Body Parts, of course, is a variation on the urban myth about people being knocked unconscious and their kidneys stolen. I have been itching to do a version where Jack is the victim, because it does raise that issue of how and when does Jack’s immortality kick in. I have held to the theory that he only comes back to life with everything intact when he is fatally wounded. He can’t recover from non-fatal wounds just like that. If you watch episodes where he has received minor wounds, for example, Cyberwoman, where he has a fight with Ianto and gets a busted lip for his pains, he’s stuck with that busted lip until the end.
So when Jack is knocked out and his kidney is stolen, he is as sick and vulnerable as anyone else in the renal ward, and his friends puzzling over what happened to him. This is a Torchwood urban myth, of course. So the kidney gets stolen with an alien medical instrument.
I wrote this story, by the way, on the very WEEK that Torchwood: Children of Earth was being broadcast, which complicated things in one or two ways. First of all, it introduced the laser scalpel that can open and close the body cavity instantly. If I’d used that, it would have been a less complicated way of performing the operations than the singularity scalpel from Season Two episodes. I do wonder if I ought to rewrite the operation to show them using that on the donor bodies.
The other issue Children of Earth raised, of course, is that Jack is unkillable no matter WHAT is done to him. Even blowing him to pieces doesn’t work. So Ianto’s worry that he could be completely dead this time when his heart was removed is redundant. So, for that matter, is Jack’s idea in a previous story that he wouldn’t survive if his brain was gone. His brain was turned to soup in Children of Earth, so anything goes, really.
In these stories nobody had seen Jack turned to soup, so their shock and fear is not unreasonable. Possibly it is time for a story where they aren’t sure. But I’m not going to blow up the Hub for it.
As I write this confidentiality, it occurs to me that there is another way I could have written this story, and I’m not sure if it would have bee a better way or not. Jack could have remained missing all along. Ianto could have found patients and bodies at the hospital while he was looking for Jack, tipped off by Doctor Goodge who had decided to come clean. That would mean that Jack had been there a lot longer being harvested for his various organs when they finally track him down. Possibly the team involved might know that Jack comes back to life with new organs. They might have been using him all day for it. If I have time for a rewrite in the future, I might just try it that way. Completely changing a plot that drastically would be a first. But I’m not sure it wouldn’t be worth it for this story.
Incidentally, I wrote this one while working in a very noisy office full of young adults who were meant to be learning film and video production techniques but couldn’t because their TV studio was being renovated. I didn’t know how many of them were actually watching what I was writing until one of them commented about the swearing from the anaesthetist when he sees Doctor Goodge. The film students were rather surprised that I knew those kind of swear words, having taken me for a nicer person than that. They also, when they read the finished product, rather guiltily admitted that their noise must have been a distraction to me. Yes, it was. Several of these stories from the summer of 2009 suffered from those sort of distractions. But at least they were an appreciative first audience for the stories.