Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.10: The Blood Line

By Heather S. Vina

[spoilers ahead]

Story: Russell T. Davies

Teleplay: Jane Espenson and Russell T. Davies

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: Having discovered that Jack’s blood will lead them to the Blessing, Gwen in Shanghai follows the blood to a restaurant, where she’s made uncomfortable when she sees the gates leading to the building where it is.

The Mother (Frances Fisher) and her people start setting up explosives to bury the Blessing in Shanghai, so that no one will be able to access it and change everything back. On the other side, in Buenos Aires, the Cousin (Chris Butler) starts setting up explosives on the Blessing there. The Mother explains to Jilly that they found the Blessing by discovering that the average life expectancy of the human race was always the exact average age of the life expectancy in the small area surrounding the Shanghai Blessing.

And yeah, that makes no sense. I’m not even a scientist, and the majority of this series’ scientific explanations and medical explanations make no sense.

The Mother also tells Jilly that this is only Phase 1 of their plan.

Rex brings in the CIA, exposing himself and Esther to Charlotte, but managing to keep the whereabouts of Jack, Gwen and Oswald a secret. Noah tells Charlotte that he has a program that will be able to track the whereabouts of the Mole, if Shapiro will allow him to use it (It could take down the servers). Shapiro sends Rex and Esther some backup in the form of Argentinean soldiers.

Jack and Oswald have a heart-to-heart, where Oswald tells Jack he’s observed that Jack’s friends both seem to care for him a great deal and fear him a little. Jack reveals to Oswald that he’s from the future. Oswald asks Jack if he knows what their future holds, if they make it, but Jack tells him that time is changing and that he doesn’t know. He tells him that he has seen the universe, how humanity has spread out amongst the stars. He wishes that Oswald could see it, because then Oswald would know how “small” he’s made his life.

Gwen calls back home and talks to Rhys to find out how her dad is doing. Andy managed to get Rhys a visa to go see her father before he goes into the burners. Gwen admits to Rhys that if she does this, her dad will die. Rhys said that her father lived a good life. Both he and her mom just want Gwen to come back to them, alive.

The Families manage to get one of theirs into the unit that is helping Rex and Esther, who blows up the truck that they were going to use. Everyone is killed except for Rex (whose wound is being irritated from the effects of being so close to the Blessing), Esther and the Captain (Benito Martinez). And, unfortunately, the case they had of Jack’s blood was lost, as well. Rex figures out that they were betrayed and tells the Captain to return to the Army base, but tell everyone that they were killed, too. He and Esther head out for the Blessing on their own.

Thinking that Rex and Esther are dead, and without any other options, Shapiro allows Noah to run his program to try and track down the phone of the Mole in the CIA. Charlotte makes her move. She grabs a bomb from a file cabinet that, somehow, no one ever came across, and sets it up right next to Noah and Shapiro, before leaving the room. Just as the program reveals Charlotte’s name, the bomb explodes, killing everyone in the office. Charlotte acts innocent.

Ugh. Goodbye, Noah, you were one of the few decent characters in this series.

Jack and Oswald meet up with Gwen at the restaurant, where Gwen and Jack hear the news of the explosion. They believe that Rex and Esther were killed. Gwen is worried over Jack’s wellbeing, since now, the only blood they have is in Jack. She’s worried that he could die, but Jack tells her that “that’s the game.” They hug before they head off to the Blessing.

Rex and Esther sneak onto the Blessing base in Buenos Aires.

Rhys and Andy go to the place where Gwen’s dad is. Rhys sits next to the dad, while Andy sits with a young woman whom the nurse tells them that was left abandoned on the doorstep. They don’t even know her name and no one has claimed her.

Jack, Oswald, and Gwen make it onto the base, and find some explosives. They set Oswald up as a suicide bomber, and meet up with Jilly and the Mother at the Blessing. The gang think they have the upper hand, until the Cousin reveals that they have captured Rex and Esther on the other side. They’re at a stalemate.

Jack tells them that he has the most “powerful thing of all” – his blood. Jack, Gwen, and Oswald then stand in front of the Blessing, seeing it for the first time. All three of them are far more affected than Jilly ever was. Jack admits that he sees that he has lived so many lives and now, he can see them all, but it’s not so bad. While Gwen admits she sees “enough guilt to last me a liftetime,” but she’s a working mother, so she’s use to it. Oswald almost gets lost in what he sees, but Jack snaps him out of it.

Gwen doesn’t understand what it is. Jack tells her that it’s the gap in between. But he doesn’t really know what it is.

The Cousin and Mother explain what it is: The Blessing exists in a symbiotic relationship with the human race and transmits a morphic field around the planet that binds it all together. They fed it Jack’s blood and it sent out the immortality field to the human race. Jack tells them it was under attack and did it to survive, to try to be kind. The Torchwood gang are all horrified by what the Families did, even more so when the Cousin admits that it’s only Phase 1. Mother tells them that, when everything has collapsed, the Families can step in to control the banks, which control the governments, which control the world, and they can decide who lives and dies. Jilly is excited by it.

They had to deal with Jack, though, who has the only “mortal blood” on the planet. He figures out that if his blood goes into the Blessing, he can make the whole world mortal. But the Mother and Cousin tell him that he can’t, because the only way he can reset the Blessing is if his blood is introduced to both sides of the Blessing at the same time. And he can’t do that because there is no more of his blood left on the Buenos Aires side. The Mother says that they are just going to have to kill Jack.

Just as things are getting bad, Rex and Esther reveal that they still have Jack’s blood: It’s inside Rex. When they got to Argentina, Rex and Esther transfused Jack’s blood into Rex. The Mother tells them that, if they do this, both of them will die, but Rex and Jack are willing. Just as they are about to do this, the Cousin shoots Esther, a mortal wound. Mother and the Cousin tell them that, if they reset the world, they will lose Esther, but if they leave things the way that they are, they will save Esther. Rex doesn’t know what to do, but Gwen stands up and says that they have to do this. It will cause Esther’s death and her father’s death and the deaths of every other Category 1. But they have to do this because no one should have this kind of power. She pulls out her gun, and Rex and Jack get into position. On one side, Rex opens up his wound, and on the other, Gwen shoots Jack in the chest.

Both men have their blood stream out of them and into the Blessing.

Wow. This is like ten minutes of monologuing by bad guys and good guys. Why are the bad guys standing around and allowing them to do this? I know that Oswald has the bomb on one side, but on the other, Rex and Esther are helpless. Why not just drag Rex away from the Blessing, instead of letting him stand there and open up his chest? Makes no sense.

Around the world, things are reset. And we see that the Category 1s, like Gwen’s dad and the young woman that Andy is sitting with, take a breath and then die.

Back at the Blessings, the places start falling apart. Rex collapses, but manages to get up in time to throw the Cousin over the edge and into the chasm of the Blessing, before he collapses back next to a dying Esther. Oswald grabs onto the Mother and holds her there, giving Gwen and Jilly time to escape. Gwen stops when she sees Jack come back to life, and all three manage to escape before Oswald blows it up.

A short time later, the gang stands at funeral services for Esther, who died.

And there goes the only character other than Noah that was a decent person.

Anyway, everyone is there, including Charlotte, who hasn’t been found out, yet. As they are leaving the services, Rex gets a transmission of what Noah was working on before he died and sees that it revealed Charlotte’s name as the Mole. He pulls out his gun to stop her, but, alas, she also has a gun. The two shoot each other dead. But Rex isn’t as dead as it appears, as he gasps and comes back to life, just like Jack. Seems like Jack’s immortality has now infected Rex.

Meanwhile, Jilly is back on her park bench, where the Man finally approaches her again. She tells him she has nothing, now, and she doesn’t know what to do. He offers her a position with the Family. He tells her that the whole thing was a trial run that they nearly succeeded at; now they are going to move to Plan B. She can work with them. After a moment, she follows him.

Review: Wow, I can’t believe how disappointing and frustrating this season ended up being. I really can’t. But let me try counting the ways.

Humanity Was All A Bunch of Self-Serving Cowards: I had a huge problem with the way that humanity was portrayed in this series. It was bad enough in Children of the Earth, but at least there it was the government doing what they did, and it wasn’t widely known what was going on, so it’s not like all of humanity was collaborating on something so horrible. Plus, it only lasted a few days in the grand scheme of things.

But Miracle Day continued over months, and in those months, only a handful of people fought against the horrible things that were being done? Really? That doesn’t work at all for a show like Torchwood, which is set in the Doctor Who universe, which has always been fairly upbeat and positive in its portrayal of humanity. After all, that’s why the Doctor – one of the great “humanitarians” – favoured us so much. Because of our heart and our potential. Yes, there are bad apples amongst us, but the best of humanity usually shines through.

However, in Miracle Day, the best of humanity was a handful of people, while the rest descended into fanaticism, evil and self-serving ways. Where were Sarah Jane and her crew? Where were Mickey and Martha? Where were the Brigadier and UNIT? Where were all of the Companions, and all of the good and decent people that the Doctor has met and the ones that he hasn’t, who are out there, to fight against this degrading situation and the horrible things that the governments were doing? They were nowhere to be found. Miracle Day tried to sell us that only Jack, Gwen and a handful of other people were willing to stand up and fight for what is right, and that just does not work in this universe. Not in this one. Humanity came off looking horrible as a whole in this series, and I cry foul on the portrayal. If Davies wanted to explore the dark side of humanity, then he needed to do it in a different series.

The Bad Guys Were Undeveloped:
The show spent about half its season focusing on PhiCorp, and how they were the ultimate bad guys, yet it wasn’t until episode six that we found out it wasn’t true. There wasn’t even a mention of the Families until episode four, and even then, it was fleeting and nothing more was mentioned until a few episodes later. To have the show spend so much time dedicated to showing how PhiCorp were the bad guys and they were to blame, only to have that shown as a red herring in a five-minute conversation between Jack and the president of PhiCorp, was frustrating. Why spend so much time on PhiCorp, only to have it be that they were dupes and not to blame, after all? We never did find out how the Families did what they did, and how they manipulated PhiCorp to do what it did. In fact, we never found out much about the Families, period.

How did the Families get their power? Why were they doing what they did? What was their ultimate goal? How did they get so many people to willingly sacrifice themselves for their plans? We get to the end of the episode, where we should finally be getting answers on the bad guys and their plans, and instead, all we get is a “This is Phase 1” and that’s it. I don’t know if Davies was planning on drawing it out to be continued in another series, but regardless, the answers – or non-answers – on the Families were frustrating and disappointing. There should have been more. With ten episodes, there should have been a lot more.

The New Characters Were All Jerks Or Evil: Okay, not all of them. Noah and Esther were actually decent folks, nice and un-obnoxious. But other than them, the new characters were all obnoxious and jerks. From the good guys to the bad guys. The only reason I still wanted the good guys to win was because the bad guys were irredeemably evil. When you’re actually rooting for one of the leads to drop dead when the series ends (Rex), then there’s a problem.

There is no excuse for making all of the new characters so unappealing. Rex never grew, despite his potential for growth, with him being a potential Category 2/1. From start to finish, he was arrogant, obnoxious and condescending. The only positive thing I will say about him is that at least he finally came to respect Jack and Gwen for what they could do. Shapiro ended up being a good guy, but he was an asshole who never let up. I guess that’s why he and Rex got along so well – they were both obnoxious jerks.

The bad guys were reprehensible and, frankly, uninteresting. We never got a decent motivation for why Jilly would do the horrible things that she did. Bill Pullman overacted for most of the series as Oswald, but I will admit, he got a bit more interesting at the end when he hooked up with the Torchwood crew.

Frankly, there was nothing redeeming in any of the new characters, which were all badly written. It came to the point where I would be fine if they all died, just as long as they stopped popping up onscreen and annoying me.

The Blessing Was A Joke:
Really, that was the Blessing, the cause of the entire series? A crack in the earth that somehow would change the course of humanity’s DNA with some blood from Jack? The worst part of the Blessing was that they jacked around with their own canon in this series: Supposedly, the Blessing would show the person their soul, to the point of truthfulness where people would kill themselves after seeing it. Yet, when it Jilly saw it, it showed her that she was right? That she was just? Come on! I cry foul!

Jack’s Blood Was The Cause Of It All, Even Though There’s Nothing Special About It:
This is the biggest unforgivable thing to me, the fact that they made it so that there WAS something special about Jack’s blood. I have never seen a showrunner so thoroughly and absolutely trash his own canon like Davies did here. I remember Doctor Who and how Jack came to be immortal. I remember Rose co-opting the TARDIS matrix and making Jack immortal. I remember the Doctor explaining that Jack is now a “fixed point in time”, thus why the Doctor and the TARDIS left him behind, because they found him to be wrong and against nature. So, to have Davies now turn it around and say that Jack is not only not a fixed point in time, but it’s just something in his blood that can be passed on to someone else, is not only a huge slap in the face but a huge insult. No to Jack’s blood being something special. No to Jack being turned mortal so easily. And a big fat NO to Jack’s immortality being passed on to someone else. Especially to Rex, who never became a redeemable character to me.

It was bad enough that Miracle Day was boring. It’s bad enough that it had more holes than swiss cheese, and that they portrayed humanity so negatively. It’s bad enough that the episodes and the series story arc suffered from a bad case of “because we said so,” with little exploration or explanation. But to insult your viewers and trash your own canon about something so basic, and so incredibly important as Jack’s immortality?

Sorry, but forget you, Davies. Watching Miracle Day just makes me even more grateful that he’s no longer involved with Doctor Who.

I gave Miracle Day a chance. I enjoyed it in the beginning. I was willing to let them build their story and take me where they would go. But it ended up being a bad journey, filled with dead-end roads and potholes the size of a truck. And the end destination ended up being horribly disappointing. Torchwood and the viewers deserved better.

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 4.10: The Blood Line