Torchwood: Miracle Day - Immortal SinsBookmark and Share

Friday, 26 August 2011 - Reviewed by Chuck Foster

Torchwood: Miracle Day - Immortal Sins
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Broadcast on Starz - 19th August 2011
Broadcast on BBC1 - 25th August 2011
BBC Worldwide Productions
This review contains plot spoilers and is based on the UK broadcast of the episode.

So here we are in 1927 New York, which means that Jack's infiltration mission with the Night Travellers in the 1920s must have come to an end - this is plausible I guess, in that the only date we have for that setting in series two's From Out Of The Rain was 1925 and that isn't tied directly to Jack. However, I was surprised how his American accent caused little concern for someone arriving in America on a UK passport (which was authentic in that the style came into use in 1920 ... though I couldn't tell if it was a 1927 "Northern Ireland" or earlier "Ireland" version!).

But why is he wearing his modern day coat? The story implied that this is Jack v1, i.e. the one who originally joined Torchwood in the late 19th Century, but with that coat here did he actually go back in his timeline yet again in some future Miracle Day revelation? Or am I now desperately looking for some plot rationalisation over how he came to be dressed that way?

Once again we have an episode that says a lot but doesn't do much. About all we learned from the episode was that Jack had a relationship with Angelo, and that back in 'our time' it seems Angelo is still about and wants Jack dead - or is that by the other three instead, who wanted 'ownership' over Jack in 1928 (and who happened to clasp hands in the now familiar triangular symbol/logo the Miracle protagonists use on their phones etc. - an important plot clue?).

Unlike Gwen's monologue in Children of Earth, Jack's mention of the Doctor seems a bit forced in the script, and the reference to the Trickster Brigade is all well and good but serves nothing to push the story forward whatsoever, another bit of plot padding to keep the episode from stalling. Then again, for all I know the Trickster himself will be revealed in Episode Ten!!! (Actually, when all the talk of WWII and altered timelines came up I thought for one moment that this was going to tie in with Let's Kill Hitler and that's what Ed Russell's comments about timing of the broadcast was really about!)

However, whilst the plot itself might be shaky, character-wise the episode performed well with an interesting exploration of Jack's view of the ephemeral nature of his relationships with us mortals; as mentioned above, though, it isn't clear if this is pre- or post- Ianto Jack - if he had only been on Earth for some 40 years so far would he have had that many relationships? Still, as other reviewers have observed, this series does seem to be concentrating on Jack's male exploits (and possibly some slash-fiction asperations on the part of the writer who handled both these encounters this series?!!). Not that this matters to the story per se, but it does feel neglectful of the character's inception as an omnisexual 51st Century guy (something that River seems to have taken up the reigns of in Doctor Who, judging by her anecdotes!).

Speaking of which: okay BBC, so what standards are being applied for scene censorhsip in Torchwood? Episode three sees a brief scene cut from transmission for its sexual content, but episode seven sees a much longer, explicit scene broadcast at an earlier time than the previous excised one, plus what seems to be male anatomy on show! So why bother trimming episode three at all? (unless there was a problem with Vera and Rex?!?!).

Also, the scenes with Jack and Angelo inter-played well with what looked to be a bitter parting between Jack and Gwen in the car as their own relationship descended into distrust and seemingly ready to annihilate each other to protect their lives. These were again great scenes, but it was all so neatly forgiven and forgotten at the episode's climax that the whole emotional impact was somewhat undermined.

(Who am I trying to kid: we are now more than 3/4 way through and there is so much that doesn't seem relevant to the Miracle (or maybe it is) that the plot is ducking and diving to the extent that it isn't making a blind bit of sense to me which direction it is actually trying to go in!)

Still, yay for Esther for lighting up the screen for those few moments she had this week, and for being the one who sussed it all out yet again, saving everybody in the process. The true heroine of the series!

Anyway to summarise, we had some great character scenes (with good acting from John Barrowman and an even better performance from Daniele Favilli!), but little to further the overall storyline; I know sometimes it is good to take a breather from the action (a problem with some Who episodes is that you don't get a chance to breathe) but not for several episodes in the same series!

(and, having had Nana Visitor for a minute in this episode, let's hope "Next Time" John De Lancie gets a bit more screen time, not to mention a meatier role ... but episode eight and another previously unheard of new character pops up?!!).