The final episode of Torchwood: The Sins of Captain John introduces us to the Vargosh family – one of the most selfish, greedy and amoral families in the galaxy. Naturally, Captain John is going to fit in rather well…
Darker Purposes brings the whole of the Torchwood box set The Sins of Captain John to a close. The series kicked off with Captain John Hart being sent on a mission: to find a pair of Resurrection Gauntlets and bring them to the Vargosh family. After finding the gloves in The Restored and running into some trouble in both Escape from Nebazz and Peach Blossom Heights, John finally completes his job and meets the Vargosh family at last.
To say that they’re not exactly a pleasant family is putting it mildly. Both Ilsa and Darius are extremely greedy sociopaths who don’t have a problem with resorting to blackmail or even murder to get everything they want. Even John is continually shocked by their actions in this one, and considering how much he revels in being a sociopath, that’s quite impressive.
Darker Purposes begins as a story of greed before escalating rapidly, both due to the use of the gauntlets as well as someone as amoral as Captain John simply being there. Naturally, for the final episode of The Sins of Captain John, we get an episode of murder and mayhem. But does it wrap up the box set well?
More from Doctor Who Watch
- Doctor Who review: Stranded 1 begins a completely fresh era for the Eighth Doctor
- Doctor Who review: Robophobia is a strong sequel to a much-loved classic
- Doctor Who review: The Paternoster Gang: Whatever Remains is a great tribute to Sherlock Holmes
- Doctor Who: The Best of Days is a beautiful final scene from Steven Moffat
- Doctor Who review: Dead Woman Walking is a standard but decent Seven and Ace story
A decent finale?
Darker Purposes isn’t a bad story. In fact, it’s rather enjoyable. Like Captain John, the Vargosh family are so gloriously fun to listen to because they’re so terrible, rather than in spite of it. Despite telling a story of betrayal, murder and horror, writer David Llewellyn still manages to keep the tone rather light, overall.
Both Rosie Baker and Rick Yale are fantastic as both Ilsa and Darius Vargosh. They each play them just right: a daughter and son so openly terrible that you can’t wait to find out what they’ll get up to next.
So Darker Purposes is an enjoyable listen on its own terms. But, for an episode that’s designed to wrap up the whole box set, it almost feels a little low-key. Especially when it comes to the gloves. While they are featured and do play a key role in the story, it perhaps would’ve been nice for them to have played a larger role, considering they had been focused on so much throughout this whole box set.
As a fun excuse for Captain John to commit some terrible deeds, Darker Purposes is not a bad story. But for an episode designed to wrap up a four-hour romp across time and space, I can’t help but feel it could have been just a little more.
What terrible or amoral characters from Torchwood or Doctor Who do you love to watch or listen to? Do you think Captain John should return? If so, what should he get up to next? Let us know in the comments below.