The New World
(Ep1 of Torchwood Miracle Day)
The fourth season of Torchwood, Miracle Day had a tough act to follow – Torchwood Children of Earth. Another change in format, (after the 13 “monster of the week” episodes to daily 5-part megastory from Season 2 to Season 3), to a 10-part weekly megastory meant direct comparisons couldn’t be drawn, though expectations were high.
Each episode review will consider the same three elements: Torchwood (our heroes!), The Villains, and the CIA, (the characters thereof.)
(It should also be said and emphasised – even though it’s obvious – you’d want to watch the previous season Torchwood Children of Earth before reading these reviews of the season after.)
All well as having to entertain both a British and American audience, it also has to be meaningful to both long-time fans and new viewers. What Torchwood “is” is nebulous at the best of times in previous seasons, so it’s actually impressive that this episode manages to explain.
Before we meet Gwen and Jack (who ARE Torchwood now, the sum total of it), we’re introduced to the word itself, via it swarming across the CIA computers. It’s a great pre-credits that ends with Gwen moaning about Torchwood… “Bad dream”, “What about?”, “Oh what do you think”?
Jack’s introduced much later in the episode – his coat swooshing, being charming, sweeping Esther off her feet, and into the fountain. Long-time fans know already that something is up with that fountain scene, (Jack seems mortal?)
Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes gives an extraordinary performance. The core scene this episode which emphasises just how much this screen presence will be unlike anything seen on television before is the character speaking with the Governor’s representative after he’s survived the death penalty.
The line reading he chooses, the words coming out uneasily like they’re having to negotiate an awkward and unfamiliar landscape, Oswald’s tics, the way he doesn’t quite smile – the character is loathsome but it’s fascinating television when he’s onscreen.
The characters of Rex and Esther are, interestingly, the audience’s way into the mystery, asking questions, “What IS Torchwood” in much the same way as Gwen in the very first episode.
It’s a superb sequence in which Rex rises from a hospital bed, juggling crutches and mobile phone as he asks Esther to guide him, via air travel and the Severn bridge, to the mysterious Torchwood they’re convinced are involved with this new phenomenon of no-one dying. It’s like he’s powered by pure bad mood across the Atlantic.
Very clever storytelling with the mini-flashback that shows Jack was on the plane too – Torchwood, (well the duo) is back together again, and Rex can only ask who ARE these guys. “Torchwood” replies Gwen as she bazookas the helicopter at the end of an utterly spectacular set piece. (It was all a bit John Woo – the film Hard Boiled specifically – as she blazes her way out the cottage earlier, carrying and protecting her baby as she goes.)
Rex isn’t phased though and in a commentary on “renditions” that were quite fashionable recently (if that’s the word), as he ships his new prize, Torchwood, back to the New World.
So it’s Torchwood, but not as we know it, and so far it’s fresh, it’s exciting and it’s action-packed.
Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):
Episode Quality-rating: 5/5
Next review is Thursday! (Miracle Day will be reviewed over 5 weeks, reviews Tuesday and Thursday.)