Torchwood: Miracle Day – John De Lancie and That Kiss make life much more interesting

Okay, so I take back the snarky Star Trek movie comment. This is an even-numbered episode and it was also good. Pacey, emotional, funny and with added jeopardy and John De Lancie. If the plan is to bring in new viewers to Torchwood (assuming the dreadful early episodes didn’t drive them away) I can see now how it might work.

We pick up this week with Jack coming face to face with Angelo again. But Angelo has survived all those decades not through any kind of miracle (unless you count extraordinary self-control and a lot of luck) – he’s an old man, unconscious, and hooked up to the full gamut of heart monitors, drips etc.

(Spoilers below the line…)

I’ve watched the scene where Angelo’s granddaughter Olivia (Nana Visitor) explains her reasons and methods in getting Jack to the luxurious mansion twice, and frankly I’m with Gwen on the whole WTF?-get-me-a-drink reaction. Still, everyone’s alive (so far) and there are answers around the corner.

After a brief biology lesson about immortal jellyfish, we learn that Angelo and the Families have been researching immortality for some time – cancer cells and stem cells can, in theory, divide for ever…

We have the names of the three men who witnessed Jack being repeatedly murdered in the butcher’s shop – Ablemarch, Costerdane and Frines – and the knowledge that they had Jack’s blood. (Although as Jack points out there’s nothing special about his blood itself, that’s not what made him immortal.)

It looks like the three Families found The Blessing – whatever that is – and that that’s the key to the mystery. Just as Torchwood get ready to hunt down the Families (which is going to be tricky because they’re been wiped from the records even more effectively than Torchwood) bad ol’ Friedkin turns up to turn them all into Category Ones – starting with Rex.

Thankfully we have the glorious, wonderful John De Lancie on hand to recruit Torchwood into the CIA, steal every scene he’s in and throw out some of the best one-liners all series – on dealing with Olivia: “Take her to the safe house. Tell her to line up her lawyers so I can piss on them, long and hard.”; After Rex defends Gwen: “Did you sleep with her? … Because most women that bitter, you’ve slept with.”; and on meeting Jack: “And what is it with you Red Baron? You got Snoopy up your ass?”. I really hope we get more of him in the last two episodes. He’s even more fun as Shapiro than he was as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

And just as we think we know where we’re going, Jack having shared a few moments and memories of the other love of his life – Ianto Jones – kisses Angelo goodbye and sends the story spiralling off in a whole new direction, by inadvertently killing – really brown bread dead killing – Angelo.

Angelo knew the Miracle was coming, salvaged some of the alien tech from the destroyed Torchwood Hub and made sure that he wouldn’t be forced to live forever in a useless, comatose body.

We also revisit Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger – starting with a reference to the ‘bisected bride’ who lost everything below her bikini line in a car accident and got married a week later propped up on a box. “Basically she’s made up of positive thinking and colostomy bags…” and followed rapidly by some terrible, constipated dancing from Danes.

Jilly can see light at the end of the tunnel where Danes is concerned. A whole new category just for him. Category Zero – people who have earned themselves a place in the oven for moral reasons. After Danes’s ‘date’ with a well-connected hooker goes wrong and he beats this information out of Jilly, he runs – as anyone would.

Back at the mansion, Shapiro deports Gwen back to the UK and Jack persuades Rex to get him out of the building. Unfortunately the escape goes horribly wrong and ends with Esther driving a dying Jack god knows where as he clutches a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

So now we need to know is the total financial collapse an unimportant consequence of the Miracle, or is it part of the Big Bad Plan? Where are the Families? What is the Blessing? How is the morphic field thing working? Why do the Families want Jilly working for them?

HIghlights of End of the Road:

  • Gwen telling Rex to ‘get back in his cave’.
  • Those photos on Angelo’s mantelpiece, especially the moustachioed one from the ’70s.
  • Olivia pointing out that Jack is ‘not the only remarkable thing on this Earth’. True, but he is one of the wonders of the modern world – immortal or not…
  • Rex getting properly Torchwood sneaky with his theft of the Eye-5s to stitch up Friedkin by broadcasting his statement of involvement.
  • Shapiro: “People seem to be talking over me. Which is fascinating. And rare. And forbidden.”
  • Shapiro instructing his agents with regard to Friedkin: “Take that fat-ass traitor to the airport and put him in cargo.”
  • Friedkin giving us a real sense of just how terrifying the Families are – with both words and deeds…
  • Another unintended consequence of the Miracle – the people, like Esther’s sister, who are volunteering to become Category Ones.
  • Shapiro enjoying his cigarette on the rumour that previously immortal cancer cells are now mortal. The government ‘is keeping it quiet in case there’s an outbreak of spontaneous joy. I mean, we can’t have that.”
  • The blink and you’ll miss it moment of treachery from CIA Charlotte…
Posted by Jo the Hat

5 Comments

Filed under Drama

5 responses to “Torchwood: Miracle Day – John De Lancie and That Kiss make life much more interesting

  1. Corumba Love

    Families anagram: abnormal arch-fiend secretes.

    Yecch. More follows. Possibly.

    Thanks JtH

  2. marzillk

    Just caught up. Torchwood is definitely getting better (about blooming time!), but still half an hour’s plot stretched over an hour. I agree about John De Lancie stealing the show tonight – if only he’d been in it from the beginning! And great to have Jilly Kitzinger and Oswald Danes back – the episodes without them have dragged a little. Lauren Ambrose and Bill Pullman are doing a great job.

  3. marzillk

    P.S. I am wondering if there’s a Costerdane/Danes link, but might be stretching things too far!

  4. Paul

    I thought John de Lancie was great – even though it took me a few moments to notice, through the beard, that this was Q running the CIA. But I found this episode a bit of a drag compared to the previous one – while it was nice to see Danes again, I think he’s becoming entirely peripheral to the main storyline these days, and I couldn’t see much sense behind Shapiro deporting Gwen, except to split up the team again (and send us back to Wales for the next episode) “because this is what the plot requires for some reason”

  5. Tim

    Still catching up post-hols …

    This was better, but still no more than serviceable.

    I can’t shake the feeling that this entire series is little more than a sequence of clever plot nuggets, shock moments and throwaway one-liners (the Families caused the global recession as some kind of test run, heh) linked together by a lot of padding. The whole PhiCorp thing, for instance, seems a bit redundant now.

    As I keep saying, this should have been five episodes (which is what it would have been on the BBC) rather than ten (to accommodate Starz, no doubt). Even then, stack this up against Who’s ‘The Girl Who Waited’, and it still feels like this is little more than a souped-up game of cops & robbers.

    Mind you, the Trekker in me couldn’t stop giggling at seeing John de Lancie (Q) and Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys) in the same room – I was half-expecting Jennifer Hetrick (Vash) to walk in and the next scene to take place in Quark’s.

    And this was definitely better. Jack’s disbelief and desperation over the dying Angelo was surprisingly touching (for once, Barrowman reined in his over-theatricality). Gwen was suitably spiky. And Rex was left to navigate the grey area between the CIA and Torchwood. Although I am getting a bit bored by the constant parade of genre guest stars – Dichen Lachman, Ernie Hudson, Nana Visitor – who we see introduced one episode and gone the next.

    Right, off to catch up with last week’s ep now.

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