“End Of The Road” – Torchwood: Miracle Day

Apologies for my absence of late, Internet folks. Been in inter-continental transit and had to deal with the death of a beautiful, beautiful friend of mine. But back in the driver’s seat now – and there’s nothing better to help you get over grief than watching a show about the mind-numbing stupidity of immortality…

Well that was grand. By grand I of course mean “fine”, in the Irish sense, not in the piano sense. Although Eve draped across a piano wouldn’t be a bad addition at this point.

Now where are we in the lovely Torchwood universe? Things are coming together – and they’d want to with this episode being called “End Of The Road” (and the next called “The Gathering”, the one after presumably being called “Let’s Book A Hostel”). As far as things making sense, though, I’m still a little bit adrift and frustrated by some epic wheel-spinning and a foray into the most physically obvious silent conversation since Chaplin.

Also, Jack mounting an old man for some reason.

Gwen, Esther, Jack and Rex were back together, and headed off at the behest of Major Kira Naris to a mansion owned by Jack’s former beau Angelo Colasanto. You see ever since finding out that Jack was immortal way back in sexy 1920s New York, Angelo had been harbouring a desire to discover the secrets of his skincare regime. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out, when Angelo’s granddaughter (Nana Visitor, doing her absolute best, bless her) introduced the Torchwood crew to the wizened and near-dead Angelo.

As the hour unfolded, Angelo died, a CIA team raided the place, Q showed up, Nana and co. bit the exploding bullet and Jack got shot. All things that happened, but for the life of me I can’t think of one reason why I should care at this point.

Except for Q, of course.

Torchwood is turning into something of a science-fiction 90210, where the best episodes merely wash over me like a pleasant car wash; and the worst show a startling lack of self-awareness and genre savvy on behalf of the characters.

Miracle Day was always going to stand or fall on the strength of it’s revelation of WHY. Why is it necessary for everyone in the world to not die? Why do they not heal? Why is Jack involved? Children Of Earth managed to get away with this revelation because it was so simplistic – an alien race were addicted to children, and they simply wanted more and more and more. It wasn’t exactly War And Peace, but it had a sort of sickly fascinating hook. Children Of Earth also benefited from a strong set of episodes that meant we’d all had good clean fun and if the end let us down, well then what the hell – some of us enjoy good foreplay no matter what the result.

But the worse Miracle Day gets, the more it’s reliant on this answer – and as Jack uncovered Angelo’s relation to the mysterious “families” that are behind it all it’s not looking good. Is it revenge on Jack, or is it the bland ascension of an alien race? Either way, it doesn’t make the immortality plot seem necessary.

Or the insistence on casting people so clearly associated with other shows.

Across town, we finally got to check back in on Jilly and Oswald in a sub-plot that belonged in a different (and maybe more enjoyable) show. Oswald hired a prostitute, an adult prostitute, to fulfill his presumed fascination with Jilly – but the redhead drew the line at actually talking or dining with the convicted pedophile rapist murderer. This continued Torchwood’s black hole of moral superiority, where motivations seem more to do with grandstanding speeches than any sense of internal compasses.

"I care about things now for some reason, GODDAMIT!"

Anyway, by episode’s end Oswald had found out he may be destined to be a Category Zero (those who’ve earned a trip to the flame chambers through despicable deeds) and he’d beaten up Jilly and fled the hotel. For her troubles, Jilly did earn a promotion while her blink-and-you’ll-miss-her undercover CIA agent personal assistant earned a bullet in the chest. Not that that necessarily means anything.

At this point I’m still curious about where this is all going, but it’s more tortuous than I’d really like it to be. And as each episode draws to a close, and as each plot turn corkscrews in on itself, and as each character splits and divides and dovetails to the whim of the writing team, I find myself reflecting more and more on the greatest question of all – how did Torchwood manage to make death boring?

Free Radicals

– “So why didn’t you… bollocks. Start again.” I do still like Gwen, even if her attitude sorely misses the show she’s in.

– Boo for the dispatch of Nana Visitor, the sort of off-beat auntie of the sci-fi universe. I thoroughly enjoyed her speech on jellyfish, though.

– “He loved a man.” Yes, we get it. Everyone hates gay people. But I’m gay, so why don’t I care?

– I didn’t even mention Rex’s duplicity and contact lens camera trick. Because it made no sense.

– “Greece and Ireland have declared bankruptcy.” Is feidir linn!

– “Basically she’s made up of positive thinking and colostomy bags.” Someone give Jilly her own show.

– I am, oddly enough, enjoying Esther more. Don’t ask me why.

– My assessment of Eve Myles’ acting summed up in one line: “Normal bit of sentence to INTENSE WHISPER BIT OF SENTENCE.”

– It occurs to me that the oddness of Jack and Gwen’s pairing is probably due to Ianto’s death in Children Of Earth. He was the calm gel betwixt two electrified emotional hot plates, and now they’re both bouncing off each other nonsensically.

– I would very much like to have a conversation with the actors involved in Miracle Day. An honest conversation.


About alfla

Playwright, screenwriter, sometime improv enthusiast and full-time television lover. You know, in THAT way.
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