‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’: Episode 8 spoiler-free review

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There’s a moment in ‘End of the Road’, the latest instalment of the cross-Atlantic sci-fi drama, when Gwen Cooper looks on in befuddlement, clearly not following what’s going on, and utters in frustration, “Bollocks!”. That about sums it up.

As we continue to find the heart of ‘the Miracle’, more questions and twists are being discovered whilst the original mystery (why everyone is now immortal) is slowly having the pieces of its generation-spanning story revealed.

This week we are reunited with Angelo, Jack’s lover from the previous episode, who is now a very old man indeed and has not forgotten our hero with the coat but is also key in the creation of the ‘Miracle’. His granddaughter (Nana Visitor, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Kira Nerys), who appeared during the denouement of ‘Immortal Sins’, reveals its genesis and who The Families are and why they want Captain Jack so badly.

However, the moments of revelation are popped by the intervention of the CIA with the return of Friedkin (Seinfeld‘s Wayne Knight) who has tracked our gang down. To further complicate matters, the head of the CIA, Shapiro is also on his way only to find the Friedkin’s seedy connections.

Also played by a Trek star – The Next Generation‘s Q, John De Lancie – Shapiro is another very Torchwood-y character (if you’ll permit such a phrase) – full of life, laughs and supreme arrogance. De Lancie is the perfect the choice for such a man and comes face to face with everyone asserting his dominance in the most amusing of fashions.

The gags come thick and fast with Rex’s suggestion that the ‘world got screwed ‘cos two gay guys had a hissy fit’ (also a neat point of misdirection) being a particular highlight along with Esther trying to spell the names of the Families as they are read out. Tonally, it does jump around, but by this point in the series you’ve either acclimatised or have stopped watching.

Countering the fun that Torchwood and the CIA are having are some disturbing scenes with Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger. The paedophile has requested that his PR guru procure him a prostitute, which leads to some deeply unsettling moments with a lady of the night. Pullman is on top form yet again and it’s refreshing to see that the writers are not softening his character or demonstrating any form of repentance. If anything, you’ll learn to hate him all over again.

The end is an incredibly sombre affair and has a whiff of The Empire Strikes Back about it, as it seems that Captain Jack & Co. are beat (though we know they can’t be, there’s still two episodes to go!). This comes after some sci-fi technobabble (well, it might be factually correct, who knows?) and more confusion as Jack seems to figure out what’s going on – but ain’t telling. You’ll have to pay close attention during the explanations.

Given that the majority of action in this episode takes place in one location (and a couple of rooms at that), it’s the ongoing mysteries, the clues and new twists, not to mention the highly entertaining cast, that keep Miracle Day pumping along as it reaches the climax.

Airs at 9pm on Thursday 1st September 2011 on BBC One (UK) and at 10pm on Friday 26th August 2011 on Starz (US).

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