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TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY 1.09 ‘The Gathering’

Oswald Danes strikes a deal with the team as Jilly sees The Blessing in person.

Episode Title: "The Gathering"

Writer: John Fay

Director: Guy Ferland

Previously on "Torchwood: Miracle Day":

Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), former CIA Agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) and Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) were escorted by Olivia Colasanto (Nana Visitor) to the estate of her grandfather, Angelo; who was not only Jack's lover in the '20s but also someone with answers about the origins of Miracle Day. Although Angelo was too old and decrepit to speak, Olivia told them that Miracle Day was caused by the three mob families that "purchased" Jack in the '20s and stole large quantities of his blood.

The CIA soon took over the area and Torchwood was conscripted to join them. However when Angelo died, Jack refused to cooperate and tell Allen Shapiro (John de Lancie) how to work around the Miracle. In response, Jack was placed in custody and Gwen was deported to the United Kingdom. Privately, Jack convinced Esther and Rex that the government shouldn't be in charge of the tech that could restore death and they helped him escape. However, on his way out Jack was shot and badly wounded, forcing Esther to flee with him.

Meanwhile, Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) found that his allies in PhiCorp intended to let him be killed under the new "Category Zero" laws, forcing him to run for his life. His former assistant, Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose) was then offered a new position working for the families directly.
 
Story:

Two months later, Gwen stages a robbery to get her hands on medicine for her ailing father, Geraint (William Thomas). Seemingly aware that her actions are being watched by someone in the apartment across the street, Gwen smuggles the drugs into her home within pizza boxes and she is apparently selling the extra drugs to the neighbors. In Scotland, Esther treats Jack's wound as she takes and stores his blood in case they can use it in the future. They seem much closer now, but Jack doesn't even make a real pass at her. As for Rex, he's back in the U.S. chasing down leads on the families, but every time he gets close, Charlotte Willis (Marina Benedict) sabotages his efforts.

Gwen's husband, Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) and her mother Mary (Sharon Morgan) help her hide her father from a tenacious investigator convinced that she's harboring a Category 1 patient. Elsewhere, Jilly is frustrated as she still hasn't been brought before the families as promised. But she is soon given a new name and orders to travel to Shanghai. When Charlotte sabotages the DNA results that could have led Rex to the families, he uses a computer to analyze a pulp story written by one of the family members in order to determine if the man wrote again under another name. Through careful research, Rex determines that the man behind Miracle Day is…  L. Ron Hubbard!                  

Alright, I made that last part up. But there was a potential match of the writer's style in Argentina. At Gwen's home, Oswald Dane gets inside by posing as a delivery man, but Gwen and Reese take turns beating the crap out of him. Between punches, Oswald claims that he has information about Miracle Day meant for Jack only. Reluctantly, Gwen summons Jack and they subdue her watcher before Esther and Jack enter her home. Oswald soon reveals that he doesn't know much, but through his connection to Jilly they learn that a man in Shanghai mentioned the Blessing by name.

The inspector then makes a surprise return and this time he finds Geraint hidden behind the wall in Gwen's basement. As her father forcibly taken away, Gwen recommits to Torchwood and its mission to end the Miracle. At the CIA, Rex supplies what support that he can, as he and Allen suspect a mole within the organization. But even while covering his tracks, Charlotte notices Rex's movements. In the Cooper home, the team works out that the Blessing is located in two locations: Shanghai and Buenos Aires. Oswald blackmails Gwen and Jack into taking him with them to Shanghai while Rex and Esther reunite in Buenos Aires.

In Shanghai, Jilly is finally brought before the Blessing, which looks like a giant fissure in the Earth and she is told that it goes all the way down to the other side. When Jack, Gwen and Oswald arrive in the country, Jack is noticeably weakened by the trip and his wound has reopened. But when a drop of Jack's blood spills to the ground, they watch in amazement as it pulls itself towards the source of the Miracle.

Breakdown:

This was an improvement over the last few episodes, but as a whole "Torchwood: Miracle Day" has largely been a disappointment.

At nine episodes into a ten episode arc, we still know next to nothing about who the villains are and what they hoped to gain by making the entire world immortal instead of a select few. If their plan was to let the world go to hell and watch democratic societies start to collapse into dictatorships, then mission accomplished. But the Miracle itself was such a grand plot device that everything we've learned about the events leading up to it have seemed pedestrian and boring. "Miracle Day" has a fantastic premise that the show has never lived up to.

It's also amazing that with ten episodes to work with, episode nine seems to be rushing in order to get all of the characters in place for the final part. Using the "two months later" cheat to get out of last week's cliffhangers also seemed like an incredibly lazy writing decision. It was as if the writing team couldn't figure out how to get the characters where they wanted them to be without skipping a lot of critical steps.

The attempts to shoehorn Oswald into the resolution with the team are also pretty hard to buy. Bill Pullman is a great performer, but nothing about Oswald's story has rung true. Not his release, his feigned remorse, his rise to celebrity and especially not his reappearance here. If the show dares to give him a redemptive moment in the finale, I'm throwing my remote at the TV.

For all of the talk that Jack is "Omnisexual," he sure doesn't seem to give the ladies much attention anymore, does he? Jack had Esther alone for nearly two months and he didn't try to seduce her?! Someone needs to say "Who are you and what have you done with Captain Jack?! "

It's also difficult to believe that the world has slogged through the Miracle for months without the Doctor showing up. Or even Martha Jones and Mickey Smith. I know that the producers of "Torchwood" want to keep it separate from the rest of the "Doctor Who" universe because of its more adult tone; but when you're dealing with a shared universe these questions have to come up sometime.

Outside of the show, the foes that Torchwood seems unable to overcome are a lackluster story and relatively anemic ratings. Next week's episode could very well be the end of the "Torchwood" TV series and if this series is any indication of what we'd get in the future, then maybe it doesn't deserve to survive. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see "Miracle Day" pull a rabbit out of its hat and deliver a satisfying conclusion next week that leads to bigger and better stories in the future.

But that would take some kind of miracle and I think that "Torchwood" is fresh out of those.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.