‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’: Episode 10 review

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So, we’ve reached the end. The Miracle is over, death is back and Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper have managed to avoid its nasty, bony fingers. Ten weeks of transatlantic Torchwooding is over and having stuck with them all the way through the explosive highs at the beginning, the drudgery days in the middle and the final, wagging of the tail, quasi-recovery at the end, one question remains: was it all worth it?

‘Don’t do any of that stupid, lame-ass, Torchwood stuff,’ Rex warns Jack and Gwen – but of course, they can’t help themselves. After last week’s revelation of the Blessing as a giant, globe-spanning tract straight out of internal medical photography, replete with what looked like swirls of Bolivian marching powder, the plan becomes clear: chuck Jack’s mortal blood into it and the Miracle will be curtailed.

It sounds simple, but simplicity isn’t quite stupid or lame-ass enough for our heroes. Rex and Esther are promptly detained off-camera by the Three Families in Buenos Aries, while at the Shanghai side, there’s a moving little speech from Gwen about her dad, a bit of Category One neck-snapping from Jack and some obstreperous whinging from Oswald Danes that leads to him being wired-up into the world’s most whiny suicide bomber. Before Rex can say “Wait a minute …” in a thoughtful, wheezy voice, there’s a Mexican stand-off at either end. It’s not stupid, but it is a bit lame.

Eventually, though, Jack and Rex begin spurting claret from their CGI wounds like they’re understudying John Hurt in an Alien remake and death is brought back: not Category One comatosery but old-fashioned, this-is-the-end expiry.

CIA grump Shapiro gets to utter one final burst of swearing before being blown to bits (‘I don’t care if it brings down the whole pissing system – run the trace and find the bastard!’ he carps before delivering a final, pithy, ‘Oh fuck …’) and Oswald Danes – who remains reliably repellent right up to the end – bellows bellicosely to the memory of the young girl he raped and murdered, ‘Susie, keep running – I’m coming to get you!’ before detonating himself and the Families’ head-honcho with the explosives strapped to his chest. Gwen’s dad finally succumbs to a natural end and even poor old Esther is killed so that the surviving principal cast members can gather at her funeral in a neat little epilogue.

Rex, on the other hand – thanks to his transfusion of Barrowglobin – is now as immortal as Jack; and with Jilly Kitzinger still alive and eager to keep her job as publicist for the world’s most diabolic dynasty, there’s every chance of a sequel series. ‘Plan B,’ the Families’ blue-eyed boy explains to her. ‘Interested?’ Although Jilly jumps for it as quickly as she did earlier for the doors of the lift to escape Oswald’s imminent immol(ester)ation – not to mention the catfight with Gwen, in which the latter sniped, ‘How much bloody lipstick do you wear?’ before knocking seven shades of Revlon out of the ginger princess – we’re a little more cautious.

Torchwood as a concept still has plenty of life left in it. However, it’s no coincidence that the very best parts of Miracle Day – in spite of Bill Pullman’s delighting in depravity, Mekhi Phifer’s enjoyable grouching, Lauren Ambrose’s flouncing and the solid supporting performances of Arlene Tur, John de Lancie and Wayne Knight – were the scenes set in Swansea, with Kai Owen, the Cooper clan and the recognisable landscape of South Wales.

If Russell T Davies is to make a fifth series, it would be much more enjoyable to see it back in the familiar surroundings in which the show was born – and if it must have a linking storyline, it would be far better to see the arc pushed to the back and have some standalone tales of horrific happenings in the Valleys and extraterrestrials stalking the streets of suburban Cardiff.

Was it worth it, then, Torchwood: Miracle Day? Yes it was… but only just, and just this once.

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 15th September 2011 on BBC One.

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