I can’t in good faith start this review without mentioning briefly the news from Comic-Con. Doctor Who has a new slightly earlier transmission date of August 27th for BBC America. Oddly no UK date was announced but fingers crossed for dual broadcasting like the first half of the season. But as the US got Torchwood before the UK maybe we should get Doctor Who a week or earlier. Just saying.
There was also the rather spectacularly brilliant new trailer for the second half of series six. If you haven’t seen it yet then follow this link and join the masses of people whose jaws have hit the floor or who have simply imploded with sheer excitement.
On with the review.
As soon as I found out Jane Espenson was writing multiple episodes for Torchwood my expectations were dramatically raised. Her credits include Battlestar Galatica, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Caprica and Game of Thrones. She has gone on to co-create her own series, Warehouse 13 which has just started its third season.
Bringing her highly accomplished skills to Torchwood is good news for all. There’s a lot going on in this episode and Espenson finds the perfect balance to furthering all the existing story threads while introducing a few new ones.
On the run and looking for answers the makeshift Torchwood team continue their investigation. Ester and Rex get some much-needed character development in this episode, and I’m slowly starting to warm to them both.
Gathering in numbers is a cult called The Soulless, marching through the city streets wearing masks and holding candles. They believe that immortality has robbed all of humanity of their souls. I’m sure they will become a bigger part of the story as the season goes on.
Gwen proves to be a dab hand at stealing a car and the team head to a warehouse owned by major pharmaceutical company Phicorp. Once inside they make a startling discovery, a stockpile of a non-narcotic drugs, ready to treat people in the “new world order’. Phicorp were prepared for the miracle, but how?
Dr Juarez continues to do her best to maintain a balance in the hospital, and as the only everyday character in the show it’s really through her eyes we see the collapse of society. Murder is no longer classified a crime as murder isn’t possible anymore.
With the government spiraling out of control, how long will in before population control methods creep in? The effects of the miracle are starting to cause more problems and the cracks are starting to show. I’m impressed that the writers are exploring the implications of the miracle to everyday life. Adding pathos and a real human element to what could have so easily have been a by the numbers action heavy series. It’s this commitment to telling bigger and more rounded stories that makes Miracle Day, so far a success.
The racy sex scenes made a return, any fans that felt the show would be toned down were certainly proved wrong. This is co-produced by Starz, who also made the incredibly graphic Spartacus Blood and Sand so I don’t think ‘toned down’ was ever going to be an option. The BBC version was heavily censored from the US transmission, as it’s shown post watershed this feels a little unwarranted. It’s not that it was out-of-place here it just seemed strange that Rex and Jack both had the spare time to go out and pick someone up. But let’s face it, Jack would make the time.
Proving that she could be useful to him, Danes takes Jilly up on her offer to help him reach his potential. They go to a meeting with Phicorp and Danes agrees to help deliver their message to the people.
The camera contact lenses also made a return only this time Gwen is using them. While the scene is perfectly reasonable, it did feel like a lazy rehash of the same set up from Children of Earth. I can’t shake this nagging feeling that this is a ‘handover’ season and a brand new Torchwood team will be in place at the end. I sincerely don’t want this to be true and I’m likely just over thinking it.
There was a lot more character development all round in this episode and less action, which like last week’s episode works in its favour. It’s good to see Davies’s is taking his time to build the tension and let the story develop. Rex and Jack fighting it out for Alpha male adds a great dynamic to the team we haven’t really seen before. Many of the elements that made Torchwood an eccentric show are still there and I’m really enjoying the ride. I think this has been the best episode so far.
The final scene involving Jack confronting Dane’s was well acted and very well written. Bill Pullman once again delivers a measured and captivating performance that gives us a window in his monstrous mind. I truly hope that he is acknowledged come award season.
After this evening’s cliffhanger and the teaser for the next episode, we’re in for some dark times ahead. “Walk with me that’s all I ask, walk with me”
Torchwood continues with Escape To L.A next Thursday at 9pm on BBC One