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Torchwood: Miracle Day Series Review

By on September 12, 2011
Torchwood

While British fans are gearing up for the final episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day this week, fans in the US are just now coming to terms with the show’s season finale, The Blood Line, which aired on Friday night.

Please be aware that the following article contains several spoilers for the final episode, The Blood Line.

The finale offered up all the thrills, plot twists and big budget set pieces one would expect from the joint Starz/BBC collaboration and while the series began in a somewhat self conscious manner (as if addressing a perceived need to spoon feed the American audience while placating the British at the same time) it quickly found its own unique voice in subsequent episodes, building to a confident and ultimately satisfying conclusion.

The Blessing: What do YOU see?

The finale saw the Blessing finally revealed as an ancient, benign and harmonious entity with the power to reflect and magnify the most fundamental ‘self’ back at those who gazed upon it.

Fitting then that the conniving Jilly Kitzinger saw ambition and purpose, while Danes saw sin, Jack peace and Gwen guilt. (The Blessing reminded me of a giant vagina. I’m not quite sure what that says about me.)

Despite some clunky monologuing from the Family which necessitated Jack and co. to stand about listening patiently while the evil plot was verbally revealed, a neat twist involving Rex and a  transfusion of Jack’s blood rescued the finale from wading too deep into comic book territory.

Having Jack’s blood circulating around his body (or was it just his proximity to the Blessing?) has turned Rex immortal, as illustrated by his attempted murder by duplicitous CIA agent Charlotte Willis.  Of course this leaves multiple avenues open if the BBC and Starz should decide to team up for further Torchwood adventures with show creator Russell T. Davies.

While The Blood Line may not have been as relentlessly edge-of-your-seat as the previous Torchwood series finale, Children of Earth, it wasn’t as bleakly depressing either. Instead it offered up a note of hope for humanity and for the characters whose stories we came to know over the last ten weeks.

The only discordant note came in the form of Oswald Danes, who despite being played with creepy gusto by Bill Pullman, never quite seemed to find his place or purpose in the series. That Danes found no redemption and reverted, snarling and leering, to type in his final moments smacks of a certain heavy-handedness in the writing department, as if we needed reminding that we should not allow ourselves to feel a morsel of sympathy for this particular character.

Oswald Danes

Torchwood Miracle Day delivered standout performances from its cast, with the finale itself showcasing what was perhaps John Barrowman’s finest performance in this role to date.

Mekhi Phifer’s Rex Matheson found firmer footing once he ditched the comedy lines (‘I had to pay for a bridge!’ and ‘Wales is crazy!’) in favor of more serious drama and straight-up action.

Eve Myles’ portrayal of Gwen deserves special note.  We live in a time when the words ‘strong female character’ are bandied about without much thought or meaning yet Myles manages shows us a strong female character who is also wife, a mother and a daughter. We see her cry. We watch her paralyzed by fear and indecision. She makes choices we just know will come back to haunt her.  She is completely human. Yet we never doubt her strength.

The opening minute of The Blood Line, in which Gwen recalls a childhood incident about her father, illustrates the perfect balance that Myles brings to this multifaceted, flawed and very human character.  Sadly it also serves to highlight the dearth of strong and believable female characters in scifi and fantasy right now.

Torchwood Miracle Day starred John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havens, Kai Owen, Bill Pullman, Arlene Tur and Lauren Ambrose.