Tommy Brockless, a young World War I soldier, shell-shocked from his experiences in the trenches, is the key to saving the world. He is taken into custody by Torchwood in 1918 - Torchwood having been told to do so by his future self - and held in cryonic storage until the time comes for him to save the world. He is awoken one day each year for a medical check-up and a "day out" as a precautionary measure in case he is needed.
A time shift is set to cause 1918 and the present to bleed together at an unspecified time, and when this happens it is Tommy who will be "stitching" the fragments of 1918 back to their rightful place in time.
It is 2008 when this eventually happens and fragments of 1918 are appearing in an old abandoned hospital. Before the team realise that this is the year it will happen, Toshiko becomes unavoidably infatuated with Tommy, and the two share a brief romance on Penarth Pier - built in 1894, the same year that Tommy was born. Owen, noticing the closeness between them and having experienced something similar (cf. "Out of Time"), warns Tosh about the eventuality of saying goodbye.
When Tommy is told what he must do - actions that will result in him not seeing Toshiko again - Tommy initially refuses to take part. However, with encouragement from Toshiko, he begins to see the bigger picture and agrees. Toshiko is reluctant to do this, as Jack explains that Tommy is destined to be court martialled and shot for cowardice upon being sent back to the trenches. Jack eventually persuades her that it is for the greater good and she relents. During a brief time shift, Tommy tells Torchwood employees from that era that they must take him into custody. Then, with the next time shift, after a tearful goodbye, Tommy goes back to his own time. However, in his own time he reverts back to being shell-shocked and forgets all about Torchwood and why he has the Rift Key therefore the time shift still continues. As the time shifts are forcing the rift open Toshiko is able to be psychically transmitted into Tommy's mind in the past and encourages him to the use the key. Tommy turns the key in his Rift manipulator device, dragging all of 1918 back with him.
John Barrowman – Captain Jack Harkness
Eve Myles – Gwen Cooper
Burn Gorman – Owen Harper
Naoko Mori – Toshiko Sato
Gareth David-Lloyd – Ianto Jones
Anthony Lewis – Tommy Brockless
Roderic Culver – Gerald Carter
Siobhan Hewlett – Harriet Derbyshire
Lizzie Rogan – Nurse
Ricky Fearon – Foreman
Writer Helen Raynor
Director Andy Goddard
Script editor Brian Minchin
Producer Richard Stokes
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
Executive producer(s) Russell T. Davies
Production code 2.3
Series Series 2
Length 50 mins
Originally broadcast 30 January 2008