Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 9

Originally written for TV Pixie

Everyone likes Lassie, right? Lassie was always quick to point out when little Billy was stuck down a well, leading rescuers to him with her gruff, urgent barks.

Lassie was great.

Now, imagine Lassie was a droplet of blood. A tiny, quivering globule of haemoglobin. Having trouble with that mental image? Why? Because it’s ludicrous?

Well, clearly not to the writers of this episode. In the final scenes of ‘The Gathering’, a wounded Jack lolls on a bed in a Shanghai dosshouse (that’s ‘lies down’, by the way- he wasn’t finding it amusing) leaking bleedy juice all over the floor. However, instead of forming a traditional, boring puddle, said blood decides to go on a little road trip, flowing in the direction of the big reveal. It’s as if John Barrowman’s blood itself, tortured by ineffable boredom, has become sentient in a desperate bid for some kind of payoff. It’s ludicrous, but somehow it almost works. You have to admire the little droplet’s plucky spirit. It’s only a matter of time before ‘Bloodie Come Home’ becomes an unexpected smash hit for Disney.

But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here. The big reveal came in the last five minutes, 530 minutes into the entire series- i.e. 8.83 hours into this clearly epic Homeric tale of that time people stopped dying for a bit and it was possibly something to do with a pharmaceutical company but then that turned out to be a red herring.

The other 50-or-so minutes in the episode, as usual, led us up (and down, then back up again) the garden path. The big cliffhanger in the previous episode: that Jack had been shot and was in the back of a car potentially dying, is wrapped up by quickly doing a ‘two months later’ jump and speeding us quickly to a future where he’s in Scotland and apparently fine. Well, as fine as you can be in a country that insists on using something that sounds like a tartan-swaddled dying baby as a national instrument.

We then spend half an hour of what should surely- after all the hints and build up- be a critical penultimate episode jam packed with revelatory twists and turns watching Gwen’s mum hide her comatose dad in the basement like a middle aged, grey-faced Anne Frank. He’s being kept in a secret underground cupboard because the government are sending state sanctioned, stormtrooper-esque death squads in Welsh police outfits to dispose of the ‘Category Ones’. If you haven’t been watching (lucky you), this means the living unconscious, destined to be burned in giant ovens to ease the burden on an overburdened planet.

Clearly if this ludicrous scenario ever came to pass in real life and everyone really did turn into Mumm-Ra the Ever Living off of Thundercats, this delicate issue would be handled by a trained social worker and a tea-and-biscuit wielding Police Liasion Officer who would- after discovering the hidden relative- explain in sorrowful and hushed tones why said person needed to be- well- flame grilled.

Instead, we’re introduced to a vicious, terrier like pseudo Nazi called Finch who tears down walls and uses a thermal imaging app on his iPhone (product placement much?) to find Gwen’s Fritzled away parent. When Gwen weeps and begs him not to take her father to be burned alive, saying ‘he’s not dead, he’s still warm’, Finch replies with ‘not as warm as he’s going to be’. Talk about insensitive: the Police Complaints Commission are going to take a battering.

Still, you can’t kick around feeling sad that your dad’s been taken away to be burned alive. Not when there’s a mystery to solve!

A mystery which, to be fair, was slightly deepened by the incredibly incongruous appearance of Oswald ‘Bill Pullman’ Danes in Rhys and Gwen’s small Welsh terraced house disguised as an ASDA delivery man. It was like seeing Barack Obama pop up in Coronation Street having a drink at the Rovers’ before popping to the cafe for a chip barm and a chat with Hayley and Roy. Danes has come all the way from the US to offer the gang some intensely suspicious help, and hands them his ex-PR guru’s laptop. The laptop that he stole in the last episode- 2 months ago. Sorry: did he walk to the UK? Even Ryanair don’t take that long.

They discover a Youtube video on the laptop that gives them cause to think the mysterious ‘Blessing’ is in Shanghai. Er, and also Buenos Aires- something that the otherwise useless Rhys manages to deduct using a handily placed globe. One of those globes you keep on your sofa just in case a paedophile, a time travelling previously immortal mortal and a wussy American ex-CIA agent decide to pop round to your house to investigate a worldwide conspiracy.

The gang split up and head to opposite ends of the Earth. Fair enough, but why did they had to have a house party in Cardiff to discuss all this intrigue? Couldn’t they have done it via Skype? Also, with the world in a deep depression and the CIA having kicked Torchwood off the case, who the hell is bankrolling these international flights?

The strangest aspect of said house party is the sudden appearance of Jack and Esther all the way from Bonnie Scotland. They seem to have appeared entirely unbidden in order to deal with a lone surveillance officer who’s staking out Gwen’s house, handing him a bottle of memory deleting water. Or ‘vodka’, as the rest of us call it. It makes no sense whatsoever. But it’s in good company: very few other scenes do either.

There’s one lone redeeming feature of all this muddled plot-buffoonery, and that’s Jilly Kitzinger’s summons to Shanghai to meet the ‘Families’. Lauren Ambrose – as if knowing the weight of this entire turkey is lying on her shoulders- ranks up her performance to Oscar nominee levels. Quivering with barely suppressed fear, she’s the one who’s finally tasked with showing us what the Blessing actually is. Unfortunately for anyone hoping it would be something sensible or clever, it turns out to a sentient, psychic alien that resembles a giant, planet-bisecting underground vagina with bricks in. But that really doesn’t matter, the real Blessing seems to be going on inside her head. Jilly’s world dominating expression is what the camera lingers on, her sudden connection with the ‘thing’ written all over her HD-ready, glee-filled, ultra-expressive face.

Which takes us all the way back to Jack, Gwen, the Shanghai dosshouse and the loyal droplet of blood who’s leading them to discover the Blessing for themselves in next week’s ‘exciting’ conclusion. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be a blessing when all this is finally over.

Unless the final episode is packed with incredible revelations- possibly Russell T Davies popping up on screen to announce to the world that he’s invented a new form of interstellar Star Trek style warp flight powered by clean, limitless energy and we’re all invited to join him on a trip to a planet he’s discovered that’s made entirely of fudge and bouncy castles- it seems vastly unlikely it’ll be worth the 9 weeks of drudgery we had to sit through to get there.

Episode OneReview
Episode TwoReview
Episode ThreeReview
Episode FourReview
Episode FiveReview
Episode SixReview
Episode SevenReview
Episode EightReview

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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.

2 Responses to Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 9

  1. Logic abandoned me several weeks ago with Torchwood – I’m now watching it solely because I MUST SEE THE END in case it suddenly magically becomes good, or more realistically because I’m never going to get those hours of my life back and what harm is a couple more going to do?

    Is there a joke about a bloodhound lining itself up here somewhere? If there is, I’m not clever enough to make it.

    Oh, and will the inevitable sequel to “Bloodie Come Home” be inspired by the “Homeward Bound” series where loveable loyal Bloodie is joined by a droplet of lymph and a wise-cracking glob of man-jam?

    Apologies.

    • Hilary Wardle says:

      “a droplet of lymph and a wise-cracking glob of man-jam?”

      Ahahhaaaaa. That, my friend, is why I follow you on the Twitters.

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