Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode 7

(Index to all Torchwood posts here.)

So, let’s talk Torchwood.

Plot: (standard spoiler warning)

Last episode ended on an adrenaline high as Gwen learned that her husband, mother, and baby are being held hostage in exchange for Jack. This episode is the fallout. When it comes to Jack vs her child, there’s no contest. Gwen kidnaps Jack, and most of the episode consists of a flip back and forth between Gwen and Jack, and events from Jack’s past that we assume must be relevant to his current status as ransom.

In 1927, Jack meets a young immigrant, Angelo Colesanto, as both try to enter New York illegally at Ellis Island. Jack’s on a mission for Torchwood, but he likes Angelo’s style. Getting Angelo out of jail, they get an apartment together. As the moody lighting and sad music has keyed us up to suspect, Angelo turns out to be gay and attracted to Jack. Jack, of course, is attracted to everyone, so they go to bed and have moody sad sex. Jack decides to let Angelo into his life and gets him involved in his Torchwood mission. They get into trouble with the police, and Jack gets shot and killed. Angelo believes him to be dead, until he gets out of prison and sees Jack on the other side.

Angelo is understandably freaked, but seems willing to accept Jack’s peculiar undying status. In truth, though, it’s a bit much, and Angelo’s conflicted Catholic upbringing takes over, leading him to think Jack must be the devil, tricking him into sin. He kills Jack again, and Jack resurrects in front of the distraught Angelo and their landlady. The secret is out, and everyone has to see it: the man who dies and comes back to life. Jack is strung up in a meat locker and killed over and over again. The landlady and her family and friends regard this as a miracle, but their zealous response seems more fueled by blood lust. At some point three sharply dressed men come to see him and seem to agree on a deal to purchase him together. Fortunately, Angelo can’t take the violence and frees Jack, but Jack can no longer trust him, and leaves him behind.

Meanwhile, in the present, Gwen and Jack see a little bit of each others’ steel – Gwen will kill Jack if it protects her family, and Jack will do whatever it takes to survive. Fortunately for them both, Esther has finally levelled, having killed the Big Bad of the previous episode. She notices the extremely obvious fact that Gwen is spooked and thinks to check the cached messages on Gwen’s contact lenses. She then works her awesome computer skillz to save the day.

But not before they get to meet the people who wanted Jack, and they tell them the name of the person who wants to see him… Angelo Colesanto.


In many ways, this was excellent, in some ways it was disappointing. The main difficulty is that everyone else on screen is acting the crap out of John Barrowman (Jack). Eve Myles (Gwen) has been consistently strong all season, and the tension between her and Jack is a test of wills where she’s undoubtedly the winner. With the history they have, Barrowman performs passibly well, but the main storyline of the episode – in the past – requires a level of nuance and passion that he struggles to rise to. It’s an interesting and engaging tale that demanded a level of subtlety that Barrowman’s big bold style just doesn’t sit well with.

All season they’ve been front-loading Jack’s homosexuality at the expense of his omnisexuality. It felt like the writers needed to make sure that new viewers understood that Jack likes men over Jack’s the biggest flirt in all the worlds. The writing this week (ignoring the unlikely good fortune of the first guy he meets in New York being a gay guy who fancies him) lurched back to a treatment that was much more sympathetic and deep. Daniele Favilli (Angelo) rises to the occasion, but it’s just not Barowman’s style.

Oh well, can’t have everything. The conclusion of the storyline in 1927 New York is startling and awe-inspiring. The scene in the meat locker – music, writing, concept – is powerful and probably deserves awards. Eve Myles also deserves something for her absolutely stunning performance that is never less than spot-on. I love the writers for giving her such lines, and I love them for making her the sort of badass that is such because she knows to properly tie up a man who’s bigger and stronger than her, to think with her head to do what her heart requires. You may recall me mentioning the conversation I had with a friend who was concerned that Gwen’s separation from her daughter would not be treated with sufficient depth. Well, they’ve done more this season for strong mothers who genuinely care for their children than any other show I can think of.

And now all I can do is wait for next week and SPECULATE. I’ve gotten over my The-Silence-Are-Behind-It theory. I think it may even be true that no aliens are involved. Can’t help but notice that Angelo must be a very old man by 2011. I also recall an old woman taking a sample of Jack’s blood as a sort of relic. And let’s face it, Jack may have escaped, but he’ll have left a lot of his blood behind in that meat locker. Wanna bet that those three gentlemen made the best of what was left? And let’s not forget that this all started with a mass-release of Torchwood files that called Jack back to Earth. Angelo knew about Torchwood and Jack’s wristband. Knew he’d be in the future. Is this all just an elaborate booty-call?

Who knows? But we’re starting to see the pieces of the bigger picture. Hurrah.

Oh, and as a special GEEKGASM aside, did you recognise this lady at the end:

Olivia Colasanto

That’s FREAKIN’ Nana Visitor, whom you may also know as KIRA NERYS of Deep Space 9:

Kira Nerys

Torchwood is rocking the sci-fi alumni! Keep up the good work!

7 thoughts on “Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode 7

  1. Oh, that meat locker bit was the most fucked-up thing that was ever fucked up. Poor Jack! It did seem like a likely response people might have, though.

    And yes, they are doing spectacularly with Gwen, I think, showing how much she struggles with missing who she was before marriage and baby. That part seems very true to me (and hits a bit close to home, I guess.) I think the show has benefited immensely from having women as part of the writing team.

    Right now I’m just wondering how they’re going to wrap everything up, especially since Oswald & Jilly were conspicuous by their absence in this episode and the one before it. Still hoping it’s not aliens though.

    • Really glad to hear you’re liking Gwen’s presentation. I’m aware that it speaks to something I don’t have first hand experience of, but it seems like a really intelligent exploration of issues. I didn’t know women were involved in the writing team (I can’t believe I didn’t think it check!) – it’s clearly working for them in exploring this perspective.

      I am also wondering about the Oswald/Jilly thing. Jilly has grown on me, through the insights into her own disgust towards Oswald (which in no way seems to interfere with doing her job), but the Oswald character itself still seems to be hovering on a surface level that draws too much on shock value and not enough on the potential that character could have. I don’t know. They *dance* with doing interesting things, there. I guess its an immensely difficult topic to deal with well.

      Feeling more and more that it’s not actually going to be aliens, though, which is really interesting fr a Who spin-off. Very surious about the resolution!

      • The writing team boasts two of my very favorite writers: Doris Egan & Jane Espenson, which I think is awesome, as I’m not sure they’ve ever worked together before. Certainly, I think this Torchwood has given us a much more interesting Gwen than seen in the original 2 seasons (I didn’t watch Children of Earth so can’t speak for that one), not to mention additional complex characters like Vera and Jilly.

        I was worried Jilly would be a bit one-dimensional but I like how they’ve handled her character…working with Oswald seems to have her questioning whether she has stomach enough to stick it out, regardless of the payday ahead. Which I like, since the “amoral PR person” trope is kind of tired.

        It’s odd, though, how Esther started out as a badass and has kind of waffled since then since being awesome & rubbish. I guess that’s kind of realistic, maybe? *laugh*

          • I felt similarly, but I think we weren’t meant to think she was as badass as she seemed. She was, on reflection, a little tentative in her manner of going to find out about the Torchwood records, but I wonder if the writers maybe didn’t realise how gutsy and innovative that actually seemed, or how weird it would seem that everyone would then take it all as Rex’s idea.

            My other theory is that they’re actually exploring the negative effects of RetCon. Not even Esther remembers how badass she was or realises how much is owed to her. The only shame of it is that they don’t seem to have returned to that at all, which make me think that *I’m* trying to ret-con sense into it. It’d be cool if they did examine that, though, as I always thought RetCon was a particularly interesting and nasty thing that went under-examined. SO MUCH LOST POTENTIAL FOR ANGST.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.