Torchwood series 4 episode 8 review “End of the Road”

Posted: 10 September 2011 in television
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Torchwood - End of the Road“Dying of old age can now be considered a crime. Something happened here, and we are going to search this place for every last bit of information. And nobody is going to leave until we know exactly what happened. So you can stay just where you are, Captain.”

Torchwood joined the CIA. Jack behaved mysteriously. Gwen got pissed off. Rex finally showed some brains. Oswald displayed his true colours. Jilly received a promotion from The Families. Major Kira explained the plot. Q popped in for a visit. And Esther screwed up. Again!

Given previous appearances of intriguing characters/guest stars deserving more than just one episode exposure (in particular C Thomas Howell and Ernie Hudson in episodes 4 and 6 respectively) it was a surprise to see Wayne Knight return as the CIA traitor Friedkin. Someone must have recalled the plotline of Rex and Esther being framed as traitors and that it needed a resolution before the rush of the narrative to the finishing line began. In the end it was wrapped up rather arbitrarily with the old “trick a confession out of the guilty party trick”.

In a rare (only?) display of intelligence, Rex managed to lure Friedkin to the Colasanto mansion with the pretence he’d given a shit about the “death” of Vera at the San Pedro Overflow Camp. By now everyone knows that Rex doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything but himself – though it became apparent that he is preoccupied by the possibility he’ll die when The Miracle ends due to the massive chest injuries he suffered on Miracle Day.

The analogies to Nazi Germany that have run throughout the series continued with the attempt of a collaborator to justify his traitorous actions. Before he blew himself to pieces (along with one of his cohorts and Olivia Colasanto, grand-daughter of Angelo) Friedkin attempted to justify his collaboration with The Families by claiming that his co-operation ultimately did more good than bad. Throughout history many quislings have used such an excuse.

You’re telling me the whole world got screwed because two gay guys had a hissy fit?

Thankfully before she was torn asunder by high explosives Major Kira Olivia (Nana Visitor) was able to explain what her grandfather Angelo had been up for the previous eight decades or thereabouts. Nothing trumps a five minute exposition scene to move a stumbling narrative along. Why aren’t helpful plot points ever written down in plain sight?

Through the 84 years following his brief relationship with Jack in New York in 1927, Angelo had attempted to discover the secret of immortality, including research into cancer cells and stem cells. Although he was able to extend his life he was unable to halt the process of ageing. The pseudo-immortality of The Miracle was not caused by Angelo.

Ultimately It wasn’t the most successful reunion given that Angelo was well over 110 years old and died within a short time of Jack’s arrival. Yes died! The first human to truly die since the commencement of the The Miracle. Angelo Colasanto was deader than that damn Norwegian Blue parrot that has haunted Cleese and Palin for over 40 years…

How did Esther get employed by the CIA? She’s made more cock-ups than Chief Inspector Clouseau on his worst day. Today’s grand “putting-the-foot-right-in-it” involved yet again not listening to Jack and then handing alien technology over to the CIA. Esther subsequently ended up on the run with Jack after he gets shot after stealing a vital component from the technological wotsit that Angelo had recovered from the destroyed Torchwood Hub and hidden under his bed. Somehow the gadget allowed the nulification of the morphic field that caused the Miracle.

The file also says that Cooper and Harkness inevitably form an alliance and the best results can be achieved by separating them.

Thankfully a competent CIA operative made an appearance with the arrival of Q Allen Shapiro in a wonderful larger-than-life performance from the mighty John de Lancie. Whether pissing off Gwen by referring to her as English and then deporting her, or reveling in a cigarette as cancer cells have been rendered mortal, de Lancie made you wish he’d been bought into the mix far earlier. Any chance of scenes in episodes 9 and 10 that place de Lancie in the same room as Bill Pullman and Lauren Ambrose as they get the most explosive scenes?

Pullman and Ambrose blew the screen apart with a fury-filled cat fight as Jilly’s latent hatred for Oswald boiled over following his discovery that, despite his popularity in preaching hellfire and salvation, his stardom was only a wonderful delay before final retribution for his crimes caught up to him. What upset Oswald more though? The knowledge that the about-to-be-mandated “Category 0” will send him to the ovens, or the fact that he learnt the information from his “whore” and not from Jilly. There must be a certain significance in his choice of a redheaded prostitute given the colour of Jilly’s hair. Whilst Oswald ended up on the run after his assault on Jilly (and destined to work with Torchwood?), the lady herself received a promotion from The Families.

Alblemarch, Costerdane, and Frines are the names of The Families and their representatives were present at Jack’s numerous deaths and resurrections in New York in 1927. At that moment the three families formed an alliance to purchase the power of resurrection, though Jack stated that his blood would have been useless to them in isolation are there are numerous factors at work to cause his immortality.

The slow feeding of information in relation to the mysterious Families has been one of the more successful elements of “Miracle Day” so far, but there remains the feeling that the writers are not 100% certain whether the organisation is pure Cosa Nostra, a SPECTRE-style organisatio, or an insane banking outfit. Whatever their methodology and ethos The Families clearly command vast resources as no trace of them can be located anywhere on the worldwide web. The Families have removed themselves from history. And in 1998 they discovered “The Blessing”…

With only two episodes remaining there remains a huge amount of questions left to be answered. Who alerted the CIA to Torchwood? What is “The Blessing”? What was the importance of “revelation” in Oswald’s performance? How many air miles has Gwen clocked up? Are the villains of the piece merely human or is there an extraterrestrial involvement that hasn’t been even hinted at yet. Can Russell T Davies please remember that Rhys, Andy, and the Welsh landscape are integral elements of the charm and success of “Torchwood” and much much more screen time in any 5th series? Though the production of any future series in a UK/US co-production format isn’t a good move based upon what has been on show in “Miracle Day” so far.


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