As Jack meets his long-lost lover Angelo again, he learns who made a pact to purchase the power of resurrection and caused the Miracle Day. Meanwhile, a global recession is looming and Oswald Danes makes a shocking discovery about his future.
Torchwood airs on Friday nights at 10PM on STARZ. In a bizarre marketing move, the BBC will air the episodes the following Thursday nights, with the cable channel’s naughty bits cut and replaced with longer character bits.
Well, after the see-sawing quality of the last few weeks, I almost welcome the comfortable mediocrity of this latest episode. There’s nothing too bad, but nothing too good about this “End of the Road” – in fact, this episode is so by-the-numbers that it really emphasizes how most of the series so far has been a meandering waste of time with only one or two highpoints.
The script this time out is by Jane Espenson (again) and Ryan Scott, and its serviceable. Plot points that need to be hit are done so with only the minimal amount of bad dialogue. A loose-end or two are wrapped up and a small amount of progress is made toward the inevitable confrontation between Torchwood and mysterious forces behind the Miracle.
This week, Torchwood continues establishing its American Geek Cred by casting Q himself, John de Lancie as CIA boss Allen Shapiro alongside DS9‘s Nana Visitor as Olivia Colasanto, although it then blows any goodwill it got from me by “killing” off Visitor after less than a single episode.
There were hints of interesting character work going on during the one real scene that Visitor gets to act in. Her character has a fair amount of hostility toward Jack (John Barrowman) that could have been explored to provide some nice dramatic tension as the series went on.
But instead, they just blowed her up. That’s that.
Espenson and Scott take two other different approaches to ratcheting up that dramatic tension, instead – both of which are plot-based rather than character-based. The first is with the discovery of some genuine alien technology – the first of this series, really – underneath the floor of Old Angelo’s home hospital bed.
Apparently, this “Null Field Generator” is alien tech that was kept in Torchwood’s headquarters before it was blown to smithereens. Which means that Angelo somehow got his sickly rich hands on it and had it built into his bedroom floor. The question now is, was this a message for Jack or is his discovery of it just a happy coincidence?
At least that’s a question the characters have. It’s pretty obvious to the viewer that it’s A CLUE. You see, Angelo used Jack’s tips for future survival and made himself a fortune. He then used that fortune to keep tabs on Jack and to establish himself as a “partner-of-sorts” with the mysterious Three Man Partnership we witnessed forming last episode.
You know, three episodes from the end of the series.
Of course, because he was gay, the Families looked down on him and never let him in on the Big Secrets, instead just letting hang about on the fringes and get subtle glimpses at their plans. So without any real knowledge to pass on, the Null Field is somehow his way of passing some info to Jack.
Whatever that means.
It’s all very vague and magical, suddenly throwing another forced twist into the proceedings as Jack decides that a Null Field, which is able to cancel out the effects of The Miracle, allowing Old Angelo to die, is too dangerous to leave in the CIA’s hands.
This makes sense, as it’s the only way to ensure True Death that we’ve seen, but unless this pays off as an actual clue to the identities or origins of The Families, it’s going to be just another pointless twist being used to pad out this story. I hope it’s not, but given what’s happened so far, I’m not holding my breath.
Because what we really need with two episodes left is another tangent upon which to go spiraling off.
The second forced dramatic twist happens between Jilly (Lauren Ambrose) and Danes (Bill Pullman) – remember them? They’ve been gone for the last couple of episodes. Since last we saw them, Danes is preparing to give a presentation to a sold out Cowboys Stadium. Because, you know, the convicted pedophile/child murderer is now a rock star preaching salvation and promoting sending people to the Ovens.
Luckily, even though the masses love him, every individual person who interacts with him kind of despises him; even the hooker that he tries to hire. You see, he wants to try and be “normal” – which means having a “real” “date” with an adult hooker, instead of raping and murdering a child. (Did I mention he was a pedophile/murderer?)
But the hooker is having none of it.
I mean, sure, if he wants to degrade her and have his way with her, that’s fine, but she despises him and doesn’t want to act “normal” with him. It’s an interesting character moment that is immediately tossed aside to add a new plot twist – the introduction of Category Zero: Criminals who, due to moral reasons, should be put to death.
This makes Danes a little crazy, so he assaults Jilly and then runs away into the night, with Jilly vowing to call a press conference and ruin him.
It looks, and I could easily be wrong about this, but it looks like the whole Oswald Danes story is going to end up going nowhere. Jilly’s story, on the other hand, takes an interesting twist as she is recruited by The Families. I say “interesting” but that’s really only in relation to just how uninteresting the rest of this episode was.
The only real highlights were the reveal that Esther’s (Alexa Havins) sister has volunteered to be made Category 1 and also added her kids to the list. I’m not sure how that’s legal, but that’s Torchwood: Miracle Day for you. Whenever someone wants to do something crazy that makes no real legal sense, they just make up a new law, pass it in minutes, and say it’s because of Miracle Day.
The episode also ends on a strong note with Gwen (Eve Myles) being deported and Esther on the run with a gutshot Jack in her backseat.
So we’re heading into the final two hours of Torchwood: Miracle Day and we really haven’t learned anything at all about the causes of Miracle Day other than the simple fact that our bad guys are called The Families and they have agents everywhere (even in the CIA!!!). None of the stunt casting has lasted more than an episode so far, either. That’s maybe the most disappointing thing about the way the influx of American money has been spent. It would have been nice to have an actual recognizable villain instead of a succession of guest-spots that never amount to anything.
Maybe they’ll all show up again at the end in a big zombie death party, but I doubt it.
Regardless, it’s a waste of actors and forces their parts to be hastily inserted into the episode without having any real impact on the overall story – Unless it’s just an opportunity to provide an info-dump like Keith David did. Seriously. It’s just a waste.
This was a episode, but only because my expectations have dropped so dramatically. If I’d seen this episode closer to the beginning of the series, it would probably score lower, but after seeing how bad things can get, this is passable. Mediocrity is all I’m hoping for at this point.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. He currently has little spare time, but in what there is he continues to work on his first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.