Previously on Torchwood: Miracle Day: Gwen was deported! Rex was headed back to the CIA! Esther was driving Jack to an unknown destination, forcing us to spend the week in a state of terror over the possibility that Captain Jack Harkness, our so-handsome-I-question-my-sexuality hero, could—*gasp*—die. Oh, how I've been shaking in my boots for the last seven days!
But to no one's surprise, Jack lived. How? Who cares—the writers certainly didn't. "The Gathering" took place two months after the events of last week's "End Of The Road," which was simultaneously brilliant and a cop-out. Brilliant because the episode essentially served as a reset button for the series, which was in dire need of a fresh start after the last few episodes pushed the show into the orbit of planet Irrelevant. Cop-out because oh my god what was the real point of flashing back to the 1920s and spending an episode at Casa de Dead Italian Lover? Maybe the finale will bring all of that back and make me look like an idiot. I hope so.
But regardless of what happened before "The Gathering," the episode itself was pretty good, and I don't know if that's by comparison or on its own. The biggest difference between "The Gathering" and the three previous installments of Torchwood: Miracle Day (everything after "The Categories of Life," which might have been the series' highpoint) was that it actually made some progress. About as much happened during "The Gathering" as in the last three episodes combined. It went back to the pace of the season's early episodes constantly moving things forward (or at least making its side-steps interesting). Let's face it, Miracle Day could have could have gotten away with a six-episode season, and probably would have been better for it.
The big reveal of "The Gathering" was the Blessing. It isn't Jack, as many suspected. It looks like a gigantic, chapped, vertical sphincter and extends all the way through the center of the Earth, popping out in Shanghai and its—what's the word they used? Oh yeah—"antipode," Buenos Aires. This forced the team to split up, with Rex and Esther headed to Argentina and Jack, Gwen, and Oswald (Oswald? More on that in a second) off to China for what Jack said was their "biggest mission yet." I normally would have groaned over such blatant self-horn-tooting, but Jack managed to exhibit such childlike enthusiasm that it was impossible not to get caught up in the moment. Oh Jack, I'm putty in your cleft chin.
But let's get back to Oswald. How the heck did he get caught up in this thing? One problem I've had with Torchwood: Miracle Day (and Children of Earth) is that, toward the end of the series, the script ends up being held together with tape, glue, old chewing gum, and a little bit of snot. In Oswald's case, the writers obviously needed to find a way to get him to China with Jack and Gwen (for whatever reason that we'll find out next week). So they had him fly in from the States to seek out Gwen and put him in a room while Torchwood formed its ultra-secret plan, allowing him to blackmail his way into the gang by threatening to tell everyone what he just overheard. Fact: No members of an super-secret underground organization would plot their save-the-world Pièce de résistance with a convicted murderer, child-rapist, and potential arch-enemy in the next room. But that's what happened on Torchwood.
The coolest to happen in the episode, at least in my opinion, was Jack's blood being pulled toward the Blessing. For one, it looked really cool. For two, it clearly links Jack to the Blessing and will hopefully tie things together nicely. I'm really looking forward to seeing Rex's arm get pulled out of its socket when his briefcase full of Jack's plasma gets yanked toward the Buenos Aires end of the Blessing. That'll be a hoot.
One other step the show has taken in the right direction is creating a clear-cut villain out of Charlotte, the mole inside the CIA. Damn, I hate that b*tch so much and want her to die! But at least we have someone to hate after several episodes' worth of minor villains. Even Oswald has become likable in a weird sort of way, and who can hate Jilly? It's nearly impossible not to constantly fall in love with Lauren Ambrose.
We've got one more episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day left, and it's going to have to explain a heck of a lot. As of now, things are at least moving in the right direction. But even if the finale lands a perfect dismount, I'll find it difficult to recommend the series as a whole. What do you think?
... Soooo, are aliens behind this or what?
... How would you describe the Blessing? Does "chapped vertical sphincter" do it justice? Could the Blessing be God's butt?
... How suspenseful was that scene where those jerkwads were looking for Gwen's dad? Answer: VERY.