Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 4

Originally written for TV Pixie

We’re now into the fourth week of Miracle Day and, if anything, things seem to be less clear than ever.

At first, it all seemed fairly straightforward: no one was dying. Some kind of cosmic reversal meant that immortal Jack Harkness became mortal while, conversely, everyone else – even Headless Bob or Squashed By A Steamroller Bernard – were living forever. Even if their surface area was the size of three football fields, they kept on blinking and asking people not to use them as a rug, thank you very much.

If the idea of eternal life seems appealing, it seems that’s only the case if it’s also combined with infinite youth and immunity from serious injury. And infinite ammo… Hang on. Wait. Sorry – that’s an Xbox cheat. Basically, if you want to start reading a long book, that’s fine: but be sure to stay away from wobbly stepladders, nail guns or any other appliance that’s ever been featured on 999 with Michael Buerk unless you want to spend eternity waiting in A&E with half your face torn off.

In fact, the best bet is to entirely wrap yourself, and the book, in a combination of cotton wool and antibacterial wipes. The last thing you want when you’re immortal is an eternal version of cholera.

However, as we’ve moved forward we’ve been granted hints that a large scale conspiracy is behind the whole thing: a conspiracy that involves the CIA, a large pharmaceutical company and some kind of sinister floating triangle that appears on audiovisual devices like a murderous slice of Dairylea. Whoever is behind the evil Toblerone is also – we assume – behind ‘Miracle Day’ itself. But information and clues about who they might be has been slimmer than the love child of Posh Spice and an anorexic whippet which, frankly, is getting a bit annoying.

Despite a small sense of escalation and the hint that we might, possibly in a month or two, begin to understand what’s going on, last night’s episode seemed to be treading water, even though it did include a cross country relocation to LA. There was only one minor revelation: the speech by the hitman in the employ of CreepyLineDrawnPyramidCorp. who helpfully informs a captured Gwen and Jack that the big baddies have something to do with Jack’s past, that they are somehow ‘everywhere’ and ‘always’ and are referred to as ‘families’.

Unfortunately Rex chose that moment to burst in and shoot the helpful expositionary character in the throat just as he was about to reveal their name. But it’s ok: there were enough clues. We can work it out for ourselves…

Yes, it’s now pretty clear that the sinister force behind all this is the Corrs. Think about it – they’ve been around for ever, they just won’t go away and they seem eternally youthful. Yet they’re also clearly evil. Anyone who’d play a panpipe through a massive speaker system or open for Celine Dion is a monster, frankly.

However, the fact that the mystery is becoming so maddening seems to suggest the programme is actually engaging viewers well. It’s certainly gripping. If it were a novel the series would definitely be a page turner. Like J.K. Rowling, Russell T Davies seems to be adept at constantly moving the reveal backwards and just out of reach to keep you chasing it. The problem is that unless the underlying mystery is so large and complex to be mindblowing this tactic can sometimes seem like an inevitable letdown.

It also leads to a lot of filler: this week this was provided by the character of a ‘Tea Party’ republican who was advocating second class citizenship for people who should have died, a rather pointless visit by Rex to his grumpy, alcoholic father and pretty much any scene pointlessly showing the sea, waves, California or attractive people on rollerblades. Moving the action to Venice Beach in L.A. gave the whole episode a bizarre air: the terrifying zombie-esque worldwide crisis seemed to have barely scratched the consciousness of the condo-dwelling classes and they were still sunning themselves, drinking algae-and-oxygen smoothies and complaining about the price of ultrasonic yak placenta facials at the local spa.

They could have at least shown a few of the beach bound stunners heading into the sea with a shark clamped round their midriff to keep viewers in the sub-apocalyptic sci-fi horror mood.

So yes, just enough action to keep things moving forward for now, but we’re still lacking a palpable sense of focus or a clear villain… other than messianic paedophile Oswald Danes, obviously. There’s nothing more menacing than a kiddy-fiddling Bill Pullman plotting world domination.

Apart from the Corrs.

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

3 Responses to Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 4

  1. I follow Sharon Corr and her hubby on twitter and two less world-dominating folk it’s hard to imagine. But then I am close to terminally naive and you’ve never been wrong before. Have you? Another excellent synopsis of a story that feels as if it would be comfortable at half the length.

    • ladyribenaberet says:

      Absolutely agree: feel like it’s butter scraped over too much bread (to quote Bilbo Baggins). Thanks for your kind words, as ever!

  2. Lucie says:

    PMSL – a fantastic review. Thank God they ended up in LA and not in Ireland!

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