I am a big fan of the Doctor Who reboot, so unsurprisingly, I am also a big fan of Captain Jack Harkness. This means that I have seen every episode of the Jack-centric Who spinoff, Torchwood and have been eagerly awaiting its American detour, Torchwood: Miracle Day. So I was SUPER excited to get an email from E Street Theater last week informing me that they would be showing an advanced screening of the first episode tonight!! For free! Of course, the show officially starts on Friday, but why would I wait to watch it on my tiny laptop when I could instead see Captain Jack on a big screen TODAY? I wouldn’t, of course!
For those of you who don’t know Torchwood (which, I’m guessing is about 95% of my readership, considering my failed efforts to get someone to come with me), it’s basically CSI: Cardiff: Now With More Aliens + A Pet Pterodactyl and stars Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who fame. Captain Jack is an immortal, omni-sexual, time-traveling ex-conman who swishes around in a 1940s military jacket. Yeah, I realize I’m not really selling this, but the main thing you need to know is that Captain Jack is incredibly attractive, as is his smokin’ hot partner in alien crime-fighting/ass-kicking, Gwen Cooper. I would even go so far to say that Gwen has the upper hand on this one, because she comes with a sexy Welsh accent.
So back to the present with Torchwood: Miracle Day: Advanced Screening. I blew off all my friends and sauntered down to the theater in plenty of time to get in line for tickets. I got slightly distracted when I stumbled upon a Tibetan street festival of sorts, but I thought, “Hey, it’s on my way! I’ll just walk through and see what’s up!” Then I made the fatal mistake of stopping at the information table. All I wanted to know was who was putting on said festival so I could perhaps volunteer in the future, but as I was talking to the Nice Tibetan Man, I name-dropped the Tibetan school at which I used to teach. Well folks, name-dropping is a Karmic bitch, because no sooner had Nice Tibetan Man expressed his surprise and told me that it had been his school than this random white volunteer from Toronto accosted me about my experience, asking all these questions about how I got to work there, where the school was, their policies on Montessori education, etc, like we are best friends now just because we’re both white and like to eat momos. Then she started harassing me about what yoga studio she should visit while she’s in town. Um, wtf? I am not your personal DC Yoga tour guide. What I should have said was, “I’m really sorry, I’m in a hurry. In America, we have this crazy thing called Yelp. You should try it. Happy Canada Day.” But instead I was all polite and friendly and answered all of her bizarrely specific questions, like which metro stops she’d need for which yoga studios.
Because of the Non-Tibetan Who Can’t Use Google, I arrived at the theater 5 minutes after doors opened instead of 20 minutes before and the line was like 1000 people long. I had to wait behind this girl and her really annoying gay boyfriend*, and I just wanted to take her aside and say, “honey, your boyfriend is gay. I have terrible gaydar and even I can tell that. You should cut your losses and find someone new. Someone more heterosexual. Not all men are pansexual like Captain Jack. Some of them only like other men.” And then at exactly 6:12, seven minutes after I got there, it SOLD OUT.
*Edit: I realize this could be read wrong. Annoying Gay Boyfriend’s gayness and annoyingness are not correlated. He just happens to be both.
I missed it and it’s all that stupid white woman’s fault. But now I find that I have an extra hour and a half of my day to fill that I hadn’t previously anticipated having. So let’s take that time to pretend that I did make it on time and am writing a review here on my blog.
Note: even though there are obviously not any spoilers for Torchwood: Miracle Day below, I do make references to characters from the Doctor Who series 1-4 and Torchwood 1-3, so if you are ever going to watch those and don’t want to infer what happens between Rose Tyler and the 10th Doctor, you should probably stop reading here.
Review of Torchwood: Miracle Day
Let’s start with trailer:
Now after seeing that, I thought it was pretty safe to assume that Torchwood: Miracle Day would focus on this story of everyone suddenly becoming un-killable, so I was shocked when they dispensed with that plot-line in the first five minutes. In fact, that trailer is the actual first two minutes of the episode. Pretty lazy if you ask me; I think they were just trying to show off their new Michael Bay budget by blowing a bunch of shit up.
To solve this “Miracle Day” business, Jack, Gwen, and Rhys are forced to open up the ol’ Cardiff rift for some reason or other, and in the process, the world implodes. Rhys sacrifices himself to save Gwen, and she, her baby and Jack tumble through the rift and end up in the parallel universe where the 10th Doctor and Rose have been playing house and running Torchwood for the past three years. I would say that if this episode had a weak spot, the first five minutes were a tad rushed and unconvincing. But it’s worth it to suspend your disbelief, because the rest of the episode focuses on how relationships have panned out in this alternate time stream.
We run into alternate Gwen and Rhys, who are happily married with three kids and oblivious to aliens, Gwen never having come across Torchwood. Happily Married Gwen and Rhys then go away and we never see them again, ever. Tosh and Owen are alive and kicking, though not quite happy–Tosh is still trying to help Owen get over the loss of his fiancée, but a possible romance is hinted at for later in the season. But most intriguing of all is the relationship brewing between Ianto, Jack and Gwen, as Jack tries comfort Gwen in her time of loss, but is over-joyed to see Ianto alive again. Gwen is finally understanding her deeper feelings for Jack through jealousy, as she also beings to see Rose as a rival, both in Torchwood and in Jack’s affections (albeit erroneously). Oh, and everyone wants to get into the Doctor’s pin-striped suit pants.
Switching the focus of this episode from shooting at aliens to the emotional ties between characters was a bold but welcome choice. John Barrowman does a masterful job showing Captain Jack’s inner turmoil, torn between his love for both Ianto and Gwen, and Eve Myles is amazing as usual in the role of Gwen Cooper. Can these crazy kids work out their polyamorous relationships? We’ll see how it pans out over this season.
Best Part: Tosh and Owen finally making a breakthrough in their relationship without one or both of them dying first.
Weirdest Part: Back on regular earth, Lauren Ambrose is time-locked in a bathroom with Seth Green. Strange choice.
Alix’s Rating: A++++
Aaaand I’m realizing I just wrote a Torchwood: Can’t Hardly Wait fanfic. You drove me to fanfiction, Random White Lady! White people suck.