Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 10

Originally written for TV Pixie. Disclaimer: my impatience with the bad pacing in the series as a whole- and the fact that it seemed to squander its potential- means this reads like a tsunami of negativity. Torchwood fans: you have been warned!

John Barrowman stares in horror at his future...panto season's coming up

 

The finale of Torchwood, like all of the preceding episodes, was a mish-mash of tomfoolery with a side order of baffling, pointless subplots; as if the script was being frantically written in the background whilst the actors stalled for time. If there were any justice in the world the entire episode would have been overdubbed with the sound of a slow, sarcastic handclap and a pitying ‘waaa waaa waaaaaaaaah’ on a tuba.

In all the million weeks of nothingness that have made up Miracle Day we’ve encountered one – and only one – interesting revelation: apparently there’s a sort of… muscle… running through the centre of the Earth from pole-to-pole that sends out psychic vibes to the human race. A bit like a cross between John Edward and a kebab.

Anyone tuning in this week might have expected to be told what said kebab – a.k.a. ‘the Blessing’ – is, where it came from and  (most importantly) why it hasn’t been discovered by the multiple deep core drilling experiments that currently exist. ‘Ok Mike, we’re pulling the sample up now. Ok, so we’ve got basalt, some metamorphic rock, some granite and… er… um… what looks like a layer of distressed beef”.

So, did we get any explanation as to the identity of this wobbling length of unexpected flesh?

No. Of course not.

When he sees it, Jack ‘Clueless’ Harkness starts waffling on about ‘Racnoss energy’ and referencing Doctor Who baddies (please, writers, don’t drag that far superior programme into this mess), eventually concluding that he doesn’t actually know what it is. Great. Imagine if David Attenborough went around doing the same thing: “it looks like…a monkey. Probably some kind of monkey. Or a bird. I dunno”.

All we’re told is that it exudes some kind of morphic field that helps regulate the human lifespan. Why this underground tentacle helps Homo Sapiens and not, say, Korean leaf-rolling weevils is unknown. What we do know is it’s being exploited by the three ‘families’ who, incidentally, are possibly the weakest super villains since Man Spider and Craig the Evil Toilet from David Firth’s excellent online cartoon Burnt Face Man (if you haven’t seen it, do – it’s far better than Torchwood).

The Families fed the Blessing some of Jack’s immortal blood, which caused it to accept a new, perpetual lifespan setting for the human race. They did that because they wanted to take over the world. And that, essentially, is the plot of this entire series in a nutshell.

Did old R.T.D. need ten episodes to tell that story? No. Two, definitely. Three at a push. But ten? Not unless it explored the Blessing’s lengthy backstory as a friendly travelling psychic tentacle with a love of hanging around encased in rock for four billion years until eventually, in the last few geological seconds of its imprisonment, a race of sentient apes who needed their lifespans regulated appeared for it to communicate with. That, admittedly, would take a few hours to tell.

The question is, how do you reset a giant underground lifespan regulating entity once it’s set on making the whole world immortal? Well, in classic ‘hit someone on the head a second time to cure amnesia’ cartoon logic, it turns out the underground ladypart needs to be fed some of Captain Jack’s mortal blood. A bit like a period in reverse.

Sadly, the Torchwood gang hadn’t read the giant flange’s manual: apparently to perform a system reset you have to introduce the new blood at both ends at once. The ends in question being – quite literally – poles apart. It all looks futile as Jack is the only mortal on the planet and the supplies of his blood that the Rex and Esther oh-so-handily thought to take with them to Buenos Aires have been destroyed. OR HAVE THEY?

In scenes more ludicrous than anything you’d see on Strictly Come Dancing (and that’s saying a lot), Rex reveals that his blood is – in fact – Jack’s as well. Yep, as if predicting how vital it would be to have a supply of Barrowman juice (sorry for the mental image there) they transfused the whole bally lot of it into him as if Rex were some kind of human thermos.

In a last ditch attempt to stop the Torchwood gang unleashing bloody vengeance, an Argentinian member of the ‘Family’ shoots Esther.

“Ahaha!” he says, twirling an imaginary silent-movie era villain moustache. “If you go ahead and change the status quo…she’ll die!”

As if acknowledging that Esther was about as interesting as a 4am Open University documentary about silicon, Rex (Team Buenos Aries) and Jack (Team Shanghai) barely hesitate before going ahead with ‘Operation Gross Bloodsplurge’. They’re drained of blood, the blood enters the bizarre Earth-spanning musclepipe and the world is saved.

The whole thing is, frankly, bonkers; like watching the creator of Twilight have a bad acid trip.

During this nonsense we’re also forced to look on from the sidelines as Jilly Kitzinger (the only vaguely interesting, morally ambiguous and complex character in the series) descends into pantomime villainy: disintegrating before our eyes. Bill Pullman showed initial promise as paedophile-turned-spokesman Oswald Danes, but he, too, is reduced to a comedy sidekick by this final episode, covering himself in explosives like a terrorist Scooby Doo to Jack’s Shaggy.

It’s all a massive waste of airtime. The only vaguely intriguing development comes in the final few moments of the episode when we discover that Rex now can’t die. Apparently eternal life can now be bestowed by blood transfusion: compassionate vampires please take note.

What the addition of a second immortal character means for the future of Torchwood is unclear. Of course, that’s if it even has a future after this disappointing festival of pointlessness. Chillingly, the final scenes seem to be setting us up for a sequel, possibly one involving the ever-dull ‘Families’.

Frankly, they’d be better off pointing a camera at a freshly painted wall: it’d be far more entertaining. And it’d contain approximately 100% less John Barrowman: always a good thing.

*     *     *

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

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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.

One Response to Torchwood: Miracle Day- Episode 10

  1. iworm says:

    Oooooooo. You harsh lady. Not sayin’ you don’t have a point or two. But still on the harsh side of fair. “It’s all a massive waste of airtime.” Nah. Nope. Was it as good as I had hoped it might be? Deffo not. But gadzooks, let’s not be too harsh: one might scare off further TV sci-fi.

    Now if we can scare off RTD, then I’m 101% with you – much as I love him for bringing back Dr Who, I think his scripts there varied from just OK to bloody silly. So let’s agree that the next Torchwood needs someone else at the helm? I dunno, Moffat springs to mind……? He seems sound.

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