"Fragments" is the twelfth and penultimate episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was broadcast by BBC Three on 21 March 2008.
After the team gets signs of an unidentified life form, they (apart from Gwen, who is running late) go to investigate. Searching an abandoned building, the team discover they've been trapped and the building explodes. The explosion causes the team to be trapped in various places; unable to contact each other. Gwen and Rhys arrive (Rhys having given Gwen a lift), and as they dig everyone out, the team's lives flash before their eyes revealing how Jack, Ianto, Owen, and Toshiko got recruited to Torchwood.
In the Victorian era, Jack is picked up by two women - Alice Guppy and Emily Holroyd - who have noticed his immortality and his numerous references in public to the Doctor. They examine him, which includes attempting to kill him. Jack recognizes that the technology being used during the interrogation is more advanced than Earth technology of the time. They identify themselves as being Torchwood members and offer Jack a job. Jack initially declines the offer after learning that they view the Doctor as a threat. He agrees to the assignment after being told that if he doesn't cooperate he will be treated as a threat himself. He takes an assignment, which is to capture an alien. While they have the alien in a small cell, one of the officers pulls out a gun and shoots the alien in the head without warning. Jack disagrees with this policy and refuses the next assignment they try to give him. Jack goes to a bar, where a young female fortuneteller comes to his table and offers to read his cards. After ignoring his refusal, she tells Jack that he will meet the Doctor again...but not for another century. Needing something to do with himself until then, he returns to Torchwood and opts to join as an employee.
Still working for Torchwood in 1999, Jack returns to the Hub from trying to stop the Millennium Bug (which he claims 'has 18 legs and a poisonous stinger') to discover that Alex, the present team leader, has murdered the rest of the team out of fear of the future. He has in his hand some locket, and claims to have seen the future and killed the rest of the team as an act of mercy (he apologises to Jack that he can't do the same for him). Based on the vision from the locket, Alex states that the next century is when everything changes and that Torchwood isn't ready for it. He then commits suicide, leaving Torchwood to Jack as a "reward for a century of service." With the rest of the team dead, Jack needs a new team.
Toshiko's story takes place five years earlier when she was working for the Ministry of Defence. After her boss leaves one night, she breaks into the security room where she obtains secret files for a Sonic Modulator. Tosh begins constructing a basic version of the Modulator, and once complete, takes it to an unknown location. She gives it to a woman, one of her mother's captors, in trade for her mother's release; but in seeing Tosh's potential, they decide to have her work for them. Tosh refuses, and so the captors set off the Sonic Modulator, sending an ear-piercing sound around the room and bringing Tosh and her mother to the floor, as their blood vessels begin to pulse violently. At that point, however, UNIT soldiers break in and arrest them all. Tosh is locked in an empty cell and told that she now has no rights. She is denied communication with anyone, and will not receive any information concerning her mother.
After living in solitary confinement for some time, she is visited by Jack. Jack states that she'll be imprisoned indefinitely unless she agrees to work for him. He recognised the high amount of talent Toshiko had after coming across the Sonic Modulator and realising that the plans she was working from were wrong, meaning Tosh had virtually made it herself. Toshiko agrees to Jack's offer of five years work and is released from prison.
Ianto first encounters Jack by helping him fight a Weevil 21 months earlier. Ianto asks for a job, but is rejected by Jack after Ianto was found to have worked for Torchwood London. The next morning, Ianto gives Jack coffee as he exits the Hub. Jack recalls knowledge about Ianto, stating that he researched him after he was able to identify a Weevil. Ianto again asks for a job, as his old job was lost when Torchwood One was destroyed, but Jack states that he had severed all ties with Torchwood One and refuses. That night, Ianto steps in front of the SUV, and once more asks for a job. After Jack threatens to run him down, Ianto explains he is pursuing a pterodactyl. After a long battle (in which Jack implies he survived Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event), the two manage to sedate the creature. Finding themselves pressed together on the ground, they experience a moment of sexual tension, before Ianto excuses himself. Jack tells Ianto that he expects to see him at work the following morning.
Owen's flashback shows him working as a regular doctor and planning a marriage four years previously. His fiancée, Katie, who exhibits signs of Alzheimer's, is discovered to have a brain tumour and is admitted for an operation. Jack enters, apologising to Owen. Jack enters the operating room with Owen following to discover all the hospital staff inside dead. Jack says that an alien parasite was residing in Katie's brain and emitted a toxic nerve gas when threatened, which has killed her and the operating surgeons. Jack attempts to take the brain, but Owen protests and Jack chloroforms him. Owen wakes up in hospital, but because Jack has erased all evidence of himself, Owen has no proof of ever encountering him. After concluding that Owen is suffering from grief, the doctors prescribe him three months' rest. At Katie's grave, Owen finds and confronts Jack, realising he wasn't imagining things. Seeing Owen's potential and love for his job, Jack convinces him to join Torchwood as their medic.
The team escape the building to discover the SUV is missing. Jack receives a holographic message, as pictured, from Captain John Hart, who reveals that he had placed the bombs and shows Jack an image of his brother Gray. He then vows to tear Jack's world apart, so Jack will spend time with him.The Little Girl reappears in this episode. She was last seen in the episode "Dead Man Walking". She tells Jack that the Doctor is coming, but "the century will turn twice" before that time. Jack's reunion with the Doctor occurs at the end of "End of Days" & the start of "Utopia".
Toshiko's mother, as played by Noriko Aida, reappears in this episode, having last been seen in "End of Days".
Toshiko's "sonic modulator" device based on stolen design plans bears superficial similarities to the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, and its ear-splitting effect is similar to that produced by holding together two similar sonic devices in Doctor Who's 2008 episode "Partners in Crime", airing just over two weeks later.
This is the first time the Doctor has been explicitly named in the series.
A blowfish alien, similar to the one seen in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", appears in flashback sequences involving Jack's first mission for the Torchwood Institute.
Captain Jack radios orders to an offscreen Suzie Costello in Ianto's flashback, although Ianto's arrival in the scene prevents the character from being given any lines. She kills herself soon thereafter in "Everything Changes". Suzie was last mentioned in the episode "Dead Man Walking", and last seen upon her resurrection in the Series One episode "They Keep Killing Suzie".
In his flashback, Ianto Jones refers to his girlfriend, Lisa Hallett, as having died during the Battle of Canary Wharf. Lisa is seen again as a partly converted Cyberman in the Series One episode "Cyberwoman".
The Roald Dahl Plass, situated directly above the hub, was an active coal-shipping dock until after World War II. The Torchwood 3 hub is in the same location.
As in Jack's flashback scenes in "Small Worlds", the Edwardian Era photographs of Jack show him in the uniform of an Army captain, three grades lower than the RAF group captain's rank he wears in and after 1941.
The parasite that kills Owen's fiancée appears to be the same alien species as the one Jack and Angelo encounter in the Miracle Day episode, Immortal Sins.
Alex's multiple murders and suicide take place hours before the Doctor Who tele-movie; given the time zones between Cardiff and San Francisco, both are set on New Year's Eve 1999.
Alice and Emily tell Jack that the Torchwood Institute was founded to protect the Empire from the Doctor and other phantasmagoria, and they kill aliens whom they deem "a threat to the Empire". They are following Queen Victoria's charter of the institute, as depicted in "Tooth and Claw".
Jack tells Alice and Emily that the Doctor uses the Cardiff space-time rift to refuel the TARDIS, which he learned in "Boom Town".
The Torchwood emblem (a letter T within a hexagon) on the stationery Alice uses is the same in 1918, as shown in "To the Last Man".
In 1999/2000 and 2007, Jack is shown wearing the vest he later wears in the first series (set shortly after the 2007 scenes).
Immediately before killing himself, Alex tells Jack, "The 21st century, Jack; everything's going to change, and we're not ready." This parallels Jack's voiceover at the start of each episode of Series One and Two: "The 21st century is when everything changes, and [you've got to be / Torchwood is] ready."
An on-screen caption places the episode 21 months after Ianto convinces Jack to hire him in the aftermath of "Doomsday".
Gwen's recruitment story is deliberately omitted from this episode, as it was told in the pilot, "Everything Changes".
Clare Clifford had played Kyle in the Fifth Doctor story Earthshock.