Torchwood: Cloaks, Daggers, and Null Fields

The eighth episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, "End of the Road," picked up where "Immortal Sins," a risky episode that left some fawning and others reeling (guilty), left off. Jack gets to visit Angelo, his now-ancient gay lover that he bedded in most of "Immortal Sins"' flashbacks who might have the answer to Miracle Day. But Angelo promptly dies for real, thankfully not before we learn that a trio of families (initially represented by those three mystery men who made the triangle handshake in the 1920s) might actually be the ones behind the whole Miracle Day thing. I'm not sure how that much-spent-time-on love story works into things now; did we just spend all of "Immortal Sins" watching Jack and Angelo fall for each other just to build a bridge to the three mystery families? I guess? Why you gotta play with our emotions like that, Torchwood? I'm not sure, but I'm hoping there's more to it than that.

So now we're after these mystery families, who are pulling more strings than a puppeteer going for the world record for multiple marionettes. Countering them, or attempting to counter them, is the CIA in a game of cloak and dagger. However, the overmatched CIA is more like a handkerchief than a cloak, and this Illuminati-like group of mystery families is a hydrogen bomb. These mystery clans even have a mole inside the CIA: bizarro Esther. (As far as I know, bizarro Rex is still legit.) In short, every organization, secret or otherwise, is on to each other and none too happy about everyone else.

There's also Oswald Dane and Jilly waiting in the wings, and they make their triumphant return after a few episodes off. But really, where are we in their storyline? Oswald is asking for prostitutes, Jilly is over babysitting him, and both of them seem more and more distant from the core of the show. Eighty percent through a season, we should have a solid idea of how main characters fit into stories. I'm still confused as to what their purpose is. How embarrassing if I'm all alone in that department! Don't tell me I'm alone there, guys!

Elsewhere, the show is getting a bit plump. Esther's sister is back in the picture to provide some sort of emotional weight to Esther's plight. But that too seems tangential to what we need to know. Thanks to whoever decided to end Rex's dad plot immediately. Wayne Knight's character comes back as a lackey for the three families and explodes, John de Lancie (Jane's dad from Breaking Bad, Star Trek) joins things as a strict CIA bigwig that poses another obstacle for our heroes, alien technology (the null field idea is pretty cool, actually) is found under Angelo's bed, and a prostitute has the nerve to act entitled after she agrees to have sex with a child molester and murderer for money. And is a potential financial crisis really bigger news than the government burning bodies that aren't quite dead yet? Do we need all this happening and should we really be meeting new characters at this point?

I was also looking forward to seeing the team back together and spending the final two episodes joining forces to take down the big conspiracy, but the team is being broken up... again. Jack and Esther are driving away, Gwen is being deported, and Rex is back at casa de Angelo.

All this (the side plots, new characters, the team going separate ways) happening now seems like a bad choice for a show that should be narrowing things down as it approaches the finish line. But instead, Miracle Day has bitten off more than it can chew, and this season has become a mumbling mouthful of disposable characters and unfocused stories. We may be closer to getting our answers, but the fun and excitement that made the show work at the beginning has given way to convolution.

As we can tell from Torchwood: Miracle Day's declining ratings, it appears that people are hopping off the train with every stop. Were I a casual viewer, "End of the Road" might have been my end of the road, as I'd join others that are calling it quits. But I just can't. In addition to professional obligations (and I say "professional" lightly), It's an odd situation to be in: To be so close to the end and get all the answers we've been waiting for, becoming disenchanted enough by recent episodes to almost stop caring. I still love the main characters. I still care about finding out what happens. And there's still an interesting show in here somewhere, it's just buried underneath the weight of its own well-intentioned ambition.

Notes:
–A couple great moments with Gwen, as usual. She's ridiculous, I know, but at least she's consistently either batsh*t insane or hysterically emotional.

–John Barrowman is doing some great work. His scene where he's hovering over Angelo's bed was fantastic. Lately, these are the scenes in Torchwood that have stuck with me.


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

Comments (42)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. go here PennyOrder.com

Reply
Flag
Wow, I didn't know S1 was only 10 episodes. Are you sure it isn't just the first half and S1.5 will be another 7-10?

The pacing is off if this is indeed a 10 episode season while they're working a long-running story arch. Too much filler, it seems like we should only be (at most) half-way through to figuring stuff out and solving the problem... not 80%.

Unless the story arch is meant to span more than one season, but from what I recall hearing... S2 was questionable and they were trying to keep S1 encapsulated.
Reply
Flag
I think the problem is definitely in the writing. Each episode is trying to be like the first two seasons where it has its own "side" story yet trying to follow the continuing main story that gave last seasons COE such success. The individual part lose the shows congruity, and lead to the disposable characters. Maybe 5 two hour episodes will keep the writers on track for next season, if it lasts that long.
Reply
Flag
I don't know how much longer I can defend this show. I rewatched it and don't feel any better. At least with Who Lets Kill Hitler, there is a TON for me to go back watch. BTW Fun Fact: John Barrowman was up for the role of Will on Will and Grace. Producers were MORONS.
Reply
Flag
Actual I found this episode very enjoyable. At the end, Gwen was crying, does this means she knows somehow what happens to Jack ? Far better than last week.
Reply
Flag
Haha, batsh*t insane. :P
Reply
Flag
I finally thought the show was gaining momentum in the end of Ep 7 when Angelo was revealed to be still alive, and behind the kidnapping/blackmailing of Gwen -- but then in this episode it turns out no evil nemesis - but an unconscious and dying old man. Which makes his granddaughter's plot to blackmail Gwen into delivering Jack by threatening her family, a colossally stupid waste of time -- she could have had Jack come running to her, by just letting him know that Angelo wanted to seem him and BTW had a nullifying field.
Reply
Flag
Whats up with the falshback when jack checks angelos eye? How can you not remember that? Seriously.At least they didnt do a flashback of something that happend during the same episode *cough* falling skies *cough*.
Reply
Flag
Your comment YasAhm is So true about jack being a "Hardcore gay"!! geez the fun with jack was hoping that Everything could get a chance with him. NOW it's just men. I'm so disapointed...

a shame I'm tellin ya A SHAME !!!!!!!!
Reply
Flag
Yeah.... I've been a fan of Torchwood for a while now (not die-hard, but still), and while I thought the first six episodes of Miracle Day were decent, the last two have been awkward and felt extremely rushed. The first half of this episode in particular felt like someone was hitting me with a Thor's hammer of exposition. I hope they can salvage the show somewhat and wrap it up nicely.
1
Reply
Flag
I agree with everything you say , theres so much in the plot and its side stories that its its own 'null field' i feel nothing. but i'll stick it out to the end because I have to know, but the journey to getting there is killing me just a little bit each week.
1
Reply
Flag
This is typical Russell T Davies writing. He did the same in Dr. Who. Mark my words: everything will come together and everyone will play his part in the end. Those last vife minutes where you will go: HOLY SHIT, NO WAY, WAITWAT!
Reply
Flag
I was so happy when they discovered the null field. I was getting tired of everyone being in a hurry all the time because the government was about to catch them. Then of course they had to run again because of the alien technology.. I love Gwen and Jack but I hope it goes back to Wales next season and the pursuit of the information (not the heroes) is the focus again. Plus, I think the Welsh have a great accent.
Reply
Flag
I really have had enough with Torchwood !



Might continue watching just for the hell of it because I love Doctor Who.

But Jack character is just getting a little boring, found him fun in DW but now that the show is in Starz and over sexualised it just isn't doing it for me and got to say I am really disappointed with RTD.



I liked the concept behind the show but now that we got some more answers and the whole Immortal Sins ep. plus this latest ep. just spoiled it for me.



Also side note Jack in DW wanted to f**k anything that moved being either man,women,alien or wathever and it was more fun with the Doctor and the whole way they approached the whole thing now apparently he is hardcore gay ... I just dont get it.
Reply
Flag
I'm actually a big fan of this series! Children of the Earth was way better in my opinion and i wasn't looking forward to this show without Ianto, but i slowly got really into Miracle Day. I agree that last episode was kinda slow, but i loved this one!
Reply
Flag
RTD stories always have anti-climactic endings. He always starts of well but fails at the end, I mean the ending of DW season 2 was silly!
Reply
Flag
I'm finally going to agree with TV.com. I like Torchwood, but I have to agree that each new episode, no answers are answered. This was not the pace of the first two season and definitely not the pace of Children of Earth. I know people who have lost interest on this season and the show which is just sad for Torchwood's popularity. I honestly want to blame someone for this, maybe the writers. Nonetheless, I'll forgo my frustrations and I'll keep watching this season till end.



I personally don't like the Oswald story line. It seems like its going nowhere now.
Reply
Flag
From the moment Jack said "I'm not an expert" regarding the alien tech, I seriously expected the episode to end with The Doctor's grand world-saving entrance! I mean that's the only way their going to save this show, right? (Maybe we can get him to undo this season so it never happened =P) No seriously, I love Torchwood. But this season needs to be 5 eps longer or 5 eps shorter. There's no way this story can wrap up nicely. I'll watch it, but my money is on an ending more anticlimactic than Children of Earth.



Torchwood needs to go back to the UK, find the missing 4th institute, hire some new Brits and focus on weekly stories.
Reply
Flag
Okay. So we're SURE there's not another couple episodes that haven't been listed yet? Is the last episode going to be a two hour finale? Damnit. I feel a very smashed together, duct tape ending for this season. It's a shame. I've been super positive that the writers would have added all the extra fluff and drawn it out for a good reason. So at the end we'd be like "Oh that's why they had to put all that sh** in! I get it!" But I doubt very much that that is going to be the case.



I would have loved a good few episodes of exploring the three families and what sort of things they've been doing to get ready for the big day. THAT would have made a good flashback. episode. How many people are involved? What string of calculated events brought them to this point? Jack is better than this. He should have seen the pieces of the puzzle long before. He is the Face of Boe after all.



With the kind of pacing they wil be forced to do now they could have wrapped this up in a nice mini-series. The fat needed to be trimmed.



Still. A good story though. I just wish they'd really explored the concept more.
More+
1
Reply
Flag
Well Tim it sounds like you have a solid handle on the serious, blaring problems with the narrative of Miracle Day. It sounds more like a confused mush of ideas than a solid story. I was wondering how much of the crap that was tossed were red herrings and why. From your review it sounds like even the writers don't know!



They created a confusing story (line?) in a flimsy universe (even someone who has viewed every Doctor Who and Torchwood episode is confused) and have made is difficult, if not impossible, to stay engaged.



Additionally, there were too many character to not like. Now they've added more?



After reading this I am more, not less confused about what the Miracle Day is. And not confused as in "must find out what it" is kind of way, either. More like a "who cares, you lost me" kind of way.
1
Reply
Flag
I wrote a whole big post on one of the last reviews but I feel no one really reads the long comments so I will not prattle on about all the ways Miracle Day failed at bringing the Whoiniverse to an American audience, but the one thing I think that will come out of Miracle Day is that we will see John Barrowman in more American movies and shows.
Reply
Flag
that would be good, I love that guy
Reply
Flag
*R.L.
Reply
Flag
Yeah what was up with Bizarro Rex & Esther?!?!!? and then B.E. is a mole??/ Excuse me, but who the fu,,ck are these people??? 3rd to last episode, I expected more.... I hope the last 2 are bad-ass cuz this episode just felt stretched ((like true blood does every week!)). I am curious to see what happens with Jack though. He is mortal now. or will we be treated to Sookie getting shot and dying for 5 seconds R.L.l Stine every chapter ever cliffhanger. Torchwood is very strange. who knows?
Reply
Flag
I've watched Torchwood from the day it started and I have no problem with this episode. I thought it was great. The alien artifact was a cool idea and it's finally moving to the final answer soon with the mystery of the Families.
Reply
Flag
I am seeing this series through but it is no where near the level that the original Torchwood series had. Why does the US have to stick there nose in to a great British series?
Reply
Flag
That would be a question for the BBC, right? Or did some US network ask for this?
Reply
Flag
Thank you. And it is the original writer churning out and overseeing this dreck. I miss the original Torchwood.
1
Reply
Flag
I miss Torchwood. Fast, exciting, thoughtful and funny.



Torchwood: Miracle Day is drawn out, dull and, ultimately, boring.
Reply
Flag
OH NO!!! THERE'S A MOLE IN THE CTU!!!



The thing that is really bad about this season is that there is no real progress in the solution of the situation. What have they found out in the last 8 episodes? Practically nothing, except that Phicorp knew , and now that there exists this mystery family.

So they basically are going to solve the whole thing in the last 2 episodes, probably only in the last one... and the first 8 were nothing more than filler, because nothing happend.

I think the season would have been 10 times better if it were a shorter miniseries with 4-5 episodes...



But still, I have to watch it, because I need to know whats going on. I hope they don't forget about that mystery place in china that the guy saw that jumped off a building a couple episodes back.
Reply
Flag
i wish the doctor made a appearance he would solve this thing in less then 41 minutes
Reply
Flag
He's far too busy at the moment!
Reply
Flag
lol...that's right
Reply
Flag
I hope at the end of Miracle Day, Jack joins the doctor again for the end of season six of new who. I read some articles about them spotting Barrowman, Piper, and Tenant on the set. I am not thrilled with how Torchwood was adapted for Starz (despite being a big proponent of it at the beginning), but I will stick through the last 2 episodes, espicially for that 'glowing hand' moment I'm pulling for.
Reply
Flag
After two abysmal episodes this was Torchwood back to some level of form... If we can stay away from the Angelo drama (please, that was painful to watch) and have more Oswald Danes, things could be good... Danes dancing was just great... But no one can believe the 'assertive prostitute'
Reply
Flag
I am dissapointed, moving too slow and nothing is happening. i knew the US would screw it up
Reply
Flag
How disappointing to see this fantastic show fall from such a great height. This started much like Angel from Buffy as a darker side of Dr Who - but now no idea where the show is going and literally nothing has happened in all the episodes so far.
Reply
Flag
Finally a review that almost reflects exactly what I feel about this series of the show. It could (and should) have been amazing. Its got all the right ingredients but somehow they're failing to cook properly for me.
Reply
Flag
Loved the review, but I have one nit to pick. Esther wasn't the mole, it was her friend in the CIA: Charlotte Wills.
Reply
Flag
I actually liked this episode, it's brought the show back to the matter at hand, the miracle & it's consequences. I'm glad that oswald is back & I really hope there is more to him than meets the eye otherwise I am going to be very angry. I also liked the addition of the "CIA bigwig", I found him quite entertaining.
Reply
Flag
Who doesn't? He was an Elder for crying out loud!
Reply
Flag
Still sticking with it - I loved the original Torchwood seasons and I still want to find out what the final outcome of Miracle Day is going to be.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook