Sunday, September 11, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day follows "The Blood Line"

Torchwood: Miracle Day [Blu-ray]     Starz's Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth season of the British series, Torchwood, comes to an end this week with "The Blood Line." Torchwood team members new and old converge on the focal points of "The Blessing" in Buenos Aires and Shanghai. A mole threatens both teams, and destroys their CIA allies. Soon, it is discovered that only Jack's (John Barrowman) blood, fed to both sides of The Blessing simultaneously will reverse the Miracle, and restore death to the planet. Luckily, Rex (Mekhi Phifer) has had his blood replaced with Jack's, and with some sacrifice, Torchwood ends the disaster. 

     Torchwood: Miracle Day turns the notion of everlasting life on its head, and explores some real possibilities when immortality is unleashed on the real world. The horrors visited upon the population by governments may be necessary for the survival of the species, but is hard for individuals to swallow. A two month time jump shows just how much people are willing to accept things with authority says they must be so. No one is fighting back, except for Torchwood, as the medical community burns millions of still-living bodies.

     But is death so bad? This is a question that Gwen (Eve Myles) must face as she prepares to save the world. After all, restoring death to its proper place means that her father will be among the first to stop living. Gwen must acknowledge that, with the possible exception of Jack, most people need to have an end to their life. Quality of living is a consideration, and while Gwen tries mightily to hang onto her father, long after it becomes practical, in the end, she must face that reality. It's a moving moment, and a great way to personalize some of the large issues going on in the show.

     As expected from Torchwood, the finale ends with much death. Of particular sadness is the unexpected loss of Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins). Along with Rex, Esther joins the Torchwood team for this mission. After ten episodes, fans are surely rooting for Rex and Esther to make it through safely, so they can join Gwen and Jack, the essentials, on future adventures. Sadly, though, Esther is murdered right before Rex can save the day, This hits home even harder than Vera's (Arlene Tur) murder in an earlier episode, as it is easy to grow attached to these newcomers. Especially the plucky, earnest Esther.

     Since Rex's transfusion is what allows the team to save the world, it almost seems like he will be gone, too. But for those paying attention, the "surprise" twist that Rex now cannot die, like Jack, is anything but. It's a welcome new story, with plenty to explore in future Torchwood installments. It also makes Rex very important for upcoming adventures, and permanently changes the dynamic for the Torchwood crew. For these reasons, and the fact that Phifer makes Rex extremely intriguing, it is a welcome change for the current run to end with.

     The second surprise is that Jilly (Lauren Ambrose) survives. She must have "fun faster," as Oswald (Bill Pullman) says. Not only that, but she is soon re-recruited by the Families, which call Miracle Day simple a test run for what they have in store. Which the stakes so high in this latest Torchwood, it is hard to imagine how they can be topped. With those handful of words to Jilly at the end, it's enough to make viewers' blood run cold, and begin to imagine what can be worse than Miracle Day. Let's hope the Torchwood team gets a chance to show us. And maybe Ambrose can be upgraded to main character?

      Finally, it's worth noting the message that Oswald's sacrifice sends. Here is a real sociopath, who is shown countless times to care nothing for anyone but himself. Yet, in the end, he makes the choice to take himself and some of the bad guys out. Yes, he just faced his soul, and after that, he could not live with himself. But he finds the strength to make his death count, rather than just take himself out when it was convenient for him. There's actually almost a strength of character to admire, though it's only a desperate, last gasp to make up for the heinous acts he previously committed. It doesn't make Oswald likeable, but it finds a tiny morsel of good in a person who isn't expected to have any.

     Thank you, Starz, for Torchwood: Miracle Day.

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