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Torchwood S4E9 review

REVIEWS - TV

Gearing up for next week's finale, Torchwood's latest doesn't disappoint...

Torchwood S4E9 - 'The Gathering' (Miracle Day)

Miracle Day: The Gathering

Spoilers Within

With only one week to go, Miracle Day is proving to be one hell of a ride. We are finally getting a wider shot of the bigger picture: The Three Families, the “Blessing”, political subterfuge, socio-economic breakdown, paranoia. But the real kick in the head is how it all seems to keep coming back to Jack.

Jack and Esther found their way to Scotland, where Jack is on the mend from his gunshot wound, and Esther is bagging his blood. While Jack tells her there’s no reason to as it’s not special, she can’t shake the fact that it had been collected when he was being tortured back in 1928 and the Families were very interested in it. Meanwhile in Wales, Gwen and Rhys are staying with Mary, where they are hiding Gwen’s dad Geraint, and Gwen has been reduced to stealing drugs to keep him comfortable, while also getting some for the neighbors. Rex and Shapiro are looking at every lead possible, and being shut down at every turn by Esther’s former desk mate Charlotte Willis, who it had been revealed is working with the Families. The two agree to keep it a one man show, because they don’t know who to trust anymore. And Miss Jilly Kitzinger has gotten her promotion with the Families, and is about to get her biggest opportunity yet: To go to Shanghai, and see the “Blessing” up close. But the worst possible turn comes when none other than Oswald Danes shows up at Gwen’s house, looking for Jack.

Writer John Fay (Robin Hood, Coronation Street, Primeval) returns to Torchwood and hands us a lot in the allotted time to set up the big finale, and it goes by pretty quick. He starts to tie all of the various ends together rather well, without giving away the biggest payoff. Lauren Ambrose is given some really good scenes that really help to flesh her character out past being an overachieving public relations person. She’s now in charge of mistranslation, keeping any reference to the blessing away from the public. But even more than that, she is being given the chance to “write history”, as she is informed in Shanghai. During her first meeting with one of the representatives, she is informed that she is a story teller, and that she is needed to spin the events that will take place. And Jilly certainly seems up for the job. Ambrose has done her best to make the best of what could have been a one note role, and here she gets the payoff. When she gets to finally see what the blessing is (which looks like a cavern with objects floating around in it), she is asked what she sees. She just seems to tear up a little, and says “I’m right”. Right about what, well, I’m sure we’ll find out.

Eve Myles and Kai Owen also give some good performances in this episode. First when they have to deal with police who refuse to leave them in peace until they find out what happened to Geraint. Here, the police have the right to use force to retrieve unregistered category ones, and they do so without remorse for the families involved. The other scene they shine in is when Danes shows up at their house. He disguises himself as a grocery delivery man, and makes his way into the house. Myles shows the utter horror any parent would feel were this man to appear in their home, but here he is holding her daughter. She keeps it together long enough to take Anwen from him, takeher to Rhys, and then proceeds to go back into the kitchen, pick up a saucepan, and beat Danes with it. Rhys comes into to stop her, only to take the pan and resume the beating. They also have a nice shared moment when the electricity goes out at night, and the two show that they still love each other very much. The fact that these two characters can go through so much and still be that in love is wonderful, and these two actors are a perfect match.

Owen also gets to prove that sometimes, the working class fellow sees more because they don’t look at too broad a view. When the team realizes that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are the two locations that seem to be connected in reference to the blessing, it’s Rhys – who has been fiddling with a globe – that figures out that the two cities are on the exact opposite spots of the planet. So it’s off to Shanghai and Buenos Aires for our team: Rex and Esther to South America, and Jack, Gwen and Oswald – who has conned them into keeping him with them – to China. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Charlotte has been made aware that Rex is in Argentina. And when Gwen helps Jack change his dressing, it is Danes that notices that Jack’s blood is running across the floor, as if it were drawn to the blessing. Is there a connection between him and the blessing, or is it all coincidence?

Pullman’s performance is that of a man in desperation. He no longer puts on the public face for the cameras, but simply plays the monster, a man who plays any card and pulls any trick to get what he wants or to further his position. He knows he’s on borrowed time, whether due to the danger of being caught by the authorities, or the danger presented by Rhys and Gwen, who have nothing but contempt for him, and would love for nothing else but to end his existence – and as Rhys promises him, since there’s no murder, he could make it last quite a while. The menace in Owen’s performance when dealing with Danes is nothing short of impressive. He not only plays a man disgusted with Danes’ behavior and actions, but also a father who would save his own child from such an animal. As a father myself, I side with him on wanting to do physical harm to Danes.

The threads are all joining now, and hopefully RTD gives up the big payoff we have all been waiting for next week. Torchwood has come a long way from the little Welsh sci-fi romp with the monster-of-the-week, to becoming a global series, with better effects and more down to Earth storytelling, for better or for worse. As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a great series, and I can’t wait to see how this one ends.

See also Caleb's previous review:

Torchwood S4E8 review


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