Review of Torchwood ‘Dead Of Night’
Forced into hiding after evading the authorities last week, the newly formed Torchwood team has now gone on the run from the shadowy government figures who seek to erase them. It is still unknown who these people are and why they want to take out Torchwood but this is all put on the back burner as the team investigates the miracle day.
Last week it was hinted that morphic fields will play a part in what is going but this week there was greater focus on pharmaceutical companies. It has emerged that major drug manufacturer, PhiCorp has been stockpiling drugs in preparation for the miracle day and that someone told them it was coming. Given that people who should have died are not dying, forcing them to live with the perpetual pain of injuries and diseases that would otherwise have killed them, painkillers are essential.
To add to the intrigue PhiCorp have enlisted Oswald Danes to be the mouthpiece for their campaign to make drugs more widely accessible. They have also been lobbying congressmen to pass legislation that will make drugs readily available without prescriptions, thereby increasing their profits tenfold. On top of this, Jillian Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), the PR woman who approached Danes in the second episode turns out to work for PhiCorp. How much does she know about what her bosses are doing and could she potentially become an ally in the end?
‘Dead Of Night’ saw the return of the sex that the show is known and praised for. ‘Torchwood’ has always celebrated sexuality, and both heterosexual and homosexual relationships were introduced in this episode. The omnisexual Jack that viewers know and love was re-introduced and audiences saw him have a casual tryst with a barman. The sex was a distinguishing feature of the show and hopefully it will still be retained as the series progresses.
But since Jack has now become mortal, a sense of vulnerability has developed that has not been seen before. He and Gwen reflected about the miracle day and that if only it had come earlier the other members of Torchwood: Toshiko, Owen and Ianto would have survived. Despite the miles that Gwen and Jack have travelled they have not forgotten their friends, it is a poignant moment for the duo.
On a Whovian tangent, there were a couple of references to parent series ‘Doctor Who’. The most obvious was when Jack said that the PhiCorp warehouse was “bigger on the inside than the outside” which is the first thing every new visitor to the TARDIS says. Unfortunately, this time there was no familiar blue police box in sight.
The second were the masks of ‘The Soulless’, the cult that has formed following the miracle day. They are called ‘The Soulless’ because everlasting life has robbed mankind of their souls, as Gwen neatly surmises. The left eye on each of the masks has a teardrop in the corner similar to the ones that the new generation of Cyberman have. These faceless masks and the parallel to the Cybermen reinforce the loss of humanity. Moreover, the small allusions to ‘Doctor Who’ will remind those in the know that ‘Torchwood’ and ‘Doctor Who’ are in one and the same universe.
The writers have artfully kept up the suspense by making the Torchwood team fugitives. It is always a race against time and they are constantly on the run. In relation to the plot, so far too much has not been given away or too little offered which is vital if it is to sustain the interest from viewers.
The only real point of contention is Esther’s ‘translations’ of American English into British English and vice-versa. The need to explain that in America a ‘petrol station’ is called a ‘gas station’ and that ‘a cash point’ is an ‘ATM’ is unnecessary and patronising to British viewers. Alternatively, it may be for the benefit of those watching in the US, either way there seems to be condescension towards audiences on both sides of the pond.
‘Children of Earth’ was about the secrecy and conspiracy in the British government, a taut political thriller which made use of science fiction to analyse the inner workings of a trusted institution. ‘Miracle Day’ is shaping up to be a dark and cynical satire at the power of pharmaceutical companies and the lengths they will go to for a profit, even if it means inflicting eternal pain on the human race. However, there are more strands to this story that have yet to be teased out. It will be interesting to see what piece of the puzzle is revealed next.
Picture: BBCTagged in: torchwood
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