This review contains spoilers.
10. The Blood Line
Whatever you’ve thought of Torchwood: Miracle Day to date, you can’t argue with the fact that it threw pretty much everything it could find at you for its big, all-action finale. By turns utterly bananas, quiet, rug-pulling and head-scratching, it was an hour of television that provided and rounded off many of the promised answers. And then it left a whole new question. A big one, at that.
So let’s start with the ending. Those in the US who had already seen the finale last week had filled the web with chitter-chatter that affirmed just how divisive a last few minutes the show came up with. It was, in effect, a teaser trailer for future Torchwood, as all of a sudden, Jack isn’t the only person on the planet who can’t die. No, we’ve got Rex Matheson now, and that should ensure a fair amount of extra work for Mekhi Phifer in the years ahead.
It was a sudden rug pull (it reminded me of one particular M Night Shyamalan movie in that sense), and you may question how logical it is. Was this a device just put in at the last minute, pending explanation later? Good question, but I can only attest that it had the desired effect. Torchwood has been very good at burning bridges at the end of its series, with finales that force the show to move to a new place for the following run. Say what you will of the revelation at the end, here, but that’s just what’s happened again. Things absolutely have to change.
Personally, I’d rather Esther Drummond had survived, but then her character had pretty much completed her journey by the end here, you could argue. Thing is, I thought pretty much the same of Rex, but clearly there are plans afoot for him.
The more interesting threads for me, though, that tease future Torchwood, are Jilly Kitzinger, and the ongoing presence of the three families. Lauren Ambrose has been great in the role of Kitzinger, and her character has been held back just a little in Miracle Day, taking her to a place that might just make her pivotal to whatever Plan B is.
What’s interesting is that the Torchwood team (now of three) haven’t really beaten the end of level boss, here. Sure, the miracle was reversed, and the inevitable tragedies ensued. But it’s the event that’s been fixed, not the cause of it. At the end of Children Of Earth, you’d find it hard to say that Torchwood had scored too much of a victory, all things considered. Here? At best, they’ve taken things to extra time.
These were the interesting threads of the episode, I thought, in an otherwise busy, but rarely brilliant finale. To be clear, I didn’t hate it, nor do I have an urge to pour buckets of scorn on it. But I think it was one of the least interesting episodes of the series, for the most part. And as someone who’s enjoyed Miracle Day, that was a disappointment.
Some of the threads, for instance, just weren’t that interesting. The mole within the CIA was a useful catalyst certainly, but then we weren’t talking anything that felt as sinister as something like 24 in its early days, when it used to uncover a duplicitous character. Likewise, The Blessing itself was underwhelming. Granted, it provided the basis for a manic action sequence near the end, but I do wonder if less explanation rather than more might have been the wiser option here. That said, Russell T Davies probably feels that he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t on that point.
Still, how come The Blessing has gone undiscovered? I know this was talked about, I just never really bought it.
Oswald Danes, too, has to be classed as a real missed opportunity. In the first episode, he encapsulated much of the opportunity for the series. Here was a chance to take a good, hard look at how the media makes heroes out of the wrong people, through the lens of a man who should make the whole idea of a miracle day simply horrible. But, despite the best efforts of Bill Pullman, I never really got that.
In fact, Miracle Day lacked a tangible antagonist, for me. Sure, there’s the miracle itself, and the sense that governments do horrible things. But few human faces were put to that. When the show did explore a bit more in that direction, with the revelation of the families, for instance, it got a lot more interesting.
Comparisons to Children Of Earth don’t help again, sadly, as Miracle Day, ultimately, falls short of its forerunner. It’s done a lot of things right over the past ten weeks, and it’s successfully migrated and evolved the show. But it hasn’t managed to get across the raised stakes in the manner of Children Of Earth.
I feel bad for grumbling about it all, because even in this episode, there’s lots to like. Eve Myles has been brilliant, in particular, and what she evokes through her eyes alone is something many other actors could learn from. Captain Jack gets more to do here, as well, and it’s very much appreciated.
And I’ll say it: I liked the crumbs it left for the next series. I want Torchwood to come back, and I think the idea of attacking a fresh, contained series-long story every two years or so is an interesting format for the show. I sincerely hope that Russell T Davies shakes things up again, picks up the narrative stands, and builds on many of the things that have gone right over the past ten weeks (hiring Jane Espenson again, for starters).
Miracle Day has been a bumpy, but worthwhile ride. It’s been an interesting, occasionally brilliant season, punctuated by a bit of overpondering and some strong ideas. Episode seven, in particular, is up there with Torchwood at its very best. The Blood Line, though, isn’t, and given that this is the season finale, it’s a pity that it couldn’t quite rise to the occasion.
An enjoyable and packed episode, then. But not a great deal more than that.