Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Torchwood 4.10: "Miracle Day: The Bloodline"

“Just you wait. If this goes right, murder’s coming back.”

“The Bloodline,” the finale of “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” had some great moments, but it was, like the season overall, somewhat of a disappointment. It score points for characterization, but utterly failed in the satisfying plot resolution department. Mostly, I took issue with the fact that this was a season of Torchwood with no aliens. Aliens are always behind the strange happenings on Torchwood, but as Gwen puts it about 2/3 of the way through the episode, what they’ve been looking for is the most terrestrial thing there could possibly be. It was kind of disappointing. I also didn’t love the final tally of who survived the events of the season. Some really annoying characters were still standing when we hit fade to black, and some other, somewhat more tolerable characters were not. The resolution also made the whole season seem kind of pointless. It turns out that the events of the Miracle were just a test run, and the Families have something even nastier planned for the future. Whether or not we’ll ever get to see those events play out remains to be seen.

The episode opens with Gwen delivering a monologue about how she was going to kill her father. It reminded me forcibly of the overwrought opening and closing monologue by Rose for the Doctor Who series two finale “Doomsday.” And as you can probably guess, that’s not a good thing. I’m not always anti voice over. I think that the voice over can be a really effective tool when used well, but it wasn’t here. It was way too angsty. Once Gwen’s done monologuing, we see both half of the teams using Jack’s blood to find the Blessing in their respective cities. While Torchwood is following the blood, agents of the Families are carting explosives into both the Shanghai and Buenos Aires entrances to the Blessing, preparing to blow those entrances up. Apparently this will keep everyone immortal.

One of the most frustrating moments of the episode for me occurred when Rex called Shapiro at the CIA for backup. In the last episode, Rex was keeping the mission to Buenos Aires on the down low because he was convinced there was a mole on his CIA team. The only person he was telling was Shapiro. Of course, as soon as he gets the call from Rex, Shapiro bursts into the room of analysts and says they’re all going to be working on Rex’s mission. And of course one of those analysts is Charlotte, who we now know is working for the Families. She spends most of this episode looking shifty. Subtle this performance is not. Esther, acting all confident and take-charge now, asks the analysts for all the information they can get about the cities at either end of the Blessing. Charlotte tries to say it won’t be easy to get records for Argentina, but the translator who has been brought in mentions there’s a certain type of record they’ve been keeping for a long time, foiling Charlotte’s plan. Noah, another analyst, mentions that the CIA has just developed this telephone trace program that should work with the specific type of programming used on Family phones. Naturally, this makes Charlotte a bit nervous.

In Shanghai, the woman from the Families gives us a kind of pointless info dump when she tells Jilly how the Families found the Shanghai point of the Blessing. Apparently the people who lived within a two-mile radius always had the exact same lifespan of the global average lifespan. Meanwhile, Gwen’s heading for the Blessing, and she has to go through a shop to get there. The shopkeeper is reluctant to open the backdoor to the shop, which leads to the alley where the entrance to the Blessing is located, but Gwen finally convinces her with a bribe. Gwen steps outside, gets some seriously bad vibes from the alley, and rushes back inside the shop. While Gwen was doing recon, Jack and Oswald were having a very interesting conversation. Oswald wants to know who Jack really is, and Jack tells him the truth. He says he’s seen the future and the wonderful future of the human race, and compared to all that, Oswald is very small. I loved that this really called back to Jack’s time with the Doctor. While waiting for Jack and Oswald to join her, Gwen takes a phone call from Rhys. Andy got him a special pass to be with Gwen’s dad as the Miracle ends. I think this little plotline did a good job at humanizing the situation.

In Buenos Aires, Rex and Esther are introduce to the Argentinian military escort with whom the CIA has hooked them up. Meanwhile, the CIA analysts, mostly Noah, actually, have found the Blessing site. Noah found an alley that isn’t marked on the map. He compares it to how all the members of the Families have been wiped away. A soldier helps Esther load all her stuff into a truck, including her case of Jack’s blood. As she’s about to hop in the truck herself, Rex is suddenly in pain. While she and the military Captain are trying to deal with that, the soldier who had been helping Esther starts opening the case of blood. When he sees what’s inside, he sets of a bomb, even as his fellow soldiers shoot at him. Rex decides to use this opportunity to make everyone think he and Esther are dead. The truck explosion is seen at the CIA, and Shapiro immediately orders the phone trace run. Charlotte very suspiciously sneaks off and puts something in her purse. She leaves the purse in the room with the analysts and hightails it out of there. What she put in her purse was a bomb, of course. And the analysts figure out that the mole is Charlotte just seconds before they blow up.

The Torchwood team starts infiltrating their respective Blessing facilities, and while they’re doing that, Rhys and Andy get into the Cowbridge camp to see Gwen’s dad. Rhys sits with Gwen’s dad, and Andy decides to sit with a teenage girl. A nurse mentioned that the girl had nobody, so I guess Andy felt bad. It was one of the more touching moments of the episode. Anyway, Jack, Gwen, and Oswald soon arrive at the heart of the Shanghai facility. Oswald, thanks to an idea from Jack, has a bomb strapped to his chest, and he threatens to use it to blow up the facility while all of the workers are still in it. Torchwood has the upper hand in Shanghai, but they don’t in Buenos Aires. Rex and Esther have been captured. Before dealing with that, though, the Shanghai half of the team has to deal with the Blessing itself. They all recover pretty quickly from “seeing their souls,” even Oswald. When Gwen asks for an explanation for the Blessing, Jack invokes the Doctor and starts rattling off crazy myths that could explain the origin. I always like when we get a little “Doctor Who” connection in “Torchwood.”

It turns out that the Families put Jack’s blood into the Blessing (a big chasm through the center of the Earth), and that turned a switch to make everybody immortal. To switch back, Jack’s blood must be released into the Blessing from both entrances. At first, this seems impossible, because Jack’s blood appeared to have blown up in Buenos Aries, but it turns out that Esther and Rex transfused the blood into Rex before the explosion. I thought that explanation was pretty darn stupid, but at least it wrapped up the plot. The Family woman in Shanghai says that both Jack and Rex will die, because the Blessing will take all of their blood if it gets a chance. Neither of the men really seems to care. Gwen and Esther each prepare to shoot their respective partners, but the Family man in Buenos Aires shoots Esther before the plan can go down. Gwen gives a bit of a speech to get everybody back on track, and both men release blood into the Blessing. In another very Rose in “Doomsday” monologue, Gwen starts talking about how death came back to the Earth. When she’s done channeling Rose, it’s time for Gwen to escape. She and Jilly have to fight over the elevator that will take them out of the facility, especially once Jack comes back to life. Eventually, though, Jack, Gwen, and Jilly all get out. Just before Oswald blows up the place, taking the Family woman with him.

We finally get back to the United States, and most of the team (and Charlotte…the bitch) are all at a funeral. The funeral, unfortunately, is Esther’s. I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the new characters introduced this season, but Esther was one of the more tolerable of the bunch. Rex, however, is still alive. Unfortunately. There’s a brief cut away from the funeral where we see Jilly meet with her original Family contact. The man says that the Miracle was just a trial run, and they have bigger things planned. Jilly is all in, of course. Back at the church, the funeral is over, and Rex gets an alert on his cell phone that he now has access to Noah’s old computer. He sees the result of the telephone trace and tries to go after Charlotte. Charlotte shoots Rex, and Jack shoots Charlotte. Finally. Rex, however, in classic Jack form, takes a big breath and is resurrected. Apparently having Jack’s blood has made him immortal. I thought that was a dumb twist, but I did like the “What? What? What?” reaction from the team when it happened. It reminded me a lot of the Tenth Doctor at the beginning of “Voyage of the Damned.” And that’s really all I’ve got to say about the episode. Let’s end this on a (somewhat) high note.

No comments:

Post a Comment