This is by far the best moment from last night's Torchwood episode — Captain Jack actually mentions Ianto by name, before inadvertently causing a new tragedy. It's a moment of real emotion and bittersweet irony. It's one of a few really nifty moments from last night's episode.
Sadly, though, a lot of Miracle Day episode eight was just sort of... there. Stuff happened, I guess, and the plot moved forward. But it was actually hard to tell, in a way, because it had that feeling of nothing being more important than anything else. I couldn't tell you what the through-line of the episode was, or what the major plot points were, exactly. There were about twenty conversations, all of which felt exactly the same as each other.
So what actually did happen? Let's see. Jack met Angelo, his old lover from the 1920s, and discovered that Angelo is really really old, and his granddaughter is bitchy and likes to deliver exposition. We learned the names of the three Families, but found out that those names have been erased from all records. Rex randomly mounts a sting operation against Newman, so he can prove that Newman is working for the bad guys, and this leads to Rex getting reinstated at the CIA, so that Q can show up and take charge. Angelo dies, and it turns out this is due to a bit of alien nullifying tech that he took from the destroyed Torchwood HQ, and Jack decides to run away with the key component of the null field because humans aren't ready for that technology. As a result, Jack gets shot. Oh, and Gwen gets deported for being too sassy for Q.
(Side note: When Gwen's mum starts ranting about how she had a gun to her head, and therefore Gwen should go get the bad guys, I was waiting for Gwen to explain that the people who'd put a gun to Gwen's mum's head were actually fighting against the bad guys, and they're all dead now anyway, so the point is moot. The actual bad guys did nothing whatsoever to Gwen's family, although they did try to kill Jack once or twice, several episodes ago.)
Meanwhile, Oswald Danes is getting too big for his nicely tailored pants, and decides to demand a sex worker. Of legal age. But when she shows up, Oswald just wants to have drinks and dinner and talk, not do the thing people usually get sex workers for. The sex worker tells Oswald he's a Category Zero, who will soon be burned alive by special act of Congress. Oswald freaks out and beats the crap out of his publicist Jilly Kitzinger, then goes on the run. And then Jilly Kitzinger gets promoted to working directly for the Families — via a representative who shoots Jilly's new intern, who's a CIA mole. Oh, and the bitchy/nice blonde lady at the CIA turns out to be part of the families, meaning the downfall of Newman accomplished nothing.
There are just two episodes of Miracle Day left, and I'm very much hoping the show is getting ready to crank back into high gear after getting stuck in a bit of a ditch. Last week's Angelo flashback episode was a really nice one-off, but this week it feels like we're back to a bit of wheel-spinning. We're no longer really exploring the social ramifications of Miracle Day, except for vague statements that the world's economies are collapsing and the whole concept of money is being nullified. (Remember the people in weird masks? And the 45th-floor club?) To the extent that the notion of "suddenly nobody dies" was a great thought experiment, it seems to have run its course — which means that it's time to get some answers, and maybe some action.
But let's not dwell on the negative. Like I said, there were a few really nice moments in this episode.
Besides the "Jack talks about Ianto" moment above, there was John "Q" DeLancie's whole performance as Shapiro — finally, someone who can go toe to toe with Gwen at her frothiest. And you gotta love the whole "Red Baron/Snoopy" line.
And it was great to see Oswald again, and see quite how much he's managed to deceive himself — he thinks he can really start over and redefine himself, but when it comes down to it, he's not able to give the performance that's actually required, with the sex worker who looks a bit like Jilly. Oswald has forgotten the difference between being a celebrity and being actually loved — nobody really loves most celebrities, we just find them amusing and fascinating, and sometimes we like to project our own neuroses onto them. We don't really care if celebrities get burnt at the stake, for the most part. I really, really hope this show has a good endgame in mind for Oswald — his absence from the last couple episodes had left me wondering if the show had run out of things to do with him.
Also, it was really nice that we got to see Esther be the one to figure out that there was something under Angelo's floor that allowed him to die — it's cool that we occasionally see why Esther is good to have around. She's been set up as a clever, resourceful person in spite of her lack of field experience, so it's nice to see more evidence of her being observant and smart.
So yeah, it was an episode with some really nice moments here and there. But I'm afraid I no longer know what Torchwood: Miracle Day is about. I knew for the first four or five episodes, but now the show has turned into a straight-up conspiracy show — in which the conspiracy is so vague and nebulous as to be almost meaningless. We know who the Families are and how they got started, but not what they did and why they want to cause worldwide chaos and death ovens. Conspiracies, by and large, are only fascinating when they start to unravel. So let's hope somebody stumbles on a real clue soon.