Torchwood: Miracle Day – Back on track in time for the final lap

Typical. Bloody typical (feel free to read those words in a Welsh accent – they were certainly typed in one). Now that I’m properly hooked, there’s only one more episode of Miracle Day to go. Still, as a soppy old thing at heart, I’m also pleased that Torchwood isn’t letting me down anymore.

Sure, we’re asked to take several leaps of faith in The Gathering (I’ll elaborate below the spoiler line) but viewers who do get some reward this week.

The story rips along with plenty of betrayal, surprises galore and some zippy one-liners too. Welcome back Torchwood, we’ve missed you.

(Spoilers below the line…)

Two months have passed since Jack got shot, Rex got transferred back to the CIA and Gwen got deported to Wales. It’s a cheat of course, but I’m happy to sacrifice screentime devoted to how Esther got Jack to Scotland and saved him from a nasty gunshot wound to the abdomen, and whatever everybody else has been doing. Pace is just one of the things that The Gathering gets right.

The Gathering does what it says on the tin – our characters are brought back together in new and interesting combinations as pieces of the puzzle slowly start to come together. So Gwen is raiding chemist’s shops for drugs (diamorphine for her dad hidden behind a fake wall in the cellar, and pills for the neighbours) and we take our first leap of faith in ignoring that this stuff is now so valuable, yet there’s bugger all security to protect it. We’re busy been distracted by the notion that “Hugh Jenkins has gone up in smoke, and all he had was a bad back,,,”

Back in America, Torchwood seems to have rubbed off on Rex as he uses a bit of divergent thinking to conjour a new lead on the Families for the CIA – a guy who wrote pulp fiction that references the multiple murders of Jack at the butcher’s shop had a younger brother who was murdered, and his DNA is on a bloody knife in storage. It’s relevant because all other references to this family have also been wiped from the records (probably because a daughter married into one of the Families). If only Rex didn’t have a mole in the office undermining his every move…

Jilly Kitzinger, ‘disgruntled at sitting in a non-descript office distributing for Harry Bosco’, is sent on her way to Shanghai for The Blessing with a new name and a one-way ticket. Her job, it seems, will be to write history.

And then there’s Oswald Danes. He’s full of surprises this week. Not just the way he turns up, but the way he reshapes Torchwood’s investigation. Though I have to wonder at his motivation. He won’t be doing this for the good of the human race, afterall.

Last, but not least there’s Jack (and Esther) – back from Scotland to see what Danes has to offer and with Rhys’s help drawing up something of a picture of what’s going on. Whatever The Blessing is, it’s happening in Buenos Aires and Shanghai – cities on exactly opposite sides of the globe. You can draw a straight line through the Earth to connect them (yes, geologists, we know you are being asked to take a truly massive leap of faith, but go on, you’ve come this far).

So, Rex and Esther are rendezvousing in South America, while Jack, Gwen and Danes head to China. They’re all in trouble. Nasty Charlotte knows where Rex is (thanks to pesky digital paper trails and the CIA apparently having no concept of cover IDs – leaping, leaping, leaping and not shouting ‘Don’t you watch  Burn Notice?’ at the TV) and a drop of Jack’s blood falls to the floor in a Chinese hotel room. Before rolling along the perfectly level floorboards – drawn, it seems, to The Blessing.

Only seven days to wait for the answers. Is it me, or can you hear the faint whisper of Torchwood fans across the country muttering quiet prayers that Miracle Day doesn’t fall at the final hurdle?

Highlights of The Gathering:

  • Gwen using the same Jubilee pizza boxes that she used to infiltrate Torchwood back in the very first episode, to smuggle stolen medication past the surveillance team across the road.
  • I love how sick Charlotte looks as she realises that the knife is a way for the CIA to trace the Families.
  • John De Lancie is still stealing every scene he’s in – especially the one that I’m guessing is Russell T Davies fan fiction for cigarette smoking.
  • Although the whole Nazi analogy has been laid on rather thick at times, I rather liked the way they’ve made the Jobsworth hunting down illegal Category Ones look more than a little like an SS officer. (For a moment, I actually though it was Richard Gibson – Herr Flick in ‘Allo ‘Allo).
  • The terrifically tense moments in the cellar as Jobsworth searches for Gwen’s dad – beautifully done ladies and gentlemen.
  • The reveal on the grocery delivery boy – we know someone’s hiding their identity, but who? It’s properly jaw-dropping to realise Oswald Danes is a) in Swansea, b) in Gwen’s house and c) playing with Anwen.
  • Gwen coolly dropping the baby into Rhys’s arms, walking back into the kitchen, drying up the saucepan and then whacking Danes in the face with it. I LOVE Gwen.
  • When Rex points out that there has to be a mole in the office, Shapiro’s reply: “Yeah well, I wish it were me, then you could shoot me and I could sleep.” Not to mention Rex’s follow-up: “I’d like that very much sir.”
  • Jack retconning the surveillance guy. Twice.
  • Harry Bosco – not a name, but a process. The subtle black art of altering information in translation to influence your public. Not the help that Danes thinks it is, but a clue nonetheless.
  • All this talk of blood reminds me of the Sycorax and their blood control. There had better not be a big red button you can just hit to turn it all off this time. (I forgave David Tennant because he had just been quoting The Lion King, was wearing pyjamas and was David Tennant. They won’t have any of these things to fall back on this time.)
  • Bill Pullman being brilliant time and again – but especially manoeuvring himself into the mission to Shanghai.
  • The only disappointment so far is that visually The Blessing fails to live up to the speech Frances Fisher delivers as she and Jilly travel down to experience it. Frankly, that moving blood drop is a hundred times more arresting. And an enticing thing to leave us hanging on…

Posted by Jo the Hat

3 Comments

Filed under Drama

3 responses to “Torchwood: Miracle Day – Back on track in time for the final lap

  1. Jen

    Ab so LUTE ly!

    The Blessing is a pink hole in the ground. A bit atmospheric and blurry. Oddly the Chinese guards seem unaffected by its supposedly supernatural properties. Hmmm. Otherwise excellent.

  2. Nikki

    Not to mention to gentle nudge at the old Torchwood days, when Rex asks Charlotte if she doesnt have a home to go to, or a bed to sleep in, or a partner for that matter who’d notice the fact shes (apprently) at work day and night (to monitor Rex, obvs), and she replies “No, she dumped me remember?”

    See. Once upon a time it wasnt just Jack doing the gay thing. The girls were up on it too. I miss that. There should be a “Make Gwen a lesbian!” campaign or something to even the scales. Jack and Gwen would be like, the gay Mulder and Scully. And JUST the thing we need. Great visibility for the population, its on the BBC, its sci-fi/drama … I mean. Who doesnt love that idea? (maybe Rhys, thinking about it, but you know what I mean!)

  3. Corumba Love

    Golly, gosh and cripes.

    You’re right, this was Old School TW with a whole mess of ideas crammed into the running time.

    Like you, I did like the quietly sinister jobsworth and his thermal imaging app. TW’s been good on certain types of public sector worker finding their metier as conscience-light processors of state killing; and I suspect it didn’t need a pension-cut amnesty to fuel their enthusiasm. Cynicism aside, I was particularly impressed that the script had time for the JW to show some humanity & depth when he warned Gwen that she’d need to up her game of Hide-the-Father should there be another visit. On the other hand, a neat if brutal twist would have been for the imaging not to find Cosy-Dad only for the relieved family to discover later that this was on account of him actually being Dead Dad.

    Later on, I wasn’t so much disappointed in the appearance of The Blessing as mildly amused that it looked a little like a lady’s, er, bits and bobs after … no, I’m not going to go **there** … a downstairs NHS operation, perhaps. I will say, however, that the resemblance appears to be more pronounced during the final episode (no spoiler attached). I don’t know if it’s a deliberate visual metaphor, there are some clues that it might be. Anyway it all put me in mind of ‘Mother Earth’ with her knickers down. On the other hand this may just be down to the sordid avenues and alleyways that spider through the Shanghai of my mind (not forgetting the Buenos of my Aires). In which case sorry and stuff.

    Soooo, on a sunnier note, that Bill Pullman: he’s a bit brill isn’t he? To make his monster evil, compelling yet funnny and, at bizarre moments, oddly likeable is a tough gig to pull off.

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