To The Last Man
Anthony Lewis (Tommy), Roderic Culver (Gerald), Siobahn Hewlett (Harriet), Lizzie Rogan (Nurse), Ricky Fearon (Foreman)
|Written by||James Moran|
|Directed by||Colin Teague|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes|
It is the year 1918, the climax of World War I, and two members of the Torchwood Institute, Gerald Kneale and Harriet Derbyshire, have arrived at St Teilo’s Military Hospital to investigate the rumours of ghostly apparitions appearing within its walls, spooking its populace. Harriet is using a device to track the activity of the Cardiff Rift that has suspiciously coincided with these sightings. The two Torchwood personnel unintentionally spook an unusually jumpy nurse as they come clamouring down the stairs of the hospital in search of what they suspect to be triggering the disturbances of the rift. Gerald apologises for the intrusion and Harriet asks the nurse if she has caught sight of any ghosts today, to which she testifies three sightings in the hospital ward thus far. Gerald and Harriet take heed, heading into the ward on the double.
Inside the ward, the nurse laments that these reported sightings could be a result of delusions brought on by patients having nervous breakdowns — the wounded and shell-shocked soldiers being treated at St Teilo’s aren’t in the best mental state from their traumatic experiences at the war front. They have been ordered by Field Marshal Haig to “fight to the last man” and “fight on to the end,” at which Gerald and Harriet express pity. However, it becomes evident they do not have time to have condolences for the victims when the hospital lurches violently. This is not the product of a bomb explosion; it is a fissure about to tear open in the Cardiff Rift.
The Torchwood agents enter the storage room, where the rift activity is peaking on Harriet’s detector. They are greeted with a ferocious burst of white light and turbulent wind. The rift has split open and a time shift is in full force. To Gerald and Harriet, it appears that two people have emerged from out of nowhere. They gaze at a woman dressed in clothes completely unlike their own, as though they were from another era entirely. This woman is a familiar face to some, but a complete stranger to Gerald and Harriet. She is Toshiko Sato, part of a Torchwood ninety years into the future, along with a soldier from the WWI era who somehow ended up in their time, Tommy Brockless. Tommy is dressed in hospital pyjamas with an unmistakable leather jumper belonging to a man of the 1918 war front. They have somehow made contact with the Torchwood agents of the past across this breach in the Cardiff rift. Toshiko instructs Tommy to tell these people from another time something important, or else everything they know will end. Tommy quickly explains that he is also residing in this hospital at the same time he is speaking to the agents. The two must fetch him and find a way to get him to the future alive so that he can speak to them now from the 21st century.
Gerald and Harriet immediately return to the recovery ward to find another Tommy Brockless, the one native to 1918, propped in a hospital bed, recently scarred from battle. Gerald comfortingly tells Tommy to come with them, but he coils up with apprehension. Gerald introduces himself along with Harriet, reassuring Tommy that they will take care of him. He asks them, “Who are you?” Gerald gives a succinct reply: “We’re Torchwood.”
In the 21st century, it is time for Tommy Brockless to annually awaken from cryogenic storage. Once he is, he panics until Toshiko reminds him that it is that time of year for him to wake up. He asks for a cup of tea, which is provided by Ianto. Gwen doesn’t understand why he’s here, and Jack explains that one day, they are going to need him.
Later, Owen and Tosh take him in for blood samples, when he recites his name, rank, regiment and parents’ death dates. During this, Jack explains to Gwen that there was once a time shift in St. Teilo’s Hospital in 1918, going on to say that eventually, chunks of 1918 will appear in the hospital until the rift is complete. Once this is complete, the rift will cause a chain reaction, creating time shifts all over the world. When Gwen asks how Tommy fits into the picture, Jack says Tommy stops it somehow, showing her “Eyes Only Document, FAO Torchwood, commander overseeing case 1918/TB”, and the temporal lock (which can only be opened when the rift nears completion) that comes with it. Tosh and Tommy leave on a date shortly afterwards.
Gwen goes off to the abandoned St. Teilo’s Hospital, where she sees a man with a deformed leg, who then disappears. Moving through the hospital, she sees several firemen, who tell her that they are going to knock the building down. Jack arrives later and theories that knocking it down might have triggered psychic trauma (from the soldiers from the Somme and Passchendaele). When the workmen begin, Jack sees a man in a wheelchair being carted down the halls, and Gwen sees an injured man sitting in a chair, along with a nurse. Unlike the previous ones, this nurse notices Gwen. The nurse panics, telling her that she shouldn’t be here.
While at a bar with Tosh, Tommy discusses his girlfriend in 1916, how the war changed him, and then comments that he and Tosh would make a good couple. After ordering a drink, he sees news footage of the Iraq war and comments that there always seems to be a war going on. He questions if the human race is worth saving, and Tosh answers yes. He then feels a spark of psychic trauma from the St. Teilo’s time shift. On a boardwalk, he kisses her, but receives mixed signals from Tosh, who tells him that she is a bit older. They kiss again and head back to the cryogenic chamber, only for Jack to call her to tell them that Tommy’s time has come.
Jack calls a meeting, saying that the demolition of the building is pulling 1918 into the present-day. The team head back to the hospital. Owen and Tosh place rift monitors throughout the hospital, and Owen warns Tosh that she and Tommy have become too close. Gwen calls, reporting a detail from the report: “Through a hole in the external wall, we hear the roar of great engines. Outside is a woman in strange armour, ripping a Union Jack, perhaps some future heroine of the Empire.” Gwen believes that this might mean that the catastrophe isn’t happening now, but Owen realises that the roar is traffic, the woman is a painting, and that the Union Jack is a building from just outside.
At the Hub, Jack sees the box open, and he reads through the papers inside, finding that they are instructions for Tommy and Tosh. He reveals that in 12 hours, there will be a brief shift, allowing both 1918 and the 21st century to exist at the same time. Jack says that Tommy will step through the fracture into 1918 and will be trapped there forever. He gives him a rift manipulator, which will close the fracture behind him. Jack takes Tosh to his office and reveals to Tosh that Tommy will be shot by a firing march (with 1918 thoughts) because of shellshock or “cowardice.” Tosh protests, but Jack says that she must. Ianto gives Tommy the same clothes that he was wearing when he stepped through the rift. Tosh was also here, telling Tommy what to do.
Tosh offers to take him home until 6:30 tomorrow, which Tommy accepts. At the Hub, Ianto asks if Jack could, and Jack explains that he wouldn’t because he’s seen amazing things. Ianto and he passionately kiss. Tommy asks what will happen to him in 1918, and Tosh tells him that he’ll going back to France.
At 6:30, the rift monitors sound the alarm loudly. They begin to see the ghosts. Tommy hears Gerald and Harriet talking to his past self in 1918. He begins to refuse, calling Torchwood no better than the army. Jack simply says he has to. He then leaves, along with the rest of the team, at the insistence of Tosh. Time begins to fracture, and Tommy and Tosh arrive in 1918. She tells Tommy to tell Torchwood what to do, and he does. He heads to bed, like he was never away.
But Tommy hasn’t used the time shift yet, and the chain reaction begins. Owen realises that he can use the shifts to open the exact point in time where Tommy is, with Jack as a psychic projection, making Tommy use the key. But Tosh volunteers to go instead, accepted by Jack. She goes back as a psychic projection and convinces him to use the rift manipulator. The time shift closes, as do the others around Cardiff. Tosh laments over Tommy, and Owen reminds her that she saved the world. Tosh corrects him, saying it was Tommy, and asks aloud if humanity is worth it.