Well, here we are headed into the end of the series, with one more episode after this one, and the show opted to show us how everyone joined Torchwood Cardiff.
Except for Gwen because, well, we already saw that in the pilot episode.
The set-up is simple enough: while investigating some strange readings, Jack, Tosh, Ianto, and Owen all found a series of bombs that literally blow up in their faces and somehow fail to kill every single one of them. Gwen had overslept and came by late, bringing Rhys to help because she couldn’t save them by herself.
Now, Jack can’t die, and Owen is sort of already dead, but it is just a lot of dumb luck Tosh and Ianto got out of this more or less OK. That said, what does happen is seeing what came before. How did they join Torchwood?
Jack was drafted over a century earlier, and he objected to the agency’s rather heavy-handed way of executing aliens as threats whether they were that bad or not, but a fortune teller tells him the Doctor won’t be back for 100 years, so Jack might as well stay put.
Does that square with a lot of Jack’s other activities or something?
Regardless, in 1999, the team leader got a glimpse of the future and killed everybody else except for Jack, leaving Jack to rebuild the team from there.
As for the others…
Five years earlier, Tosh was arrested by UNIT for taking a sonic device to some terrorists using blackmail to get it by holding Tosh’s mother captive. Jack gets her out on a five year work release because she correctly built a device that wasn’t going to work if she followed the plans exactly.
Twenty-one months earlier, Ianto from Torchwood London kept showing up and bugging Jack to let him in. Jack wasn’t interested until Ianto took him to the Pterodactyl that lives in the Hub and that we haven’t seen in a while. That gets him hired.
Four years ago, Owen lost a fiancée to an alien parasite that looked like early-onset (like, in her 30s) Alzheimer’s disease. Trying to remove it killed her and the surgical team, but Jack covered it up. Owen had seen Jack and refused to give up, so Jack brought him in.
See? Simple stuff.
Oh, the bomb was set by spurned lover John Hart, and he has an adult version of Jack’s long-lost brother Gray with him, as revealed in a holographic message.
Dude, trying to kill people is no way to get your boyfriend back. Just sayin’.