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Owen Harper was Torchwood Three’s chief medical officer during a portion of the 2000s. Moody and forthright, Harper wasn’t slow to show his dissatisfaction with Jack Harkness’ decisions.
Born 14 February 1980, (Exit Wounds) or at some point in 1981 in London’s East End, (Dead Man Walking) Owen Harper had a difficult relationship with his mother, so much so that, on his tenth birthday, his mother declared that she did not have to like him, only love him. When he was sixteen years old, she packed his things — Owen was apparently leaving for something. He said that it was “the nicest thing you’ve done for me in years”. (Adam) He did not appear to have been close to his father, who died at some point prior to Owen joining Torchwood. (Slow Decay)
Owen was a doctor. He was engaged to fellow doctor Katie Russell, who, unknown to both of them, had an alien parasite in her brain. Though Owen did not understand this, both knew that she had a degenerative neurological condition. Before Jack Harkness arrived on the scene, the alien inside had killed her and the surgical team who had removed the top of her skull in surgery. Jack appeared, explained and left the scene with Katie’s body. After Owen told others an unbelievable story about aliens, Jack re-appeared and offered him a job with Torchwood Three. Owen reluctantly accepted. (Fragments)
LIFE AT TORCHWOOD
At some point, Owen had had sexual relations with Torchwood operative Suzie Costello. (They Keep Killing Suzie) In his mid-twenties, Owen’s personal life appeared to mostly revolve around the pursuit of casual sex, which he was happy to use alien technology to facilitate. He was indirectly responsible for bringing Gwen Cooper onto the team in 2007 by ordering pizza to be delivered to the Torchwood Hub under the name “Torchwood”. (Everything Changes)
Gwen released the sex gas from a meteor by mistake. Owen captured Carys Fletcher, who became host to the gas, inside a portable prison cell. He tested the gruesome effects the gas’ pheromones had on a rat, dubbing it “rat jam”. Carys escaped the Torchwood Hub during a medical scan, but Owen had cornered it at the Conway Clinic. There, Gwen tricked it into escaping Carys into the portable cell, where it succumbed to the Earth’s poisonous atmosphere. (Day One)
Torchwood had taken a quantum transducer from Bernie Harris. Owen used it and saw Ed Morgan murder Lizzie Lewis in 1963. He threatened Ed in his present with punishment, and later had him at knifepoint. Gwen stopped Owen, but Ed impaled himself on the knife. (Ghost Machine)
Ianto Jones had helped awaken the partially cyber-converted Lisa Hallett from beneath the Hub. Gwen and Owen kissed passionately whilst hiding from Lisa as she tried to take over the Hub. The team escaped, but Ianto ran back to her. After Lisa had put her mind in the body of Annie, Ianto saw Gwen and the others shoot her. (Cyberwoman)
The Torchwood team travelled to the Welsh countryside to investigate a series of gruesome murders. The Torchwood SUV was stolen by a group of cannibals that harvested travellers once every ten years. The team followed the cannibals to their village. Right as his team were captured, Jack stepped in and incapacitated the cannibals. The cannibals were arrested by the police. (Countrycide)
Following this, Owen had seduced Gwen and embarked upon an affair with her, largely because she couldn’t share her supernatural and extraterrestrial experiences with her boyfriend, Rhys. (Countrycide, Greeks Bearing Gifts) Apparently, Gwen was capable of many techniques that caused him extreme sexual pleasure. The thought of Gwen’s body or various ways she would please him caused him to become aroused.
Owen misdiagnosed a cadaver that was found near some alien technology as being a woman who was shot, rather than a “very girly” male soldier whose heart had been ripped out. (Greeks Bearing Gifts)
Gwen revived Suzie Costello with the resurrection gauntlet for questioning. Instead of keeping her alive for a minute for a brief interrogation, Suzie kept the link between her and Gwen and slowly drained her life, which strengthened Suzie. Owen and Jack pursued Suzie, and tried and failed to break the gauntlet’s link. Eventually, Tosh destroyed the gauntlet, killing Suzie and saving Gwen. (They Keep Killing Suzie)
Owen helped remove Eugene Jones’ possessions once he died. (Random Shoes)
Diane Holmes came through the Rift with John Ellis and Emma-Louise Cowell from 1953. Torchwood helped settle them into their new life. Owen, intending to only have casual sex with Diane, fell in love with her. Owen had his heart broken when Diane decided to fly into the Rift, not knowing what would await her. (Out of Time)
In 2008, Gwen called off her affair with Owen. Owen claimed that she was getting boring anyway. While investigating Dan Hodges’ death and similar attacks, he was led to Mark Lynch’s company. Lynch showed him the Weevil Fight Club. Owen entered the cage with a Weevil and stared it in the eye. Jack stormed in and shut the operation down. Owen chastised Jack for saving him, saying that he felt “totally at peace”. (Combat)
Owen and Ianto discovered Jack and Tosh had fallen through the Rift into 1941. Owen travelled to the Ritz where they disappeared and found a missing piece of the Rift Manipulator. In an attempt to stop Owen from opening the Rift with the manipulator, Ianto shot him, but Owen suceeded, sending Jack and Tosh back to the 21st century. (Captain Jack Harkness)
The Rift spread cracks in space and time across the Earth, rapidly pulling flotsam and jetsam through. As a result of this, Jack dismissed Owen. While drinking his sorrows in a bar, Owen saw an apparition of Diane. She said she was lost and he needed to open the Rift. Owen returned to the Hub and saw Rhys’ dead body inside.
Owen and the rest of the team turned against Jack. He shot Jack and reopened the Rift to send everything that had come through back. The opening of the Rift forced out Abaddonwhich Jack defeated. When Jack eventually revived from this encounter, he embraced Owen, saying he forgave him for what had happened. (End of Days)
Over time, Owen got tired of casual sex and felt like settling down, though he had no-one in common to share his experiences in Torchwood with.
While chasing a Blowfish through Cardiff, Jack saved a family’s life and quickly took over Torchwood again. Torchwood met an old lover of Jack’s, Captain John Hart, who had came through the Rift searching for some canisters that had also come through. He told Torchwood that they contained radioactive bombs. John wounded Owen, which he treated himself. Owen managed to treat Gwen’s poisoning by John. Owen caught up with John, but the contents of the canisters were actually components of a bomb that latched onto the DNA of the owner of the canisters’ murderer. Owen concocted a mixture of the team’s DNA to confuse the bomb, which Jack injected into John to detach and safely dispose of it. John was forced to leave 21st century Cardiff. (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang)
When investigating a scheme of cutting alien meat from a creature that continously grew no matter how mutilated, Owen tried to make a sedative for it to figure out a way to make it stop growing but when told it wasn’t possible, he instead proceeded to kill the creature to put it out of its misery. He also helped Rhys recover from a gunshot wound in the shoulder. (Meat)
His team mate Toshiko Sato nursed a crush on him. When the alien Adam altered his personality and memories, turning him into a shy, sheltered nerd, he stumblingly declared his love for her. (Adam) Though neither of them remembered the incident, Tosh haltingly asked him out on a date (despite his flirting with temporary Torchwood Three agent Martha Jones and he accepted, although circumstances would intervene and prevent this from occurring. (Reset)
Jack summoned his old friend Martha Jones to help infiltrate the Pharm, a medical organization illegally creating a miracle drug called Reset through alien experimentation. These experiments involved injected people with extraterrestrial Mayflies which emerged from the test subjects, requiring the Pharm to hire an assassin that would murder the subjects before the Mayflies were releases, so their work would be kept secret. Torchwood Three put an end to their plans, but just as Torchwood began shutdown of the Pharm facility, Owen was shot and killed by Aaron Copley, the director of the Pharm, who was in turn killed by Jack. Owen bled out on the pavement from his gunshot wound in the chest. Martha was unable to save him and he died gasping in pain. (Reset)
Before Martha performed the autopsy on Owen, in early 2009, Jack used the second resurrection gauntlet to temporarily restore Owen to life so that he could say goodbye to his friends (and, ostensibly, so Jack could obtain the passcode to the morgue). Although it was assumed that he would only regain consciousness for two minutes before dying forever (per how the first gauntlet worked), for reasons unknown Owen remained conscious, having been returned to a state of partial life.
A consequence of Owen’s resurrection was the manifestation of an old entity known as “Duroc”, which escaped from the afterlife and inhabited Owen. It tried to kill thirteen victims, allowing it permanent passage to the world and the potential to kill all living things in existence by merely touching them. However, Owen, in his half-revived state, was unaffected by Death’s touch and vanquished it back to oblivion by shooting the resurrection gauntlet that kept it tethered to the living world and then exposing it to sunlight when they grappled against each other. (Dead Man Walking)
Although once again conscious and sentient, Owen Harper, post-death, found he had limited bodily functions. His wounds would not heal, he could not breathe (or blow air) and he couldn’t sleep. He could swallow liquids and food, but he had no sense of taste and he did not digest food; it had to be removed or somehow expelled from his body. After an unsuccessful attempt to get drunk, Owen stood on his head to allow gravity to drain fluids from his system. His lack of blood flow made erections impossible.
Owen was encouraged to maintain regular physical exercise to prevent rigour mortis from setting in. Normally painful stimuli did not hurt. He injured his left hand twice by cutting it and then by deliberately breaking a finger. These injuries did not heal and he had to wear a bandage/splint on the hand thereafter, which permanently limited his dexterity; he had to recruit Rhys Williams to use the singularity scalpel at one point. (Dead Man Walking, A Day in the Death, Something Borrowed)
Due to Owen’s inability to heal, Jack was initially hesitant to allow Owen to take part in regular operations again, and demoted him to “tea boy”, but soon Owen was back out in the field. His lack of breathing and other bodily functions proved useful to the team when he was able to circumvent a heat-based alarm system (A Day in the Death) and at least twice he suffered no harm at the hands of Rift-based creatures who found him unpalatable and confusing. (Something Borrowed, From Out of the Rain)
As a doctor, Owen was distressed at being unable to perform artificial respiration on a dying man because he could not breathe. Yet, by telling his tale to a suicidal woman, he was able to prevent her from throwing herself off a building. (A Day in the Death)
Owen coped with his self-pity and managed to pull himself together enough to go back to work and to carry on, which included a deepening, if somewhat strained, friendship with Toshiko. (A Day in the Death)
Martha Jones indicated to Owen that the energy used to keep him “alive” began to dissipate after the defeat of Durac, but considered it impossible to predict when it would run out and “final death” would occur. She told Owen it could take anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty years. (Dead Man Walking)
Owen’s original response to his change of status in life and in Torchwood led to him briefly alienating his colleagues, and at least once he tried to commit suicide by jumping into Cardiff Bay. This was ineffectual. (A Day in the Death) To a degree, Harkness — himself accustomed to immortality — tried to help Owen, but was at first rebuffed given that Jack’s immortality didn’t prevent him from enjoying pleasures such as food and sex.
Several weeks after his death, Owen was tasked to stop a nuclear reactor near Cardiff from going into meltdown during events precipitated by the arrival of Jack’s brother, Gray. Unfamiliar with nuclear reactors, Owen kept in communication with Tosh back in the Hub, who talked him through the shutdown procedure. Unknown to Owen, Tosh had just suffered a mortal injury and Tosh tried to keep this from him. During the shutdown, the control room was locked down, and Tosh and Owen realised the radioactive waste would be vented through the room, destroying Owen’s body. Suddenly Owen saw a door that was not yet locked, pushed a button which would automatically close it, and ran. However, the door closed before he could escape. Owen became defiant and angry and said he wasn’t going to die quietly, which upset Toshiko, who was herself dying. After Tosh cried that he was breaking her heart, he relented and asked what was going to happen. As he was “dead” and could not feel the pain, Owen expected to watch as his body fell apart. He talked over the comm with Toshiko, discussing the date they had never gone on and the “Space Pig” incident Toshiko covered for. As the reactor went critical, he appeared philosophical and reassured Tosh with the words “It’s all right.” The waste entered the room and the comm signal from Owen was snuffed out shortly after muttering his final words, “Oh, God”. Toshiko died shortly afterwards. (Exit Wounds)
A habitual womaniser, Owen rarely turned down an opportunity for seduction. He seemed to be the only member of the Torchwood team that was completely heterosexual, except for certain occasions when he would sleep with, or just kiss, men to get the girl. He had a dark side, willing to manipulate people. (Everything Changes) Owen was a narcissistic genius who was perfectly aware of his own considerable intellect. He possessed a quick, sardonic wit and often lightened dark situations with his humour. However Owen’s cavalier exterior hid a soul in constant torment.
His constant rage, while usually under control, would occasionally explode, once going so far as to shoot Jack Harkness dead (unaware of the fact that he was immortal at the time) because he felt that Jack didn’t care about what he and the others had lost. (Combat, End of Days) While he pretended to be largely self-interested, Owen had empathy as shown by his obsession with avenging Lizzie Lewis’ death. (Ghost Machine)
Three of Owen’s favourite things were eating, drinking and having sex and he was greatly disappointed by the fact that he couldn’t do any of them when he was brought back to life after being shot dead. (Reset, Dead Man Walking)
He was deeply loyal to the Torchwood team and had a protective relationship with Gwen Cooper. Owen liked to project an aura of callous indifference; he himself was often unaware of his own feelings, most likely including his love for Toshiko Sato. (Adam)
Owen left a resounding impression on the Torchwood staff. His photograph was still pinned up on Gwen’s desktop (Children of Earth: Day One) and Gwen also expressed her desire to “go out fighting, like Owen, like Tosh” when faced with a Dalek invasion of the Hub; (The Stolen Earth) the loss of Owen and Tosh continued to emotionally affect the survivors of Torchwood 3 for months. (Lost Souls)
Owen was twenty seven years old at the time of his first death. (Dead Man Walking)
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