The New World

TOOOOORCHWOOD! TORCHWOOD TORCHWOOD TORCHWOOD!

Excuse me. It feels like it’s been far too long since I last watched Torchwood and I’m very excited. Miracle Day looks set to be, in a word, fan-flipping-tastic.

It opened with the execution by lethal injection of a Very Nasy Man, Oswald Danes. Danes had raped and murdered a schoolgirl, arguing that it was okay because “She shoulda run faster”.

However, the injection fails. Oswald survives. And as it’s part of the American Constitution that you can’t try the same person for the same crime twice, he’s free to go.

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Meanwhile, a blonde American lady (Esther) is asking a black American man (Rex) about Torchwood, as the single word Torchwood has been e-mailed to members of the US intelligence service all over the US. Then, just as suddenly as it arrived, it’s deleted as though by a virus. No-one is particularly interested in this, though, as something far worse is happening.

For a couple of days, all across the world, no-one has died. No-one. They’re calling it Miracle Day.

Esther, though, wants to know what’s going on. She’s trying to find out anything she can on Torchwood, but all the files have been wiped clean. It’s harder to find Lord Lucan than it is to find anything on Torchwood.

Gwen, meanwhile, has relocated to a cottage on the coast with Rhys (husband, for those who don’t know) and her toddler daughter, Anwen. She’s living a split life — half sweet domesticity and bickering over decoration, half grabbing a gun every time there’s a knock at the door from some lost holidaymakers. Then she gets a call from Police Officer Andy Davidson (Remember him? Sweet guy who followed Gwen around a bit in the first series) to say that her father has had a heart attack.

Esther has gone to the CIA archives to get anything she can on Torchwood. Despite a rude receptionist, she manages to find some photos of Gwen and Jack and, is if by magic, Jack appears. She runs away, but when she gets to reception the rude receptionist has been shot, by a man who proceeds to blow up the entire building. Thankfully, Jack managed to grab Esther and they jumped out of a window.

The rude receptionist, though, was hit by the full blast and is examined by experts. He looks quite a lot like a plate of sticky BBQ ribs, actually, but he’s breathing, blinking, still conscious. They remove his head (I had to look away for this bit) ... and the head blinks. The guy is still alive. THE GUY IS STILL ALIVE. Even being incinerated doesn’t kill people. They just can’t die.

Rex and Esther realise that people stopped dying when the word Torchwood was sent to the US intelligence. Rex flies to the UK and Esther, using the phone call Andy made to Gwen, tracks down where Gwen currently lives. Rex heads straight to Gwen and Rhy’s cottage, making snidey comments about Wales and the Severn Bridge as he does so.

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As a Welsh lady, this does not please me. I guess it was funny. Sort of. But I don’t like Rex. He’s not nice.

Anyway, just as Rex arrives at the cottage a helicopter draws level with the cottage and fires a rocket launcher into the cottage. Gwen, holding Anwen, dives out of the way and grabs a gun. Still holding Anwen she shoots the man enough so that although he isn’t able to die, he flies away. It’s a rather fantastic scene. Gwen Cooper is brilliant. She just is.

Gwen, Rhys, Rex and Anwen run for the car and are saved by the timely arrival of Jack. Then there is a brilliant chase scene across the beach, that ends with Gwen firing a rocket at the helicopter, turning it and the shooter into a big, flaming mess.

I do love a bit of Torchwood action.

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The episode ends with them back in Cardiff Bay, with Jack showing Gwen that he can be hurt now and is no longer immortal. This will mean nothing to the Americans, but for us Brits it’s like a big neon flashing sign saying “INTERESTING STUFF HAS HAPPENED HERE”.

Gwen starts talking about how she wants to rebuild Torchwood, when the police turn up and surround them. Rex has called them in; he is extraditing Torchwood to America. (See, told you he’s not nice)

Aaaaannnd it ends.

For a first episode, it was really good. The plot was strong and looks like it could really go somewhere interesting, the action sequences were superb (looks like the budget they got from working with America paid off) and the acting was strong. Eve Myles (Gwen) is being her usual delicious self, and Kai Owen (Rhys) is completely loveable. The Americans put in a good performance too, with a particular nod to Mekhi Phifer who was spectacular as Rex — although it’s hard to stop thinking of him as “that bloke from ER”

Mind you, the Best Actor award have to go to Bill Pullman as Oswald. I can’t remember the last time I saw a character who made my skin crawl more. I can’t WAIT to see how he’ll be used later in the series.

To finish this hour of delights, we got a preview of the next series. Let me sum it up for you:

There were lots of car crashes. Lots of guns. Explosions. A cult of people wearing terrifying blank masks who call themselves “The Soulless” wandering the streets. Oswald, who was detested in this episode, is being worshipped as a God. More explosions. Esther strangling someone. Gwen saving Jack from death. Jack in a half-naked clinch with another man. Gwen tied up with wire round her mouth. Gwen punching a bitchy woman in the face.

It looks like it’s been a good beginning to what will be a very, very good series. I just hope it keeps up that way.

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