Count Your Blessings? Torchwood: Miracle Day, “The Gathering”

It took eight episodes… to get to this. Everyone has been saying it, so we might as well come out with it officially: Miracle Day probably would have been better served in a shorter format. While we have no way of knowing who was at fault in this particular arena, it really doesn’t matter. So now I invite you to this Torchwood recap, in which we can discern once and for all what plot arcs were necessary and what falls by the wayside.

Jack is in Scotland recovering from his gunshot wound because Gwen helped Esther smuggle him into the country. It’s two months on and the world has hit another Great Depression. (Though the reasons for this are never adequately explained. I suppose we can buy it.) Gwen is making money knocking over pharmacies and stealing their meds to sell to her neighbors. Her family is going through hell trying to hide her dad from the proper authorities because all Category Ones have now been assigned to the furnaces by law, and her dad was not accounted for. Someone is spying on Gwen from a flat across the street.

Rex has found a link to the Families in some old pulp fiction, but he’s being blocked by Family-spy Charlotte. Rex suspects there’s a mole causing problems and asks CIA boss John “insert-Q-joke-here” DeLancie for permission to work on his own.

Jilly is asked to give up her current life and go work for the Families under a new name in Shanghai. (This is where Ernie Hudson asked that guy to check in on some PhiCorp-bought property a few episodes back, and the guy promptly killed himself—remember? No? Well, that’s why Shanghai is important.) She agrees. When she arrives there, she is informed by a Family member that they like her because she tells stories. They want her to write history, presumably to make them look good when they Take Over The World and such. She is all for that, and he tells her that she’ll soon be taken to The Blessing. Some people die when they see it, and he hopes she doesn’t.

In the meantime, Oswald Danes has tracked down Gwen. He holds her baby, which is creepy, and Gwen almost makes him a Category One for it until Oswald tells her that he has important information from Jilly’s laptop and he wants Jack. So Jack and Esther come down from Scotland to help, neutralizing that guy who’s spying on Gwen in the process by dosing him with retcon. The cops come and find Gwen’s dad. They take him away.

With Oswald’s help, the crew finds out that Jilly has been altering translations in the news, specifically news that came out of Shanghai where a blood bank blew up. They realize that’s where The Blessing is. But there was another accident in a Buenos Aires blood bank. Rhys, because he’s the practical everyman who happens to be holding a globe beach ball (like ya do), realizes that it’s because the two cities are on exact opposties of the globe. And that’s the PhiCorp logo—a globe with a line running right through it. Safe to assume The Blessing runs clean through the world. Jack and Gwen are going with Oswald to Shanghai because he’ll rat them out to the cops or get Rhys really mad if he doesn’t get to go, and Rex is gonna go super-under-the-radar to Argentina and check things out with Esther. Except he fails royally at it, and Charlotte is able to track him instantly because he has this diplomatic bag that gets registered. Nice one, Rex.

Also, even if I understand that Jack and Gwen want to go together, I would have preferred our original Torchwood agents split the difference. It’s interesting to watch them work with the CIA Scooby gang instead of maintaining their Old Boys Club and letting the new kids hotfoot it on their own.

Jilly meets another Family member who takes her to The Blessing. Apparently, being near it makes people iffy, shows them their “true selves” or something like that. Jilly looks at it and knows “[she’s] right.” Sure! Uh, about what Jillybean?

What does The Blessing look like? Well, like a giant part of the female anatomy, if I’m perfectly honest. It’s also sucking things into it, though I have no idea what they are. Recyclables? Spirit energies? World sperm? You know what, forget it. I don’t need to know.

Jack, Gwen and Oswald are in Shanghai, and Jack’s wound is bothering him again. Oswald, being an observant fellow, notices that Jack’s blood is tracking across the floor: it’s leading them to The Blessing. Which might be why Jack doesn’t feel so hot. But it still doesn’t explain why the Families want him dead. The final chapter awaits us.

Anyone having difficulty believing that they will wrap all of this up in one more episode and satisfy the audience? Because I am. And now lets go through the list of irrelevant plotlines that we have been subjected to so far:

  • Everything with Gwen’s dad. Seriously, if the only purpose of this entire plotline is to keep Gwen invested in helping the team, it’s a thin line at best. Gwen is a fighter and can’t stand being out of the loop. She was always going to help, family troubles or no.
  • Random spy across the street from Gwen. Even if this does end up playing into the plot (which seems highly unlikely), I guarantee you it was ultimately pointless apart from making Jack and Gwen look cool when the guy got some Poland Spring-induced amnesia for his trouble.
  • Threatening Gwen’s family in exchange for Jack. Why not just go find Jack and say, “Hey! Your old boyfriend Angelo wants to talk. He’s got info for you.” Would have saved us a lot of time and anguish.
  • Everything with Ernie Hudson. It was a waste of an awesome actor. Enough digging on the team’s part could have eliminated that questioning entirely.
  • Nearly everything with Oswald and Jilly. In this episode we finally understand that the purpose of these two characters was to have Jilly working for the Families and Oswald helping the team even though he’s a creep. This could have happened five episodes ago. No need for hookers and sucker punches.
  • The Angelo plot. This whole backstory didn’t need to be eliminated as much as it should have been spread out across multiple episodes. Talk about an info backlog. It stands out because there’s not one other episode even remotely like it.
  • The “Dead is Dead” lady who got squashed in her car. So it looks like the Families had her killed because she was showing their hand too quickly about the Categories and the furnaces? I think? Does it matter either way?
  • Rex going to see his dad. Not really needed at all. Unless the point was trying to make everyone feel sorry for Rex having a terrible father. But it doesn’t look like it worked.
  • The assassin who tried to kill Jack way back when? Doesn’t that seem pretty useless on the Families’ part, particularly when they didn’t follow up by sending anyone else?
  • I’m sure more of these will be revealed when the dust finally settles and all has been explained.
  • On a side note… wasn’t it just so lucky that Gwen got deported last episode so she could find ways to smuggle people out of the US? And wasn’t it lucky that Esther was capable of concealing Jack’s near-fatal gunshot wound long enough to get him on the plane and across an ocean? Yeah. I was totally impressed by that welcome helping of realism.

And in regard to plots that should have happened but didn’t:

  • Dr. Vera Juarez and her awesome battle against a corrupted system as she infiltrates the Families and figures out this whole thing ten steps ahead of the team.

I’ll sign off with the thought: why is this episode called “The Gathering”? Does the confab that happens in Gwen’s house count? They probably just wanted it to sound ominous. I guess “The Gathering in a Welsh Family Home” just doesn’t have the right ring to it.

Emmet Asher-Perrin will now label all her party invitations as “The Gathering” just to worry potential guests. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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