The last time we saw our intrepid Torchwood team, they were reduced to only two members…and one of them left Earth. In “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” the secretive Torchwood Institute is no more. But when the most amazing miracle hits Earth, the team must come back out of the shadows to unlock the secrets and the reasons behind it.
The “miracle” of Miracle Day is simple, yet completely mind-bending: death has stopped. The entire population of the Earth has suddenly become immortal. The implications are far-reaching, both religiously and scientifically, and humanity is now faced with a very tough question: is this a blessing or a curse?
“Torchwood: Miracle Day” starts off at a feverish pace. We are introduced to the miracle, its implications, and the mystery of Torchwood all within a matter of minutes. There are a few points where the pacing seems a little too fast, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this first episode introduces a lot very deftly.
What makes it all the more impressive is how it is able to very skillfully bring in a whole new audience with introductions to things that fans of the show already know without it feeling like those of us who have been fans for the past four years need to take a step back to accommodate the uninitiated. There are lots of references to elements from previous seasons that cater solely to the loyal viewer in ways that they will appreciate and that won’t confuse or alienate the new viewers.
Along with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and her husband Rhys Williams (Kai Owen), all of whom reprise their roles perfectly, we have new additions to the cast that really create a new and interesting dynamic.
The first is Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), a convicted criminal whose execution is botched by the fact that he, along with the rest of humanity, can no longer die. Without going into details, this is a man whose crimes are truly worthy of execution. Pullman is very underrated when it comes to playing villains, so it’s great to see him playing somebody who is so cold, calculating and just downright creepy. I look forward to seeing him morph into the big bad of this season.
Next, we have Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), a relentless CIA agent who becomes determined to get to the bottom of what Torchwood is and, more importantly, how they can help. Phifer’s performance really made me like the character right away. He is a no-nonsense CIA agent without any bravado – just a determination to get to the bottom of his case. Phifer also peppers in a fun, snarky attitude that doesn’t feel forced. Matheson will clearly become an important member of the new Torchwood team, and I’m looking forward to his dynamic with Captain Jack, Gwen and Rhys.
Finally, there is Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins), a CIA analyst who is investigating Torchwood along with Matheson. Her function is really to be the conduit for the uninitiated viewer into Torchwood, and her story is not unlike that of Gwen’s in the first episode of Season 1. She may not be as field-trained as Gwen, so her lack of experience in dealing with real danger shows. Surprisingly, I didn’t find that dynamic annoying or much of a setback while she is thrown into the deep end of Torchwood and Miracle Day.
Sadly, due to the spoiler-free nature of this review, I can’t go into too much detail about Jack, Gwen and Rhys. Their stories, for the most part, have been very well-obscured by the previews. I will say, however, that Gwen and Rhys’ new daughter, Anwyn, is utterly adorable.
Overall, the first episode of “Torchwood: Miracle Day” is a fantastic re-introduction to this series for the fans and a fantastic first introduction for new potential fans. The premise is fascinating, the characters are believable – even when shooting an RPG at a helicopter from the back of a moving jeep – and I am fully on board to see where it goes and how it will ultimately play out. If the first episode is any indication, this may be the strongest season of “Torchwood” yet.
To help get you excited for the premiere (if you aren’t already), here is a small behind-the-scenes clip that is sure to whet your appetite.