Torchwood: The Blood Line
(1 episode, s04e10, 2011)
Everything changes… back.
Gwen stares out the window and relates a story about the day that her father was accused of thievery. Young Gwen offered to help pay back the money, but her dad taught her a lesson about impressions and honesty. He couldn’t stand being known as a dishonest man when he wasn’t. Gwen saw him as the nicest man in the world.
Today is the day that she kills him.
The two Torchwood teams prepare for the coming confrontation. Rex and Esther contact Director Shapiro for CIA assistance while keeping Jack, Gwen, and Oswald’s presence in Shanghai a secret. Unfortunately, that includes Charlotte, the mole in the agency. Meanwhile, The Mother plans to bomb the sites of The Blessing to keep it safe.
In Shanghai, Gwen locates the site but retreats to contact Jack when she gets whammied by the emotions surrounding it. Before they rendezvous with Gwen, Jack and Oswald have a heart-to-heart. Gwen takes a moment to call Rhys, who is working with Andy Davidson to gain access to the Cowbridge Overflow Camp so he can say a proper goodbye to Gwen’s father.
Across the planet, the CIA coordinates with the Argentinian army. Captain Federico Santos arrives with a detachment of soldiers, but a Three Families agent inside the detachment bombs the truck. The soldiers are all Category 1, the supply of Jack’s blood is destroyed, and Rex and Esther are presumed dead. Director Shapiro demands that they find the CIA mole immediately. Charlotte sets a bomb and leaves just as the trace is completed. The bomb makes everyone in the command center Category 1.
The two teams infiltrate their respective sites. Oswald objects to leaving a trail of Category 1 bodies and Gwen gets notification that Rhys has arrived at her father’s side. He only has ten minutes before the Category 1s are taken to the ovens. As Rhys comforts Gwen’s father, Andy comforts an unknown 15-year-old girl.
Jack, Gwen, and Oswald descend to the Blessing and are met by Jilly, The Mother, and three armed guards. Unfortunately for them, Jack has rigged Oswald with a suicide vest. Unfortunately for Torchwood, Rex and Esther have been captured and are being held at gunpoint by the Three Families. The standoff is stalemated when Jack presents his blood to the Blessing. He warns The Mother to be very, very careful with him.
Oswald, exposed to his very soul before the Blessing, almost loses himself in the reflection of his sin. Jack brings him back before he and Gwen muse about the origins of the Blessing. Jack muses about the Doctor, Silurians, the Racnoss, and huon energy before admitting that he has no idea where it came from. It projects a morphic field in symbiosis with the human race, but the Families fed Jack’s blood to the anomaly. The Blessing transformed the blood’s pattern into a gift for all humankind and the Families took advantage of the worldwide disruption in a form of eugenics.
In order to secure the plan, the Families drew Jack out of hiding and attempted to kill him. Jack threatens to bleed into it and reset the planet’s mortality, but the Families remind him that it has to be introduced from both sides simultaneously. As the standoff intensifies, Rex reveals that Esther transfused Jack’s blood into him. The destroyed blood was a ruse.
To stop the salvation of the world, the Families mortally wound Esther. As Rex descends into sorrow, Gwen talks him back off the ledge. Together, Rex and Jack drain themselves into the Blessing.
Death returns to the world in a single breath as every Category 1 says goodbye.
Both ends of the Blessing begin to tear themselves apart. Jack returns to life as his immortality is restored while Oswald and Rex eliminate the Families representatives and Gwen knocks Jilly out. Rex and Esther, both on the edge of death, are retrieved by Captain Santos. Jilly disappears into the explosion at Shanghai.
Several months later, Jilly is found by her contact in the Families and offered a place to restart her life in charge of Plan B. Elsewhere, the Torchwood team joins Charlotte and Rex at Esther’s funeral. Charlotte offers her condolences to Rex before leaving. Rex gets an update about the trace program that Shapiro was running and finds out that Charlotte was the mole. She shoots Rex and is gunned down by the other agents in attendance. Rex is declared dead.
And then comes back to life. His wounds, including the Miracle Day wound, all heal. He is now immortal.
Everyone is surprised, but none more so than Rex.
The production team killed the wrong person.
No, seriously. In terms of character growth over the ten episodes of Miracle Day, Esther moved leaps and bounds over Rex. By killing her off, they not only wasted that character development, they also committed the narrative sin of fridging her in order to motivate Rex.
That trope originates from the comics, specifically Green Lantern. In that story, the villain Major Force left the corpse of then-Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, literally stuffed into a refrigerator. The idea is to spur the hero into action by brutalizing someone that they care about. It was later named and shamed by comic book writer Gail Simone.
In this case, Esther was fridged in order to motivate Rex. It’s lazy writing that immediately devalues Esther as a character. No matter what happened with her to this point, her final intrinsic narrative value is a plot device to motivate a stereotypical action hero.
It’s also sad, because the story and characters could have been better served. Keep Rex as the vessel for Jack’s blood, an idea that came from Esther to begin with, and transfer the Gwen-shooting-Jack action to Esther instead. Let Rex die for the world and Esther come out with a completed growth arc that we watched happen over ten episodes of television. She could also end up with immortality, for all the good that it does Torchwood after this point, as a reward of sorts.
Other than that rather large elephant in the room, the finale was entertaining enough, if not a bit bloated (as was the rest of the Miracle Day season). The return of death to the world was emotionally stirring. Oswald was finally useful.
The cliffhanger itself is rather disappointing in the end given that this marks the end of Torchwood on television. In fact, Rex Matheson hasn’t appeared on television again to date. He’s been in two novels, one of which is a prequel, and an audio drama, but his parts in the post-Miracle Day universe appear to be sparse.
It should have been Esther who survived the Miracle.
Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”
UP NEXT – Torchwood: Web of Lies
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.