Torchwood – The Gathering (contains spoilers)

It’s penultimate episode time on Torchwood. After a gripping finale to last week’s installment I was really looking forward to seeing what happens to the mortal Jack after he had been shot. While the episode last week was another so so one, it ended with enough tantalising possibilities I was  excited to see what happened next, it was reminding me of some of those jaw dropping endings in Children of Earth. So, obviously skipping the story forward by nearly two months was the sensible thing to do.

This got my back up from the start. I couldn’t believe that nothing of any note had occurred in 7 weeks. Jack and Esther are laying low in Scotland, Gwen is back in Wales with her family and Rex is fully integrated back into the CIA. Jilly is invited to Shanghai to witness The Blessing, but where in the world is Oswald Danes?

In Wales, things are desperate. Gwen raids a Pharmacy for drugs to treat her father. Phicorp have made drugs almost impossible to get hold of. The line of what is determined a category 1 has also become blurred “He only went in with back pain and they classified him category 1”.

Gwen is hiding her father in the basement, still hoping to find a solution to his category 1 condition. A special task force going door to door to search out unregistered category 1 patients is now in full swing; it isn’t long before they are onto Gwen.

There was a lot of potential in this sequence for some genuine nail-biting tension, as the police search the basement where Gwen’s Mother and Father are hiding. It was a bit of a missed opportunity.

Thankfully John de Lancie returns which cheers me up no end. Shapiro has a great ‘who cares’ attitude, and he is a realist as he can see the planet is inching towards a dictatorship. Shapiro also sees little anybody can do to stop it.

Rex is still trying to piece it all together, but like everybody else he is missing a part of the puzzle. A piece of evidence comes up that could prove useful, but double agent Charlotte soon sees to that. Charlotte hasn’t been the most secretive double agent, it’s a little frustrating nobody in the CIA has noticed yet.

Don’t get me wrong I like TV shows and films that keep their secrets well, there is nothing more annoying than guessing the outcome or being ahead of the protagonists in any story. I’m hoping it’s a great big alien race behind it all, as there haven’t been any alien shenanigans yet in this series.

Oswald makes a surprise appearance at Gwen’s looking for Jack, before he can say much of anything Gwen and Rhys overpower him.  Now their prisoner, Danes reluctantly gives up some of the information he knows about the person behind The Miracle and about The Blessing. The name behind it is no more than another riddle, but the pieces are starting to fall into place. The Nullifying Field from Angelo’s house a few episodes ago, we learned that one DNA cell could change everything, Jack’s kiss caused Angelo to die. Clearly Jack’s blood is the key, in the closing minutes his blood literally points the way to The Blessing.

On the other side of the world Jilly meets some odd new friends and learns The Blessing could be deadly as not everybody lives through it. This scene was a bit underwhelming; those thinking of ancient rituals or sacrifices were in for a disappointment. I did like the reference to a form of ‘perception filter’ being used to mask The Blessing,

Ultimately I really struggled to get past the outrageous 2-month time jump, in a single story arc this doesn’t really work. This lazy move (unless the reasons to why become clear in the finale) dispensed with the immediacy previous episodes worked so hard to create. This might have worked better if it hadn’t of come so late in the series.

I understand the makers of the show wanted to highlight the full devastation of The Miracle, how it affects society, government and how people react when rights we take for granted are no longer there. I do admire Davies for going down this path, this is evident in much of his other work. I hate to say it but it feels like he ran out of steam. I hope the finale is enough for me to eat my words as I do rate Davies as a writer and executive producer.

The trailer for the finale looks like it could go out with a bang, but Torchwood has fooled me before with their trailers. I will reserve final judgment for next week’s review. Torchwood concludes next Thursday on BBC One at 9pm.

Chris Suffield

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