Torchwood – Mircale Day – Season Review

Rating:


This is going to be a longer review than usual so I hope you’re sitting comfortably.

There is no denying that this has been a mixed season. It started well, there were some good episodes along the way and some inspired ideas. Then some episodes missed the mark completely and I was growing frustrated that the story was taking its time to develop. There were even times I felt like giving up. Then something would hook me back in, a guest star, a Doctor Who reference or the writing team, so I stuck with it, and boy am I glad I did because the finale really worked for me. Even if it did feel a little rushed.

The opening of the episode mirrored the finale of Children of Earth with Gwen giving a heartfelt monologue that sums up the bleakness of the events. Torchwood is attacking both sides of The Blessing in what seems like a suicide run for them all.

Russell T Davies’s famous emotional finale trademark was all over this episode. Co writing with Jane Espenson, this was Torchwood fully recapturing the Children Of Earth feel. I would go as far to say that this heart-pounding finale saved the series. I’m sure some had already turned away from Torchwood, some may even say Starz has ruined Torchwood altogether. Miracle Day was a vast improvement on seasons one and two but a step back from Children Of Earth.

It was great that Francis Fisher returned as The Mother. I was quietly surprised they got a actress of her stature in the show at all. While it is true she is there to provided some needed exposition, she was a joy to watch in a villainous role.

So, Rex and Esther are transporting Jack’s blood to The Blessing when an insider sets off a bomb destroying the blood and supposedly Rex and Esther with it. Using this to go under the radar Rex and Esther continue with the plan, and why has Rex’s condition worsened?

Meanwhile on the other side of the world Jack, Gwen and Oswald prepare for the final confrontation. It’s here that once again Bill Pullman proves to be the star of the show. Oswald Danes was by far the best of the new characters, he is a deeply disturbed man and his journey throughout Miracle Day was the most watchable, even more so when he shared the screen with Jilly.

Back in Wales Rhys and PC Andy (sorry he’ll always be PC Andy to me) go and say their goodbyes to Gwen’s Dad. There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff going on in Wales but it was good they didn’t pave over the dangling story threads.

I was hoping if Torchwood does come back John De Lancie’s Shapiro would make a return. Despite giving a truly in character last line I was gutted to see him leave. It made me hate Charlotte ‘the most unconvincing double agent’ Willis even more. She robbed him of a spin-off.

This was very much a finale that was centred on the last stand confrontation. The nagging issue I had with no aliens being involved was misplaced, well I can admit when I’m wrong. There was no room for them it just would have felt forced. Gwen says it best by labeling it the most terrestrial thing they have ever faced.

When Oswald witnessed The Blessing he saw himself, his crimes “The Blessing feels like sin”, it was a real edge of the seat moment. We know he doesn’t want to live with himself anymore so maybe strapping a bomb to him and giving him the trigger was not the best idea or as Jilly put it best “You found the world’s biggest bastard and strapped a bomb to him then showed him his true self. His fractured mind and disposition save him as he is comfortable in the presence of sin.

What I liked about Oswald’s ending was he didn’t repent, he didn’t redeem himself. He is a monster and he knows it, he almost welcomes hell as that is were all the bad little girls go. A Dark and twisted end for a dark and twisted character.

As this was the episode that Esther irritated me the least I knew something had to be up. While I wasn’t a huge fan of her character is was a shame they killed her off, she had loads of potential and I pegged her as the new Gwen if this was a handover season. It was a terrible choice for Rex to make, end the Miracle and she dies but Gwen sets him straight and the plan continues.

I can’t fault the makers for being ambitious with the story but it’s just a bit disappointing they took too long to get it going. This in itself is a bit ironic as in my first review for The New World I was concerned good sub plots were going to be skated over. It also suffered from jumbled mid-season syndrome, which has affected many shows and even the mighty Doctor Who has had a bout of this. Episode 4 of Miracle Day was that episode, then the absence of Danes and Jilly for two weeks later on, it almost didn’t recover from it.

I have gone back and watched those episodes again and my first impression still stands. They simply got in the way and didn’t further much of the story at all, it sort of felt they were trying to shoehorn the monster of the week format into the bigger story arc.

For all my misgivings about Miracle Day it still had 6 out of 10 good episodes, while that isn’t a great average it proves that less is more when it comes to Torchwood. I touched on it briefly in a previous review but I think two 5 part mini-series would have worked better. The first mini-series could still have been Miracle Day and it may have been better received. The second mini series could of been a non-global conspiracy adventure. The ongoing Children of Earth comparisons are unfair but it showed how Torchwood works best, every episode every scene was vital because they only had 5 hours to tell the story. As the original order for Miracle Day from Starz was for 13 episodes I can only wonder what they would have put in those extra 3 episodes.

I still have faith in Torchwood, it does beg the question of just how many chances can the show have. Well I for one hope it does return, be it for a mini series, some TV Movies (now there’s an idea) or another full run I am willing to give it another go, because when it does get it right, and it did in some of Miracle Day, it really works. So for now goodbye Captain Jack and Co, I hope to see you again soon. Then there is that little matter of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013.

I’m not sure what the future holds for Torchwood, ratings were ok but nothing spectacular. It’s certainly open for another series, Rex is now like Jack and while this raises any number of fan boy plot holes it’s a nice save. We also got no explanation for how Jack appeared to have a haircut while he was in the lift. A minor continuity error but it was rather obvious.

Jilly is still out there and we are teasingly told about plan b, so plenty of potential for further adventures. I hope Russell T Davies doesn’t let a thing like ratings and critical reaction deter him from making more.

What did you think of Miracle Day?

Chris Suffield

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  • Mary Lu

    Great review, but why is there a Doctor Who picture from last series? I think Torchwood is great and all, but some Doctor Who fans might be offended.