Exit Wounds was the thirteenth and final episode in the second series of Torchwood. It saw the conclusion of the “Gray story arc” with the return of Captain John Hart and the first in-person appearance of Jack Harkness’s brother Gray. It was the last Torchwood story to date in the original thirteen-episode format.
In a grievous twist, it witnessed the deaths of two Torchwood Three members in one setting- Owen Harper and Toshiko Sato, with both characters resolving their romantic desires toward one another in their final moments. For Owen, it would be his second death, this time facing a permanent demise. In Tosh’s case, she revealed what led to her involvement in the events of the Doctor Who episode Aliens of London.
The companion Declassified for the Series 2 finale, Avulsion, which explained that the driving force behind making this episode was to reaffirm the dangers of working with Torchwood and how nobody survived beyond a fairly young age because they were essentially living on borrowed time.
Toshiko detects rift activity in three locations across Cardiff. She and Ianto go the Central IT Server Building, where three Cowled Men with scythes approach menacingly. The agents shoot them as they get closer.
Meanwhile, Owen sedates a Hoix in a hospital with a packet of cigarettes and a special mixture. Finally, Rhys drops Gwen off at the police HQ, where Weevils have killed “the four most senior officers”, causing panic.
Captain Jack goes to the Hub to face John Hart, who says he loves Jack and shoots him with two machine guns. When Jack returns to life, he is chained over the ground. John is angry because he was very rude to him in front of people “that hardly knew me”. After an electric shock to silence him, John tells Jack he hopes he can stop him, he really does. As the rift manipulator is activated, John tells the Torchwood gang to go to the roofs of their buildings.
They make their ways to the top of the central server building, the hospital and the police HQ. Gwen, Andy, Rhys, Toshiko, Owen and Ianto look on as John, from atop Cardiff castle, detonates explosives in fifteen key locations that cripple the city. He whisks Jack back in time to meet Gray. It turns out Gray is in control, threatening John into action. Gwen takes charge of the team and the police. She makes her way to the Hub, where she finds John has returned to help the team after being forced to bury Jack alive in Cardiff in 27 AD. Gray activates a signal and Weevils flood the streets of Cardiff. This stops Toshiko and Ianto from reaching the nuclear power station to halt a meltdown.
Owen goes to the nuclear facility, reminding his teammates that he’s king of the Weevils. The others are attacked by Weevils at the Hub, but subdue them, only to be locked into cells by Gray.
Owen, at the nuclear facility, tells Nira Docherty, a scientist who is trying to contain prevent a meltdown, to leave. She refuses for a few moments, claiming a soldier never leaves their post, before Owen reveals his layman’s knowledge about the nuclear station is adequate. Although Nira thinks it sounds more dangerous outside, Owen figures it’s about even with the situation at the plant and gives her a can of Weevil spray, sending her on her way, thanked by Nira in return. Owen waits for instruction from Toshiko, admitting to her, “Tosh, you’re going to have to help me out here. I haven’t got a bloody clue what I’m doing.” Tosh tells Owen her plan to divert a secondary power source for Turnmill that will restore its power, and if it works, she can guide him into restoring the coolant system.
However, while her attention is focused on using a remote control device, a gunshot rings out and Toshiko stumbles backward, before noticing a huge amount of blood oozing from her wounded stomach. She glances up to see she has been mortally shot by Gray, who stares back at her with cold hatred, before toppling over in horrific pain. Gray kicks away her device and mocks her, seeing death as more of a relief and asking her how it feels to be dying, declaring the battle to be over. A knocking interrupts his taunting and he heads for the morgue.
In agony, Tosh makes her way down the steps to the autopsy room, gets her device back, and injects herself with a powerful pain-killer. She denies that she’s hurt when Owen asks and helps him to flood the room he’s in with coolant, halting the meltdown.
As this is happening, Gray discovers Jack in a cryo-chamber in the morgue, placed there by Torchwood in 1901 on his own request. He tells Gray he forgives him. Gray refuses to give him absolution, so Jack uses chloroform to put him to sleep. He frees the others from the cells and they head back to the main area.
However, an unexpected power surge alerts Tosh that there is going to be an emergency lockdown once it hits, which will seal Owen in the station. Owen sees the doors closing and makes a run for the exit, but fails to make it out in time, leaving him to face his death all over again. Banging on the door, he shouts to Tosh that he cannot get out. Knowing what’s about to happen, he begins shouting angrily about not wanting to die like this, let alone for the second time. When he figures out Tosh can’t help him, he starts panicking for the rest of his teammates to come rescue him. Once he realizes it’s hopeless, he dissolves into a screaming rage.
Toshiko, dying, asks Owen to calm down. He demands a reason. Tosh tearfully replies, “Because you’re breaking my heart”, and he is quiet. The two talk as they prepare to die, Owen unaware of Tosh’s wounds. Owen asks what will happen to him, and though Tosh resists explaining at first, Owen begs her to say it because he needs to know. Tosh replies that the room where Owen is locked inside is a containment chamber which will flood with irradiated coolant. Owen concludes his body is going to slowly decompose as he watches. Tosh regrets being unable to stop the power spike, but Owen responds there was no way she could have known about it and thanks Tosh for saving his back so many times before in the past. He remembers back when Tosh had to fill in for him on his second week at Torchwood by pretending to be a doctor when investigating a Space Pig because he had a hangover, and the two laugh wearily.
Owen realizes they never had their date together and apologizes because they “sort, er, missed each other”, and for not noticing Tosh’s love for him until it was too late, reciprocating it back to her. The coolant venting process activates, and Owen lets Tosh know it is starting. Tearing up, Toshiko starts to grieve for Owen, but Owen lets her know it’s okay. Coolant pours into the room where Owen is trapped and he accepts his fate. Owen tells Tosh it will be all right. He calmly stands up and prepares to die. The room is engulfed with a bright flash, and Owen disappears. The last thing he can be heard saying is, “Oh, God.”
Toshiko bleeds to death as she watches the screen show Owen’s fading signature. Jack and the others arrive. He notices the puddles of blood leading down the steps of the autopsy room and sprints to Toshiko, cradling her. Ianto mentions the nuclear plant, worried about Owen, before Tosh tearfully tells her team what happened and she couldn’t save him. Gwen gives her another dose of pain-killer and tries to soothe her, but Toshiko dies in Jack’s arms with Gwen at her side. She looks in Jack’s eyes and smiles at him one last time before her life fades and her face goes slack. Gwen and Jack cry helplessly for their deceased teammate. Ianto leans himself against an autopsy cart, trying to maintain his composure, while John looks at them all solemnly.
The following morning, a news broadcast airs in Cardiff about its efforts to recover from the attacks during the previous night. Rhys holds Gwen beside him, who is filled with misery. Back at the Hub, Jack prepares to cryo-freeze Gray, though John is quick to warn him that if Jack woke him up in 100 years, he will not have grown any better from his tortured state of mind. Aware of this, John suggests killing Gray could be the release he needs. Jack refuses to entertain the thought, believing too much death has occurred. John comforts Jack by saying it wasn’t his fault. He also questions him for not putting up a fight when he was being buried alive. He tells John it was his penance, answering his curiosity. John reverently bids farewell to Jack with a hug and kiss, then consoles him for his recent losses.
Jack and Gwen gather Owen and Toshiko’s personal belongings for archiving. When Jack collects Owen’s lab coat adorned with colorful pin-back buttons, and Gwen bags up Tosh’s raspberry-colored glasses, the pain of coming to terms with their deaths resurfaces and they become tearful all over again. Meanwhile, Ianto reluctantly begins Owen and Toshiko’s respective final logouts, soon joined by Gwen and Jack. Upon finishing Toshiko’s, a video appears in which she thanks Jack, admits her love for Owen and hopes she didn’t die for nothing. It evokes a few smiles from the group, despite the great sadness they feel over her death.
When Toshiko’s farewell message closes, Jack lets his grief subside and resolves that the team has to carry on. Taking the losses of Owen and Tosh very hard, Gwen is unsure if she can continue, but Jack tells his last two comrades that they’ll start from the end. He embraces her and Ianto in a hug. Torchwood Three has lost two of its most beloved members, but they will never be forgotten by their comrades.