By DJ Forrest
Once upon a time, as most fairy tales go, in a kingdom, far far away, lived a king and queen who celebrated the christening of their only born daughter. Seven fairies were invited to become godmothers, to the young princess. With them they brought a golden casket that contained jewelled items. An 8th fairy who had been overlooked, as many had thought her old or dead, came without physical gifts but gave a gift of an enchantment; that the princess would prick her finger on a spindle and die.
So the king and queen of the castle forbade the use of spinning wheels in the kingdom and one of the good fairies who hadn’t yet given a gift, cast a counter spell to break the curse from the bad fairy but instead of the curse killing the princess, it would put the young girl to sleep for 100 years, the spell only broken by a kiss from the son of a king.
While the king and queen were away for the day, the princess roamed the castle and discovered up in the tower an old woman spinning wool on a spindle. The princess keen to try this too was shown what to do by the old woman, but as with all things inevitable in fairy tales, the princess pricks her finger and the curse is fulfilled. She falls into a deep unbreakable sleep.
On returning from their trip, the king and queen are inconsolable and all attempts to break the spell fail. They accept that it was fate and carry the princess to the finest room in the palace and place her upon a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric.
The good fairy is summoned to the castle and with the foresight to realise that the princess will be distressed when she awakes to find herself alone, puts everyone in the castle to sleep. She then summons a forest of thorns and brambles to protect the castle, shielding it against the outside world for 100 years.
100 years later and a young prince spies the castle while on a hunting expedition, and breaking through the strong thorns and brambles finds the beautiful sleeping princess and kisses her. She wakes up, breaking the spell, this in turn awakens the castle and the prince and princess marry and they all live happily ever after...or in the Disney version, does battle with the evil fairy who transforms into a fierce dragon, which the prince defeats and returns to kiss the princess, breaking the spell, restoring life in the kingdom...
Sleeping Beauty Torchwood Style
Once upon a time in a kingdom known as Torchwood there lived five guardians of the realm who guarded the thing known as the Rift. However, one such day, when all was calm, two of the guardians were caught up in a time shift and lived for the best part of 24 hours in 1941. Armed with the rift equations on her laptop, Toshiko was able to send her copy to the team in present day, unfortunately, an evil demon worshipper known as Bilis Manger thwarted her plans by deleting the last part of her equations, thus keeping them in the past. But young Owen the Brave took a risk and entered the Ritz Dance hall where he retrieved the Rift Key that was in some way aiding Bilis, and brought back the two guardians.
Alas, bringing back Jack and Toshiko by using the Rift Manipulator came at a cost, and head Guardian, Jack Harkness knew that only too well. Berating young Owen the Brave who defended his right to bring back his captain and realm protector Toshiko Sato, pushed the Captain too far and Owen was cast out of the kingdom, never to return. Stung by his Captain he sought solace in alcohol and saw a vision of his lost love Diane Holmes, but not before seeing the damage his use of the Rift Manipulator had caused. The Black Death was in Cardiff A&E and more and more cases of the 14th century would keep dropping through time until something was done to fix it. Unfortunately, the Head Guardian of the Rift Jack Harkness, had no quick fix it cures. All he could do was monitor the situation and lock all the new cases in the vaults beneath the kingdom.
The Evil Demon worshipper Bilis Manger knew he could force the Guardians of the Rift to mutiny against their own leader and open the Rift, which he convinced them would be for the greater good. When Gwen, Guardian of the Realm, saw a vision of her future she knew she had to act. And by bringing Rhys into the kingdom for safety, she knew she was protecting him. Alas, when the castle defences were breached and Rhys was able to wander the castle known as the Vaults, he happened upon the evil demon worshipper, who thrust the knife deep into his stomach twice, killing him, as the vision had foretold.
Gwen upon finding her boyfriend lying on the ground in an eternal sleep was inconsolable. As the guardians stood around the body on the silver table in the morgue, Gwen was unable to accept that there was nothing they could do to bring Rhys back, no magic device that would awaken her boyfriend from his eternal sleep. Until Owen the brave returned and told head guardian he was opening the rift and bringing back all they had lost.
Defying the Head Guardian of the Rift, the Guardians joined forces and opened the Rift, to reset everything back to normal, just as Bilis had foretold. But Bilis failed to mention that by opening the Rift, they unleashed the beast held captive beneath it, chained for 1000 years.
And as the giant beast stormed across the kingdom, Jack Harkness with the aid of Gwen Cooper mounted the iron steed and rode out of the kingdom, drawing the beast away from the city.
Jack sacrificed himself to save the kingdom and defeated the beast, sending it back to Hell.
Jack was taken back to the kingdom and laid to rest on a silver table. He was watched over by the guardians who mourned his loss. Despite Gwen giving assurances to them that Jack was only sleeping, that he would wake up, the guardians prepared to rebuild the kingdom and pack away their leaders belongings. Gwen looked down upon Jack, her friend and protector of the Rift and kissed him goodbye.
He awoke from his deepest sleep, and the kingdom rejoiced.
In many ways ‘End of Days’ is like Sleeping Beauty. You have the Good Fairies, who are the Guardians of the Rift – Jack, Ianto, Gwen, Owen and Toshiko.
You have the Evil Fairy – Bilis Manger, who like the previous evil fairy was dark and evil and villainous.
You have the Dragon which in the story of Sleeping Beauty was the evil fairy’s alter ego, but in this case was Abadon, the Great Devourer, causing as much chaos and mayhem as that of the black dragon in the fairy tale.
There are several role reversals however.
Rhys for instance plays the part of the young princess, who if you remember in the story was protected from pricking her finger, by having all the spindles removed from the castle – aside from the one belonging to that old woman up in the tower who didn’t get the memo. Gwen after seeing the vision of what was going to happen in the flat, removed Rhys from the danger zone and brought him to the Hub, the cells in fact. Only, it wasn’t safe there either, and like the princess pricking her finger, and falling into a deep sleep, Rhys was able to wander the quiet ‘castle’ only to discover the evil old man with the occult knife.
Now Jack plays two parts in this next piece. First off he’s the Prince on his steed – or aboard the SUV (still horsepower) he does battle with the black dragon, or in this case the big bad Abadon! Abadon can’t handle the life that Jack has to offer and is soon defeated. But Jack has lost a lot of energy too and this sacrifice has ultimately killed him, as far as the team are concerned. So here we have the second part Jack plays.
In the story the princess is carried to the finest part of the castle and laid to rest on a bed of gold and silver. Theoretically, Jack is too, given his condition, he’s placed in the best room for a corpse, the morgue, and on a bed of silver, well stainless steel. This is also the same for Rhys who was also laid to rest in the mortuary, where all the guardians looked down on him, as in the story of Sleeping Beauty. Both men were sleeping an eternal sleep.
The story alters again here as where the sleeping princess is joined in sleep by the rest of the kingdom, Jack is kept company by the team, who finally dwindle down to Gwen, who refuses to believe he’s dead, especially after Jack’s confession that he couldn’t die – ever. Gwen finally has to accept that Jack is really gone.
Gwen plays the role of the Prince who in the story kisses the Princess, bringing her back to life. Gwen kisses Jack!
The kingdom is restored in the story; the dragon has been defeated which also defeats the evil fairy. Abadon in our story has been defeated, but Bilis has disappeared. The team are back, and the Hub is cleaned up, Rhys is back in the flat to finish off cleaning his oven, and Jack is alive and well, but isn’t around for long...but that’s another story!
©BBC Torchwood 2006