Saturday, July 09, 2011

My Review of Torchwood's 4x01: "The New World"

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Bharat Nalluri

Rex: “Who the hell are you people?”
Gwen: “We’re Torchwood.”

It’s been two years since “Children Of Earth” and with this show; it’s a case of some things never changing and virtually everything changing. In other words, it’s a case of seeing an episode that is deliberately serviceable for newcomers and long term viewers alone.

If you’re a newcomer and blissfully ignorant of what has happened before in this show, then the opening episode of “Miracle Day” brings you up to speed about what Torchwood stands for and how it has to be connected to the current dilemma of no-one in the world being allowed to die.

Russell T. Davies won’t win awards for throwing out the “death takes a holiday” trope but it’ll be interesting to see how he will be able to sustain this concept for the remaining nine episodes in this series. Right now, no-one is dying and it’s pretty horrific and this episode actually delved into that nicely.

I mean you have nurses that are so disgusted with patients who won’t die that they’re happy to bitch about it on national TV and call them “living corpses” and there are enough scenes where characters discuss the inevitable overpopulation obstacle that will certainly brew in the next few days, mainly from Gwen and Andy themselves.

As for the scene with the decayed suicide bomber – thank you, show. Every time I feel the slightest desensitised by television, then all I need to see is something rather gruesome to snap me out of it. A mangled, functioning body still alive, even when his head was removed from the body did that for me in spades.

And then there’s Jack. Boy, I’ve missed him and not just because John Barrowman does my head in as a TV presenter but also because there’s no character on TV quite like him, especially in a leading man as well. This episode isn’t Barrowman or even Jack at his most charismatic but it serves as a nice reminder that he was needed again.

Of course Jack was going to get involved in this world wide event and not just because he is now susceptible to dying, which as a plot twist goes, actually makes an alarming amount of sense. If no-one else can die, then surely Jack must be able to die. Which could mean that he’s both the cause and/or solution to setting the world right again.

Jack did his usual bout of trying to keep Torchwood as secret as humanly possible but the way I see it, he just needn’t have bothered. Gwen and Rhys were being hunted down regardless and I really struggled to see what the point was in Jack giving Esther retcon as well when it didn’t stop her from pointing Torchwood in Rex’s general direction.

Gwen and Rhys as characters have not changed from the last time they were seen. Sure, they may be in hiding with little Anwen and sure, Gwen’s parents might have drawn them out along with Andy but both of the characters have thankfully not been toned down for American viewers.

Much as I loved Rhys’s snarky banter about Jack and understood his opposition into Gwen wanting to investigate the miracle, the truth is, I was on Gwen’s side in this debate. Rhys wants to protect his family and that’s understandable but so does Gwen and honestly, she’s been put in a situation where she has to investigate the miracle.

The dilemma with her father aside, there’s also the possibility that baby Anwen is affected by the miracle too and there was no way in hell that Gwen would spend the rest of her life in hiding, doing gardening and scaring off tourists. Like anyone who’s ever travelled in the TARDIS, Gwen really cannot distance herself from the fantastical world that Jack introduced her to with Torchwood, regardless of the risks.

I loved the meeting between Jack and Gwen in this episode. I will never, ever ship them romantically but John Barrowman and Eve Myles do have such a lovely rapport with each other and now that Jack, Gwen and Rhys are being shipped to America thanks to Rex, none of them have any choice but to get involved in solving the miracle.

As for the American characters of this piece – Rex is divisive for me. In parts of this episode, he’s rather funny and charming but in other bits, he’s sort of annoying and foolhardy. I’m not gonna write the character off because I think Mekhi Phifer works well with Jack and Gwen so far but the others we met were a little better. And Rex was also impaled in this episode and survived but will he still live when the miracle stops?

Esther Drummond was an absolute delight. I loved her snooping into Torchwood, meeting Jack and fighting through the retcon to tell Rex about Torchwood as well. I think she’s definitely a very promising character and Vera the doctor was also a joy to watch. I definitely wasn’t disappointed with the new ladies introduced into the mix.

As for Oswald Danes – convicted paedophile/child killer who didn’t die during his execution? Already Bill Pullman is making the character as repugnant as humanly possible. I still think it’s a bit implausible that Oswald would’ve gotten released from prison but I am interested in seeing where the character goes from here on out.

Also in “The New World”

The subtitle for this series is “Miracle Day” and Starz are airing the episodes six days ahead of BBC1. Apparently there are also different versions for US and UK viewers, episode wise.

Rhys (re Anwen/Torchwood): “You promised me we’d keep her away from this stuff.”
Gwen: “Yeah, well to be fair, she’s too young. She thinks this all sounds like a fairytale.”

The credits are new and very white and added to them are Mekhi Phifer (Rex), Alexa Havins (Esther) and Bill Pullman (Oswald). I don’t like them but that might change next week.

Vera (to Esther): “Twenty four hours and no-one’s died? What do you think of that? One lucky day.”

Oswald (re governor): “Condolences. You can’t just say sorry?”
Alexander: “You have to respect his position. You’re a convicted paedophile, sir and a convicted murderer.”

Oswald’s defence was that his victim should’ve ran faster. That was actually more disturbing than removing suicide bomber’s head.

Rex (to Vera): “Do I get better? Do I heal or do I just hurt for the rest of my life? Because if this thing keeps going, the rest of my life is forever, right?”

Jack: “I hurt my arm.”
Esther: “Considering what we just went through, I’d say that was a miracle.”
Jack: “Yeah, another one.”

Jack posed as Owen Harper, FBI when he was watching the suicide bomber having his head removed. The 456 were also frequently mentioned as well in this episode.

Gwen: “What’s Miracle Day?”
Andy: “Are you kidding me? Where have you been?”

Rhys (to Gwen): “It’s different now. You’ve got a daughter and you can’t put her in danger.”

The miracle is only affecting human life. Plants, insects and animals are unaffected. At least that part of the mystery is out of the way.

Rex: “CIA.”
Gwen: “Yeah, so what?”

Jack (to Gwen): “I can’t leave you alone for a minute.”

Chronology: I think it’s been two years since “Children Of Earth: Day Five” but there’s no specification. We did learn that Gwen joined Torchwood in October 2006, the same time when the series first launched.

As a return episode, “The New World” is certainly getting Torchwood: Miracle Day off to an interesting start. Yes, a lot of time is spent re-establishing the show but there was definitely a lot in this episode to enjoy and as a summer series goes, it’s good to have Jack, Gwen, Rhys and the newcomers back on our screens.

Rating: 8 out of 10

No comments: