St Teilo's Military Hospital, Cardiff, 1918
Two investigators, a man and a woman, race through the corridors and stairwells of the hospital, taking readings through strange box-like devices around their necks. As they cross paths, they check to see whether they’re getting any results yet. The woman, Harriet, confirms that she is and tells her colleague Gerald to follow her down to a lower level. A nurse emerges carrying blankets and, thinking the investigators are ghosts, she drops them in shock. Gerald apologises and says he would have thought she was used to them creeping around by now. Harriet asks her if she’s seen any ghosts recently and she tells them the problem seems to be getting worse and she’s seen three today already in the ward.
The nurse takes Gerald and Harriet to the ward where the room is lined with injured soldiers in beds. The nurse explains that half her patients are seeing things anyway and Gerald realises the soldiers’ nerves have been shot to pieces by their experiences on the front line. The nurse says that as soon as the patients get better they’ll be sent straight back to the front and Harriet recalls that Field Marshal Hague’s orders are that every position must be held to the last man. As they stop at the bed of a sleeping soldier, a young man named Tommy, the lights in the ward start to flicker. The readings on Harriet’s device start to register alarmingly, so they rush off in the direction indicated. As they leave, Tommy wakes up and watches them in confusion.
Gerald and Harriet follow the readings down to one of the lower floors where the radiology section is based. The entire room starts to shake and the ghost hunters hold on to each other for support. Suddenly a blinding light appears in front of them and two people appear on the floor, clutching each other. Gerald approaches them nervously and can make out an attractive Japanese woman kneeling by one of the patients who’s wearing pyjamas and a military jacket. The woman is Toshiko Sato and the man appears to be Tommy, the soldier they left behind in the ward. Tosh pleads with Tommy to tell the investigators what to do as he’s the only one who can stop this. If he doesn’t, it’s the end of everything. Tommy is petrified, but eventually he speaks to Gerald and Harriet. He tells them to return to the ward and take away the other version of Tommy who’s already in there, so that he can return to 1918.
Gerald and Harriet return to the ward and approach Tommy in his bed. Gerald asks him to go with them and says he’s not to worry as they’ll look after him. Tommy is concerned and asks who they are, and Gerald explains that they’re Torchwood…
The present day
Tosh gets up and prepares herself for another day at work. But this is no ordinary day and she seems to take more care than usual in choosing her clothes and checking her appearance. She seems quite excited about the day ahead and smiles to herself before leaving the flat. On the wall, her calendar is open and the date, Friday 20th, is ringed in red.
In the Hub, Jack changes the date on his desk to Friday 20th. He shows Gwen a black and white photo of a young man wearing the uniform of a soldier from the First World War. He tells her this is Thomas Reginald Brockless, aged 24, although Ianto argues that his age depends on how you work it out. Gwen is confused and says he’s either 24 or he’s not, so Jack reveals that he was born in 1894. They rejoin the others as they prepare for a task that they’ve evidently done many times before. Everyone knows what their role in the procedure is and they know what’s expected of them. Owen notices that Tosh is wearing an attractive dress and teases her gently, but she responds with good humour.
In the cold storage area, Gwen watches as Jack pulls out a drawer containing the frozen body of Tommy. Jack says the young man has been here for 90 years and Tosh explains that Torchwood has been using alien cryogenics since the Victorian days. Tommy was frozen in 1918, which makes him both 24 and 114 years old. Torchwood has always know that one day they’re going to need him so each team has inherited instructions to defrost him every twelve months for one day, to check that everything works, before putting him back in the freezer.
In the medical area, Owen performs the normal procedure to revive Tommy, but it doesn’t work and for a few nervous moments it looks like there’s a problem. Owen then tries electric shock treatment using a defibrillator, and eventually Tommy wakes up. He’s still in shock and struggles against them, even knocking Owen to the floor, but Tosh is able to speak to him gently and he calms down when he remembers her. For Owen the procedure is getting harder every year and Tommy has a pretty good left hook. Tommy joins the rest of the group for dinner in the boardroom. He’s starving, but fortunately Ianto has provided enough food to feed an army. Tommy compliments Tosh on her dress and a discussion starts about changing fashions. He still remembers the mini-skirts from 1968 and was hoping they’d made a comeback. Gwen tells Jack she still doesn’t understand why Tommy is here, but all he will say is that one day they’re going to need him.
Later, Owen performs some routine medical checks on Tommy and everything seems fine, although Tommy isn’t looking forward to giving more blood samples. He may only get woken up once every year, but for him it’s the same routine every day. While this is going on, Tosh asks him to provide his personal details so they can check his memory. Tommy is from Manchester and was a private officer in 10th West Yorkshire Regiment. He was the only son of Constance May Bassett, who died in 1900, and Thomas Campbell Brockless, who died from a heart attack in June 1931, aged 57. This memory is very uncomfortable for Tommy as he still hasn’t had much time to get used to the news and Tosh apologies for bringing the subject up.
Jack tells Gwen that a fracture in the Rift occurred at St Teilo's Hospital in 1918, creating two slices of time, one from 1918 and one from the future, which will erupt into each other. Unfortunately no one knows where the ’slice’ from the future came and the time-shift could happen tomorrow or it could happen in a hundred years time. When it does, chunks of 1918 will start to appear at the hospital and when it’s complete, it will cause a chain reaction. Unless they can stop it, time-shifts will start occurring all over the country and then eventually the whole world. Somehow Tommy will help them stop it, but he doesn‘t know how. From his locked safe, Jack produces a small wooden box which contains sealed orders from their Torchwood colleagues back in 1918. Gwen is unable to open it and Jack tells her it has a temporal lock that’s tied in with the Rift frequencies at the hospital. When the Rift nears completion, the box will open and then they’ll find out exactly what Tommy’s role in all this is. Gwen can’t understand why their former colleagues would deliberately keep them in the dark, but they won’t know that until they read the sealed orders. Tosh brings Tommy into the office, now fully dressed in his civilian clothes. He asks for their opinion and Gwen says he looks like a film star, and Tommy assumes she means Charlie Chaplin. Tosh and Tommy prepare to go out for the day and Gwen asks Jack whether he has any other pretty soldiers in the freezer. Jack warns her off and says Tosh got there first. They tells them to have fun and Tosh says they’ll probably go for a drink, catch a film and then maybe a pizza.
By the Bay, Tosh urges Tommy to slow down, but he reminds her he only has one day and he wants to see everything. He stops by the Captain Scott Memorial Statue and tells Tosh he was sixteen when Scott sailed from here on his way to the Antarctic in 1910. He asks her what she’s been up to since he last saw her, but her answer is a bit vague and he’s not at all surprised when she says it was mostly work. It’s what she always says. He asks how her piano playing is going as that’s what she said she was going to do when they met last year, but she admits that she never got round to it. Nor did she learn Spanish, although she get as far as buying the book. He realises she talks about her life as though she has no control over it and when she admits that Torchwood is pretty much full time, he reminds her that she wasn’t conscripted and joined the team by choice.
Ianto shows Gwen an photograph from the archives of the former Torchwood boss George and his assistant, Harriet Derbyshire. They both agree the couple are a bit of alright, so nothing ever changes. Gwen wonders what happened to Harriet and Ianto tells her she died a year after the picture was taken, when she was just 26 years old. He says they all died young. Again, nothing ever changes. Gwen decides to visit St Teilo's Hospital to see what she can find out there.
Tosh takes Tommy to a nearby pub where they enjoy a game of pool. Tosh is winning, but she puts it down to her maths background and says it’s all about angles and velocity. Tommy makes a joke about giving women equal rights, then he casually asks her if she’s got a boyfriend yet? She avoids the question, which tells him all he needs to know, then she asks him if he had a girlfriend back in 1918. He says he did, her name was Ellie and they courted for two years, but he stopped seeing her the last time he was home on leave because the War had changed him and he couldn’t carry on like before. They both realise they have a lot in common, but even though there’s an obvious attraction between them, they’re both a bit nervous and neither of them seem to know how to make the next move.
Gwen arrives at St Teilo's Hospital and explores the dark empty corridors. She arrives at the ward where Tommy was found by Torchwood 60 years ago and, just for a moment, she thinks she hears ghostly noises coming from elsewhere in the building. Suddenly she finds herself facing a patient, with one leg amputated and leaning on wooden crutches. He stares at her silently from the end of the ward, then the lights in the room begin flashing irregularly. Gwen says hello, but she gets no reply. Then the man starts dragging himself towards her, slowly at first and then speeding up dramatically. Nervously, she backs away, but as she slams into the wall, the man on crutches passes her and then disappears, leaving the corridor behind her empty. When she recovers her nerves, Gwen races off after him, searching all the side-rooms until she enters another large room which used to house the radiology section. There’s a strange atmosphere here and the lights begin to flicker on and off again. Gwen can’t get them to stop, but then a figure appears behind her and she jumps in shock. It’s a workman, who smiles and asks if she’s alright as she looks as if she‘s seen a ghost.
Later, Jack joins Gwen in the empty ward. She learned from the workman that they’re knocking down the hospital and she wonders if this is what’s triggered the time-shift. Jack thinks this sounds plausible - maybe the Rift energy charged up all the psychic trauma like a battery. In 1918 this place was full of wounded soldiers. They’d suffered four years of it - Passchendaele, the Somme - a million British soldiers killed during the Great War, like walking into Hell. Jack knows because he was there. He contacts Owen back at the Hub to see if anything’s happening, but Owen reports that it’s all quiet at the moment apart from the spike they noticed earlier. He knows this is more Tosh’s speciality and suggests giving her a call, but Jack asks him not to and suggests he just keeps watching.
In the pub, Tommy goes to the bar to orders drinks when he sees the TV showing footage from BBC News 24 of a bomb going off in Iraq, killing a number of soldiers. The pictures distress him and he tells Tosh it seems like there’s always a war going on somewhere. The first year he was woken up, in 1919, he was told the war was all over and it was the war to end all wars. Then just three weeks later, he was told about the Second World War. He asks her whether she thinks the human race is worth saving, but she tells him it is. She smiles at him and he becomes shy. He tells her he’d do anything for her and all she has to do is ask, no matter what it is. She smiles back nervously, but then Tommy is hit with a sudden pain in his head. He doesn’t know what caused it, but he definitely felt something…
At the hospital, the workers begin their task of knocking the building down, beginning with the internal walls which they attack with sledgehammers. Jack and Gwen are still exploring the upper floors when Jack hears something. He sends Gwen on ahead, then goes back they way they came. He moves back down the dark corridor and hears a voice singing, then a nurse appears at the end of the corridor, wheeling a patient in a chair towards him. They eventually pass Jack, evidently unable to see him or the light that he’s shining in their faces. As they turn away into a nearby room, Owen contacts Jack and asks if he can see anything because the detectors are showing a lot of activity. Jack confirms that they have some ghosts here, so he contacts Gwen to see if she’s OK. She says she is and continues exploring elsewhere in the building.
Gwen moves out into the corridor and sees a patient dressed in soldier’s uniform sitting on a chair awaiting attention. Suddenly she jumps as a nurse passes closely by and crosses over to the patient. The nurse tells the man the doctors are ready for him and he enters a room. The nurse moves away, disappearing around the corner. Gwen continues watching for a second, then turns away - and as she does so, the nurse slowly edges out from the corner and stares directly at her. After a moment, Gwen realises the nurse can see her. The nurse confronts Gwen and asks her why she won’t leave them alone. Gwen backs away as the nurse insists she shouldn’t be here. Suddenly the lights come back on and Gwen finds herself completely alone again.
Tommy playfully chases Tosh to the end of the pier. He picks her up and swings her around for a moment before gently putting her back down again. They laugh and Tommy eventually plucks up the courage to kiss her. She’s momentarily stunned and he wonders whether he’s done the wrong thing. She says thanks, which he finds odd, and she admits that he caught her unawares. She tells him she feels silly because she’s older than him, but he reminds her he was born in 1894 and is old enough to die for his country. She kisses him back and he says thanks. He accepts that he might still be young, but he’s seen a fair bit in his life already. She asks what he wants to do next and he suggests they go back to her flat. He hardly thinks he’s rushing her as he’s known her for four years, even though it’s only been four days for him. They kiss again, this time more passionately, and eventually she agrees to take him home. They start to race each other back to the seafront, but then Tosh’s phone rings. It’s Jack, asking them both to come back to the Hub.
In the boardroom, Jack explains to Tommy and the rest of the group that the demolition of the hospital is triggering the time-shift and it’s too late to stop it now. Two different times should never exist at the same moment and when 1918 becomes fully manifest things are really going to get screwed up. Jack explains the principles of linear time by holding up a blank piece of paper which he then screws up into a ball. He says if you imagine your life as a straight line from birth to death it’s impossible to draw that line on the paper without straightening it out. The Torchwood box containing the sealed orders is still locked and they need to find out how fast the time-shift is happening to get a better idea of when it will be complete. Jack tells Tosh and Owen to go to the hospital to set up some Rift monitors and take readings, then he asks Gwen to go back through the files to see if there’s anything they missed. Tommy looks at Tosh longingly and is disappointed when she puts on her coat and leaves.
At the hospital, Owen arrives with more Rift monitors and gives Tosh a hand setting them up. He tells her he’s noticed she’s become very close to Tommy and he warns her to be careful. She says she’s only known Tommy for four days, but Owen knows she’s already fallen for him. She admits that she can be ‘herself’ when she’s with him and doesn’t have to pretend, which Owen understands. He just doesn’t want her to get hurt if she and Tommy have to say goodbye. Gwen contacts Owen and asks him to go down to the old radiology section on the second floor as they think the area contains a clue to the time-shift. Gwen reads from the 1918 Torchwood field report that describes a detail of their encounter at the hospital. It mentions the roar of great engines and a woman in strange armour ripping a Union Jack that could be seen through a hole in the external wall. The time-shift has obviously started, but Gwen wonders whether it may not be complete until years in the future. Owen explores the radiology section and suddenly discovers the answer. He finds a boarded-up window with a hole in the middle, through which he can see the street outside. He can hear the traffic outside and sees a poster on the wall advertising car insurance which features a picture identical to the one described. This means the group from 1918 weren’t looking at something years in the future, they were looking at what’s here now!
Tosh is alone in the empty ward when the Rift monitors sound an alarm and the lights begin to flicker on and off. In his office back at the Hub, Jack is surprised when the box containing the sealed orders glows for a second and opens up of its own accord. He removes an envelope and opens it. Inside are several pages of hand-written notes which he quickly reads. Ianto joins him and asks if they’re instructions and Jack confirms that they are - for Tommy and for Toshiko.
Later, Jack briefs the entire team. He explains that in twelve hours there’ll be a brief moment before the time-shift completes when both time zones will exist at the same time. That will mean Tommy can be here now and be in 1918 and at that moment he needs to be in the hospital, ready to step from one time zone to the other. He’ll be right inside the time-shift and can close the fracture so that 1918 will go back to where it belongs. Tommy realises this means he will be going back to 1918 and this time for good. He and Tosh exchange worried glances, but Jack tells Tommy he’s the only one that can do this and he’ll be like a thread stitching time back together again. He shows Tommy the Rift Manipulator and explains that it works like a key so that once he’s inside the time-shift he can close the door behind him. Ianto arrives with Tommy’s original clothes from the hospital and Jack takes the opportunity to call Tosh away for a private word.
In his office, Jack tells Tosh that three weeks after Tommy returns to 1918, he’ll be shot by a firing squad and will die. Tosh doesn’t understand, so Jack explains that during the First World War Tommy was suffering from shell shock, which is why he was in the hospital. When Torchwood took him and froze him, they also froze his most recent memories, so when he returns to 1918, he’ll revert back to the person he was then. He’ll still be shell shocked and will be executed by the British Army for cowardice. Tosh is outraged, but Jack knows that lots of soldier who recovered from their shell shock were sent back to the front and once they were there, they broke down again. More than three hundred will be killed by their own side. Tosh says they can’t send Tommy back, but Jack says they have to. Tommy trusts Tosh so she has to help him save the future. She refuses to send him to his death, but Jack says it has to be her. He shows her the notes from the sealed box which includes a sketch of her face. The Torchwood group saw her with Tommy in 1918, telling him what to do. Jack is convinced Tosh is strong enough to do this. She asks whether Tommy knows what’s going to happen to him, but Jack says he doesn’t. Tosh wonders what she’s supposed to say if Tommy asks her, but Jack doesn’t have an answer.
Tommy returns to the main Hub with his clothes and asks after Tosh. It’s now 8.50 in the evening and he doesn’t have to return until the following morning. Gwen asks him what he’d like to do and he says that the night before his Regiment would go over the top, they’d always play cards, write letters or have a drink. Owen and Ianto say they can do that, but Tommy says it’s different this time because they’re not coming with him and he’s going back on his own. Jack returns with Tosh, and Tommy notices that she’s deliberately trying to avoid looking at him. When Gwen tells them they’ve been discussing what Tommy can do tonight, Tosh instantly says he can go home with her. After all, he’s not a prisoner and he doesn’t have to stay here. Jack agrees, providing that’s what they both want. Tosh looks to Tommy and they both agree, so Jack asks them to be back by 6.30am.
Tosh invites Tommy into her home and he comments on how neat everything is. They both seem a little awkward and uncomfortable, and Tosh admits that she never really thought this would happen. Tommy is sorry he won’t be able to write to her and they’re going to be so far away from each other, but Tosh admits she was worried he was going to see her getting older every year. Eventually they overcome their shyness and start to kiss. The clock on the table moves to midnight.
Ianto joins Jack in the office. They know that by this time tomorrow, Tommy will be back in 1918. Ianto asks Jack whether he‘d ever consider going back to his own time and when Jack asks whether Ianto would miss him, Ianto immediately says yes. Jack says he left home a long time ago and he doesn’t know where he really belongs any more. Ianto wonders whether he ever gets lonely, but Jack says going home wouldn’t fix that. Being here, Jack has seen things he never thought he’d see and he’s loved people he’d never even known if he’d just stayed where he was. And he wouldn’t change that for the world. Ianto moves forward and kisses Jack and they both embrace each other.
Tosh wakes up in bed and looks at Tommy asleep beside her. She looks over to the clock that reads 2.00am and then turns back to Tommy who is now wide awake. He asks her what Jack said was going to happen to him and she reveals that he’s going to be sent back to France. He knows she’s holding something back from him and he asks whether they’ll find his body. She strokes his face gently and then nods. The next morning, Tosh returns to the bedroom and looks admiringly at Tommy in the bed. When he wakes up, she tells him it’s time.
The Torchwood group arrives at the hospital and immediately starts setting up the equipment in the abandoned ward. As Gwen hands Tommy the Rift Manipulator, Jack reminds him that they can’t be with him when it happens. The monitors around the room start to activate and the whole building starts shaking. Tommy moves ahead, but then pauses for a moment, so Tosh joins him and leads him forward. They stop suddenly when Tommy hears ghostly voices. Jack assures him they’re safe for now and they watch as a nurse appears carrying a lamp and walks back towards the ward. Tommy and the others follow her, but when they get there, the nurse is nowhere to be seen. Tommy can hear the voices of Gerald and Harriet, introducing themselves and promising to look after him. When he looks over, he can see his own sleeping body in the bed back in 1918. Tommy races out of the room and Tosh and Jack run after him, telling the others to stay behind.
When Jack and Tosh catch up with Tommy in the radiology ward, he tells them he can’t go back as he knows he’s going to be sent back to the trenches. He begins to cry and begs Tosh to help him, but she tells him he has to go. He throws the Rift Manipulator to the floor and says they’re no better than the Generals, sitting safely behind the lines and sending others over the top. Any one of them could go, but instead they’re sending him. Jack tells Tommy they belong here, but the young soldier becomes angry at being shoved from pillar to post all his life - not only by the Army, but by Torchwood too. He crumples to the floor and resists all Jack’s efforts to get him back up. Tosh tells Jack to leave them alone but as he leaves he reminds them they only have two minutes left. Tosh picks up the Manipulator and kneels down on the floor next to Tommy. She tells him he’s a hero because he’s the one that will stop the time-shift and save everyone. He says he doesn’t want to be a hero, he just wants to stay here with her. Suddenly there’s a gush of wind and a blinding light that fills the entire room. Tosh and Tommy grab each other for support, then a kindly voice calls to them. They see Gerald and Harriet looking down at them, and althoughTommy is petrified, Tosh eventually persuades him to speak to the investigators. He tells them to return to the ward, take the other version of Tommy who’s already in there, so that he can return to 1918. Tosh and Tommy find themselves alone again. Tosh reminds him to use the Rift key when he gets back to his own time, then she kisses him and tells him to get back into bed, and it’ll be like he’s never been away. He turns and heads towards the wind, then he disappears into the light. Tosh rejoins her colleagues and they all race out of the building. Tosh stops to look back for a second, but Jack grabs her and drags her away to join the others.
Tommy finds himself back in the hospital as it was in 1918 on the night he was taken by Torchwood. A nurse finds him and demands to know what he’s doing in this part of the wing, but Tommy seems to be in shock and clutches the Rift Manipulator to his chest before running out of the room. Gerald and Harriet return to the ward and approach the earlier version of Tommy in his bed. Gerald asks him to go with them and tells him not to worry as they’ll look after him. Tommy is concerned and asks who they are, and Gerald explains that they’re Torchwood and they’re going to take him somewhere safe. As the three of them head for a door at the end of the ward, the other version of Tommy arrives, accompanied by the nurse. Gerald urges his version of Tommy to hurry and then looks at the other Tommy for a moment before leaving. Confused, the older version of Tommy removes his jacket and climbs back into bed. The nurse realises the bed is still warm and concludes that he hasn’t have been gone long.
Back at the Hub, the group are alarmed to find that the klaxons are still sounding, which means the time-shift hasn’t stopped. Tosh checks the equipment and calls up a map of the city. Several dots appear which then start spreading out from the vicinity of the hospital. Jack identifies them as chunks of the past erupting into the present. They seem to be everywhere, which means Tommy hasn’t used the Rift Manipulator. Tosh realises he must still be shell shocked so Jack says he’ll have to back to 1918. Owen knows this means he’ll get stuck in the past and he has a better idea…
Owen explains that the time-shifts are forcing the Rift open, but if they’re quick they can use it to their own advantage. They know Tommy’s exact location and moment in time, so they can send an image directly into his mind as a psychic projection and persuade him to use the key. Jack sits down and prepares to undergo the process, but Tosh suggests she would be a better choice as Tommy already trusts her. Everyone agrees and moments later Tosh is lying on the bed in the medical area with probes attached to various points on her head. Jack tells her she’ll only be visible to Tommy for a brief while, so she’ll only get one shot at this. Owen injects her and while he monitors her condition, she begins to slip into a trance…
…In the 1918 hospital, everyone is starting to panic and scream as the effects of the time-shift begin to be felt. The entire ward starts to shake and the lights flicker on and off. Tommy looks around, terrified, and then suddenly Tosh appears, sitting on the end of his bed. He doesn’t seem to recognise her, but she tells him she’s here to help. He still has the Rift Manipulator in his hands but he assumes it must belong to her. She tells him it’s a key and he has to use it. He tells her he’s scared and believes the reason he’s here in the hospital is because he’s a coward. She tells him that’s not true and that he’s fighting for the future…and for her. She calls him her brave, handsome hero and gently urges him to use the key. He activates the device and she thanks him, then he says goodbye and the image of Tosh disappears in a burst of light.
Tosh revives with a start and finds herself back in the medical area of the Hub, with her friends around her, concern etched on their faces. She reassures them that Tommy did what was asked of him. Later, Tosh sits alone as she packs away the civilian clothes they‘ve been keeping in storage for Tommy’s annual revival. Owen watches her sadly, but decides not to intervene. She puts on her coat and prepares to leave, but Jack calls to her and simply says ’thank you’.
Tosh returns to the Captain Scott Memorial Statue and looks out silently across Cardiff Bay, ignoring the rain and the cold. Owen joins her, but doesn’t say anything. Tosh tells him that Tommy trusted her, right to the end, and Owen says that’s because she was strong. He points to the beautiful landscape along the Bay and says that all of this is still here because of her. She adds that it’s because of Tommy too. She just hopes the human race is worth it. As she turns and walks away, her face is a mixture of grief and happy memories…