Torchwood: Miracle Day Immortal Sins - TV Review


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Anyone fancy Italian?

Writer: Jane Espenson
Director: Gwynwth Horder-Payton

THE ONE WHERE: Jack’s flashbacks to his love affair with an Italian immigrant in early 20th century America are key to the events of Miracle Day.

VERDICT: After trouncing last week’s rather pointless episode for going nowhere fast, it may seem ironic to laud “Immortal Sins” with multiple stars when, after all, it could be seen as one long filler episode leading to a rather obvious revelation. But the difference between last week’s episode and this one is that it’s interesting filler. Emotional, shocking, heartbreaking filler. It may be small-scale in some respects but in others it’s epic. It’s not just the period setting that recalls The Godfather , but the way it’s a very human story about love and betrayal set against a horrific backdrop.

Jack may have seemed a bit of a spare wheel for much of this season, but here he takes centre stage, and John Barrowman is magnificent throughout. Jack’s relationship with Angelo is totally compelling and believable, avoiding any accusations of merely being an excuse for gratuitous homosexual titillation (although, to play the Devil’s advocate, you could argue that Jack is bisexual, so Angelo could have been a woman, and thus the whole thing could be called homosexual titillation, but that would just be churlish). The fact that you’ve worked out it’s doomed from the start (and probably that Angelo has something to do with Miracle Day) makes the affair even more bittersweet.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Jack and Gwen’s slightly altered relationship – as they realise there are things in the world stronger than their friendship – is every bit as watchable. Jack admitting how much he wants to live is possibly just as shocking as the flashback scenes to him being caught and repeatedly gutted like some supernatural freak show. Slightly obvious Christ imagery aside, these are unforgettable, powerful scenes that Miracle Day could do with more of.

Boasting some beautiful cinematography and elegant production design as well, the episode has so much going for it, but a few elements let the side down. The alien parasite thingy would have been shameful in a ’90s episode of Stargate SG-1 . Jack and Gwen seem just a bit too pally at the end, after what they’ve just been telling each other (hopefully there will be some fall-out in the last three episodes). Rex calls Torchwood amateurs, blissfully forgetting that he’s the man who infiltrated an overflow camp least week using his own name. The Welsh gags are definitely getting a little forced now. It is undeniably a little slow to get going. And, well, the twist ending is rather obvious.

But these are niggles in an episode that shows how to stretch out a story to 10 episodes without looking like you’re stretching things out.

Jack: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. So many times. And that's just today. It's been about, oh, 700 years since my last confession. Where do I start? How about the triplets? Or the naked circus? Or that Sapphic leapfrog jamboree?"

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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.