Quick Take: Torchwood, "Miracle Day: Immortal Sins"
Out with a bang or a whimper?
Review: Torchwood, "Miracle Day: Immortal Sins"
(S0407) About 85 years ago, Captain Jack was a brazen, sexually charged agent of Torchwood intent on saving the world from the omnipresent alien threat. Not much has changed, has it?
That's the point of this week's episode of Torchwood. Time passes, the face of evil constantly shifts, but nothing ever changes. At one point in 1927, Jack says to his Italian stallion that it always ends with people like Angelo killing him. Angelo had betrayed Jack, subjecting him to repeated killings at the hands of a religious mob, and Jack would rather jump off a building than trust Angelo again. In 2011, Jack finds himself tied up, Gwen—yet another betrayer—ready to hand him to some unknown threat to sate her own desires. What does this say about Jack and Gwen?
Perhaps worse than the cosmic forces of evil at play—worse than the men willing to buy Jack as property in 1927, worse than the families behind the Miracle and the camps in 2011—are what these forces do to the common folk, to good people. We knew that Jack wouldn't end up in the hands of the enemy without a fight, but what we didn't know is that Gwen would not be the one to protect him. Our lovely heroine was nowhere near remorse for her actions; she thought she was justified.
Not even Angelo was able to wipe his conscious clean after what he did to Jack. Caught between two powerful abstractions—between Love and God—Angelo was conflicted and powerless against his own beliefs and desires. Very different from Gwen's maternal rage, and yet she betrays him just the same.
At the precise moment that the world becomes immortal, Jack becomes mortal, and yet the situation remains unchanged. People are no worse off than they were. They're no better than they were either.
So why subject us to this depressing concept just before what I can only assume is the beginning of the end? Doesn't the realization that no matter how many times Jack saves humanity, humanity spits on Jack take away from any hope of a happy ending? Are we not severed from the emotional drive of the show, of the need to see our characters survive and maybe even thrive? Or does this little bit of nihilism prepare us for even more despair, panic, and gut-wrenching death? Is this a hint at what we have in store?
Maybe this is even the writer's way of getting us to feel like our characters — isolated husks of flesh waiting to die no matter what category they'd be put in by the powers that be? And if that is the case, what does our response say about the state of humanity in reality compared to that on the show? We're headed towards the end folks and as the mysteries are quickly answered, one by one, we're beginning to see that it isn't so much how it happens, but what it will mean when we get there that counts.