You may wish to consult Captain Jack Harkness (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

Captain Jack Harkness was the twelfth episode in the first series of Torchwood. It revealed more about Jack Harkness' past.


Investigating reports of ghostly music, Jack and Toshiko find themselves stranded in a packed dance hall - in 1941. As Gwen, Owen and Ianto work to rescue their colleagues, Jack and Toshiko meet a handsome young American squadron leader by the name of Captain Jack Harkness.


Captain Jack Harkness and Toshiko Sato investigate a report that music from the 1940s has been drifting out of a derelict dance hall called "The Ritz". They enter the dance hall and are transported back to 20 January 1941 through a temporal shift. The hall is full of people dancing to live music. They go downstairs to return to the present , but cannot resist going back to 1941 once more . When they go downstairs for the second time they do not go back to the present , and they realise they are trapped

Jack encounters an American captain by the name of Captain Jack Harkness. Torchwood's Jack quickly invents the name "Captain James Harper". When Toshiko asks him, "James Harper" admits he used to be a con-man. He took Jack Harkness's name as a disguise. The real Captain Jack will die the next day in a routine training exercise.

"James Harper" and Toshiko devise a plan to leave the second half of an equation on something that will last through time so back in the present day, Torchwood can find it and combine it with the half they have already. The full equation will let them bring Toshiko and "James Harper" back to the present. Toshiko finds the manager, Bilis Manger, has a Polaroid camera, which has not yet been invented. While taking the photo, Toshiko misses the first part of the equation. When Bilis gets the camera, she must find another way to get this part back to present. She decides to use her own blood and writes the missing bit of the equation on a card. She puts the card inside a can for the Torchwood team. Back in the present day, Ianto and Owen find they cannot get through to Toshiko when they try to call her. They order Gwen to investigate. Just as Gwen hears music drifting from 1941, "James Harper" and Tosiko hear Gwen's calls drifting the other way. Back at the Hub, Ianto and Owen argue over the best way to bring them back. Ianto realises the real reason why Owen wants to open the rift is to bring back Diane (see Out of Time).

Meanwhile, at the Ritz, Gwen encounters the caretaker called "Bilis Manger." He opens the hall for her to look around. After Ianto checks with the records, he realises the Bilis Manger of now is the Bilis Manger from 1941 and orders her to withdraw. Outside, Gwen finds the photograph left by Toshiko and notices part is missing. She continues searching.

At the Hub, Owen ignores Ianto's protests and tries to open the rift with the rift manipulator. Owen finds there is a piece missing and decides to look for it in Bilis's office.

At the Ritz, Owen finds the missing piece in a grandfather clock. Gwen also finds the card left by Toshiko in 1941 and informs Ianto. She also tells them three of the numbers have been scraped out by someone (most likely Bilis) and reads the message that Toshiko has written below the equation: "Tell my family, I love them."

Jack and james war stories

Jack and "James" exchange war stories.

While all this is happening, "James Harper" gets to know the real Captain Jack and slowly begins to fall in love with him. "James" and Jack are joined by Jack's girlfriend, who wishes to be with him. She makes to leave hoping he will follow. When he does not, "James " insists that Jack kiss her goodbye, hinting at his death tomorrow. Jack takes "James'" advice, but thinks it has made things worse; now she thinks she loves him. On the stairs, Jack and "James" recount their worst war stories. Jack tells how he saw a young boy shot through the eyes. He yelled for his mother as he died. "James" tells how he had to watch his best friend, whom he had persuaded to enlist, tortured by the enemy and killed in front of him.

Later, during a bomb raid, Jack confesses he is scared. They sit down at a table for a private talk. Jack slowly realises "James" knows something bad is going to happen and goes to his girlfriend.

Jack returns later, however, to find "James" on his own and joins him. They hold hands for a few seconds but are interrupted by a couple who want the "lover's corner". Jack tells the couple he and "James" were just discussing strategies. Jack turns down "James's" offer to go somewhere else.

Disheartened, "James" returns to the edge of the dance floor where he is joined by Toshiko. He says tomorrow Jack will lead his men in a routine training exercise to be surprised by the Messerschmitts. Jack kills three of them before dying when his plane bursts into flames. His men all make it back to safety.

Ianto threatens Owen

Ianto tries to stop Owen from opening the Rift.

Back in the present day and at the Hub, Owen and Ianto are still arguing about the rift. When Owen goes into Jack's safe to retrieve the rift manipulator's blueprints, Ianto tries to snatch the blueprints. Owen overpowers Ianto and kicks him to the ground before heading towards the rift manipulator. Ianto orders him to stop. He is now pointing a gun at him. After Owen taunts Ianto about his relationship with Jack, Ianto shoots Owen in the shoulder to stop him. He is too late. The manipulator activates.Owen falls unconcious while Ianto screams at him .

Back in 1941, "James" and Toshiko sit at a table. "James" explains someone brought him back to life one day and hints he has not been able to die ever since. "James" apologises to Toshiko for "dragging" her into "James's" business. Toshiko replies it was her choice to get involved. "James" promises her he will look after her but breaks down when he realises that there is nothing that can be done to save Jack.

During the next song, Jack stands at the other side of the dance floor, thinking about what "James" has told him. He takes "James's" hand and they begin to dance to the slow music. They start to kiss, but are interrupted by the rift bursting open in the doorway. Toshiko rushes to it and pleads with "James" to follow her. James" explains to Jack that it is his duty, unwillingly lets go and heads towards the rift. At the last minute, "James" turns back to kiss Jack passionately before letting him go again. In the rift, "James" turns around to face the real Jack who salutes him before he vanishes.

Back in the present day, Gwen gleefully greets Jack and Toshiko as they leave the Ritz. Jack takes one last look at the dance hall before returning to the Hub.

Jack toasts real jack

Jack and Tosh toast his namesake.

At the Hub, Owen is performing self-aid on the bullet wound courtesy of Ianto. Ianto says he never meant to kill Owen. He meant to hit his shoulder. He also says there is no sign of Bilis. Toshiko, who is helping Owen, explains what she and Jack saw in 1941, while Owen taunts Ianto about opening the rift not having any immediate side-effects (see End of Days). Owen and Toshiko flirt mildly . Jack walks past them looking down as he enters his office. Toshiko joins him. They toast to the real Captain Jack Harkness.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics


General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.



Theories and concepts

  • When Jack and Tosh walk up the stairs at the Ritz (present-day), there is graffiti on the wall saying Bad Wolf. There is also a circled P, which was the emblem of the Preachers.

Story notes

to be added


  • 1.2 million viewer


  • It was rumoured, since it was announced the episode will take place in World War II, that the Ninth Doctor and Rose would appear. This did not happen; they were in London, whereas this story was set in Cardiff.

Filming locations

  • Old Town Hall (Newcastle Street) - Jack and Toshiko investigate a report of ghosts
  • Baltica - The Ritz dance hall
  • Hensol Castle - Ground floor of the Ritz

Production errors

to be added


If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Jack references the events that take place at the end of DW: The Parting of the Ways.
  • This episode marks the first of the continuous arc (the end of one episode immediately leading into another) that later switches over to Doctor Who in Utopia and ends in Voyage of the Damned.
  • If the events of Torchwood and Doctor Who are taken into account there are four Jack Harknesses in this time period. One is the one from this episode that goes back through the rift with Toshiko, the second is the Jack who first appeared in DW: The Empty Child. It was revealed in DW: Utopia that after The Parting of the Ways Jack attempted to return to the 21st century using his vortex manipulator but accidentally ended up in 1869 and had to wait until present day as his vortex manipulator broke. This would mean that he lived through World War II and would be the third Jack in this era. In TW: Exit Wounds Jack is buried in 27 AD only to be dug up in 1901 by Torchwood and put in a cryo-chamber to be awakened in 2009 meaning that a fourth Jack is in this time period, only frozen.


Home video releases


Series one, part three DVD cover

This episode was first released on DVD, with three other episodes, entitled Torchwood: Series 1, part 3 on 26 March 2007. It was later released in Torchwood: The Complete First Series on 19th November 2007.

External links


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