The ten-part miniseries chronicling the latest adventures of the Torchwood team concluded tonight with the last episode of Miracle Day. There’s a lot to cover in one short hour, and a lot of expectations to deliver on. Is “The Blood Line” up to the task? Read on to find out.
From the word go, Miracle Day has been pretty clearly divided into three segments. The first batch of episodes dealt with the unreality of the Miracle – true speculative fiction, examining a huge idea from every relevant angle. The middle of the series is a character study, taking a hard look at how Captain Jack Harness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) deal, not only with the chaos of the Miracle, but the tragedies of the last Torchwood series, Children of Earth.
The last arc, and most importantly the finale, is the payoff. Patient viewers have been waiting months to find out the fundamental how and why answers behind the Miracle and the Blessing. There’s still trailing elements of the ideas and the characters that have driven the series thus far, especially in the beginning. But the reason you’re tuning in is to find out how it started, and how it ends.
On that note, Torchwood delivers. For the most part, the finale makes sense of almost everything that’s happened up to this point. The burning questions are answered, the conspiracy is unraveled, and world-saving in general occurs, with some satisfying sci-fi action to smooth over the rough spots. Those looking for a good, hard look at what happens when the irresistible will of Jack hits the unstoppable pragmatism of Gwen will be particularly thrilled.
At the same time, I couldn’t blame some long-time Torchwood fans for being furious. Make no mistake: people die (and isn’t it about time!) in unexpected and even cruel ways. Those still aching over the loss of most of the Torchwood team in Children of Earth won’t feel any better about this conclusion – characters you’ve come to love or hate disappear just as they reach the height of their development.
But that’s alright. Immortal characters don’t make for compelling television. Well… you know what I mean.
There’s still a handful of plot holes that are mercilessly perpetrated. As interesting and thought-provoking as Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) is, there isn’t any justifiable reason for him to come to the Blessing. Given how much Gwen and Jack hate him, there’s really no reason for them not to have left him “perforated” in the middle of Wales. Viewers have been wondering for the last week or so how a chasm that goes through the center of the Earth wouldn’t be immediately overrun with magma; this point isn’t so much avoided as discarded in a seriously lazy fashion. Not to mention, the “global Illuminati conspiracy” hasn’t been a fresh plot point for decades – placing it in the middle of a series with so many new ideas was sloppy.
But overall, the Torchwood finale is the best in the third act of Miracle Day, even if it doesn’t quite hold up to the previous two mentioned above. As a bonus, there’s some obvious set-ups for either an entirely new series of Torchwood episodes or a continuation of the current storyline – it’s entirely up to writer Russel T. Davies and (hopefully) Jane Espenson. We know that more episodes are almost certain at this point.
Special accolades go to Alexa Havins’ portrayal of CIA analyst Esther Drumond. Esther is by design the fish out of water for Miracle Day, allowing Jack and Gwen to explain the basics of Torchwood while Rex (Mekhi Phifer) guides her into becoming a pseudo-field agent. Over the course of ten episodes she goes from a panicky wilting flower to an iron-willed operator, and the developments in the finale allow her some great moments that Havins handles perfectly.
Marina Benedict and sci-fi veteran John de Lancie manage high-tension moments well, while Kai Owen is given some emotionally intense scenes as Gwen’s husband Rhys. Barrowman and Myles are their usual charming selves, though the enormity of the events around them sometimes seem to not phase their characters. Pullman and Phifer are a little over-the-top, but Lauren Ambrose in her role as Jilly Kitzinger delivers some challenging dialogue with precision.
Some of the production is a bit rough around the edges, primarily the sets surrounding the Blessing. But it’s hard to fault a relatively low-budget show for that, especially considering that Torchwood and Doctor Who fans have had to make do with a lot less over the years. The effects get the ideas across without supplying a serious aid to the suspension of disbelief, which is mostly left up to the viewers.
I’d recommend the entire run of Miracle Day to sci-fi fans for the first few episodes alone, and Torchwood viewers will love the focus on Jack and Gwen, who get some impressive character development all to themselves. The last few episodes haven’t quite held up, but the finale pulls through to make the miniseries more than worth your time.
Miracle Day ends on a high note, for those who can stomach the loss of some very key players. Despite some plot holes that are largely ignored, the conclusion is fun to watch and sets up the franchise for a solid return. It’s likely that some fans won’t be coming back, and that’s understandable. But if Miracle Day is a sign of things to come for Torchwood, I say bring it on.
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