The team, searching for an unidentified lifeform, except for Gwen (Eve Myles), who is late, is trapped in an abandoned building, which explodes. Gwen and Rhys (Kai Owen) arrive and start digging, as Jack (John Barrowman), Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd), Owen (Burn Gorman), and Tosh (Naoko Mori) recall how they were recruited by Torchwood.
In the Victorian era, Jack is picked up by two women—Alice Guppy (Amy Manson) and Emily Holroyd (Heather Craney)—who are aware of his immortality and connection with the Doctor. Their examination includes trying to kill him. He recognizes the advanced tech involved, and they offer him a job with Torchwood. But they consider the Doctor a threat because Queen Victoria did, and he refuses to join. They consider Jack to be a threat too, so he agrees to capture an alien for them. When an agent shoots the alien in cold blood, Jack refuses the next assignment. He goes to a bar, where a young girl fortune-teller (Skye Bennett) reads his cards and says he will not see the Doctor for a hundred years, so he returns to Torchwood.
In 1999, Jack returns to the Hub from trying to stop the Millennium Bug, to discover that Alex (Julian Lewis Jones) has murdered the entire team, to save them from a horrible future, he says. He kills himself, apologizing for being unable to kill Jack, and Jack has to cobble together a new team.
Toshiko is working for the Ministry of Defense, where she finds the secret files on a sonic modulator. She corrects the plans, builds one, and takes it to a secret location. She gives it to the people who have kidnapped her mother (Noriko Aida) so they will let her go, but they decide to keep her and Tosh as well. Tosh refuses and is attacked by the sonic modulator, but before she and her mother are killed by it, UNIT breaks in. Tosh is locked up incommunicado. Eventually, Jack appears and offers her freedom if she will work for Torchwood for five years.
Ianto helps Jack fight a Weevil and asks for a job, but Jack refuses because Ianto worked for Torchwood London, where everything went sideways. The next morning, Ianto offers him coffee on the street. Then he steps in front of the SUV and asks for a job again, explaining that he is currently tracking down a pterodactyl. They work together to subdue the creature and Jack finds himself attracted to Ianto.
Owen was a doctor planning to get married. His fiancé Katie (Andrea Lowe) begins to show signs of Alzheimer's and has a brain tumor. Hospital staff begins to die. Jack appears at the hospital and says an alien parasite was in Katie’s brain and it emitted a toxic gas that has killed most of the hospital staff. He chloroforms Owen, who protests his taking of Katie’s brain. Jack erases all evidence of himself, but at Katie’s grave, Owen confronts Jack, who offers him the position of Torchwood’s medic.
The team manages to escape the building and Jack receives a holographic message from Captain John Hart (James Marsters), who reveals it was he who planted the bomb and sends an image of Jack’s brother Gray (Lachlan Nieboer). He vows to tear Jack’s world apart.
The card-reading girl is the same who appeared in Dead Man Walking. The blowfish alien appears again. The Torchwood Hub is placed where a coal-shipping dock was located during World War Two. Just before killing himself, Alex says, “The 21st Century going to change everything and we’re not ready.” The story of Owen’s fiancée resembles a real incident in which a cancer patient caused hospital staff to fall ill, but no-one knows why. Since joining Torchwood in 1899, Jack has died 1392 times. The pterodactyl could have been better, but the episode was a fan favorite and reviewers said it shows the power of the ensemble cast.