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Torchwood: Miracle Day – Is this the end of an era?

I'm not sure if this was the finale episode of 'Torchwood,' but if it is, it is difficult to say that 'Miracle Day' lived up to the standard it set with 'Children of Earth.'

- Season 4, Episode 13 - "The Blood Line"

It is the end of the world as we know it, and we all feel fine … except for the mortal version of Captain Jack Harkness. It was no more surprising that Jack would be returned to his immortal status than it was that Torchwood would find a way to defeat The Blessing and bring the world back to order. Or, as Gwen put it in her now annual monologue (though this time not nearly as well shot as her self-filming it last series), “bring back the death.”

When I finally came to the end of Children of Earth, I never really understood the fan uproar surrounding the death of Ianto Jones. From moment one in Torchwood, he betrayed his friends for his soul mate. Then, all of a sudden, we were supposed to buy (and obviously, most fans did) that he was the ultimate opposite for Jack. I’m sorry, but I just never bought into that. The deaths of Owen Harper and Tosh Sato were considerably more impactful than Ianto’s. However, considering how I felt when a random “The Family” lieutenant shot Esther Drummond, I found myself as pissed at a character death as I’ve felt since Joss killed Anya, Fred, or Tara.

Esther was, in many ways, my favorite part about Miracle Day. She was the perfect analogy to Gwen in the early season. Naïve, yet determined, she was everything worth loving what a Torchwood agent should be. Maybe it was a by-product of meeting Alexa Havins at San Diego Comic Con, and being completely enamored. Either way, cutting Drummond out of a possible fifth series truly makes me less interested in where the story could go. Find a way to give her Jack’s immortality instead of Rex, and I’m a whole hell of a lot more interested in where this story could go next.

Yet, alas, Rex was given that gift. And I am really not sure where that could potentially go. Short of a Jack and Rex buddy cop drama set in the Pacific northwest, I’m not sure I like what Torchwood set up for it’s potential next series. This season has pivoted away from the show’s roots, a group of people fighting aliens. Whereas I’d hoped we would return to that theme somehow in the finale, we are instead teased with more of The Families as next seasons potential antagonists. Between that and making Rex immortal, I don’t like any of the choices that were made to set up the next story. At least Jilly Kitzinger survived to live another day. More of her in a hypothetical fifth series would be a good thing by my math.

Except, unfortunately, another season of Torchwood is all hypothetical. Creator Russell T. Davies is reportedly concentrating on his new series. Davies is connected, in a way only equaled by John Barrowman, as the soul of Torchwood. Is he available for another series? Have the ratings on Starz represented a high enough number to warrant another thirteen episodes? Sadly, no, they have not. After cancelling the insanely underrated Camelot, the only way I see Torchwood being saved is if the partnership with the BBC makes the math extremely favorable.

If that is the case, and we’ve seen our last adventure for the Torchwood team, it is hard not to feel that the show is leaving us on a low note. That feeling, though, has considerably more to do with the excellence that was Children of Earth than it does with Miracle Day. MD was good, but it followed in the footsteps of a nearly perfect five hours of television. While it was disappointing that this season did not live up to it’s predecessors, that shouldn’t be a referendum on the quality of Miracle Day. I just hope that fans are awarded another series, one that incorporates the sweeping scale of MD with the incredible storytelling that was Children of Earth. I, will not be, however, holding my breath.

Notes & Quotes

  • “And hey, you take care … don’t do those lame-ass stupid Torchwood things. Be professional for once.” – Rex
    “Just like you taught me, yeah?” – Gwen
  • Not going to lie … John de Lancie getting all hyped with his Spec Ops room was kinda badass
  • “We’re so used to these things being extraterrestrial, but this might be the most terrestrial thing of all.” – Gwen


Photo Credit: Starz

4 Responses to “Torchwood: Miracle Day – Is this the end of an era?”

September 10, 2011 at 4:37 PM

I found myself simultaneously riveted and disappointed during this series, and I think that describes my feelings about Torchwood as a whole as well as the finale itself. I didn’t think the villains were portrayed especially well this season, playing a constant shell game without giving us enough time to be interested in any of them. In the finale, nobody on the bad guys’ side behaved realistically – what’s-her-face’s Chinese minions failed to shoot Jack multiple times when given (presumably) the order to do so, for instance. They just did a lot of waiting and were slow to comprehend much of anything that was going on. The cliche of revealing exactly what it would take to beat them was similarly bothersome. I did think last season was better, but overall I think they’ve done an injustice to the originally excellent character of Jack Harkness. I think they lost sight of the free-wheeling spirit that first made him so intriguing – and I understand things have changed a lot for him since then, but still. What’s worse, they never really did much to explain his past beyond making oblique references (and occasionally, poorly handled plotlines – remember Gray?), particularly his fight against the Time Agency! That should have been a great story! I am still a fan of the character, but they didn’t do what they could have with him. Gwen grew on me over time, but I still get frustrated with the way she handles herself in trouble situations. I didn’t really feel the conflict for her or Rex about bringing back death. They’d been fighting for it the whole season, because a world without death is a very bad thing; they’d already seen that many times. But suddenly when it’s someone they care about who’s going to die (especially in Gwen’s case, since it was beyond her elderly father’s time), they don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. Maybe it wasn’t portrayed well enough, but I didn’t feel for them. I also don’t understand how this season, with its major worldwide event that lasted for some time, fits in with the continuity of Doctor Who.

Complaints aside, I like Mekhi Phifer (even if he needs to do more with the character) and I’m glad any future Torchwood stories can include him (or not. James Marsters anyone?). Esther wasn’t a great loss to me, though it did come out of nowhere. I agree with you that the deaths of Tosh and especially Owen were the moments that stuck with me from the show, though Ianto’s death had an impact as well. I agree that they’ve lost focus, though perhaps I think it was even earlier than you do. What I really want to see is Jack and Gwen (and Rex) in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special in a couple years. If they have another story between now and then, okay (and I’ll watch it); if not, okay. But let’s not forget about the characters after we’ve been through so much with them.

(Oh, one more thing I liked: The way Oswald went out. Truly creepy.)

September 10, 2011 at 9:07 PM

I’m still trying to decide if I enjoyed MD or not…but I did have one thought as soon as the final episode ended…


September 11, 2011 at 10:59 AM

I watched the Torchwood finale last night. Overall, I was good with the 5th series (and I’ve been a fan from the beginning of the show). It had some problems to be sure, but with the exception of Children of Earth, I think every series has had problems. I also would have preferred Esther surviving rather than Rex, and in the end, I really don’t know what the Oswald Danes character was really supposed to be. He started out going in one direction and then he shifted over the last handful of episodes. But overall I was satisfied with the show. I definitely am hoping for more Torchwood.

September 13, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Ultimately, I was disappointed by MD. The concept was intriguing, but it just didn’t play out well (a hole all the way through the earth, inhabited by “something”….really???) Killing off Esther and making Rex immortal were just the last let-downs. Granted, COE was a hard act to follow.

If “Torchwood” comes back I’ll certainly watch, but I’m not all that sorry that this season is over.

Many thanks to Ivey for writing about it. I enjoyed the recaps and discussion.

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