Friday, 22 July 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 2 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Rendition'
Written by Doris Egan - Directed by Billy Gierhart

Firstly, I'd like to start with an apology. I didn't get around to reviewing the first episode of 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' due to other reviews, work and a load of job applications. But here's my incredibly brief review of the opener, 'The New World'; it was outstanding. Sumptuous television that was laced with drama, suspense and started the ball rolling for perhaps the most politically and socially gripping series of the show.

Right that's over, on to episode two...

Plot Outline:
As Rex brings the Torchwood team to America, problems arise on the plane as CIA operatives are plotting to remove them.  Meanwhile, Oswald Danes is appearing on News Talk shows and is becoming a trend on many online social networks after breaking down on national television.

 What's so interesting about this series of the show is the American element. "Yes, Chris that's obvious!" I hear you say, but let me explain. The fact that the show and narrative has been taken state-side isn't the 'interesting' fact, but it's more the influence. Granted some people will have an issue with this, but if you look at the direction this series is heading towards, it's looking like a Sci-Fi '24' and I for one find that so exciting.

 One of 'Torchwood's major problems is how some people view it; although the first two series' were very good, a lot of the emphasis was on the sex and violence rather than clear and constructed weekly narrative thus making people believe it was just a "sexed-up 'Doctor Who'". Thankfully they toned that down in 'Children of Earth' and made a genuinely compelling and chilling saga, and I'm so glad 'Miracle Day' is shaping up in that same way.

 As of yet, the origin of the event is still unknown; whether it's alien or a worldwide 'disease' is still a mystery and that's just how it should be - there's nothing worse than foreseeing every event and then feeling disappointed is there? What episode two successfully did was build dramatic tension, particularly with the plane scenes, and to create a beautiful confrontation between the two nations and their security systems. We all know 'Torchwood's origins lie with the Royal Family and the protection of the United Kingdom so it's great to see that bold contrast with the straight-laced and no-quibbles American CIA.

 'Rendition's main success however was it's top-notch writing. After the all-change at BBC Wales with 'Doctor Who', Russell T. Davies is still churning out cracking stuff and more importantly, getting quality writers alongside him. Doris Egan has worked on a bundle of successful and brilliant American TV shows including 'Smallville', 'Tru Calling' and 'House'. She understands the importance of layers and how they can give great weight and gravity to an on-going story arc. The scene with Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) discussing the progression of anti-viral medicine and how it will soon be unable to cure the sick due to no bodies dying and reacting to infection was fantastic. It's a complex idea projected with skill and knowledge, and left me utterly starstruck. I sometimes think to myself "How do they think of these things?" and that scene sparked that thought.

 All the performances were excellent, particularly from John Barrowman and Eve Myles. Gwen stole the show in this episode and it wasn't just because she booted a CIA agent in the face after saying "I'm Welsh", but because of the anxiety and aggression she suffered when boarding the plane and the intuitiveness and intelligence when disaster struck on the plane. Myles is a great actress and she continues to prove just how good a character Gwen Cooper is. Barrowman's dying acting was rather impressive too; let's just hope he doesn't do that on 'Tonight's the Night' - it might upset your mum.

 Although this episode was slightly slower than it's predecessor, it still had plenty of energy and merged an extremely claustrophobic event with excellent corporate chit-chat to make the second episode of 'Miracle Day' be a total thriller. If this series stays as consistent and impressive as it currently is, it could well be the strongest and best series of 'Torchwood' yet. 'Miracle Day' is currently essential television and I'm dying for next week's episode.

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