Torchwood’s Immortal Sins delves into Jack Harkness’s past

Welcome to another week of Tripewood, the sci-fi parody formerly known as Torchwood. In this week’s installment, we flashback with Jack to 1920’s New York and meet an old flame of his. Also, the wheel of fortune that determines Gwen Cooper’s objective this week lands on… I’m a superspy…I’m a mother…I’m a superspy…I’m a mother… Yep, this week Gwen will be playing a concerned mother who will stop at nothing to get her baby back.

But more on that later.

First…Torchwood fans love finding out more about the mysterious Jack Harkness. Where’s he been in the past? Who has he been with? What adventures has he had?

Immortal Sins gives us a glimpse of Jack in the ’20’s as he meets and seduces a young Italian man called Angelo. Overall though, it’s a bit of a jumble. We get the obligatory gay sex scene and some pseudo-religious mumblings, then Jack’s Doctor-envy rears its ugly head again. Yes, this time he wants a companion. One that he can poke.

The flashback storyline drags in places, until Angelo realises that Jack’s immortal and gets all stabby. Things quickly go from intimite bedroom stabbing to furtive freakshow stabbings in front of groups of spectators. Jack gets hung up and brutally and systematically beaten, cut and shot. Some of the bloodthirsty onlookers bottle his blood, presumably as a remedy for common cold.

Also worth noting is the fleeting ‘sale’ of Jack to a trio of buyers. Angelo seems to know nothing of this as he helps Jack escape. But Jack’s a tad bitter about being routinely tortured by Angelo, so he dumps the guy and disappears.

It’s no surprise then when it turns out that Gwen’s kidnapping Jack for an agent of Angelo’s. The very fact that Angelo’s still alive suggests extraterrestrial shenanigans, but we’re left wondering how the three strange men with the odd triangular handshake are linked to all of this. Expect them to make an appearance in a future episode, folks.

Seeing Gwen and Jack’s dialogue in the car should have been a welcome ‘moment’ for veteran Torchwood fans, but missed opportunities for sharp dialogue ruined that. We were left with Gwen being typically angry/manic and trading in Jack for the freedom of her family. And in the style of this new Torchwood, all of it was unsatisfying.

I mean, to grizzled Torchwood watchers, the idea of Gwen being pushed to the edge enough to trick Jack and tazer him unconscious is fantastic stuff. And credit to Eve Myles, she pulled off her monologue about Jack and Torchwood’s impact on her life pretty well. It just went on forever. Even Jack with full immortality couldn’t have listened to the entire speech.

Still, Jane Espenson saved the most ridiculous for last. Gwen and Jack end up face to face with a mysterious flunkie. At gunpoint, as these things tend to go. Except an unknown sniper shoots their adversaries. Hey, it’s Rex! And he’s brought Useless Esther!

Yes, after witnessing Gwen’s highly strung performance earlier in the episode, Rex and Esther went all Scooby Gang. The two people least likely to be able to “clear the I5 cache” managed to suss out what was happening and trace Jack and Gwen’s movements. And remember to bring along a sniper rifle. Least plausible rescue ever, but I felt like I was being rescued from a storyline that ran longer than Titanic.

The bottom line? Angelo holds the key to Miracle Day. He’s alive (but how old?) and he wants to talk to Jack.

As I said in an earlier review, if everything that’s happened so far has been to grab Jack’s attention or somehow get hold of him, then it’s ridiculously complicated. By all accounts, Jack’s been kicking around Cardiff for a few years – why not snatch him then? Why all this futzing around kidnapping Welsh children?

Oh, and most implausible of all – PC Steve being on a Cardiff SWAT team! And shooting one of Rhys’ kidnappers in the head without a second thought. I won’t even go into the fact that the angle of Steve’s shot and the blood spatter on the wall were completely out of touch with reality.

With all of that, Immortal Sins still managed to be the best episode of the Miracle Day season so far. Which is quite depressing. The ideas were there, but the execution was utterly lacking. The notion of Immortal Jack being stabbed, revived and stabbed again was brutal, but there was a point that could be made there about the cruelty of mankind. But we’re in the second half of the season now and things should start to move a bit faster. If only to put us out of our misery!

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