“Torchwood: The Gathering” Review

Two months later.

There it is. The thing that makes a show that uniquely offers the pleasure of Bill Pullman being hit by a pan in Swansea (and other such surreal spectacles) simultaneously disappointing is the lack of structure. Is it a series (self contained episodes) or is it a serial? Series 1 & 2 were the former, C of E the latter but with MD sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I don’t have a problem with “two months later” per se (it’s happened before in Battlestar Galactica and The Last of the Timelords) but in the penultimate episode (and after how long, exactly… just how long ago was The Miracle?) it feels like another way to dissipate any residual momentum. C of E announced its intention to tell one day per episode from the beginning. I’m not saying this should follow the same pattern, but… 5 episodes of on the run from the CIA exposing the death camps, then “2 months later” prior to the second set of 5 episodes back with the CIA hunting for The Families would have been fine, as would – for example – going for each episode telling a different aspect of how society is coping with the End of Death, or anything else. Basically anything but this series of false starts.

And how is society coping with the End of Death? After “2 months” I’d like to know, but all we get is a bit of dialogue referring to economic depression and immigration controls. In fact all the way through Miracle Day we’ve been teased with hints of great stories to be told about the effect of dying becoming impossible; but rather than deciding to explore them they’ve been left as throwaway comments and hints. And forgive me for getting into a bit of a post-mortem of Miracle Day before it’s even dead (assuming mortality returns next week) but even the concept of the End of Death hasn’t been followed through, with category 1s and incineration fudging the issue. After all, how can Rex have had is heart perforated and still function when a heart attack renders Mr Cooper a vegetable? How does Danes avoid category 1-ness, and the the suicide bomber remain conscious in The New World? I can see that the absence of the possibility of death removes the jeopardy that gives many situations drama, but what a shame to immitate it rather than getting creative in defining new threats and power plays. Also (I’ll get onto the episode in a moment, honest) where is the jeopardy in the Miracle Day scenario? In C of E we knew what could happen and when, unless it was avoided. But if 2 months can pass and everything’s still basically ticking over, why don’t our heroes just take another 2 months off? Sure, the economy dip a bit further and a few more countries might shut their borders, but it’s not the end of the world…

So: The Gathering.

  • We do, at least, discover what The Blessing is (despite the potential continuity issues this may cause with Inferno and The Runaway Bride) and belatedly return to Shanghai.
  • Danes finally gets to do something (i.e. receive a pan to the face) but there’d better be an excellent reason why he is at the centre of this Miracle next week, and not just an incidental character, because that’s what he’s been reduced to now.
  • Despite the economic woes and cost of disposing of category 1s, there still seem to be plenty of resources available to hunting down Gwen’s dad even though he places no burden whatsoever on the public purse.
  • Jack can heal, now, but in episode 1 he seemed to say he couldn’t (or was he just noting he was healing it normal speed, rather than super fast?)
  • There’s a crack about the wife of an R. Williams not taking his wife’s name, and it’s not Mr Pond.
  • Bread is delivered by Valley Bara. Is this a crossover with the wonderful Baker Boys?

Oh, and a Thermal Imaging App? No hardware, then, just uses the standard camera?

I should stop nitpicking. It’s not a bad episode (actually I enjoyed it), and little flaws such as this are not the problem. It’s frustrating that as the penultimate episode of Miracle Day it could – and should – have been so much better. It didn’t even have a cliffhanger.

One more to go.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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