Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.09: The Gathering

By Heather S. Vina

[spoilers ahead]

Written by: John Fay

Previously: Rex and Esther reunited with the CIA in the form of Shapiro, who promptly deported Gwen and shot Jack. Esther took off with a wounded Jack, while Oswald ran away from Jilly, who hooked up with the Mystery Man from the Families.

Recap: A masked person barrels into a pharmacy and shoots out the camera. Turns out it’s Gwen and she’s stealing drugs. An old man bystander interrupts her and asks her if she can spare some for his wife, whose arthritis is bad, but who is afraid to go to the hospital because of the whole “Category 1 = burning camps” thing. Can’t say as I blame her. Gwen gives him some and takes off running when the sirens signal the police coming. While she’s doing this, the radio talks about the camps opening back up again, that by the new laws, Category 1s must be taken to the camps for “disposal”.

What a nice way to say, “We plan on burning to death a bunch of people we don’t know what do with.”

Gwen arrives home and across the street from her flat. A young man is watching and reporting on her arrival. Surely, Gwen would know that she’s being watched, right? Anyways, Gwen is bringing home “pizza”, but instead of there being pies inside, there are boxes of pills. There don’t seem to be that many, considering how many it looked like she stuffed in her backpack.

Gwen is greeted by Rhys, her mom, and Anwen. Rhys mentions the people who want the pills and it sounds like they are selling them to neighbours. I guess, with Torchwood defunct and the world going to hell, Gwen needs the money! Gwen also brought meds for her father, whom they are hiding in a dark room in the basement. Poor guy. They can’t risk having him upstairs, because of the possibility of police raids. They’ve already raided some houses in the neighbourhood and taken some people away.

St. Margaret’s Halt, in Scotland. Esther is taking care of a healing Jack and tells him that the infection is almost gone. She mentions going into the village to get them some steak, so he can get some iron, but there was a guy there asking questions and it concerned her. She’s worried they might have to move on. Jack thinks she’s being too worried. He tells her they’re already in Scotland; there’s not much further North they can go. But Esther says they can keep running for as long as it takes. Jack remarks that he remembers when she was too scared to leave home. Esther tells him that was a long time ago.

Esther finishes taking blood from Jack and puts it in the fridge with a bunch of other bags she has taken from him. She’s figured out that, even if they don’t know why Jack’s blood is important, it is, so they’d better have a supply of it on hand in case they need it: “It’s the closest thing to magic we got.” Jack tells her that his blood isn’t magic and it didn’t make him immortal. She tells him that there’s something about it, because they have his blood and they keep trying to spill his blood, so there’s something about it. They just don’t know what, yet. Smart cookie.

How much time has passed, though?

Back in Wales, Gwen is frustrated in trying to search online for The Blessing, and misses Esther. Rhys tells Gwen that he has a job offer from a trucking company, but it would be driving patients to the camps. They need the money, though. Gwen sadly remarks that the first time the camps opened, they protested, but now the camps are open, again, and they’re all too busy looking out for themselves. Rhys quips sarcastically that it’s “all part of the plan to wear us down.” Gwen wants to know what the plan is for, but they’re interrupted by the power going out. They decide to take the power outage as a sign to get frisky.

Back at CIA headquarters, Rex is berating some operative who is looking over paperwork in the hallway. He then goes to check things out in the office, where traitor Charlotte is hard at work. Rex asks her why she hasn’t gone home, yet. Supposedly, her girlfriend left her, so she has nothing left to do. I guess coming out with “Well, it’s like this, Rex: I work for the Families, and they pay me big bucks to be here and spy on every little thing you’re doing, so I’m here 24/7” isn’t in the cards.

Man, I hate when we know there’s a spy in the midst, but the characters don’t, and you have to sit there and watch them interact all friendly with them and tell them stuff, and all I can do is scream at the TV, “They’re a traitor, you idiot, a TRAITOR!”

Hope they reveal her soon.

Rex chats it up with Shapiro, who reveals that insurance companies have gone belly up, “along with half the western world,” and they are all on gas allowances. And Rex is way over his. Rex blahs about having to walk to work. Then springs on Shapiro that he found a lead.

Rex explains to the office – including traitor Charlotte – about the story of Jack in the butcher shop and how a bunch of people wrote about it. Charlotte explains that, basically, with the three families and the generations that would have come from them since then, they have to interview “six million families.” Considering she’s the traitor, she’s probably just playing up those numbers, but no one at the office seems that shocked by it, so who knows? Rex says she’s looking at fact, when they should be looking at fiction.

Basically, Rex found a short story – “The Devil Within” – that is remarkably similar to the story of Jack in the butcher shop. He thinks the author was in the cellar and his name was ‘Victor Podesta’. They owned the grocery store near the butcher shop and had connections to organized crime. The youngest son, John Podesta, was stabbed to death in 1927. In 1938, the whole family disappears. Rex can’t find the family, but they do have the knife that stabbed John in 1927, and it still has blood on it. They can get DNA off of it.

Alas, Charlotte intervenes by getting Rex to use her people for DNA analysis. So, yeah, of course it gets frakked up. ‘Cause this show has become that frustrating.

Jilly meets with the Mystery Man and complains to him that she thought he needed her, but instead, she’s been stuck in an office distributing for Harry Boscoand she’s sick of it. Whine, whine, whine. Mystery Man gives her a one-way ticket to Shanghai and a new identity (Lucy Stanton Meredith). She’s going to go meet the Families and see the Blessing.

Gwen and family are searched by Finch (Ian Hughes), a lawman that is searching for her missing father. Mom manages to keep dad quiet in the hidden room so Finch doesn’t find him, but Finch promises them that he will be back. Like them keeping him in the house is harming anyone? Oy.

Later, Gwen gets another visitor, only this one is Oswald. Both Rhys and Gwen want to beat him dead. But Oswald wants to see Jack and he’s been tracking them all down for a while now. He knows that Gwen smuggled Jack into the country (Ah, so that’s how Jack and Esther made it into Scotland! It’s been seven weeks and now we know that Jack and Gwen have been in touch with each other!), and he needs to talk to him, because he has the name of the person who is responsible for Miracle Day, but he’ll only tell Jack.

Back at the CIA, Rex tells Shapiro that they both know that there’s a mole in the office. Finally! Jeez, took you guys long enough. Rex found something, but he needs to go off the grid. Seems Rex managed to track down some people who could have been the author who wrote the short story “The Devil Within”. He wants to go track them down. Shapiro approves it. He expresses his concern over what is happening to their country: The government is talking about closing their borders (China already has). Every day, he fears that they are moving closer to a dictatorship, but they don’t know who the dictator is.

In Wales, mystery guy who is watching Gwen gets a call. From Gwen. Seems she knows that he’s been watching her and has known for a while. She also knows that they’re after Jack. Speaking of Jack…Jack has arrived, because he’s suddenly holding a gun on the guy and making him drink the Torchwood stuff Retcon that makes you fall asleep and gives you short term amnesia. It’s not the first time he’s had it, either. Gwen made him do it before. Heh. That amuses me. The guy drinks the stuff and falls asleep.

Gwen happily greets Jack and Esther, and thanks Esther for taking care of Jack. Gwen takes them in to confront Oswald, who reminds Jack that he had once asked him for help. After a bout of verbal jousting, Oswald finally spills the name he learned from Jilly’s laptop: ‘Harry Bosco’. Esther is very much unimpressed. She explains to the rest that Harry Bosco is a “process”, not a name. It goes back to the Vietman War, when the government decided it would manipulate the news, so that the public would find out only what it wanted them to know. The process involved mistranslating foreign language feeds: Change one word and you can change an entire meaning. She explains that all of the news channels are “Harry Bosco” these days.

Oswald protests that his question still is valid: Why would Jilly, who works in PR, be handling this Harry Bosco process? Why would the Families hire Jilly to mistranslate things?

Um, ’cause that’s what they do?

Anywho, Esther finds a news feed from Shanghai that Jilly tampered with and discovers that there are three languages underlying it, two of which none of them speak. She ends up calling Rex and asking him for some help in deciphering the Mandarin and Wu dialects of the clip.

Jilly meets up with one of the Family members in a restaurant in Shanghai. She almost blows her chance when she tells him her real name instead of her new name. She ends up winning another chance with her fabulous PR skills. He tells her that, once upon a time, there were three families who went out into the world. One family took finance, one family took politics, and one family took media. The problem is, they all went so deep underground and into hiding, that they don’t know how to work in front of the scenes, which is where she comes in: They need her to “write history.” Before he leaves her, he tells her “good luck” in seeing the Blessing: Seems it sometimes kills people who see it.

The newsfeed that the gang are investigating involves a young Asian man who burned down a hospital and was saved because of Miracle Day. According to the translation that Jilly put out there, he basically says, “I’m sorry for what I did, but am grateful that I was saved.” They discover that in the original dialect, what he really said was: “The Blessing saved my life.” Jilly mistranslated it on purpose.

The gang concludes that the Blessing is in Shanghai. Rhys disagrees, but the others are convinced. The only problem that they have is how they get into Shanghai, since the country is closed down. Esther looks up the address and discovers that the hospital this man burned down wasn’t a hospital; it was a blood bank. Esther goes on to talk about another blood bank that was destroyed that Jilly had covered for, located in Buenos Aires, 24 hours before the bank in Shanghai, and 5 days before the Miracle. Rex realizes that one of the authors he was tracking down lived in Buenos Aires.

Just as the gang are getting somewhere, police, under the direction of Finch, break into the house. Despite the fact that Gwen knew they were after her father, she hadn’t moved him. So, alas, they end up discovering him and taking him away. Gwen begs him to reconsider, but Finch is unmoved. There’s a sad moment when Gwen’s mom says goodbye to her husband, and he really looks still alive: moving and halfway conscious. Jack asks what Gwen wants to do and she tells him that she wants to go to Shanghai and “put this right.”

Back in the U.S., Rex asks Shapiro for his permission to “go off grid,” but informs him that, even without his permission, he’s going to do it, anyway. Shapiro agrees and Rex promises to let him know when he needs help, though it will be at the last minute, as to try and avoid the mole.

Jack informs the gang that he knows a way into Shanghai. It’s Rhys who figures out the connection between Shanghai and Buenos Aires, though: They are literally opposite sides of the world.

The gang decides to split up: Esther will head to Buenos Aires. Jack, Gwen and Oswald will head to Shanghai.

Esther arrives in Buenos Aires to find Rex waiting for her. He managed to sneak something in a diplomatic bag, but tells her that he had to sign for the case. If anyone checks the embassy notifications, they’ll find out where they are. So, of course, who should check them? But Charlotte. Oy.

Jilly meets up with a mysterious woman (Frances Fisher) who is part of the Family. She takes Jilly to the Blessing, explaining to her that their theory is that the Blessing “shows you to yourself.” She tells Jilly that she has seen people look at the Blessing and then end their lives. She says there’s a truth to that, because “each and every time, that person was hiding something vile.” She wonders what Jilly will see.

Jilly finally looks at the Blessing, which is basically a big crack in the Earth that pink rock is flowing through. Really? Um, okay. Anyways, she asks Jilly what Jilly sees about herself and Jilly, moved to almost tears but happy, says, “That I’m right.”

That’s it??

Jilly asks how far it goes and the woman tells her, “All the way to the other side of the world.”

Esther and Rex set up in a warehouse, and Jack, Gwen and Oswald set up in a barracks. Esther and Gwen check in and talk about how hard it’s going to be to try to find the Blessing in two such large cities. Gwen tells Esther to look after Jack’s blood. Esther assures her she has it safe in a metal case.

After Gwen gets off the phone, Jack groans in pain. His wound has gotten worse since they arrived. He’s in a lot of pain and bleeding more. He tells her that he’s tired: “This mortal life, it hurts so much.” Meanwhile, Oswald has been watching a drop of Jack’s blood travel across the floor, as if it’s being drawn towards something. It’s no wonder Jack is hurting so much – his blood is being called towards the Blessing. It’s calling Jack.

Review: That’s the Blessing? A crack in the Earth that looks like really bad 60s sci-fi special effects? A big, gaping wound in the earth with what looks like pink rocks floating towards it? That was pretty ridiculous.

What was even more ridiculous was the whole big build-up to how the Blessing can “kill people with the truth of themselves,” and that people who are hiding terrible secrets about themselves will kill themselves, once faced with the truth of what the Blessing shows them. All of that, yet someone as selfish and self serving and hateful as Jilly sees it, and realizes, “I’m right”? I mean, seriously? If the Blessing shows people the truth about themselves – the real truth, not just the truth they have convinced themselves of – then it should show Jilly that she’s a hateful and evil person, not that she’s “right”!

Argh!

I won’t even get started on the frustration of the whole “Charlotte the Mole” thing. At least we have one more episode left and they SHOULD find out about her soon. And at least Rex and Shapiro were open to the fact that they have a mole and need to be careful. But it doesn’t change the fact that she’s still there, betraying everyone and sabotaging them and basically really frustrating me.

I was really disappointed with Gwen in this one, when it came to her father. I realize she probably doesn’t have any good place to take him, but considering Finch was already in her house once, and she knew he would be coming back again because he TOLD her that, I was shocked she hadn’t moved her dad. I really was. That just made no sense to me.

I was happy that Esther was smart and was taking Jack’s blood because she had realized it was important, but I am still aggravated with the idea that there is something special about Jack’s blood.

And really, Jack’s blood is being drawn to the Blessing? I see nothing good coming from this. And I mean that from a storyline point-of-view, not from a character point-of-view.

Frances Fisher was really good as the Families woman. I’ve always liked her and she plays a spooky person well.

I enjoyed the smart little moment with Gwen knowing about the guy who was watching her and using Retcon to get away with stuff. I enjoyed seeing the Torchwood duo be smart and proactive with their toys for a change.

All in all, for the penultimate episode of this series, it had moments that were exciting, but the storyline is so lacking and frustrating, at this point, that it failed to live up to the hype it needed to. I see the ending coming and I’m not feeling very positive, anymore, that I am going to like the outcome.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaReview: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.09: The Gathering