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Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode 9, The Gathering, Recap and Review: RTD Channels Ken Russell?

by David Chute
September 4, 2011 2:48 AM
12 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

David Chute wishes he was in Shanghai.

The plan was to spell out what I meant by that title, but on second thought it might be more fun to make a contest out of it. Readers who figure out the reference and its relevance to the next-to-the-last episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day will receive absolutely nothing for their pains except bragging tights. But when fans gather, isn't that what it's all about?

This was the episode in which The Blessing, long rumored, finally made a personal appearance -- a fairly impersonal PA, though, if you think about it, because what the thing looked like (one of the things it looked like) was a cavernous, sparkly geological formation, as if the entire planet was one gigantic geode and we were peering into its crystal-lined depths.

And only a person with his or her mind firmly wedged in the gutter could ever imagine it looked like anything else.

Thompson on Hollywood


What did we accomplish? A texting hipster minion of the Three Families supplied an interesting perspective on how the founders, the men in the basement, divided up the world of influence: "One took politics, one took finance and one took media." (Obviously a man of taste, he also told Lauren Ambrose's electric red Jilly Kitzinger that her "hair is a work of art," which was exactly what we had been thinking.)

We mourned the passing of Gwen's dad, a Category One hauled away by the representatives of the quick-rising fascist government of the UK. We sat through the awkward plot-engineering required to enlist pedophile murderer and global fugitive Oswald Danes (the ongoingly magnificent Bill Pullman), along with Jack and Gwen, in the Torchwood expeditionary force that travels to Shanghai to find one end of The Blessing. We say "one end," because it turns out to be an antipodal globe-piercing formation whose other pole is in Buenos Aires. ("Two of the biggest cities on earth," says Alexa Havins' Esther Drummond, always johnny-on-the-spot with a helpful fact.)

This seems to us to be step in the right direction, a formation that could resonate on a global scale. We hope not morphically, though we fear the worst, because The Blessing generates a wave field that is said to effect every person differently, a field akin to magnetism that "calls to" (their term) the blood of Jack Harkness, causing one cute little CG drop of it to scamper across the floor of his hotel room, pointing the way toward the target.

Despite its occasional silliness, "The Gathering" gave us reason to hope that RTD and company would be able to end this uneven, companionable, infuriating and exhilarating experiment in trans-Atlantic creativity on a majestic note.

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More: TV, Reviews

12 Comments

  • DavidC | September 6, 2011 11:36 AMReply

    The Miracle Day finale actually kind of makes sense, even, which will come as a surprise to people who have been complaining that the series doesn't. But it's a metphorical, poetic kind of sense. Jack's position in the world was reversed once before, leaving ihim mortal, so if that's reversed again...

    My only real beef with T:MD at this point is that Dr. Vera, my favorite new character, was killed off so horrendously. Sometimes fantasy can be as harsh as reality.

  • Ron Temple | September 6, 2011 7:36 AMReply

    Bragging Rights ;^)

    My memories pretty good for an old fart. I wonder if I could sit through Lisztomania again after all these years, but that scene still stands out...that and Rick Wakeman (who did the score) in a cameo as Thor.

    It's good to know that you've "read ahead". CJ is an iconic character and it's criminal how marginalized he's become in this last version of Torchwood. I just hope that they get a chance to put things right...if they're given another chance.

  • Ron Temple | September 6, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    Ken Russell reference: Lisztomania - Roger Daltrey exiting a giant red vag. At least that's what my memory tells me. Wouldn't be surprised to see Jack pop out in Buenos Aires...sealing The Blessing with his massive omnisexuality (that for for this season anyway, looks to be not so omni anymore). After travelling through the center of the Earth, Jack gets his immortality back...or maybe not. Barrowman is getting older. You can't keep CJ young forever unless you pull a Doc You/Who resurrection.

  • Anne Thompson | September 6, 2011 2:04 AMReply

    Ron, the bragging rights are yours.

    I think it's already been established that while Jack is immortal he continues to age, ending up a few millennia from now as the leathery Face of Boe. So Barrowman should be able to carry on for as long as there's a market for the character.

    The question is, do we want him to? I've "read ahead," as we used to say at school, and watched the finale, and can say this: the producers, Davies and company, are clearly looking forward to creating at least one more season -- and, against all odds, they've persuaded me to look forward to it, as well.

  • Anne Thompson | September 5, 2011 8:18 AMReply

    Maybe it's a good sign, a sort of benign cultural forgetfulness, that the bulk of Russell's output has been forgotten.

    http://buncheness.blogspot.com/2007/09/cinema-shithouse-some-highlights-from.html

  • Moose | September 5, 2011 5:11 AMReply

    Can anyone tell me the names of the 3 families mentioned?

  • Pat | September 4, 2011 7:09 AMReply

    I don't watch Torchwood anymore since they killed Ianto for no good reason but I am always happy to read the reviews. It's hilarious. On the other hand, what a waste...A shame...

  • icerose | September 4, 2011 6:54 AMReply

    oh my favourite charactor the runaway ball of blood I hope he survives till the nect episode-Lauren Ambrose is great but TW does not do her justice--its all just to characatured and one dimensional and wastes the talent of the cast--

  • Tulkinghorn | September 4, 2011 6:34 AMReply

    While it's true that the devil gets all the good lines, the trope of the beautiful bad girl and the drippy good girl was so wasted here.... Lauren Ambrose as a beautiful CIA agent conflicted by family tragedy would have been great. For one thing, she would have had more screen time. For another, it might have livened up the boredom at the Venice "safe" house, which I imagine as having "Torchwood" on the mailbox.

  • Apple | September 4, 2011 4:12 AMReply

    oh lets just say it, "the blessing' looks like a "giant twat".

    I like the show it took Hurricane Irene for me to watch all the episodes at once since there was nothing else to do. It started slow but hooked me in around eppie 7.

    Hope it comes back next year unlike Camelot which bit the dust hard.

  • tdoa | September 4, 2011 3:46 AMReply

    that was my first thought about "the blessing" also!

  • TVDIVA | September 4, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    Gwen's father was taken away, but they have not shown him in the ovens yet, so I think that needs to be confirmed. And yes I have a dirty mind because The Blessing looks exactly like something I was born with. This season of Torchwood has been frustrating and underwhelming for me. Too much America and not enough Wales (actors and locations), the wasted talents of Bill Pullman in a character not needed in the story, and too long to get to the final payoff. One question for you. What are bragging tights? Did you mean bragging rights?

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