I’m starting to wonder if Miracle Day has taken the Star Trek movies as its template – odd-numbered episodes good, even-numbered ones bad… Or perhaps it’s just lucky number seven, because this week I actually felt like I was watching Torchwood again.
It probably helps that at long last we get some inkling of what the Miracle is all about. It definitely helps that it’s a Jack-centric episode. Some actual aliens are good and there’s a much healthier dose of humour too (from Jack’s confessional to him snarking at Gwen about the number of vowels in Welsh).
(Spoilers below the line…)
There are two things driving this episode along (in stark contrast to the dawdling, limping and toddler-like “I can’t walk anymore, pleeease carry me” moaning of recent weeks). One is the obvious what’s going to happen to Jack, Gwen and her family. The other is all the little questions that are thrown up along the way.
The first five minutes alone leave you asking why Jack’s in America, why is Angelo stealing his visa, and how is Jack going to get Angelo out from behind those bars (because obviously what Jack’s got in mind would be tricky otherwise). They’re stupid little questions, but they are what actually hook viewers (this viewer anyway).
But thank god for this trip with Jack back to New York in the Twenties. We have Jack at his charismatic best, we have a slice of back story for our hero and a little understanding of what’s going on.
I like that he seduces Angelo (as opposed to letting his coat (the coat that puts the great in greatcoat) pick up random one-night stands). I like that he does it by describing what he wants to do to the girl they can see across the street. Frankly, I love it when the writers unleash Jack’s sensuality as well as his sexuality.
They’re also shining a spotlight on some of Jack’s flaws though. Angelo calls him out when Jack jokes about what Angelo may have got up to with his English teacher: “We just did something special. Why do you make it cheap?”
The Church gets a small kicking too as Jack becomes a bootlegger trading in sacramental wine in order to manoeuvre himself into position to deal with the alien threat that is his real mission in America.
Perhaps my favourite scene in the whole episode though is the one where Jack tries to send Angelo to Hollywood to be safe and bitches about him praying for forgiveness after they have sex, only for Angelo to wrongfoot him with talk of love. And my favourite moment in that scene – the one in which Jack says, tears shining in his eyes: “I’ve got this friend, he’s called the Doctor. He explores the world with a companion … it looks nice.”
The problem is that Jack has forgotten that the Doctor’s companions don’t always get a happy ending. And in barely the time it took me to tweet this thought tonight, poor Angelo has seen Jack shot dead and been carted off to Sing Sing. That Jack is there to greet him when he gets out a year later, understandably, disturbs and upsets him. I’m not sure that merits him trying to kill Jack, and then showing off the ‘miracle’ of Jack’s indestructible nature to a crowd who subject him to a torturous round of beatings, stabbings and shootings, while yelling about “a blessing”. (This may explain why Jack was able to take being killed over and over in The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords.)
Back in the 21st Century, Gwen is putting everything she’s learned into action – getting Jack away from Rex and Esther and into the car, tasering him, tying up his hands and feet securely and not trusting his attempts to escape. And she’s giving him a piece of her mind too: “They want to kill you, but why do they want to do that?…What have you done? You’ve done something haven’t you? Way back in that long bloody life of yours. God, you’ve lived so long you can’t remember half of it. Now you think. Think! What the hell have you done?”
The honesty of the conversation that Gwen and Jack eventually have – Gwen pouring out how much she loved Torchwood but that she will see Jack ‘killed like a dog’ to get her baby back and Jack’s response: “Now that I’m mortal, I’m going to hang on to this with everything I’ve got. I love you Gwen Cooper, but I will rip your skin from your skull before I let you take this away from me. Understood?” – contrasts beautifully with Gwen’s unspoken regrets as she and Jack stand in the dawn awaiting the end.
The end comes in the shape of Nana Visitor (Deep Space Nine) – although thanks to Esther paying attention at the start of the episode not in the way she expected. Ambushed by Rex and Esther (who have also sent Andy Davies and the Welsh police in to rescue Gwen’s family), she’s not without confidence however. There’s someone she thinks Jack will want to meet. Someone who’s been waiting a long time.
And in the last moment the two stories we’ve been watching finally collide. Nana can take Jack to the man who can tell us how the Miracle began – Angelo Corsanto.
Fingers crossed for next week then?
Posted by Jo the Hat