Sunday, September 4, 2011

Torchwood 4.09: "Miracle Day: The Gathering"

“Yeah well, I wish it were me. Then you could shoot me and I could sleep.”

“Miracle Day: The Gathering” was yet another mediocre episode of “Torchwood.” It wasn’t as bad as some of the worst episodes of this season- there was at least some interesting plot movement- but it wasn’t anything spectacular, either. I’ll save the continued commentary on how this season has overall been a disappointment for next week’s blog post on the season finale. One redeeming characteristic of this episode is that it, for the most part, brought the team back together. I was pleased to see that we didn’t have the team split up working on multiple missions, because that has created some serious disconnect in past episodes. While the team is once again split by the end of the episode, at least it is along old Torchwood (Jack and Gwen) and new Torchwood (Rex and Esther) lines. So I can enjoy the Jack and Gwen scenes next week and not pay as close attention to the Rex and Esther stuff. Unfortunately, the final scenes of this episode don’t give me a ton of confidence that the resolution to the season’s mystery will be satisfactory. We sort of see what “the Blessing” is by the end of this episode, but it’s rather disappointing and abstract. But more about that later.

This episode begins two months after the last one ended. The overflow camps are back up and running with the full knowledge that all Category 1’s are to be “disposed of” in the ovens. The justification seems to be the economic collapse we saw beginning in the last episode. The Torchwood folks are all managing to scrape by. We see Gwen run her car through the plate glass window of a pharmacy, then steal medication from the pharmacy. An elderly man who had been passing by while walking his dog approaches her, not to confront her for stealing, but to ask if he can have some medication for his wife. Everyone is afraid to go to the doctor these days for fear they’ll be designated Category 1. We see Gwen return home to her family, and it seems like they’ve essentially become drug dealers. They supply medication to their neighbors when they need it and use some of the medication to keep Gwen’s father comfortable, too. They’re making the best of a bad situation. Rhys says he’s gotten a job offer to drive Category 1’s to the overflow camps, and Gwen says he should probably take it because they need the money. Then the power goes out, presumably a consequence of the current economic conditions.

Jack and Esther are hiding out in Scotland, where Esther is trying to nurse Jack back to health. She’s also storing pints of Jack’s blood in a refrigerator, which is pretty darn creepy. Since Jack’s blood seems to be something that interests the Family, she thinks it might be valuable to hold on to some of it. In other CIA news, Rex is back at Langley. He has some leads on the Miracle investigation (a short story that sounds a lot like what happened to Jack), and he’s trying to pump up the rest of his team to continue the investigation. The name of the author of the short story leads to a dagger with blood on it, which still apparently has viable DNA. This is a good lead that could potentially lead to the Families, which makes Charlotte, the blonde analyst who is Family, pretty darn antsy. She recommends two particular technicians to examine the DNA from the dagger, and Rex goes along with it.

Jilly, who has presumably been doing work for the Family these past two months, meets with her Family contact in a park. He gives her an alias and a one-way ticket to Shanghai. Apparently she’s being taken to see the Blessing. In Shanghai, she takes a meeting in a restaurant with another man from the Families. He explains that what they want Jilly to do is “write history.” We find out later that what Jilly has been doing is slightly altering translations of foreign news stories to hide things the Families don’t want people to know. He also warns Jilly that the Blessing kills some of the people who view it. This doesn’t really seem to phase Jilly all that much. Near the end of the Episode, Jilly is taken to the Shanghai compound to finally see the Blessing. The Family woman who meets her there tries to make it seem all creepy, talking about how being close to the Blessing makes you feel uneasy, but the Blessing itself is kind of lame. It’s a hole in the ground with sparkly light emanating from it. Unless next week it turns out to be the birthing chamber for some huge alien monster or something, I’m going to be disappointed.

Back to our Torchwood team, Gwen’s dealing with police raids on her house by a particularly persistent detective. He’s convinced she’s hiding her father, who should be taken to the ovens as a Category 1. He’d be right, but that doesn’t mean Gwen and her family want to give him up. Gwen’s mom hides Gwen’s father in a secret room in the basement and keeps him quiet as the police search the house. The detective vows to find out what happened to Gwen’s father no matter what. He’s rather cardboard and moustache twirling, and I prefer my villains with motivation. Things get even more complicated for the Cooper-Williams family when a purported grocer shows up to deliver bread to their house and instead turns out to be none other than Oswald. He wants to see Jack in exchange for the name of the person who created the Miracle. Gwen and Rhys each take a few swings at him with an iron frying plan, which was one of the more enjoyable moments of the episode. Meanwhile at Langley, the blonde analyst (whose name I believe is Charlotte) tells Rex there was no match from the DNA on the knife, and Rex starts to get suspicious. He asks Charlotte to send him the text of the short story, and he alerts Shapiro that he thinks there’s a mole on the team.

Jack arrives in Swansea to reunite with Gwen, and he makes quite a fanfare of an entrance. There’s been a Family spy watching Gwen’s house, and he gets him to drink Retcon so he can’t report Jack’s presence to the Families. Esther is with Jack, too, so the team has a little reunion before getting down to business. Oswald says that recently, Jilly’s online presence has ceased to exist. In his investigation of how this happened, he kept coming across the name “Harry Boscoe.” That’s the name he thinks is going to be so valuable to the Torchwood team. Esther just laughs at him derisively. Harry Boscoe refers to mistranslating news stories to affect public perception. During Vietnam, Boscoe was the best at this, and his name is now used to refer to the process in general. While not as useful as they hoped, the name is still useful to the team, because it means they now know what Jilly is up to, and they can look for mistranslated news stories. They consult with Rex about a particular video from China, because they need CIA resources to translate the Wu and Mandarin dialects that were eventually translated into English. It turns out that in the original Wu dialect, the subject of the video said “the Blessing saved my life.” The subject of the video burned down a blood bank, although the translation had made it sound like a hospital. A blood bank was burned down in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well.

Rhys has just made the connection that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are on exact opposite sides of the globe when the police raid Gwen’s house once again. This time the surly detective has thermal imaging software, and he uses it to find Gwen’s father in the secret basement room. Gwen’s father gets taken away to be burned, even though Gwen begs the detective not to take him. After he’s taken, the Coopers seem strangely at peace. I would have expected Mary, Gwen’s mom, to pitch a royal fit, but surprisingly, she accepts what’s happened.

Once the excitement of the raid has died down, Rhys tells the rest of the group what he realized about Shanghai and Buenos Aires. They decide that the team should split up, with several people going to each city. Rex gets permission from Shapiro to go off grid, so he’s in on this too. Gwen, Jack, and Oswald (who blackmails his way into going along) are headed to Shanghai, while Esther and Rex go to Buenos Aires. Rex had to use a diplomatic bag to get Jack’s blood that Esther had stored into Buenos Aires (the team thinks it might be valuable and important to the success of the mission), which means he had to check into the embassy. Rex tells Esther that as long as nobody from the Families is checking the embassy notifications, they should be fine, but of course Charlotte is. She has an alert set up specifically or Rex, and she now knows he’s in Buenos Aires. That’s bad news, obviously. In Shanghai, Jack’s health is deteriorating. He wasn’t completely recovered from his gunshot wound when he left Scotland for Wales. Gwen changes the dressing on the wound, and Oswald notices that a drop of Jack’s blood seems to be rolling across the floor. He points it out to Gwen, who believes that the blood is leading them to the Blessing.

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