The House of the Dead was the third in the Torchwood: The Lost Files mini-series. It aired the week after Series 4 started airing on Starz. To date, it is the last radio drama of Torchwood to be broadcast.
This audio featured the conclusion of a significant conflict: the permanent closing of the Cardiff Space-Time Rift, which had been the main concern of Torchwood Three's operations for Series 1 and 2. Uniquely, such a major plot point would normally be reserved for televised closure, but considering the events of Miracle Day do not cite the Rift as active anymore, the matter can be considered resolved. It also marked the final chronological appearance of Ianto Jones, occurring six months after his death. Ianto was brought back to life, only to give it up again for the sake of his lover's survival. This gave Jack Harkness a chance to make peace with his partner, but the emotional weight of it would be the final push that led him to depart from Earth.
Publisher's summary Edit
The brewery have called "time" and it's the last night at The House of the Dead — the most haunted pub in Wales. Barry the barman has invited renowned psychic, Mrs Wintergreen, to hold a special seance to mark the occasion, and there's a big crowd hoping for the chance of seeing their deceased loved ones for one last time. But when Jack arrives on the scene, he's determined to stop them. Ianto is puzzled by Jack's behaviour, and Gwen is suspicious. Why is Jack acting so strangely? Then the ghosts start arriving — and all hell breaks loose.
A seance is being held at The House of the Dead pub in Wales, where people have gathered to witness their loved ones return to them. Ianto Jones is currently situated at the pub, waiting for Gwen Cooper to arrive. As Mrs Wintergreen conducts her seance, several objects of furniture are sent flying, and the words "JAC" are spelled out on a Ouija board, announcing the arrival of Captain Jack Harkness.
Jack warns the patrons at the pub to leave and for Wintergreen to stop the seance. They do not comply. He embraces Ianto with unusually strong feeling and they assess the situation at hand. A fuse goes out in the pub, prompting Barry the barman to go change it. Jack follows him with a flashlight and tries to reason with Barry to call off the contact with the ghosts, but Barry is too wistful to cut short the last night his haunted pub will ever enjoy business. Barry is upset by the thought that the pub is going to be torn down soon, and this may be their last chance to speak with loved ones they have lost. He has also kept the bar open in memory of his departed wife. Jack's insistence against the seance prompts Barry to ask for his torch; he then clubs Jack over the head with it. Ianto comes down to find Jack and helps him recover from the sneak attack. Jack informs Ianto that Syriath, an entity from the oldest universe of all, one before time itself, is waiting on the other side, just beneath the Cardiff Rift. The contact Wintergreen keeps making could allow her to cross over into the living world if she continues to reach out.
Jack and Ianto return to the upstairs floor of the pub to find Wintergreen and the visitors joining hands in a circle to contact the dead. Wintergreen mentions that Barry's wife Helen has joined them, as has the brother of a woman named Ness, Tony. She also asks Ianto Jones to come forward, saying his father has returned and has accused him of a betrayal, which upsets him greatly and causes both him and Jack to interrupt the seance by shaking Mrs Wintergreen out of her trance. Jack makes Wintergreen aware of the danger she is creating by reaching out to Syriath, but Wintergreen is actually pleased to know someone is granting them audience with their lost loved ones, wishing to speak to her.
Barry hopes to ease tensions by reopening the bar for the night. After noticing the coffee machine isn't working, he thinks that ones of his workers, Tim, has probably resigned without notice for the third time that week. He goes off to change the barrels in the wine cellar, but is disturbed by a series of crashing noises caused by shattering glass. He hears the voice of his dead wife Helen speaking to him, who admits she has accidentally knocked over the glasses due to her paranormal influence. Barry simply commits to cleaning them up later and comments she hasn't changed, while Helen remarks he has put on weight, which looks good on him. He embraces her to find that she is cold to the touch, a side effect of her lifeless state. They kiss and she asks him to have a drink for old times' sake, although Barry stopped drinking following Helen's passing. Helen says that she is hungry after being dead for so long. At this moment, it is revealed Helen is not who she appears to be and a cacophony of shattering glasses fills the room, while Barry screams in terror.
Moments after Barry leaves for the cellar, Ianto hears the voice of his father and seizes up with shock. The voice tells him to go upstairs, where he finds the man in corporeal form waiting for him. He gives his son a few compliments on his suit, but in earnest, he is rather unhappy at Ianto for not calling him during the three weeks he had eagerly awaited at least one call as he was dying in the hospital. This causes guilt to rise out of Ianto and he is put on the verge of tears. His father continues on and tries to make Ianto convince Jack to turn around and leave so he and Ianto's mother, along with their lost friends can return. After having a spat with his father, the man vanishes. Jack comes upstairs to find Ianto crying, who he then hugs and comforts. Meanwhile, Ness seeks out the presence of her brother Tony, and soon falls victim to the same innocent facade that got Barry devoured.
Against the wishes of Jack and Ianto, Wintergreen carries out her seance and contacts Syriath. The sounds of a crying baby become audible. Wintergreen's enthusiasm toward the return of her baby convinces her to let Syriath come forth, who then instantly turns against her and possesses the psychic. Syriath reveals to the patrons that someone in the House of the Dead means everyone great harm. She accuses Jack of wanting to kill everyone in the bar. As the patrons approach him aggressively, he orders them back and pulls a box out of his greatcoat, then demands every patron must leave. The group exits the pub, leaving only Wintergreen, Jack and Ianto. Gwen asks Ianto if Jack has gone mad, informing him he should not trust the man. Syriath retreats for the moment and lets go of Wintergreen. She tells the men Syriath is reconnecting her to a child she lost after a complicated birth and must go to him. Wintergreen begins singing a lullaby of "You are my Sunshine" to her son and loses herself to the dead world.
Jack tosses the box to Ianto, who was led by Gwen to think it was a bomb. Though Ianto panics, Jack calmly tells him to open it. It is just a box of pebbles and coal. However, it does contain a small detonator. Jack intends to stir up a cloud of dust, but it will be laced with rift energy. All the stones of Wales have been embedded with the power of the Cardiff Rift, something the Cardiff council discounts as radon deposits. The explosion will set off a reaction only effective between the crossing of two worlds. When Syriath attempts to escape the rift by pulling in the pub, Jack will detonate the stones and close the Cardiff Rift- forever. Ianto's father returns before Jack and his son. Jack compliments his partner in loving manner, as does his father. Despite the warm comments, Ianto's father once again makes demands not to prevent Syriath's exodus, because it would mean that he, his wife, nor Owen, Tosh, or any other loved ones they've lost will be allowed to return to the living world. When these ultimatums do not faze Jack, Ianto's dad proclaims that Syriath will win, and Jack knew he would find Ianto waiting for him at the pub. He concludes his arguing with a final, stinging point: would he allow Ianto, someone who once died, to die again? He gives up and parts ways with them, saying goodbye to his son.
After hearing this ominous revelation, Ianto defensively asks Jack what his father meant. Jack reluctantly explains to him that he is not living, as he would think he is. Ianto died six months ago in his arms. Ianto turns troubled and hurt by the things he has learned, asking if he had a funeral, if he was allowed to rest in peace, and if his death was Jack's fault. Jack reminds him they both died after they were exposed to an alien virus released by the 456 ambassador. Ianto starts to think Jack is making light of his death and grows impassive toward the man he once cared about. Jack defends himself by saying he only wanted to see Ianto one more time. He expected Syriath to create at least a reflection of who Ianto was, but she outright recreated him by using his own feelings for Ianto to make him real. It has become impossible to even look at him, which makes Ianto tearful, now convinced this ordeal was never about him, but only Jack. He also convicts Jack of going to see him just to get a few nice words and gratefulness. Jack regrets that he is forced to outlive anyone he meets and endears, but regardless, he works so hard to remember them and never forget who they were. He also recounts that he came back to life knowing the world is empty. Every time he dies, he wakes up alone. Ianto tells Jack he didn't ask to come back; Jack answers that neither did he. However, Ianto is too disheartened to sympathise with Jack. He never thought the last thing he would say to him would be this, but it is not to see him again.
Finally sick of dealing with the pain, Jack decides to attempt a final death that will seal his fate. When Syriath exits the rift, he will trip the detonator and take her with him. Ianto knows Jack cannot die, but Jack has decided on the next best thing- eternal oblivion, lost between worlds forever, and it couldn't be a better way to go. Jack thinks there is nothing left to see in the living world now that he's witnessed the return of Ianto. Ianto, surprised to see Jack reacting with such compassion toward him, tells Jack they can just go, follow his dad's words and leave, leaving Syriath as someone's else's problem. Perhaps Ianto will not vanish, but survive in the real world after they cross the threshold of the pub. The two decide to leave the House of the Dead and run. Jack leaves the House of the Dead and looks back to see Ianto remaining within - it was a trick to get him to leave. So Syriath may never torment the universe, Ianto has chosen to stay behind and blow up the Rift, a final death in lieu of Jack's endless purgatory. Although Jack pleads with him anew not to die, Ianto declares he has to go. Jack fully and properly tells Ianto something he never got to say. He sweetly tells his partner, "Ianto Jones, I love you." Ianto reciprocates his statement, "And I love you too, Jack." He affixes his attention to the Rift as Jack stands from afar. "Right, then. Best get a move on. Goodbye, Jack!" Ianto sets off the detonator, taking out Syriath, the entire Cardiff Rift, and himself in the blast.
With the pub now erased from the real world, the sounds of the explosion wane. A woman approaches Jack in the night, looking for the House of the Dead. Jack bitterly tells her the pub is closed. "You missed the ghosts. The House of the Dead is gone." He scowls away and leaves the bewildered woman to ponder why the pub is still on her sat-nav, thinking it has to be nearby. Jack departs from Cardiff. He utters two words reverently: "Goodbye, Ianto."
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Ianto Jones - Gareth David-Lloyd
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Mrs Wintergreen - Rosalind Ayres
- Barry - Bradley Freegard
- Mr Jones/Tony - John Francis Harries
- Helen - Lucy Davis
- Ness - Moira Quirk
- Late Arrival - Shelley Rees
- Jack says "In These Stones Horizons Sing" when talking about the rocks in South Wales. This is what is written on the Wales Millennium Centre in English.
- Jack also says, all of Wales has become a "giant battery of Rift energy" because of its proximity to the Cardiff Rift. Cardiff council believes the Rift energy is a deposit of radon.
- Mr Jones contracted a fatal condition and was bed-ridden in a hospital for months. He died expecting a phone call from his son that never came, because Ianto knew it would cause him great pain to say a final goodbye to his father.
- The House of the Dead is a pub built in the 15th century on ley lines, inside an old stone circle, on top of a crack in the Cardiff Space-Time Rift.
- Ianto's father says that the others who have died that Ianto care about would return, including his mother.
- Although promoted, along with the other two Lost Files stories as taking place prior to Children of Earth, the story actually takes place between the mini-series and Miracle Day.
- Gwen Cooper does not appear in audio, though Eve Myles does portray the character's voice for the story; instead it is Syriath impersonating her voice to Ianto. This is justified, given the fact that this audio occurs six months after the events of Children of Earth, and Gwen was now in her second trimester of pregnancy. She would not be able to participate in Torchwood affairs, as it held the potential to threaten her baby's well-being.
- Jack is seen wearing the right-handed resurrection gauntlet on the promotional cover for this story, but both gauntlets were previously destroyed by Torchwood. This one was shot to pieces by Toshiko Sato to stop Suzie Costello from reviving in They Keep Killing Suzie. Likewise, Gwen Cooper does not actually appear in this story; Syriath poses as her voice. The use of the gauntlet prop in the photograph could be a framing device associated with the theme of the dead coming back to life.
- The music that plays as Jack recounts Ianto's death to him is a more solemn variation of Murray Gold's "Death Of Toshiko" track that plays when she passes on in Exit Wounds.
- Jack says Ianto died 6 months ago, placing this during March 2010, just before Jack leaves Earth. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Four, Children of Earth: Day Five)
- Ianto asks if he got a funeral. He is given a proper burial in COMIC: Shrouded.
- Ianto's father says that the others who have died that Ianto and Jack care about would return, including Owen, Toshiko, and Lisa. (TV: Cyberwoman, Exit Wounds, AUDIO: Lost Souls, TV: Children of Earth: Day One, Children of Earth: Day Five)
- The Cardiff Rift is sealed forever, thus concluding one of the major concerns for Torchwood Three's operations. Without the increased presence of alien activity in Wales as a result of its closing, Torchwood Three loses its biggest premise to remain active. This contributes to Jack's reasons to disband the branch. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Five)
Download and CD release Edit
- The story is also available as a download from the AudioGo website.