Torchwood: Miracle Day

Written by Peter Grehan

So the new Series of Torchwood, is up and running with the first two episodes, The New World and Rendition, of Miracle Day now aired in the UK. Anyone who hasn’t seen the previous Torchwood, Children of Earth, might wonder what the world seems to have against its members, but the information needed, i.e. that most of them are dead and the survivors had been forced underground (in the figurative rather than the literal, Hub, sense) is all we need to know for this story. There is an odd sort of meshing between the two locations for the stories, rural and urban Wales on the one hand (I suspect the Old Rectory at Rhossili will soon become a Mecca for fans of the series) and high octane locations in the United States.

The fundamental idea of the human race become immortal, but not in a good way, is interesting. Obviously the series writers have given some careful thought to the consequences of this most unnatural of human conditions. Rather like the characters in Death Becomes Her, being immortal doesn’t prevent any physical harm taking place to the body, which is to say the least – inconvenient. This was ghoulishly illustrated when the suicide bomber’s shattered remains continued to live on the autopsy table and rather reminded me of a multitude of Zombie movies I’ve seen. In addition to the obvious issues of overpopulation versus limited resources some interesting ideas are coming out of the series. In episode 2 for example, Rendition (director Billy Gierhart, writer Doris Egan) it emerges that the diseased “Undead” will provide a perfect incubation ground for a new generation of superbugs. That’s good science fiction writing to my mind. Another revelation from episode 2 is that the “immortal” will continue to age. This raises the spectre of people cursed with immortality enduring for evermore the pain, infirmity and degradation of old age as illustrated  by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels  when Gulliver travels to Luggnagg and encounters the struldbrugs, unfortunates who are immortal, but continue to age.

The first episode gave me some moments where I couldn’t help but smile, like when Gwen and Rhys’ cottage is attacked, she holds the baby in one arm while engaging in a fire-fight with a horribly beweaponed helicopter. Maybe it’s just me, but I think my first priority would be to get the baby under cover. That aside it’s a very promising start to the new series.

One comment

    Frank Sable

    July 27, 2011

    The whole issue of keeping people alive at all costs, even if they don’t want to be, is the question being addressed here I think. The medical profession has striven for so long to prolong people’s lives, especially in the UK, where that seems to take precedence over the quality of life that’s being extended. This has its roots in our Christian cultural heritage where suicide was/is a mortal sin. Only God can decide when a person’s life should end. Choosing to end one’s own life was throwing the gift back in God’s face. Compounding this was the belief that any suffering we have to endure was of God’s choosing, either to atone for our sins, our parents’ sins, or just to test our faith (he is a very insecure God and we have indeed been made in his image). Therefore you mess with that process at your peril!

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