Written in blood
Writer: John Fay
Director: Guy Ferland
THE ONE WHERE The Torchwood team go to opposite sides of the world to find answers to Miracle Day.
VERDICT Anyone else thinking too little too late? Admittedly this is one of Miracle Day ’s more immediately gratifying episodes (good grief, things actually happen !) but the main problem with “The Gathering” is what it isn’t rather than what it is. Primarily, it isn’t a penultimate episode, and the rather blunt cliffhanger is a perfect example. A penultimate episode should end with a mighty cliffhanger – major peril, or the dramatic reveal of the monsters, or the villain announcing their final gambit. What do we get here? Jack’s blood can act as compass. Blimey. Pass the smelling salts.
So any relief that the story is finally speeding up is tempered by the fact that it’s going to have to go into warp speed next week to create a satisfying conclusion, and the worry that it might just be an almighty infodump instead. “The Gathering” would be a solid mid-series episode; it simply falls slightly flat as a overture to the finale.
At least it finally feels like the Torchwood team are making some headway with solving the Miracle mystery and the globetrotting at the end livens things up. There’s still an awful lot of sitting around chatting and tapping away on keyboards, though; if there ever is another series of Torchwood you kinda hope that they might go for the Victorian Torchwood idea, simply so that half the show can't be about Googling.
Jilly’s meeting with the Family members are tantalising, and the PR agent’s plotline certainly provides some chilling moments. The Family we meet also look like they could have been great villains if they hadn’t been kept in the wings so long. On the other hand the reveal of the Blessing is a severe anticlimax, with Jilly peering into a massive rocky arse-crack. Not sure if it's the FX to blame or the concept to blame. Either way, it’s simply not impressive to inspire any awe, let alone suicide (and didn’t Angel do the “hole in the world” thing a lot better in, erm, “A Hole In The World”?).
And what’s happened to Oswald? His fall from grace has been so sudden, so total and so off-screen, you’re left wondering what the point of his plot strand has been. At one point in the series it looked like his story was going to be a thought-provoking exploration of how the media can create false idols, but this aspect of the series has barely been explored. Now he’s some panto villain, leering in the wings, clearly being engineered into a position where he can fulfill some plot mechanic in the finale.
Another disappointment is that after the "Two Months Later” caption the post-Miracle Day world seems pretty much the same as it was two months ago. Surely this was a chance to ram home the Miracle has altered society? Instead, the Miracle comes across barely any worse than a double dip recession, rather than a real world-shattering event.
Again, this is another example of what the episode isn’t rather than what it is. And, to be fair, on a simple action/adventure level, “The Gathering” feels less leaden and padded than some previous episodes. There are moments of effective high tension, a few decent revelations, some ingenious bits of detection (and double crosses), lots of location changes and Eve Myles at her very best.
But it still doesn’t feel like a penultimate episode…
FNARR FNARR Oswald: “The Captain invited me in…”
Jilly: “So does that mean there’s a story about to break? With the Miracle?”
Family Guy: “Not for me to say.”
Jilly: “You want me to what? Prepare a statement? Mount a campaign?”
Family Guy: “Kinda small don’t you think?”
Jilly: “Then what?”
Family Guy: “We need you to write history.”
Jilly: “I can do that.”
Family Guy: “Good recovery.”