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TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY 1.10 ‘The Blood Line’

Jack and Rex learn the price of undoing the Miracle as Oswald awaits an explosive end.

Episode Title: "The Blood Line"

Writers: Russell T Davies & Jane Espenson

Director: Billy Gierhart

Previously on "Torchwood: Miracle Day":

Two months after their escape from CIA custody, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) helped Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) recover from his gunshot wound and she withdrew small amounts of his blood over time in case it would be useful later. Meanwhile, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) reunited with her husband, Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) as they attempted to hide her near comatose father, Geraint (William Thomas) from an officer charged with enforcing the "Category 1" laws. Out of nowhere, the convicted pedophile and murderer, Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) slipped into Gwen's home and promised her information about the origins of Miracle Day if she brought Jack there to meet him.

With the majority of the team reunited at Gwen's house, she resolved to join them for a mission to take out the Miracle after the British authorities finally discovered and removed her father. Oswald blackmailed his way into joining Gwen and Jack in Shanghai, while Esther met CIA Agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Oswald's former PR representative, Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose) was recruited by the three families to write the new history of "The Blessing," a bizarre crack in the world that extends from Shanghai to Buenos Aires.

And when a drop of Jack's blood hit the ground in Shanghai, he, Gwen and Oswald were all astonished when they watched the blood travel in the direction of The Blessing.

Story:

Armed with the knowledge that Jack's blood can lead them to The Blessing in both cities, Rex and Esther secure their supply of Jack's blood and call in CIA Director Allen Shapiro (John de Lancie) for backup to get into the Buenos Aires entrance to The Blessing. Already aware of the fact that the CIA has a mole working for the three families, Shapiro puts the office on lockdown, but the mole herself,  Charlotte Willis (Marina Benedict) still manages to get word to the three families. Just as Rex and Esther are about to depart with Captain Santos (Benito Martinez), a double agent among Santos' men triggers a suicide bomb and kills the entire squad while incinerating the briefcase of Jack's blood.

Rex and Esther tell Santos to inform his superiors that they were also killed in the attack to give them a tactical advantage over the families. At the CIA, Shapiro and those closest to him determine that Charlotte is the mole, but she activates an explosive device near them and fatally injures them into presumably Category 1 status. In Shanghai, Gwen locates the entrance to The Blessing behind a store and she contacts Rhys in one last attempt to spare her father the fate of being burned alive. Rhys finds her father alongside their friend Sgt Andy Davidson (Tom Price), but they have only minutes before he will be taken away.

At the Shanghai station, Jack comes across a box of explosives and remarks that he's finally glad they brought Oswald along on the mission. When Jack, Gwen and Oswald are greeted by The Mother Colasanto (Frances Fisher), Jilly and several well armed men, Oswald reveals that he's got a suicide bomb strapped to his chest and he never expected to survive this mission anyway. This gets the Mother to back off her forces, but she reveals that her men in Buenos Aires have already captured Esther and Rex. The Mother then goes on to explain that the families used Jack's blood to cause the Miracle so they could take over banks and influence world governments. Zzzz… Sorry, I must have blacked out for a few seconds.

When the Mother laughs at Jack's attempt to use his mortal blood to reset the Miracle, she explains that it has to be done at both sides of The Blessing simultaneously. Rex and Esther then exclaim that Jack's blood supply was hidden inside Rex through a blood transfusion. But before Rex can release his blood, one the Mother's men fatally shoots Esther and warns him that if he undoes the Miracle she will die. Gwen talks Rex out of his stunned stupor and she shoots Jack through the heart just as Rex tears off his bandage and lets the blood flow from his gaping chest wound.

Within moments, the Miracle reverts and returns death to the world. Gwen's dad and all of the Category 1 patients revive for a moment before passing away in peace. Both Jack and Rex are seemingly killed for their efforts, but Rex manages to avenge Esther's shooting before collapsing next to her. In Shanghai, Oswald grabs the Mother and promises to blow them both to hell once Gwen and Jilly get clear. Just as the elevator is about to close, Gwen witnesses Jack revive; but she has to knock out Jilly to bring the elevator back down for Jack. In Buenos Aires, Santos arrives with a new squad and they retrieve Rex and Esther before attempting to save their lives. 

Jack, Gwen and Jilly make it outside and Oswald keeps his word by killing himself and the Mother as The Blessing is buried under the complex. Sometime later, a distraught Jilly meets her old contact within the families, who declares that the Miracle was a good test run before the families move on to "Plan B." With nowhere else to turn, Jilly follows him to her next assignment. Meanwhile, Jack, Gwen, Rhys Charlotte and Rex attend Esther's funeral. Just as the funeral gets out, Rex's phone downloads information that implicates Charlotte as the traitor. She shoots him dead before several CIA agents gun her down.

As Jack and Gwen mourn for Rex, he suddenly springs back to life. His wound immediately heals and he asks Jack what he did to him. But the answer is obvious. Rex is now an immortal as well.

Breakdown:

It's difficult to pin down where "Torchwood: Miracle Day" went off the rails, but I would say that it happened around episode six of the current season. Coming off of the very powerful demise of Arlene Tur's Vera Cruz, "Miracle Day" squandered its momentum almost immediately by taking the bulk of an episode to get Rex and Esther out of the Category 1 camp before the seventh episode really screwed things up with the extended flashback to the '20s and Jack's lover, Angelo; who proved to be largely inconsequential to the entire story.

Which brings us to the three families, the so-called villains of the piece. In this episode, we learn that their entire plan for the Miracle was to bring down the world economy, take control of the banks and influence world governments. So… basically it's the same thing they were doing before Miracle Day. If that was really their goal that was a pretty uninspired reason behind the show. Even if the families were trying to get control over who lived and who died it still seemed like a poorly thought out strategy. Also, if the Miracle could be permanently set, why didn't the families blow up the dual entrances months ago?

For some reason, Russell T Davies and Jane Espenson seem overly infatuated with the three families as recurring villains for Torchwood. It's very optimistic of them to say that Miracle Day was just a test run for whatever the families have lined up next. Because the families are not compelling and there's every reason to believe that this may be the end of "Torchwood" as a series. It wasn't a breakout hit with a much wider audience and it seems to have alienated a large portion of its fanbase. Maybe Starz and the BBC will decide that the co-production negates the drawbacks of keeping the series going, but I wouldn't hold my breath hoping for that.

Rex and Esther never really caught on as leading characters, but it would have made some nice symmetry if they had both died together. Instead, Rex is immortal… how?! Even in this series, it was repeated time and time again that it wasn't Jack's blood that made him immortal! But even with that fact out there, Davies seems to be playing fast and loose with the rules of Jack's longevity. The long awaited explanation of the Miracle itself was also pretty lackluster. I can almost picture it now: "Hey, we found a giant orifice in the Earth. Let's throw in the blood of that immoral guy from two different locations simultaneously and give everyone immortality!"

There was only one new character in this episode who was fun to watch, but of course John de Lancie's Allen Shapiro got killed off by the most boring mole ever. I would have enjoyed seeing the Torchwood team in action alongside the CIA under the direction of Shapiro. It makes me wonder if the writers on this series understand which characters are connecting and which aren't. They seem to assume that we've got a great love for Rex and Jilly even though they're both two of the most annoying characters on the show. Although, I should say that Gwen's line about Jilly's lipstick was pretty funny.

I did enjoy Jack's brief mention of the Doctor's previous adventure with the Racnoss and the hollow hole in the Earth, but it also reminded me that this series has a similar problem to a constantly reoccurring motif within "Doctor Who." Namely, why do so many of the villains essentially let the heroes walk around freely while they're monologuing?! After shooting Esther, no one made a move towards Rex to restrain him. It was the easiest thing that they could have tried to prevent him from undoing their plans and they didn't even make an attempt.

As for Oswald Danes, his story was a failure almost from the start. Prior to "Miracle Day," it was implied that Oswald was critical to the story of "Miracle Day" and yet the writers were still forced to contrive a reason for Oswald to be around in the final episode. Also, it would have made a lot more sense if Oswald had grabbed Jilly instead of the Mother. He didn't have a grudge against the Mother the way he did against Jilly. And regarding Oswald's last words about going to hell to chase and catch the little girl he killed… I have to say… really, Davies? You thought that would work on any level?

The opening scene with Gwen recounting a story about her father was one of the strongest sequences of the hour. But when the most human moment comes from Andy (a character who barely appears on this show) and a young girl we don't even know then that's a huge indictment against the rest of the characters. Aside from Jack and Gwen, we simply don't care about them. 

Believe it or not, I would actually like to see "Torchwood" get another chance to redeem itself. But I think that "Miracle Day" may have chased off too many viewers and potential fans. As much as I liked the first few seasons, I won't mourn if this is last time "Torchwood" ever comes back from the dead.

Crave Online Rating: 4 out of 10.