“Prolonging life is simple, but nobody’s worked out how to make a profit from it”
Component parts are coming together in the latest episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, an episode that sees the return of Wayne Knight and the introduction of Star Trek veteran John De Lancie. Wayne Knight is quite muted, as he was earlier in the series. But De Lancie? He’s having much more fun, and, were he given a bit more time, would have been one of the highlights of the episode.
It’s an instalment that’s picking up the narrative slack from the slower last pair of episodes, and as such it’s crammed with new developments, questions and incident. Lots of characters get moved about in different ways, and there’s a lot of storytelling pulled together here. The script, by Jane Espenson and Ryan Scott, certainly has to get a move on, which it does quickly.
End Of The Road, picks up directly after Immortal Sins, with Jack and Gwen led away by the mysterious woman, to find out more about Angelo. And this is one of the areas where the episode does provide more information, which then inevitably has further ramifications for other characters. Which in turn causes more trouble, and so on, and so on.
There’s a very real sense that the accelerator is being pushed down here, and it’s a bit of a breakneck speed episode at times. We get, for instance, the return of Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger, and some work is done there, although there’s not really much space to explore it. Likewise, Esther has a bit more on her plate, there’s a return for Wayne Knight’s Friedkin, and Gwen’s family get in on the act, too.
And the narrative net gets wider, too. Now, the world’s financial systems are feeling the strain of the miracle day phenomenon, and questions begin to be posed a bit more firmly about the breadth and depth of it.
The highlights of End Of The Road, though, aren’t the action moments, the numerous people who can’t be trusted who we’ve been seeing through the series, or the broader bits of exposition (and we’re genuinely telling you little about the plot revelations to expect). Instead, it’s John Barrowman again. He’s got a range of emotions to convey, as Captain Jack’s head gets messed with again, and he comes across as every inch the star attraction. It’s a terrific leading performance.
End Of The Road also keeps some of the old Torchwood feel in place from last week’s episode, both in terms of style and substance. And, to the delight of many observers we suspect, even the late Ianto Jones gets a mention.
After the concentration of series highlight Immortal Sins, End Of The Road feels a little more scattergun, but it does get through a lot of work, and leaves matters in an appropriate place for a show with just two episodes left now to wrap up its story. It still leaves lots of questions in need of answers, as you might expect. But it’s also got enough in its running time to get you tuning in again next week…
Torchwood: Miracle Day airs on BBC1, Thursdays at 9:00pm.