After some slow development in Rendition, the plot picks up again in Dead of Night, as Torchwood begin investigating the Miracle in earnest. This week’s episode comes from the pen of Jane Espenson, scribe for Buffy and Battlestar Galactica and builds the story well as the new Torchwood team begins to come together, while the cult of the Soulless takes to the streets.
The main weakness of episode 2 of Miracle Day was that the Torchwood team – which was technically just Gwen at this point – was too busy brewing a magic potion to save Jack to actually do anything to investigate the Miracle. Here, Torchwood are being hunted down while actually investigating what’s going on, which makes for a much better balance.
With the CIA poisoned against them, Rex and Esther find themselves thrown together with Torchwood. This results in a clash both of personalities and cultures as they try to work with Jack and Gwen. Russell T Davies observed in an interview that jokes about the differences between American and British culture quickly wear thin. By the showing in this episode, he’s right: the jokes about pants and trousers, ATMs and cash machines, are all rather obvious. But I didn’t know that American lemonade is flat rather than fizzy, so at least I learned something. But they do make a pretty good team, making important discoveries that move the story along nicely.
There are some well-handled references back to Children of Earth and to Doctor Who, which help remind us that we’re still watching the same show and it’s still set in the same universe. Rather less well-handled is Jack’s sudden decision to head off to a bar to meet his “mortal urges”. The two sex scenes in the episode feel rather unnecessary, as is often the case. On the other hand, it’s nowhere near as bad as those in Camelot, Starz other foray into telefantasy drama written by former Torchwood scribe Chris Chibnall, but “not as bad as Camelot” is a rather low bar to reach.
Some of the best scenes once again come from Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger. There are some revelations from Danes that show just what an unpleasant piece of work he is. Jilly once again flits around helping to bring together some of the different plot threads. The impact of the Miracle continues to gather pace as well, setting up the plot well for further twists and revelations.
Our audio discussion of episode 3 will be available after broadcast on BBC1, Thursday, 9pm.