Torchwood Fails to Pull Off a Miracle Ending

By Tim Surette

Sep 13, 2011

Apologies for the tardiness of this story, but my last vacation before the fall season starts delayed my recapanalysis by a few days. Next time I go camping I promise to bring my own personal wi-fi satellite.

After a fairly enjoyable start, the second half of Torchwood: Miracle Day inspired many hopeful mutterings. "It might get better" and "I just want to see how this ends" aren't exactly ringing endorsements, but I invested nine hours in this thing and liked some of the characters enough that I decided to stick it out. I suspect a lot of you felt the same. Friday's season finale, "The Blood Line," didn't wrap things up coherently, nor was it particularly satisfying, but at least it made a concerted effort to be entertaining.

I'm speaking of the final fifteen minutes or so, when everything went completely insane. Oswald had a bomb strapped to his chest, blood was oozing from Rex and Jack, and other characters were dying or at least near dying. That part I liked, somewhat guiltily, simply because it was ridiculously over-the-top and just stopped giving a f--. It was almost as if, while creating the episode, the writers looked at their watches and said, "Oops! We got so used to dragging things out way longer than they needed to be dragged out that we forgot to check the time! Let's kill some people off and blow some things up." And so they did.

In the process, we got a totally unsatisfying explanation for the Miracle Day phenomenon that I think went something like this: Some pink alien thing in the center of the Earth did it. I say "I think" because things got so ludicrous that who really even knows. The Three Families—the show's true villains—didn't show up in earnest until Episode 8, and their big plan was to cover up the Blessing with a bunch of dirt. Legitimate questions about the Blessing (the thing we've all been waiting to understand) were left unanswered. The Three Families' Shanghai representative even went so far as to respond to one of Jilly's questions with, "No idea. Isn't that wonderful?" Then she spouted off a few statistics about regional life expectancy. Well excuse us for asking!

Later we found out that the Blessing has been living symbiotically with the human race, and Jack postulated that it's been keeping everyone alive out of love. This crumbling pink chasm has a heart! How lovelyl. But it turned out the Three Families manipulated the Blessing by feeding it immortal blood (Jack's, from the flashback) in Phase One of their plan to take over the world. Ooooookay. Sounds like somebody just graduated from Supervillain College and spent most of their days sleeping in instead of going to class. If I have everything correct, which I'm not counting on because honestly I stopped caring, the Three Families were going to cleanse the planet by determining who lives and dies, and then they were going to take control of the banks... the domino effect being they would eventually rule the world.

Jack thought he could make the world right again by throwing his mortal blood into the Blessing, thus resetting its "plan" for everyone on Earth, but the Three Families informed him that both ends of the Blessing—the one in Shanghai and the end in Buenos Aires—must get mortal blood at the same time for such an operation to work. And when all was seemingly lost, Rex dropped a doozy: He'd transfused Jack's blood into his body. Bam! Take that ridiculous turn of events, Three Families!

So that's what those aforementioned fifteen minutes of insanity began. Esther got shot, Gwen's dad died, Jack died and then un-died, the bald guy got thrown into the Blessing, cargo elevators went up and down and then up and down again (seriously, did they need to show a close-up of the elevator over and over?), GIRLFIGHT! between Jilly and Gwen, then Oswald blew himself up while screaming incoherent babble. It was one of the most spectacular cover-ups of an ill-formed finale I've seen in quite a while and the only reason I don't consider the whole thing a complete waste of time is that I'm a huge fan of big-budget nonsense. One thing Torchwood excels at is making it seem like the show is doing something when it's not.

But the madness didn't even end there: Esther actually died, Jilly had another nonsensical meeting with the mysterious stranger, Charlotte was outed as the traitor, Rex got shot then killed Charlotte, and then Rex un-died in Captain Jack fashion. Cut to credits. So I guess we can now expect Jack and Rex to scuttle through the universe as a team? I don't know.

But that's how Torchwood: Miracle Day wrapped things up. Somewhere, even Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are feeling ripped-off.

Perhaps what's so maddening is all the wasted potential. There was so much to explore thematically that the show didn't cover—or tried to cover, but unsuccessfully. We got early looks at the world descending into chaos when no one died, but as the global situation got worse, the scope of the show got smaller and focused only on the core characters. In short, a great premise was based on was squandered.

However, it's still impossible to stay completely upset with the show. Jack and Gwen are two of my favorite characters on television right now, and Torchwood has been very entertaining at times. But am I going to care whether Starz or the BBC renew the series for another season? I doubt it.

Notes:
... Re: the Angelo-and-Captain-Jack-in-the-Roarin'-'20s flashback... now that the season is over and nothing really came of it, can we declare that a total waste?

... Oswald Danes goes down in history as the most interesting useless character of all time.

... If the Blessing wanted Jack's mortal blood, does that mean it decided being nice to people was a bad idea and it wanted us all to die?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • martinohleyer Aug 16, 2014

    Ts, all that hate. Honestly, I liked the finale.
    The plot was dragged out too long, yes. There's no second opinion on that.
    But as I read it, the author of the article wanted to have things wrapped up nicely.
    Well, sorry if there was too much *mystery* in the finale of a bloody *mystery* show! (Please read this with a welsh accent)
    For me it made sense completely, maybe I paid more attention.
    And for Rex... one blood transfusion doesn't make him immortal, not for long anyway.
    Every season of Torchwood was different and surprising. I didn't know what to expect and that's something you rarely get these days!
    Every show has its ups and downs, but frankly my only serious criticism is the length of the 4th season. Five parts like the third would have been enough.
    Besides that I feel very much entertained, including the finale.

  • jojajevovave Nov 27, 2013

    Torchwood is just shyte, it has been from the beginning. There were about 3 maybe 4 good episodes in season ONE and then it's been, unbelievably, getting worse with every subsequent season. But you nailed one thing - it really does excel at thinking something really clever is coming... which never arrives. Instead what arrives is a giant steaming pile of turds and the writers admitting they... can't actually write.

  • margeret Oct 15, 2011

    i hope torchwood comes back but i prefer the old torchood when they were five. But i still love it if you take off gwen and jack it will be a disaster

  • drumstel Sep 24, 2011

    Wat ever man, Torchwood still is one of the best shows out there. With the stupid story lines every other show gives us latley. Torchwood gives us the same thing it always did: mystic. I say keep up the good work Torchwood, come back soon.....

  • KevinG87 Sep 18, 2011

    I finally watched all 10 episodes (i had been waiting for it to finish).. overall, i liked it, but there's a strong chance that's just because i've watched Torchwood since season 1 years ago. the first 8.5 episodes were good, but the last 1.5 suuuucked. it was obvious Rex wasn't going to die, but i wish he had. can't stand that character.. Esther was so much better and they killed her off? wtf! but glad that Charlotte got what was coming to her, i blame her for Esther's death. and the Blessing - mother earth's vagina? what?! whatever! Torchwood is a show about aliens, not terestrial crap.. COPOUTCOPOUTCOPOUT! i hope Starz/BBC renews it though, i'll watch anything as long as Captain Jack and Gwen are along for the ride. maybe if they don't, whenever Amy Pond leaves the TARDIS, Jack can go back and take Gwen :p

  • bubbles7793 Sep 17, 2011

    I definitely like the original torchwood better, but i'll watch any torchwood as long as Jack Barrowman and Eve Myles are in it.

  • skiso1 Oct 17, 2011

    IT's JOHN BARROWMAN !!!! but I can understand the confusion Jack or John who cares? I love them both!!!

  • ChristopherBan0 Sep 17, 2011

    I absolutely loved the scene where Jack tells Danes who he is, really. Maybe the best scene out of all 10 episodes.

  • BadWolf_35 Sep 16, 2011

    I liked it but I didnt... if that makes sense lol. The "what if" scenerio had so much potential... What if nobody died?

    I was disappointed that Oswald was just a creepy bastard after all & there wasn't much more to his story

    I think the Angelo story was just a complete waste of time. It was sad how Esther died though, I actually liked her. I didnt mind Rex becoming immortal, it made a nice little twist at the end.

    So all in all, a nice start, a bit disappointing towards the end, but not a complete waste of time.

  • MaggieHarvey Sep 16, 2011

    The origional Torchwood is one of my all time favorite shows.I loved the every cast member,they were so great together neutralizing aliens and some of the "fun" artifacts they used when Jack wasnt looking. I still love Jack and Gwen,maybe they can come up with a mutation of the two shows to show the network and get another shot. Remember, it was the emergency prequel to Spartacus when unfortunately the actor was dx w/cancer and so to give him time the prequel had a MUCH bigger following and kept the show alive. I hope something like that will happen.I love John Barrowman,and if it cant be me with "Captain jack" then I accept Eve Myles as Gwen!

  • askye Sep 15, 2011

    I preferred the plots that lasted 1-2 episodes... and occasionally the big "OMG look what the villians have been doing this whole time" for the season finales. But yea- they brought in way too many new people and changed things up too much. This isn't classic Torchwood. The story was too dragged out... we need more "lets go kick some a**" attitude that Jack and Gwen have. The one thing I did like in this season, was Gwens character.. how she got really protective of Jack whenever he was in danger.

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