Deep below the streets of Cardiff, a scared, lonely monster has infiltrated the sewage system. When Torchwood members Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper go down to investigate, they fail to return: they are lost - pronounced missing and presumed dead.
But Torchwood are needed more than ever - a 360,000 ft metallic container is being fitted around Britain, completely cutting it off from the outside world; riots and protests descend Britain into anarchy; Deputy Prime Minister Samuel Herridge is found dead in his home; Program #9 is initiated with shocking consequences. And while all this goes on, Henry Cratchett harbours the deadliest of secrets.
But hope is not lost. Torchwood is reforming - mutiny is taking place within the Parliament walls, whilst a hijacked boat from Spain could bring the answers Britain so desperately needs. But with their government against them, their country against them and their lives in danger, is the Fence too much for Torchwood to topple?
In the sewers underneath Cardiff, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) chase an unnamed red beast which is able to place its victims in suspended animation before devouring them. During the chase, Gwen is phoned up by her husband, Rhys (Kai Owen), who is putting their daughter, Anwen, to bed. As she talks to him, she is distracted and the beast attacks her, freezing her in time. Jack attempts to reason with the beast but it manages to freeze him too, though it is accidentally shot before it is able to devour either of them.
18 months later, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Henry Cratchett (Bill Nighy) calls a Cabinet meeting, informing his colleagues that work on 'the Container' will be completed imminently, cutting off Britain from the rest of the world. He decides that the public should know the truth about the Container before it is finished, though this claim is refuted by his Foreign Affairs Scretary, Ruth Herridge (Annette Badland). Cratchett also suggests using Program #9 in order to change history, making population believe the Container has always been part of everyday life, as if it had been there throughout history. Secretary of State for Wales, Bryce Owen (Joseph Morgan) criticises this decision, but Cratchett remains adamant, although he adds that the Cabinet room will be exempt from the conditioning. After the meeting, Herridge meets with Cratchett and argues that he is not telling his Cabinet the full truth.
In the sewers, Jack and Gwen come round, with Jack saying that the creature must have been weak, meaning the effect has worn off. They leave the sewers and Gwen is shocked to see a gigantic grey slab going all the way along the Cardiff coast. Confused, they head to Gwen and Rhys' cottage for answers. Gwen questions a man about the slab and he reveals it is called 'the Fence'. He is also stunned when Gwen says she has been on the other side. Jack and Gwen are forced to flee the cottage when they discover it now belongs to a different family. Picking up a newspaper, Jack discovers they were frozen in the sewers for two years.
In the Cabinet room, Cratchett meets with his daughter, Jenny (Rita Simons), who suggests getting him some professional help due to the stress he has been under. They are interrupted by Bryce who tells him the population increase in Wales is now out of control. Cratchett tells Bryce that he did not choose to be sealed inside the Fence and blames their imprisonment on the fault of the nation as a whole. Annoyed with Cratchett's stubborness, Bryce tries to talk Jenny round, urging her to make her father see sense and hinting that all is not what it seems with him.
Meanwhile, Jack begins researching the Fence and notices that Cratchett has passed off the greatest technological advances of the 21st Century as his own. He is confused when records suggest the Fence has been around since the beginning of British history. The internet is also full of people worshipping Cratchett. Worried, Jack decides to head to London. Gwen meets up with Andy Davidson (Tom Price) who also reiterates the fact the Fence has always been there. She is also taken aback when he tells her that today is Rhys' wedding day.
In London, Jenny tells Bryce that she is going to talk to Cratchett but resents the implication that he is mentally unstable. Bryce tells her to meet him in a hotel later on with some answers, but Jenny refuses. Jack, having arrived in London, notices their altercation and picks up on Bryce's disdain for Cratchett. Bryce is shocked when he realises Jack remembers life before the Fence too and invites him back to his hotel room. He is unaware that Cratchett's chief aide, Brendan Rose (William Rose) has overheard their conversation.
Back in Cardiff, Gwen arrives at Rhys' wedding reception with Andy and is upset to see his new wife Cerys Williams (Joanna Page). Rhys is shocked to see her, as he had presumed her dead. As they argue, Jack contacts Gwen and tells her to come to London. Gwen begs Rhys to come with her and, after some persuasion, he agrees, with them heading off to collect Anwen.
At the same time, Brendan researches Jack's name and becomes unnerved when the word 'Torchwood' shows up. He informs Cratchett that Jack and Bryce are conspiring against him. Shortly after, Jenny tries to make him see sense but Cratchett becomes suspicious, especially when Jenny mentions talking to Bryce. Assuming she is also plotting against him, Cratchett sacks her and throws her out. Cratchett then tells Brendan to eliminate Torchwood.
In the hotel, Bryce talks Jack through what he has missed and tells him about Program #9. Jack suspects alien involvement but Bryce confirms everything has been carried out by humans. Jenny arrives at the hotel room and tells Bryce that Cratchett knows about an organisation known as Torchwood, which leads Jack to believe they are in danger.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Fence, Domitila (Penelope Cruz) and her companion Everado (Danny Trejo) have hijacked a cargo boat and are making their way through the fence, pretending to be providing supplies. However, their cover is blown and when they dock, security is called. They manage to escape onto an abandoned ferry but, as they try to make their way back onto dry land, Everado is shot and killed. Domitila manages to escape in an abandoned car, blowing up the docks in the process to avenge Everado's death. Later, she hijacks the car of Peter Evans (Simon Gregson) and heads for London.
In the Houses of Parliament, Ruth confronts Cratchett and he tells her Torchwood is being disposed of, although he mentions that Gwen Cooper cannot be located. Ruth is disgusted when she learns he has thrown Jenny out and warns Cratchett that if Torchwood is not eliminated, they may have a fight on their hands.
In the hotel, Jack tries to get in touch with Gwen but she does not answer. They are interrupted by room service but Jack suspects that the plot to kill them is already in motion. Searching the room, he discovers a small bomb in the refreshments trolley. Grabbing it, he dives out of the bedroom window and is middair as the bomb explodes, shattering him into pieces. Jenny and Bryce, assuming Jack is dead, are horrified and realise they have to go on the run so Cratchett believes they are dead.
Gwen and Rhys arrive to collect Anwen, who is being looked after by Mary Cooper (Sharon Morgan) but are shocked to see the house surrounded by police, who are dragging Mary away. Gwen screams when she sees they have Anwen too but Rhys convinces her not to interfere as he suspects they are actually looking for her. He promises Gwen they will get them back.
As Bryce and Jenny flee the chaos at the hotel, they run outside. However, they are stunned to see a very much alive Jack in front of them, now in a new suit, declaring that the fun is about to start...
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Domitila - Penelope Cruz
- Bryce Owen - Joseph Morgan
- Henry Cratchett - Bill Nighy
- Jenny Cratchett - Rita Simons
- Ruth Herridge - Annette Badland
- Brendan Rose - William Roache
- Rhys Williams - Kai Owen
- Sgt. Andy Davidson - Tom Price
- Cerys Williams - Joanna Page
- Steven Houghton - Simon Callow
- Everado - Danny Trejo
- Guard #1 - Matt Willis
- Peter Evans - Simon Gregson
- Mary Cooper - Sharon Morgan
The episode received an AI of 96.1.