I have very mixed feelings about this week’s episode. I have long believed that Torchwood has never done a good flashback episode. The brief moments in Children of Earth were believable but that required nothing more than a field and a slightly different hairstyle from Jack.
The last time Torchwood did a full-blown flashback episode was in Series 2 my lasting memory from that episode is Jack’s awfully fake sideburns. So naturally I was a bit cautious about another flashback episode and coming in at episode seven it feels a bit late.
The story starts in the late 1920’s (Jack bizarrely wearing his modern day clothes), where he meets chancer Angelo, and it’s not long before romance develops. It’s a bit odd for an alleged pansexual to only be interested in the boys. Just saying.
Meanwhile back in the present day, Gwen wastes no time in getting her hands on Jack and she is soon driving him to the mysterious captors. This allows the flashback to neatly develop, but I have a few reservations. The flashback started the episode, and as it hadn’t been cued in for any specific reason it became pretty obvious this was going to have something significant to do with the miracle.
There were a some nice touches on offer though; we get a couple of good references to Doctor Who, a reference to the Trickster and even a slightly teasing bit about what would happen if Hitler lived. It was great that Jack admitted that travelling through time and space with a companion was among the best experience of his life. We’ve never seen this vulnerable side of Jack before.
There was another racy sex scene, which I’m sure the BBC cut to ribbons. We also get a Miracle Day first; Jack gets shot to death in 1927 in front of Angelo but quickly returns to life as Angelo is sent away to prison. A year later Jack is waiting for Angelo when he is released, It’s here were the episode took a much darker than expected tone.
Convinced Jack is the devil Angelo stabs Jack to death. When Jack wakes up there is a growing crowd of people and things soon take on a disturbing form. The crowd line up with knives and meat cleavers, taking turns hacking Jack to death. There was also the appearance of three men who appeared to buy Jack; they sealed the deal with a triangle shaped handshake. Are they the ancestors behind the modern day triangle symbol we keep seeing?
Angelo soon sees this was a mistake and gets Jack away from the bloodthirsty crowd. Once he is out Jack leaves Angelo behind, as if he was to be his companion it would only cause heartbreak.
That’s the flashback in a nutshell. I found it quite annoying that Jack was wearing the same clothes as he does in 2011, a minor point I know but it made an otherwise well constructed flashback feel false because he stood out from it. This was highlighted further when he showed up to meet Angelo at the prison in period clothes. All of a sudden it became more believable, shame they didn’t do that from the start.
There was also a couple of less than convincing threats from Gwen to Jack and visa versa. But that scene was saved as we learned just how devious Jack can be. Desperate to cling to the life he now has, the man who can’t die has become the man who wants to live. Gwen gives a heartfelt insight into how she feels about Torchwood and its effects on her life. The dynamic of their relationship has truly changed forever.
Danes, and Jilly were noticeably absent again, and Rex and Esther make brief appearances. Although, the highlight of the episode for me was Andy storming in to save Gwen’s family; killing his first ever person and looking rather chuffed; sadly the episode didn’t further the story by much, which is a shame as Espenson was again on writing duties.
From the sounds of it maybe the miracle is an ex’s revenge against Jack. I hope this isn’t the case as it would be quite disappointing. A lot of people have given up on Torchwood, and while it is by no means the best Sci-Fi out there; I haven’t given up on it just yet. A ten-part single story arc was a nice idea but I think two five part mini series might have been a better idea.
With just three episodes left to go, next week’s trailer shows the return of Oswald Danes and if that’s not enough Wayne Knight is back as well. Need more? Joining the cast is Q himself John de Lancie, the mystery continues on BBC One next Thursday at 9pm.
Under no circumstance miss Doctor Who this weekend, I will be doing a weekly review of each episode starting this weekend.