The Death of Captain Jack Review

The Torchwood monthly range is back for it’s third run of nine adventures, this month, we’re back with Captain Jack and Captain John; a character I’ve yearned to return since Big Finish announced their Torchwood range. Will The Death of Captain Jack be a tale that will be immortalised as one of the greats, or will it die a horrible death? There’s only one way to find out…

Captain Jack is finally dying, and it’s time for his oldest friend to visit his deathbed. King John has come to tell him a story. The story of the life he should have had.
It’s the story of Alexander the Great, sinking ships, falling empires, robot dinosaurs, and alien invasions. It’s a story of love, royal weddings, murder, mass murder, genocide, and very tight trousers.
It’s the story of the life of Captain John and it’s the story of Torchwood. Be careful what you wish for.

The title speaks the truth. Captain Jack Harkness is old, and he is dying. Captain John Hart has come to pay him a visit, 130 years after their last encounter, and it seems that all is not well. It seems as if John has managed to steal Jack’s life, and his time with Torchwood.

It appears that this story will be one of those that involves a hell of a lot of flashbacks and sex. Don’t listen to this with your grandma in the room. Unless she’s extremely liberal. Even then, it’s probably best to listen to this without her. The sex scene doesn’t last long (or the first one at least), but it’s still somewhat intense. This might well be the first Torchwood threesome from Big Finish. And then there’s a second. No, wait, a trio of threesomes, within 18 minutes. Jack and John were like rabbits back in the day. Jesus.

David Llewellyn manages to do something really interesting in this release, within the first half of the story; famously, the Doctor and Master have been portrayed as like Holmes and Moriarty, two brilliant minds that work in a similar way but achieve opposite results. In this story, Llewellyn manages to expand John and Jack’s relationship in such a way that they share a similar parallel. John is just Jack but with less morals, and it’s fascinating.

There are a great few cameos from the Torchwood-verse too, as John (seemingly now working for Torchwood India) has the honour of meeting Queen Victoria, played once again by Rowena Cooper, tying it nicely to The Victorian Age. It’s not too long before John manages to wrangle himself into the Queen’s heart, and into her family through marriage.

If you didn’t realise John has no regard for the natural order of history, as he weaves his way into the British monarchy. Of course, that doesn’t stop Jack from trying to stop him. This release should really have an extra letter added to the title though, especially after this scene. Poor Jack.

Jack seemingly realises that there’s something wrong with time, and tries to persuade Queen Victoria of the fact, but she’s way too in love with John to even pay attention to this vagabond who tried to assassinate her lover and husband. Once John manages to find a suitable punishment for an immortal, he begins to really exact his revenge on Jack. Stranding him in confinement, on an island, surrounded by distilled rift energy, cutting him off from the rest of the world.

With Jack out of the way, John manages to help Victoria restore the British Empire, taking back America, putting Torchwood in the limelight, and making the knowledge of alien life public. The world is really different with John in charge of Britain alongside Queen Victoria.

Of course, the thing with humans, whether they be royalty or not, have somewhat puny lifespans. Queen Victoria is dead…ish. Leaving John the only person with a claim to the throne. A tyrannical king with the power of immortality, the knowledge of what should be and one hell of a chip on his shoulder. What could possibly go wrong?

Nothing. Norton Folgate is back, so nothing can go wrong at all. That is until the Roswell Incident takes place. The most infamous alien conspiracy of all time finally has an answer. You’re not going to believe it.

History keeps moving forward with John at the helm of everything, and the Torchwood we’re used to is nearly at the fore. This is Torchwood One, with Yvonne in charge of London, and Ianto Jones, the new kid on the block, being recruited as the King’s PA. They’ve just discovered something, a rift that allows ghosts through to visit the land of the living. Things don’t go well. Especially considering there’s no mention of the Doctor and Rose.

Once John and Gwen get together (in more ways than one), it’s one hell of an adventure for the pair of them. Whilst it lasts. It’s not long before Rhys realises something is wrong, and he demands answers. He doesn’t get them.

David Llewellyn knows how fans of Torchwood think, there’s a reference to the events of Children of Earth, and a hilarious passing reference to Miracle Day too. I wish Big Finish would have the licence to the Miracle Day crew, I’d love some more Rex stories, or even something to do with Oswald Danes. Oh well, it’s another one of those things we won’t get. Yet.

The conclusion of The Death of Captain Jack is brutally brilliant, with a stellar explanation as to why, and how, the events managed to take place. I can only hope that Captain John Hart makes a return.

Overall, The Death of Captain Jack is the best possible opener for the third series of monthly Torchwood stories; especially as it acts as a jumping on point. It clues you in enough as to the events of the previous 18 releases, as well as the TV show, and I reckon would be a place for a total newbie to the series to get the gist. It’s fast paced, full of Easter eggs for us diehard listeners, and filled with sex and humour and Cardiff. What more could you possibly want?



Should you want to purchase The Death of Captain Jack, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £9.99 on CD or £7.99 for a digital download for a limited time.


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