambles, Gray appears in the Torchwood vaults that hold the Weevils. His appearance reads as a spike in rift activity, like when Jack disappeared. Tosh and Ianto can’t head back to the HUB because of the power plant and Gwen is reluctant to leave the police station; however, Rhys tells her to go because they can handle it.

Gwen gets back to the Hub and finds Hart. Apparently, burying his former lover has led to his release and he’s returned to help Torchwood. He was the one who found Gray and released him. He realized too late how twisted he had become so he’s trying to make it right. The ring he threw into the grave with Jack acts as a homing beacon so they can find him wherever he’s buried, but somehow, it doesn’t work. They have no idea where Jack’s buried. Then there’s a high pitched noise that acts like a dog whistle for the Weevils throughout the city. They leave the sewers and start attacking people. Ianto and Tosh are trapped and can’t get to the power plant. Owen, on the other hand, is still the self-proclaimed, “King of the Weevils” and can move among them.

Tosh and Ianto get back to the Hub just in time to save Gwen and Hart from the escaped Weevils. They still can’t trace Jack’s signal though. Gwen, Ianto and Hart are dragging the Weevils back into the vaults when the doors close on them. Gray’s locked them in and now that they’re trapped, he heads upstairs.

Owen has reached the nuclear plant and has bluffed his way inside. The reactor has already hit the critical stage and Owen is in the eye of the storm, but Tosh has found a way to prevent it because she’s brilliant. Now begins the part where the heart starts breaking. Before she can save the day like the badass that she is, Gray shoots her and it’s bad. This is about the point where one realizes we’re going to lose Tosh (and the point where I start cursing Russell T. Davies name). Owen doesn’t know what’s going on and keeps trying to reach her. Gray takes away her comm and tosses it down the stairs, and as she lies there bleeding out, asks her what it’s like to die. It’s then that he hears several loud bangs and goes to investigate. Gray heads to the morgue where they keep all the dead Torchwood agents. He opens the one where the banging comes from and finds Jack, alive. The first words out of his mouth are, “I forgive you.”

In 1901, Torchwood discovers the signal from Hart’s ring and dig up Jack. He has them cryogenically freeze him so he won’t cross his own timeline. He seems remarkably normal for someone whose been buried alive for about 2,000 years. They set the alarm to wake him in the present. He asks for Gray’s forgiveness as he’s forgiven him, but Gray still refuses, since all he has left is his hate. He embraces Gray before chloroforming him. In the vaults, Hart is able to use his comm to emit a recall signal and send the Weevils back to the sewers. Jack finds the trio and releases them, thanking Hart for his help.

Tosh drags herself down to the medical lab and is able to use her comm to divert power to the reactor. She knows she’s dying, but she lies to Owen, saying she’s fine. All she wants to do is save Owen and my heart breaks a little further. They can’t stop the meltdown, but they can vent the reactor internally into the building. If he sets it on a timer, he should get out in time. Owen still has no idea how badly Tosh is hurt. It looks like Owen will at least get out of this alive when there’s a power surge in the system and the plant goes on lockdown before he can get out. He realizes he’s going to die, for real this time and he’s not ready. He screams, pissed that he has the means to finally die and wanting more time. He is going to rage his way to oblivion. Tosh begs him to stop.

Owen: Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t keep screaming?

Tosh: Because you’re breaking my heart.

It is heartbreaking. They’re both dying and cannot save each other. Owen thanks Tosh for everything she’s done for him. They spend they’re last few moments sharing memories and wishing they’d gone on that date. Here is where my heart shattered because as Owen says they missed each other. It’s one of the big and small tragedies of life. Telling Tosh that it’s alright, Owen succumbs to the radiation. Jack finds Tosh and she tells the team Owen is gone. She then dies in Jack’s arms as what remains of the team looks on.

There was foreshadowing of this when Ianto told Gwen that everyone in Torchwood dies young. As viewers, we expect deaths to happen to side characters, but never to the main players. So it’s shocking when we get not one, but two major character deaths in a single episode. I have to say, it takes some guts to kill off two beloved characters and face the wrath of fangirls like myself. Even watching it some years later, I still can’t get over the heartbreak.

As the team recovers, Hart finds Jack in the process of cryogenically freezing Gray. Even though Gray would always come after Jack, he doesn’t have it in him to kill his brother. Letting Hart bury him alive was his penance for not saving his brother. Hart bids Jack goodbye. He’s stuck on Earth, but figures he’ll check out why Jack likes the place so much.

Tosh's farewell video plays on her monitor
Goodbye Tosh

Ianto and Jack are stowing Tosh and Owen’s belongings and closing their files. As Ianto closes Tosh’s file, a video pops up; one she made in the event of her death. She thanks Jack for saving her. She tells Owen she loves him (and my heart shatters into a million pieces) and she hopes she did good (and my heart is dust). Gwen doesn’t think she can carry on in the face of all this. Jack tells her they can, they all can, together.

Wow so my heart is gone, how’s yours? Thank you for all your comments and readings and observations. This season was a fun one to recap. Hope y’all enjoyed it. Now excuse me while I go find my tissues.

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

3 replies on “Retro Recap: Torchwood 2.13 “Exit Wounds””

I was weirdly relieved that Captain John Hart wasn’t the mastermind of all this, but it was so sad that it was Gray. I’m not quite sure why Hart didn’t just jump back to the day after burying Jack to dig him back up, or even a year later or something if he thought Gray might watch the grave for a bit. And OMG Tosh and Owen. I was sobbing.

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