5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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MIRACLE DAY: RENDITION
Well, that’s new. We’ve seen Torchwood before which was made up of Torchwoody and non-Torchwoody parts. After all, Children Of Earth started as something else altogether. But this is the first time the Torchwoody parts are the only decent bit.
It didn’t help that they managed to enrage us twice right at the beginning. Many of us have British passports, and let’s just say the rendition didn’t go to down any better with us this week than last. In fact, one of us was heard to declaim “Russell T Davies should be tried for treason for allowing this!”. Well, yes, calm down, calm down, but let’s face it, it’s pretty bloody annoying, especially when they wrench away Gwen’s daughter and the second best bit of Torchwood, Rhys. (The best bit? PC Andy, obviously. You have to ask?)
We were still simmering over that when they infuriated us all over again. Esther artlessly shares with us, regarding the situation in India, that “reincarnation’s no longer on the table, so there’s nothing to keep behaviour in check”. She’s therefore expecting India to attack Pakistan forthwith, but guess what, the Indians instead exercise restraint. Who woulda thunk it?
Wow. Racist much? Not only is Esther amazed that the little brown people are able to restrain their primitive urge towards violence, it apparently never occurs to her to expect the same homicidal urges from the religious people all around her. We were speechless.
And it’s a shame, because apart from that, Esther’s shaping up to be the likeable one. She’s still cookie-cutter feisty girl, though, so it’s not as if she actually has a personality yet. Maybe she just appears likeable in comparison to Rex, who started off in the last episode arrogant and has now graduated to complete arsehole. That speech about not being gay but letting the flight attendant feel him up? Yeah, nice. Do they think they’re doing the Castle-esque, lovably bumptious thing with this character? They’re not. They’re just making us hate him.
So what are these good Torchwoody parts, then? It’s Jack and Gwen. And actually, it’s really more Gwen. Jack is OK, but to be honest, as an actor John Barrowman is a really good dancer. He does the job, plus or minus the odd trowelful of ham, but he’s unlikely to ever thrill you down to your marrow. Eve Myles, on the other hand, is taking the thankfully more badass Gwen and running with her. It’s not entirely believable from a plot point of view - she doesn’t spend much time grieving over her daughter and husband being snatched away, does she? - but a Gwen less sodden with tears has got to be a good thing. She’s kicking arse and she’s taking names, and that’s the only reason we’re still watching.
Because let’s face it, the rest of it falls into two categories: ill-thought-out logic and so-generic-it’s-not-true.
Some of the logic problems are a result of people trying to be clever about the premise but not thinking hard enough about it. So we need to rethink triage, do we? Putting the trivial injuries first to get rid of them? Well, Dr Juarez, you yourself point out later in the episode that the world is going to need a hell of a lot more painkillers than it currently does. You don’t think maybe, just maybe, that the seriously injured people you’re neglecting for the paper cuts might not be some of those painkiller-needing people? Also, you might not be able to die now, but a restricted airway will still cut off oxygen to the brain: pretty serious if you don’t get to it fast. Hands up who fancies immortality with permanent brain damage?
And the other logic problems are the sheer witlessness we saw in the last episode. Why is Evil Dollhouse Woman trying to slither out of her handcuffs on the plane? What’s her plan once she gets free? She’s on a plane! Not to mention that she’s got a whole team coming to back her up at the airport. Wait, we know: she wants to hijack the plane and take it to a secret airfield somewhere, like a sane agent would. Because we kinda doubt that real-life rendition flights land at major US public airports.
Speaking of the backup team, why do they stand there whistling while Rex takes Jack and Gwen’s handcuffs off? And as for the idiocy of the “chelation”, all we can say is that it must be a subtle way of telling us Jack’s immortality has come back, because there’s no way he survived that grab-bag of unmeasured industrial chemicals otherwise.
Then there’s the generic part. Set up by their own organisation….forced to escape….on the run…stock good doctor…stock evil PR woman… This is billed as “A Starz original series”, but we seriously dispute the “original” part. And not only retreaded, but a hefty spoonful of brainlessness in this part too. Jack and Gwen are so dumb they can’t tell that they’re not airside? And there are cameras outside US airports - wouldn’t the Mini have been picked up in about three seconds?
Wait, there is another good bit. Bill Pullman’s effortlessly acting everyone else off the screen. Trouble is, his character is so horrible we just wish he would go away.
Not looking too promising, is it?
BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER
And in case the thing about India wasn't enough, here they go again talking about how they've managed to prove you can still kill people if you try really hard. So who were these brave experimenters? Rwandans, of course! Those dusky-skinned people, eh? Just can't trust 'em.
YOU’LL BE SORRY WHEN I’M …OH, WAIT
“Will the miracle make suicide rates go up or down?” Um, duh?
PUTTING THE ARSE IN ARSENIC
“You won’t mind telling us what kind of poison is in this bag?” Ooh, you’ve got her there! She’ll never be able to think up a fake answer to that! And dear God, she doesn’t.
How the hell would a flight attendant know that a) there’s degreaser in the automatic systems b) it’s in the orange tube?
FASHION TO DIE FOR
“Be careful with his coat!” Yeah, because that’s totes a priority when the man is dying.