Torchwood: The Gathering

I don’t know where this compulsion I have to reference what I’m watching with storylines from other completely unrelated productions comes from, but I just can’t help myself. In this week’s episode of Torchwood I found myself thinking of The Lord of the Rings. There was Jack as The Ring-Bearer becoming weaker the closer he gets to Mount Doom (aka The Blessing). Of course instead of a ring we have Jack’s blood which, like the One Ring, seems to have a mind of its own. Faithful companion Gwen plays the part of Samwise “Sam” Gamgee and the odious Oswald Danes fulfils the role of Gollum. I’m sure that if Gandalf the Grey were there he would venture to say that the mercy that has been shown Danes will prove fortuitous, since he no doubt has his role to play in defeating the evil that besets the world.

I wasn’t entirely clear as what The Blessing actually is. It seems to be a massive crack or fissure dramatically pulling surrounding debris into itself that certainly made me think of Cracks of Doom. I do have a problem though with the idea that it is running through the centre of the planet. My understanding is that there is a solid nickel-iron core spinning within a molten outer core and the centre of the world, so that jarred with me.

All that said I really enjoyed The Gathering. The whole series has been doing what science fiction should do; take a look at the world around us from a different perspective. It is a dystopic vision that hints at the real crises we may face in the future because of the success of science and technology in removing so many causes of death, enabling the human population to rise exponentially. Torchwood – Miracle Day has played our society on fast forward. With an ageing and, perhaps more significantly, increasingly unhealthy population we have a medical system geared to keeping people alive that is rapidly approaching breaking point. As the world population increases we may see it being diverted from its raison d’être to supporting the police and armed forces as they deal with the “Threat” of that increasing population.

For a time mechanised, industrial war did a lot to counter this trend. It was almost a self-regulation of the human advances in removing the causes of death through the application of scientific knowledge by replacing them with such advanced methods of killing. But now the weapons of total war have gone beyond the industrial, they are apocalyptic and as a regulation of population they are no longer effective. Full scale war is just too risky, the consequences too terrible. Governments work very hard to avoid war as a result, and if they can’t avoid them then they are confined as far as possible.

Many of the problems we are coming to terms with today, like migration, pollution, loss of natural environments and global warming are down to overpopulation exacerbated by profit seeking corporations and neo-liberalism hands-off government. The type of society we see in Miracle Day could be exactly what is waiting for us.

Written by Peter Grehan



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