Torchwood series 4 episode 7 review “Immortal Sins”

Posted: 29 August 2011 in television
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Torchwood - Immortal Sins“Well, you’ve done something haven’t you? Way back in that bloody long life of yours. God, you’ve lived so long you can’t remember half of it. Now you think. Think! What the hell have you done?”

With the virtual exclusion of Rex and Esther, flashbacks to New York in 1927, and the long-overdue focus on Jack and Gwen, this felt more like old school “Torchwood” than any other part of “Miracle Day” to date. And after six episodes of speculation, definitive evidence as the origin of “The Miracle” has began to emerge. Not a surprise to learn there was a connection to the past of the extremely long-lived Captain Jack Harkness.

Jack’s existence parallels that of the Doctor in many instances. Both have lived for numerous generations, feel the need for companionship however fleeting it may be – even though they know they will live on long after their friends and loved ones have aged and passed on. And Rule No 1 for both is that they lie…

Whilst the alien nature of the Doctor prevents him from entering into romantic and sexual relationships, Jack’s omnisexual personality has no such limitations – and therein lies the cause of his downfall in New York in 1927 and the genesis of The Miracle: a relationship with an individual named Angelo Colasanto.

Angelo was an Italian immigrant who tried to use Jack’s stolen visa to enter America on 4 July 1927 and subsequently entered into a sexual relationship with the Captain. Was the actor who played Angelo cast because of his resemblance to Johnny Depp who portrays the other famous Captain Jack?

One aspect that cannot be faulted with “Miracle Day” are the production values. New York’s Little Italy is recreated wonderfully in a series of “The Godfather Part II”-style flashbacks that act as the backdrop for Jack’s relationship with Angelo and his mission for the Torchwood Institute to intercept and destroy an alien parasite that The Trickster’s Brigade had bought to Earth. They had planned to use to the parasite to infect Franklin Delano Roosevelt, drive him insane, and create an alternate timeline where Nazi Germany won World War II. Jack’s infiltration of gangster Sal Maranzano’s bootlegging operation in around two minutes flat was rather too swift – even 007 normally takes a little longer than that.

Catholicism received another well-deserved bashing. As well as the continuation of allusions to the faults, corruption and bigotry of the Catholic Church, extensive religious imagery came into play with Jack’s multiple deaths and resurrections whilst being “crucified” in a frenzied display of blood lust by the fearful residents of Little Italy. Some, like Angelo, viewed Jack as the devil, others as a “blessing”. Other allusions to Christian mythology came with the washing of Jack’s feet by Angelo (which paralleled the washing of the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper) and the collection of Jack’s blood in a receptacle (evoked the myth of the Holy Grail). In all likelihood that blood is at the root of the “The Blessing”.

In that era of human history (and probably not even ours) a fixed point in space and time such as Jack could not be understood and so with ignorance bred by superstition all of captors fell back upon Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

“You’re Welsh. You wouldn’t notice if half the vowels were missing.”

Framing the flashbacks to the origin of The Miracle was a long dark night of the soul for Jack and Gwen. With her family held hostage by the architects of Miracle Day, Gwen had no option but to kidnap Jack and deliver him to certain death in exchange for the return of her loved ones. As much as she cares for him she would gladly sacrifice his life for the sake of her family. At times John Barrowman and Eve Myles had been in danger of being guest stars in the series they have been with since day one. With these scenes we returned to the relationship that has always been at the heart of “Torchwood”. Barrowman and Myles could easily carry an entire episode of “Torchwood” as a two-hander if given the right material, and here they must certainly were given the right stuff to get their acting muscles into. From pure rage against each other, to the emotional tale of the firebird that lives for only a minute but stays in the mind’s eye longer, the intimate and loving relationship between Jack and Gwen was stripped bare and reaffirmed brilliantly. Especially revealing was Gwen’s confession that despite all the bloodshed, death, and shit, she loved being a part of Torchwood as it made her feel so special and better than other people.

All in all an episode with more pluses than minuses, but there are still faults that could have been sorted out at the planning stages. There was no proper tension built up with regard to the hostage situation back in Wales – no sense of danger being projected against Gwen’s loved ones. But it was cool to see Sergeant Andy in action and shooting a villain in the head, though of course the person in question will just have a killer headache as a result instead of a trip to the morgue. Another drawback was once again bringing the homosexual aspects of Captain Jack to the fore once more. This gets tedious after a time. Please can it be remembered that he is attracted to all genders.


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