“Torchwood: The Blood Line” Review

Almost anything I write about Miracle Day is going to sound like the damnation of faint praise. In fact I found The Blood Line a satisfying, if at times completely ludicrous, conclusion to this semi-epic story. It’s just that Miracle Day turned out not to be, like its predecessor, gut-wrenchingly harrowing and tragic; rather it was delightfully barking.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Miracle Day from the start; expecting another Children of Earth would have set the bar impossibly high. But Miracle Day didn’t always  seem quite sure what it wanted to be, either. The Miracle Day concept was squandered: the promise of a worthy successor to CofE, a philosophical investigation into the social aspects of the end of death were hinted at but never delivered until finally being killed off, along with Dr Juarez, about half way through when death was reinvented; at which point the focus switched to erratic action thriller. The influences of shows like 24 and particularly Heroes were evident (I’d hoped it would rather take more from House and The West Wing) but for all that by the last couple of episodes, it was quite a thrilling thriller.

The pacing certainly suffered from the lack of any evident threat or tangible antagonists, but the central concept of Torchwood fighting an entirely terrestrial menace was refreshing. The Three Families were almost an anti-Torchwood, doing the same kind of work for profit (rather than for “saving the Earth” or whatever the TW mission statement actually is). I’m not sure I entirely welcome their being set up as the recurring villains should Torchwood continue, but they served the story well in this episode. The global premise finally felt justified, with our team split across other sides of the world whilst still linked by The Blessing. And I like the way the Racnoss problem was acknowledged – sometimes a shrug is more convincing than a glib explanation that amounts to little more than an ill-thought out sleight of hand.

As it hurtled along, often veering into the laughably absurd (the lift-fight, Rex’s transfusion) I found myself getting more and more confused in trying to draw a line between where the nonsense began and ended. How could Rex, with a punctured heart and a body full of someone else’s blood have survived when Esther, with a single gunshot wound, didn’t? Because, it turned out, he’s got all immortal – makes sense. But how did that happen – nonsense? Because The Blessing reversed the mortal status Jack and humanity, and was keyed into Jack’s blood which Rex was full of – makes sense. But why did making humans immortal mean Jack became mortal in the first place? Nonsense. In the end I just sat back and accepted it all. Making Rex immortal was surprising and funny, at the time, but looks like an odd decision should Torchwood continue… Do we need two immortals striding around? Mind you, I thought one was too many.

Most surprisingly of all, it was upbeat and liberally seeded with teasers for Torchwood 5.

Children of Earth ended on a low and a high. Low in the sense of reaching a nadir of misanthropy,  but a high in brilliant written and executed drama; it felt like an ending both because it had so totally destroyed Torchwood in every sense and because it would have been a triumphant note to end on. But despite that, RTD made it clear he was ready to do more, and I wanted to see it because it had been so good. Now both Davies and Starz have been lukewarm on whether Torchwood might come back, it was a surprise to see so many preparations made… I enjoyed Miracle Day enough to want to see Torchwood come back, and it would be a shame to leave it at this point with so many loose ends and so much potential to be realised. There have been some great new writers working on it this season, and knowing what to expect, when I come to watch Miracle Day again in a year or two I expect to enjoy it more (watching over a couple of weeks rather than a couple of months may be a better experience too). And for the future, for curiosity’s sake I’d love to see what becomes of Torchwood if there’s another format shift. But if another Miracle Day is what’s on offer is more of the same that’s fine with me.

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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