This review contains spoilers.
8. End Of The Road
So, then: some answers.
Picking up directly from the ending of the terrific Immortal Sins, End Of The Road is a bit more formulaic in its approach, albeit still retaining touches of old Torchwood to it. But heck, it does get through a lot of work.
Angelo, for starters. We’ve only known him for just over an episode, and he’s already one of the pivotal forces in Miracle Day. He’s loved and watched Jack his whole life, we learn, in spite of going off and having a family. But, more importantly, he’s also kept himself alive naturally. And now found a way to be the first person on Earth to die in a good while. Without the assistance of big ovens, that is.
At first, I thought this was going to pan out with Jack seeing the tragedy of seeing somebody who really wants to live forever. But to Jack, he’s been there before, and seeing someone he knew so young turn so old is heartbreaking, yet matter of fact. I wonder if, at some point, Torchwood will jump to a point in time where Jack has to watch the ultimate demise of Gwen. That will both set the Internet on fire, but also push the tragedy of Jack’s immortality harder than ever.
That said, there was enough on Jack’s plate right here. Firstly, he uncovers the significance of the floor that Angelo’s bed was resting on, and what part that plays in him dying. And, just to add to his list of problems, there’s the three families to contend with.
This, finally, feels like the reveal of the big forces at work. The three men who watched the torture of Jack in Immortal Sins, with the aid of Jack’s blood, it seems, are the ones who have banded together, and in some way caused the miracle. We learn that the aforementioned floor is recovered alien technology from the Torchwood hub. So what, exactly, have the three families managed to get their hands on?
Whatever it is, they’re scaring seven shades out of the people around them, and it’s the mere threat of them that leads Wayne Knight’s muted Friedkin to take his own life.
The three families, though, is just one of the balls that this episode was attempting to juggle, with sizeable success I should add. Esther, played impressively as always by Alexa Havins, is facing the tragedies and difficulties within her own family. If we follow the usual path of Torchwood, that suggests she’s got a horrific decision at some point to face, and just two episodes in which to make it.
Rex, meanwhile, hints at what’s troubling him, in that his days might be numbered the minute the miracle is reversed. Which, presumably, it will be. Will he, and many others, just instantly die? That might make for a haunting final episode?
We also get Jilly Kitzinger coming out of the shadows of Oswald Danes, and more importantly, being recruited by the three families. What, exactly, do they want her to do? Whatever it is, lots more Lauren Ambrose in the final two episodes would be very, very welcome.
As for Danes, the most popular man on the planet, I’m a little bit underwhelmed by his character arc thus far. Danes hasn’t, as of yet, done too much more than prove the media makes celebrity out of inappropriate people.
And the implication here is that he’s reverting back to type, now the threat of the Category Zero dictate has reared its head (it’s television, rather than people, that love him, Jilly points out). It’ll be disappointing if he just goes right back to where we saw him at the start of episode one, but it feels, oddly, that we’ve not spent enough time with him in the eight episodes to date.
I say this appreciating that he appears linked to the miracle somehow, and no doubt there’s important exposition yet around the corner. But I expected him to get under my skin more than he has.
That said, the beauty of Miracle Day is that there are so many things going on that, if one element isn’t working for you, there’s something else not far away. Granted, I still think the more focussed work in Immortal Sins has provide the highlight of the series to date. But I also liked that End Of The Road was so keen to tell so much story.
Pretty much everyone here had some conundrum to face, a tough decision to make, or is moved along in some way. All that, while the world’s finances are crumbling, a CIA mole is being revealed, and deep conspiracies are being hinted at. That makes it tricky for the guest stars to make much impact. Wayne Knight is gone pretty much before he appears, certainly. But credit to Star Trek veteran John De Lancie, who eats up every minute of screen time he’s allowed. His contribution is a welcome one.
There’s no mammoth cliffhanger as such come the end of the episode, but after the head manipulation of last week, perhaps that’s appropriate. However, things do seem poised for a strong final pair of episodes.
And given that few showrunners can put together a momentous penultimate episode to a series as Russell T Davies, I, for one, can’t wait for next week…