And so we finally get round to seeing some of Jack’s past that has so curiously been alluded to throughout the series. Not only that, it looks like the genesis of the “miracle” is explained too…
SPOILER WARNING FOR EPISODE 6…
‘Immortal Sins’, the third episode written by Jane Espenson, opens in Ellis Island 1927, where millions of immigrants came to America. Captain Jack is on the hunt for his impersonator Angelo Colasanto (played by Daniele Favilli) but after hitting it off they decide to co-habit. And it’s not long until their proximity leads to some raunchy scenes that haven’t been “banned” this time.
The pace has rather been kicked out of the first quarter of this week’s installment with the relationship between the two explored – but it’s all the more rather lovely for it. Their story, told via flashback, is reminiscent of the excellent Torchwood stories ‘To the Last Man’ and ‘Out of Time’ (also dealing with love and the past) and is genuinely touching.
We fear, however, that those who complained about certain scenes of man-on-man romping in Episode 3 will be getting their OfCom redial buttons pressed once more as Jack and Angelo express themselves physically…
It’s not all lurve though! The couple make for a daring duo as they find some alien action in downtown Manhattan (where Harkness decides to become The Doctor complete with sassy companion). We should also tease that fans of The Sarah Jane Adventures will find much to enjoy here; whilst Jack also directly references the events of the Doctor Who story ‘Parting of the Ways’, when Rose begat the Time Agent his special powers.
But Jack’s time in the 1920s leads to his unique properties being noticed, leading to an horrific torture scene that we’re surprised the BBC are letting through. It’s Biblical in its staging and, just to further emphasise Jack’s Jesus-like qualities (a facet explored in Series One’s ‘End of Days’), we’re even presented with his feet being cleaned of his blood.
John Barrowman isn’t often endowed much range with Captain Jack, but we really do witness the full gamut of his range this week; from the effortless charm-meister to the amusing arrogant arse to sensitive lover. This is the classic Jack Harkness we grew to love in Doctor Who (well, sans lover). But we also get to see the disturbing and brutal side of the ‘hero’ in the frankly upsetting conversations with Gwen Cooper.
As we saw last week, someone has Gwen’s family and have demanded that Jack is delivered to them. The Welsh beauty is quick to oblige thus leading to some immensely hurtful and shocking words between the two “friends”. These scenes may prove too much for some fans and we sense an Ianto-esque moment where many fans of the show will feel aggrieved.
It has to be said, however, that it’s brilliant stuff from the pair of them, particularly when Gwen reveals some startlingly honest information about how she enjoyed the horror of Torchwood; admitting she “loved it” whilst her colleagues dying made her feel “important”. Again, it’s about as near the knuckle as you can get and recalls some of the horrible honesty witnessed in Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who tales ‘Midnight’ and ‘Turn Left’ where family members and friends turned on one another.
‘Immortal Sins’ reminds us why Torchwood is unique; it envelopes varying genres (romance, thriller and sci-fi), straddles tones (with laughs and gasps abound), jumps generations and delivers characters we genuinely care about (in this episode anyway). Oh, and yet again, another ending that’ll have your jaw feeling the effects of gravity.
Airs at 9pm on Thursday 25th August 2011 on BBC One (UK) and at 10pm on Friday 19th August 2011 on Starz (US).