“END OF DAYS” – Series 1, Episode 13, Story 13 – Written by Chris Chibnall; Directed by Ashley Way – Thanks to Owen, it’s the end of the world. The Rift is open and spilling out and a giant monster who’s so old he’s in black and white pops out to kill everyone. Awesome. Thanks, date rapist.
Honestly, there’s not a lot to say about END OF DAYS, a show that succeeds emotionally more than narratively but at least sends a rather lukewarm season out on something close to resembling a bang.
The basic plot sees the Rift spilling out energy and causing people from the past walk into the present. Taking a cue from much of what it did wrong during the season, writer/producer Chris Chibnall delivers an episode that keeps moving, if nothing else. Seeing a Roman guard get put in jail and the outbreak of the Black Death is pretty enjoyable, and these scenes work more for the characters than the plot. Seeing Gwen chatting with her partner from her previous life as a cop and realizing how far she’s come is a much more rewarding use of screen time than a Roman soldier shouting. Likewise, seeing Owen take charge at the hospital where the Black Death has broken out does a far better job of showing his inner turmoil than anything else he’s done all season.
I like how this episode builds on the previous story where Owen opened the Rift to save Jack and Tosh from being trapped in time; Owen is all, “I’m a hero!” and Jack is all, “This is all your fault!” so Jack fires him in a decision no one else seems to like.
The team is being tempted by Bilis, the creepy old dude from last episode, into opening the rift by showing them dead or missing people (Gwen’s boyfriend, Tosh’s mom, Ianto’s girlfriend pre-Cyberwoman, Diane), and Gwen ends up dragging Rhys into the Hub and locking him away in order to keep him safe. But, of course, it doesn’t work and he ends up dead, and now she’s bound and determined to open the Rift in an attempt to bring Rhys back to life.
Jack steadfastly refuses, but the team finally unites in ganging up on him and does it anyway after Owen shoots Jack “dead,” even if it might mean the end of the world. Which it does, because Bilis wanted the Rift open to free Abaddon, who looks kinda like a black-and-white version of The Beast from THE SATAN PIT, but he’s around for about two minutes before Jack sacrifices himself to stop him.
But hey, at least Rhys is back thanks to you hitting that big cosmic reset button, right, Gwen? You know Rhys’ returns means tons and tons to Gwen because even though she just threatened the world to get Rhys back, Gwen won’t leave the really-really-really-really-no-not-really dead Jack’s side and won’t let anyone lock him into the morgue. So she waits and waits and waits until the episode is almost over and he gets better. Then everyone hugs everyone – yes, even Jack and Owen hug which means Owen isn’t fired anymore. Honest, it’s in the rulebook somewhere – if you get fired, shoot your boss, and then he comes back to life, saves the world, dies again, comes back to life again after a women you’ve slept with waits by his side AND he gives you a hug, you totally get your job back. The episode ends with the heard-but-not-seen arrival of the TARDIS and Jack takes off with the unseen, unheard Doctor to save the universe.
It’s not a great episode, but it’ll keep you entertained. Lots of running and shouting and shooting and quick scenes give END OF DAYS a sense of momentum that might make you shake your head when it’s over, but should keep you entertained enough when you’re watching it live. Even if it’s messy, there looks to be a plan here, and you couldn’t say that for most of season 1.