By the time we arrive at episode 9, it’s like a different show. We are no longer in the US, Jack is healing and hiding out in Scotland, Oswald is missing, and Gwen is looting drug stores while her family lives on the same block as the characters from Being Human. What happened?!? I realize it’s less “a different show” than that we have come to the meat of the arc. In other words, the first 8 episodes work like a prologue. That’s an odd way to frame it, but that really is how I see it. Episode 9 is different on many levels. Besides the aforementioned items, 2 months have gone by since episode 8. There is a news report that it is day 61 of the depression. That still leaves me with a whopping great question about how much time has gone by since this all started. Are we 69 days in? Or did more time go by between the previous 8 episodes?
The story of Gwen’s family is a heartbreaking one with an officious little jerk coming in search of a missing category 1 case, Gwen’s father. This little oaf is the poster child for bureaucratic boot lickers everywhere. He is determined to find Gwen’s dad like he is the holy grail, then has the audacity to say to Gwen’s mother, “I’m sorry for your loss.” But as much as I hated seeing Gwen’s father taken away, one has to wonder about quality of life. At the time of writing, I’m days away from my own father’s birthday and he’s been gone over 6 years now; I miss him all the time. But I often wonder if he had survived, would he have enjoyed any quality of life? Gwen’s father is little more than comatose with next to no hope of getting better, stashed away behind a wall in a mouse infested basement. Is that worth fighting for? Is that life? Free of the worry about her dad, Gwen is free to go to Shanghai with Jack to find out what’s really going on! (Her mom and husband can take care of the baby!)
“Every passing day, we are taking one step closer to a dictatorship!” When life mirrors art, it’s scary. Sure, mirror The Mona Lisa, don’t mirror The Scream! There is a lot of the gritty side of life in season 4 of Torchwood. There’s the three ruling families that took over politics, finance and media… yeah, I believe it! We have the bootlickers and we also have the pedophiles. I think the reason Pullman’s character was written as a pedophile comes out in this episode: because he has learned how to hide online it gives him an edge. I would have preferred him being a hacker. I don’t see why the writers went with the biggest abomination they could come up with. Was he ever meant to be redeemed? Or is he always destined to be a villain? I do admit that when Gwen sees Danes picking up her daughter, the reaction is extremely rewarding.
Like my own work piecing the puzzle together, this episode is all about the cast is connecting the dots and finding where the arrow points. Back in the States, Rex works out that there is a mole in the CIA but he has yet to catch Charlotte out. Rhys once again coming in as the unsung hero, figuring out where things are pointing and with that the team plans a two-pronged trip to Buenos Aires and Shanghai. Meanwhile, Jilly Kitzinger gets there first and comes face to face with The Blessing. (When asked what is revealed to her, she says “That I’m right!” Right about what? And good lord, I would love to have someone tell me that once in a while too! No wonder she was so happy!)
This reveal was a big disappointment for me personally. It doesn’t really ruin the episode but I was sitting on edge waiting to see some vast beastie that makes you see things out of the corner of your eye. A Lovecraftian behemoth of legendary proportions and abilities. Instead of that giant Cthulhu-like creature we get… a crack. With a wind tunnel. I would love to tell you I’m joking but we literally get a crack in the world. Jilly asks how far down it goes and she is told “all the way to the other side”. This ties in with the PhiCorp logo but doesn’t tie in with that little thing about the earth … something about a crust, a mantle and a core… liquid hot magma… lava… Professor Zaroff… I often say that Doctor Who needed to establish that there are parallel worlds to cover up the sheer volume of oversights we have seen with various stories. The problem is, for this to work, we’d have a parallel earth where there is no core! (Maybe the Daleks did succeed… oh, no, that would be 2164AD…)
The episode ends with one more connect the dots moment: Jack’s wound from last episode was not just there for a surprise cliffhanger that gets promptly overlooked one episode later. It serves a bigger purpose by leaving a trail from Jack’s body to the Blessing. The final episode is upon us and we know where to go. The thing is: can they do anything about it? And if they can, are we destined to lose one of the cast we’ve actually come to like? While this season did not come close to the level of quality that the last one did, I confess I’m holding on for that final episode. ML