Leaving off with Jack’s blood being mysteriously drawn toward some part of Shanghai, the two teams set off in search of the Blessing and the Three Families. In what has to be an entry for the record of "Most Pointless Monologues Crammed Into An Hour," our final meeting between Torchwood and the Three Families is nothing but every character speechifying about what they think the Blessing truly is. Here’s a hint: nobody has a solid idea. All we know is that there is a hole going from one end of the Earth to another that is filled with some strange energy that forces you to see the truth of your soul and is also somehow the focal calibration point of human mortality. When Abelmarch, Casterdane and Frines collected Jack’s blood back in 1928, they eventually discovered that if you feed the Blessing the blood of an immortal, it will take that and make everybody on Earth immortal. If you’re lost, don’t feel upset. This whole explanation makes no sense.
The story gets even stranger when, after the supply of Jack’s blood that Esther has been stockpiling is supposedly destroyed by a Three Families suicide bomber, we find out that Rex and Esther thought ahead and gave Rex a full transfusion of Jack’s blood to sneak it past the Families’ guards. That’s some incredible forethought on their part. To make things even more confusing, the only way to turn off the Miracle is to feed the now-mortal blood of Jack to both ends of the Blessing. That will reset things, and return all of humanity back to their regular mortality because, despite being a big vasty nothingness, the Blessing is apparently conscious and wants to bestow gifts on humanity and…
You know what? I give up. This whole thing stopped making any sense about ten minutes into the episode. It has been well established that Jack’s immortality has nothing to do with his blood and everything to do with the Time Vortex resurrecting him and making him a fixed point in time. So why is his blood such a key factor in this? When Jack tries some semblance of explaining what the Blessing is and how it got there, ‘Doctor Who’ fans might get a little kick out of his references back to the Silurians and the Raknoss. But in the end, the explanation comes down to a very simple line of dialogue:
Gwen: "You have no bloody clue, do you?"
When you’ve built up an entire season toward this one moment, to give us such a pithy explanation is just a letdown. Rex and Esther’s clever thinking ahead that gives them the advantage over the Three Families at the last minute feels too much like a cop out.
Even more disappointing is the use of Oswald Danes. I didn’t like the direction in which they took him last week, trying to make him the slightly sympathetic victim of the Families who has some inside information – inside information which turned out to be of little to no value in the long run. In this finale, Danes is turned into Torchwood’s own suicide bomber who martyrs himself in order to give Jack and Gwen the chance to escape after they had reversed the Miracle. This is not the kind of character that I want as a tragic hero. He was built up as an unrepentantly evil man, and even when his soul is reflected back at him by the Blessing, he shrugs off the sudden weight of guilt like it’s no big deal.
Another disappointment is what is done with Gwen. The writers and producers of this season have gone to great lengths to make her into a real badass, and it was working well. I was on board with it. But her final moment to truly be the badass that she has been all season ends up being little more than a pitiful slug-fest with Jilly over an elevator.
And then there’s the representatives from the Three Families themselves. In Shanghai, you have a woman who monologues with such grandeur over such completely irrelevant information that her speeches stop the already slow-moving plot cold. In Buenos Aires, you have a man who is overly smug for no good reason. Every line he utters is dripping with so much smarm, he becomes a walking talking bad guy cliché. These are not the super villains one would expect to be at the heart of a century-old conspiracy.
Finally, we must talk about the final ten minutes of the episode, which stands apart as probably the greatest disappointment of the entire season. First, in all the brouhaha of the final battle with the Families (if one can actually call it that), Esther ends up getting killed. This was upsetting to me personally because I had grown to like Esther. She may not be the strongest character, but she had certainly grown from the naive analyst in the beginning to somebody who could be a really good addition to the Torchwood team. I could see her becoming the next Toshiko, and a good new member for a new Torchwood. Even more upsetting was what happened with Rex. At Esther’s funeral, Rex finally gets the crucial information that leads to the reveal of Charlotte as the mole for the Families. In a shootout with her, Rex is shot and killed…only to come back. He is an immortal like Jack now. Again, this flies directly in the face of the established fact that Jack’s blood has nothing to do with immortality. The only thing Rex ever had in common with Jack was a complete transfusion of his blood. It seems that Retcon is not just a fancy drug in this show.
While we have a cryptic meeting between Jilly and one of the surviving operatives of the Families that lays out the fact that they have a "Plan B," I honestly couldn’t care less. The Three Families is not an interesting villain, and their methods for world domination are overly complicated and pointless.
For a season that had such a strong start with an intriguing and thought-provoking concept, it was deeply upsetting to see it sputter about halfway through and ultimately lose all momentum and coherence in a finale that felt more like a quick patch to a badly mangled story. ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ showed so much promise and potential, and didn’t meet any of it.