Season 1 Episode 12

Captain Jack Harkness

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 01, 2007 on BBC Two
out of 10
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429 votes

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Episode Summary

A Jack-themed episode
Whilst investigating an old, derelict dance hall, Jack and Tosh are transported back to the 1940s, during the Blitz. Owen, Ianto, and Gwen realise, in modern day, that this has happened, and go in search of clues Tosh may have left. Meanwhile, back in the forties, Jack meets a very interesting man. One with the name Captain Jack Harkness...moreless

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  • To Captain Jack!

    This was a great episode that let us know Jack a little better. It's good to see a Tosh heavy episode because I was beginning to think she wasn't all that important, but this definitely changed my mind!

    To the haters who disliked that last scene... well people do crazy things when they think they might die. And it wasn't our Jack's fault, the old Jack decided to make the move to go for what he wanted. It might have been unlike the time period but I think it's not impossible.

    Also did anyone else notice the vote saxon sign on the front of the building? :Dmoreless
  • Capt Jack and Tish find themselves trapped in the past.

    While I liked bits and pieces of the episode most of it rings hollow. Like the fact that back in the 1940's There is no way in heck that 2 guys would EVER dance together let alone kiss. And in real life the "real" Capt Jack would have been beaten by his fellow soldiers and then put into prison. So for a bunch of idiots to act like this was some great love story is really quite pathetic. The scene where they kiss was not the least bit romantic. But most of the Torchwood episodes end in disappointment after a really good build up. It's like you want to watch everything but the ending of these shows.moreless
  • That kiss...

    This episode was fantastic, despite a very contrived plot. How does this gibberish equation open the rift, and why is it split into several pieces? Why does Gwen know where to look and how did these pieces of paper not get thrown out over the years? Why didn't the two Jacks get lynched for dancing together at a military function in the 1940s? But if you ignore all the silliness of the plot (as is often necessary in sci-fi shows, especially those involving time travel), this episode is incredibly touching. We get a lot more development on most of the characters, which I think the show has been lacking at times. Ianto finally grows a pair, plus I was glad to see Owen get what's been coming to him. Ugh, he's been getting irritating. And that kiss at the end... just wow. I have to give John Barrowman and Matt Rippy credit for a very convincing, very emotional kiss. It was so romantic and tragic. Absolutely beautiful.moreless
  • Torchwood Jack pretty much killed the original Jack.

    This episode was rediculous in parts and good in parts. THe mysterious geezer bit was interesting. But leaving a piece of paper in a box and expecting it to survive is only less moronic then the last scene. Given the time and feelings I can only assume that Torchwood Jack is responisble for the death of the original Jack. Numerous story have been told of soldiers killing their homosexual commanding officers. Doing what he did in front of everyone would of in the least caused him to be kicked out of the military and at worst killed "in an accident" by his own men.moreless
  • The rift opens and Jack and Tosh get stuck in the 1941 Cardiff Blitz. Oh, and Captain Jack really isn't Captain Jack.

    This episode is wonderfully bananas. We come to find out that we don't even know our hero's real name(!) because he took the REAL Captain Jack Harkness's identity as an alias when he was a conman. (Should of seen that coming after all its a RTD show.) I mean you think this episode couldn't get any wackier, and then Jack falls in love with the REAL Jack. And we cant forget while all this moving romance is going on Owen and Ianto are fist fightin' over whether they should use the Rift Manipulator to get Tosh&Jack back. Although this episode has its crazy moments, the scenes between Jack&Jack are really beautiful and heartbreaking to watch, and Tosh and Jack's closeness as friends is really cute. Also gotta love the Vote Saxon and Bad Wolf references in this episode. I absolutely love this episode, brilliantly written and my favorite of Series 1.moreless
Matt Rippy

Matt Rippy

Captain Jack Harkness

Guest Star

Murray Melvin

Murray Melvin

Bilis Manger

Guest Star

Elen Rhys

Elen Rhys


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • When we're shown the door of the hotel, one of the posters says "Vote Saxon." This ties in with upcoming Doctor Who episodes, where the old friend/archenemy of the Doctor became Prime Minister ender that identity. Jack is present during these episodes.

    • Jack told Tosh that when he took Captain Jack Harkness's identity he falsified records so it seemed he was still alive. This could be why the records showed that the Captain did not report for duty on the day he died, although he clearly did.

    • At the Ritz in 1941, one of the decorations includes a period-accurate American flag. However, the United States did not formally enter the Second World War until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941.

    • The central vertical bellows in the Rift Manipulator looks and acts just like the bellows in the central console of the TARDIS.

    • The rank which Jack takes is Captain, whilst he wears the rank markings of an RAF Group Captain and on an RAF greatcoat. There is no circumstance where a Group Captain would be known as Captain. The equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is Captain however, the rank markings are different. A US Air Force Captain is a much lower rank, Junior Officer equivalent to Flight Lieutenant with only two stripes in the rank markings on each shoulder or in the USAF the "Captains' Bars".

    • The song "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" didn't come out until 1942. The Polaroid Land camera didn't come out until 1947, but it's possible that anachronism was purposeful. Tosh did seem surprised there was an instant camera in Bilis's office - so this is likely our first clue that Bilis isn't who he seems to be.

    • The real Captain Jack Harkness stated that he was a member of the 133rd Eagle Squadron (as did the Torchwood Captain Jack) however as this episode is set on January 20th 1941, this is not possible. The 133rd was the last of the three Eagle Squadrons to be formed and was re-formed (the original 133rd being disbanded in July 1918) in July 1941. Taking into account the fact that the real Captain Harkness stated his men were on their last day of OTU (Operation Training Unit) which takes from two to four weeks it would indicate this unit was formed some time from late 1940 to early 1941, at least six months before the 133rd was operational for duty.

    • When Owen opens Jack's safe, he takes out several items, including the knife that Suzie used to kill people (seen in "Everything Changes" and "They Keep Killing Suzie") and the "ghost machine" (seen in the episode of the same name).

    • As Owen and Ianto argue over opening the rift, there are continuity references to both "Cyberwoman" and "Out Of Time", as Ianto's former girlfriend (a partially Cybernised Lisa) and Owen's former lover (1950s pilot Diane) are both mentioned.

    • Period songs that feature in the 1941 dance-hall sequences are "My Melancholy Baby" (when George dances with Toshiko), "The White Cliffs Of Dover" (when they are in the air-raid shelter) and "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" (when Jack and Jack dance at the end of the episode).

    • At the start of the episode, after the opening sequence, as a kind of "previously" montage, there are clips of "Out Of Time" (where Owen meets then loses Diane) and "Combat" (where Owen fights a Weevil).

    • The date on the poster outside the Ritz is January 20th 1941, therefore the real Captain Jack Harkness died on January 21st 1941. This is slightly at odds with records in the future as he is reported not to have reported for duty that day. Since clearly he did, as he died on duty that day, we can only assume the roster was recorded after his death, and there didn't seem much point recording a dead man on the roster.

    • When Gwen finds the card that Tosh wrote the remainder of the formula on, she reads it as "cos sine squared". Whereas the formula is actually the "integral of sine squared".

    • The Ritz building is actually the Old Town Hall in Merthyr Tydfil. It was converted into a nightclub in the late 90's only for it to close down in 2000. There have been no plans to re-open the building since.

  • QUOTES (29)

    • Jack: There were angels dancing at the Ritz.

    • Owen: Good job you're a crap shot.
      Ianto: I was aiming for your shoulder.

    • Gwen: Someone's scratched out the last three numbers. Tosh's written a message at the end. It says, tell my family I love them.

    • Tim: What happened?
      Tosh: I slipped.
      Tim: I've got a First Aid kit in the van.

    • Owen: I didn't find any equations. I'll, er, get back to the hub.
      Gwen: Right, I'll keep looking here.
      Owen: Right, you do that.

    • Ianto: Gwen, be careful. Bilis is still around.
      Gwen: (Sees Owen's car) Owen, where are you?
      Owen: I'm in the building. Where's Bilis' office?
      Gwen: It's at the far end of the corridor. I'll keep looking out here.

    • Tosh: I didn't get the rest of the equation on the photo. The rest is outside. If they find it, they'll keep looking, won't they?
      Jack: Yes.

    • Gwen: What would Jack and Tosh do? How would they try and help us? (Sees Bilis round a corner) Bilis?
      (Reads equation to Ianto)
      Ianto: I need more equations, Gwen.
      Gwen: What happened here, Tosh?

    • Tosh: Okay team. I hope you like treasure hunts.

    • Toshiko: Who were you?
      Jack: A conman. That's why I took his name, falsified his records so it seemed he was still alive
      Toshiko: How did you end up in Torchwood?
      Jack: Someone saved my life, brought me back from death, and ever since then it's been like… they're keeping me for something and I don't know what it is. I'm sorry for dragging you into this.
      Toshiko: It was my choice.
      Jack: I'll look after you. (Pauses; his voice breaks) But there's nothing I can do for him.

    • Jack: (To Toshiko; looking at Captain Jack Harkness) Tomorrow's their last training exercise. Just another day. They go out on a sortie and are surprised by two formations of Messerschmitts. He destroys three of the enemy. His men listen to his whoops of joy over the radio. Then it all goes quiet. (Pauses) He can't bail out because his whole plane is on fire, but his men all make it back to safety.

    • Owen: (Holding the blueprints to the Rift manipulator) There's instructions in here. This isn't some random act of madness!
      Ianto: It's a trap! Bilis wanted you to find it.
      Owen: Why?
      Ianto: To provoke the Rift. To incite total chaos and destruction! All the reports of the haunted dance hall were anonymous. What if it was him? Please listen to me!
      Owen: I'm tired of being in awe of the Rift! I'm tired of living with Jack's secrets! We don't even know who he is!

    • Captain Jack Harkness: Why did you make me kiss her goodbye?
      Jack: I just think you should live every night like it's your last. Make tonight the best night of your life. You're alive, right here, right now. Your men are fine.
      Captain Jack Harkness: What are you trying to say?
      Jack: Go to her. Go to your woman and lose yourself in her.
      Captain Jack Harkness: Maybe I should.
      Jack: Yeah.
      Captain Jack Harkness: Is Toshiko your woman?
      Jack: No. There's no-one. (Pauses) Go to her.

    • Jack: Look, it's okay to be scared.
      Captain Jack Harkness: A Captain has to keep his head.
      Jack: A Captain needs to explain the risks, tell his men what to expect.
      Captain Jack Harkness: So what do I do? Tell them I saw a young boy get shot in the eyes mid-flight?
      Jack: I understand.
      Captain Jack Harkness: Do you? Did you hear him on the radio, yelling for his mom while the Messerschmitts pumped him full of holes and blew his plane apart? All I can hear on the radio is…
      Jack: Screams. I went to war when I was a boy. I was with my best friend. We got caught crossing the border over enemy lines. They tortured him, not me, because he was weaker. They made me watch him die. And they let me go.
      Captain Jack Harkness: Who were they?
      Jack: The worst possible creatures you could imagine. I persuaded him to join up. I said it would be an adventure. He hadn't lived.
      Captain Jack Harkness: Have any of us?

    • Captain Jack Harkness: So, what's your next mission?
      Jack: Careless talk costs lives.
      Nancy: (Getting up from the table) I should go anyway.
      Jack: No, no, no, I didn't mean that to…
      Nancy: It's alright, I can get a lift if I leave now.
      Captain Jack Harkness: I'd better stay here.
      Nancy: Aren't you leaving tomorrow night? (He nods) You sick of us Welsh already?
      Captain Jack Harkness: Yeah, that's why I'm still fighting for you. (He kisses her on the cheek) I'll be in touch when I'm next on leave. (Nancy starts to leave) Nancy. (She turns round) It's been a good few weeks.
      (Nancy leaves and the Captain sits back at the table)
      Jack: Was that it?
      Captain Jack Harkness: She's a sweet kid, but I need to look after my men tonight. It's their last day tomorrow.
      Jack: Go after her. Kiss her goodbye. Anything can happen tomorrow.
      Captain Jack Harkness: It's just a routine training exercise. I'm hardly going to die.
      Jack: Yeah, that's when they catch you, when you least expect it. You don't know what's ahead. Kiss her goodbye.

    • Ianto: Open the Rift now and the whole world could suffer. We could all get sucked in, or who knows what will come out! (Pauses) This is about Diane, isn't it? When will you accept that she chose to leave you?
      Owen: Whereas your Cyber-girlfriend stuck around the course. Not that she had much choice, wired up in the cellar.
      Ianto: That was different.
      Owen: Yeah, it was. Mainly because Diane didn't try to kill us all. And, oh yeah, she also happened to be a human being…
      Ianto: Stop it.
      Owen: ...not some screwed-up metal monster
      Ianto: I thought she was still Lisa. I loved her! You only knew Diane for a week.
      Owen: And it wasn't enough. Maybe the Manipulator can calculate the missing figures.

    • Owen: We haven't got the missing numbers. We're going to have to improvise with the Rift manipulator.
      Ianto: We can't! It's risky enough with the equation. If we don't do this properly, anything could happen.
      Owen: Bombs are falling. They're stuck in the middle of the Cardiff Blitz. It's our duty to get them out.

    • (Toshiko uses Bilis' camera to take a picture of the formula; Bilis catches her)
      Bilis Manger: Starting to be a habit.
      Toshiko: I just wanted to try it out.
      Bilis Manger: This little beauty is very unusual and rare, not unlike yourself. (Toshiko heads towards the door; Bilis holds out the the notes she was photographing) Don't go without this. (Toshiko reaches for the notes) I can think of better things to photograph than numbers, my dear. (Toshiko takes the notes and goes to the door) Do call again.

    • Ianto: Maybe this is a trap. He could be sucking us back through time one by one. (To Gwen, via phone) Get out of there, Gwen. That's an order.
      Owen: I'm sorry, but who exactly put you in charge?

    • George: (To Jack) You must have seen some action.
      Jack: Let's just say the enemy comes in many guises.

    • Toshiko: This period. You look like you fit in. Have you been here before?
      Jack: Yeah. I can't explain but I served in the war in 1941. I was undercover; I needed a false identity so I took… his name.
      Toshiko: Who were you before you took his name? (Jack doesn't answer) Why him?
      Jack: It was convenient.
      Toshiko: But if you chose his identity to steal, then he…
      Jack: Dies. In battle.
      Toshiko: When?
      Jack: Tomorrow.

    • Owen: December the twenty-fourth. That's when Diane flew through the Rift. I had to let her go.
      Ianto: You were in love with her, weren't you?
      Owen: If Tosh knows a way of opening the Rift, maybe we can get Diane back.
      Ianto: Jack would never allow it. Opening the Rift could devastate the city.

    • Jack: (Walking into the ballroom of the Ritz dance-hall) Wow. Look at the chandelier. No neon lights back then. Just dashing young soldiers and pretty young ladies. (He grabs Toshiko and starts dancing with her) And as they dance, the girls would look into their partner's eyes, smile softly and say…
      Toshiko: (As Jack spins her) Jack! Mind my laptop!
      Jack: I was thinking more along the lines of, "and how long before you head off to war?"

    • Toshiko: My grandfather's eighty-eighth birthday today.
      Jack: I thought you'd gone to all this trouble for me.
      Toshiko: Eighty eight is a joyous year for the Japanese. I'm off to London to watch grown men throw rice.
      Jack: You can get that in the Balti after stop-tap.

    • Ianto: You have to let Diane go, like I did with Lisa.
      Owen: Don't compare yourself to me. You're just a tea-boy.
      Ianto: I'm much more than that. Jack needs me.
      Owen: In your dreams Ianto, your sad wet dreams when you're his part-time shag maybe. That Rift took my lover and my captain, so if I die trying to beat it then it will all be in the line of duty.

    • Ianto: The manager, Bilis Manger.
      Gwen: Bilis Manger? That's the name of the caretaker.
      Ianto: Can't be the same guy, can it?
      Gwen: No, not old enough. Although he does look a bit out of his time. He wears a kravat.
      Ianto: Gwen. He's in the photo with Jack and Tosh!
      Owen: He's the answer. He's come through the rift, find out what he's doing.
      Ianto: No, get out, Gwen. Wait for backup.
      Owen: We can't lose him!
      Ianto: We can't lose Gwen!

    • Tosh: That's an interesting camera.
      Bilis: It takes photos instantly.
      Tosh: I didn't know they could do that, yet.
      Bilis: And I didn't know they'd made an attache case out of metal. Where did you get it?
      Tosh: London. I'm from there.

    • Owen: Okay, so we use Tosh's equation to open the Rift and bring them back.
      Ianto: We can't. Half the equation's missing.
      Owen: It can't be. It must be somewhere, let me try.
      Ianto: It's not there! It might be in her laptop. Which she never goes anywhere without.

    • Tosh: Why does that man have your name? I'm lost enough here without you holding back on me.
      Captain Jack: It's not my name. It's his. I took his name. But I didn't realise he was so hot!
      Tosh: Jack?
      Captain Jack: I know too much.
      Tosh: Then share.
      Captain Jack: You wouldn't want that, trust me.

  • NOTES (4)

    • In the 2008 BAFTA Cymru awards, this episode won for Best costume, for Ray Holman.

    • This episode was nominated for "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" in the 2008 Hugo Awards.

    • International air dates:
      Australia: September 4, 2007
      Israel: July 29, 2007
      Mexico: September 24, 2007
      Sweden: September 2, 2007
      United States: November 24, 2007
      Canada: January 6, 2008
      New Zealand: September 24, 2008
      Germany: May 27, 2009

    • This episode, along with "End of Days", was shown on a Monday, New Year's Day, rather than the standard Sunday.


    • Owen: (Looking for the combination for Jack's safe) Rhea Silvia, the God of war's missus, and a nine digit number - not so clever, Jack.
      Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin, who was raped by the god of war Mars - therefore hardly his missus. She gave birth to twins, Romulus and Remus, who went on to found Rome; but she had no further contacts with their father, in fact, she married a river god Tiberinus.

    • When the real Captain Jack asks Jack about his next mission, Jack replies "careless talk costs lives". This was a poster campaign and slogan produced by the Ministry of Information during 1940 to warn the public about loose talk, which may unwittingly give away information to enemy sympathizers and jeopardize the war effort.

    • George says the real Captain Jack killed twenty-six people in the Battle Of Britain. The Battle Of Britain happened in the early part of the Second World War, and is considered to be one of the first major campaigns of that period; British historians say it ran between July and October 1940, whilst German historians say it happened from August 1940 to May 1941. It was the German Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air superiority over the RAF and prepare the way for a full-scale German invasion by sea and air. However, it did not succeed to destroy the air force or break the spirit of the British government or people, and is widely considered to be the first real defeat for the Nazis.

    • Toshiko mentions "Pearl Harbor". Pearl Harbor is a US Navy base in Hawaii. The surprise attack on the base by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 brought America into the Second World War.

    • Posters plastered on the front of the dance hall read "Vote Saxon". In the Doctor Who episode, "The Runaway Bride", the order for the military to fire of the Racnoss Empress' ship comes from a Mr. Saxon, who figures heavily in Doctor Who Series Three.

    • As Jack and Tosh walk down the stairs in the Ritz dance hall, the graffiti on the wall behind them reads "Bad Wolf", Rose's message from the first series of Doctor Who.