Torchwood: “End of the Road”

Posted on August 27, 2011

Wait. What?

Rex was something-something Torchwood undercover something-something? It was all a ploy to flush Wayne Knight out? What? And now everyone’s taking orders from Q? And Kira Nerys is dead? Are we supposed to care about all this? Because at this point, it feels like the creators are just throwing every idea they had back in the planning stages of this story at the viewer in the hopes that it will… well, we’re not quite sure. But everything feels frantic and half-assed at this point.

Wayne Knight, Nana Visitor, C Thomas Howell, Mare Winningham — they just keep throwing every American character actor they can find at the audience and not one of these characters seemed to have much of an impact past their death scenes. So now we have John de Lancie, who’s always fun, but there’s only so much “Q as a CIA Director” we’re gonna find entertaining, and at this point, every time a recognizable face pops up, we assume they’re going to be dead in an episode and their impact on the plot will be as minimal as all the other recognizable faces trotted out and then blown up or thrown in a trash compactor.

Don’t get us wrong, there were fun parts to this episode. Like last week’s, it felt a lot like an old episode of Torchwood (even if the CIA was all over this one); some action and tension, an explosion, guns, some goofy science, Jack being Jack and Gwen being Gwen.  But in terms of actually caring about any of this, well … we’re in it to the end just to see how it ends, but we haven’t spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s happening and to us, that’s a hallmark of good serialized fiction; the speculation and wondering. What’s going to happen next? Where is this all going? The story is supposed to make the audience ask these questions and we don’t know about you, but we can’t be bothered. There’s this feeling (and its growing with each episode) that wherever this is going, the end is going to come out of left field. Think about how far along we were in the story before major players like Angelo and the Three Families became apparent. How many scenes of healthcare conferences and drug warehouses and Mare Winningham dourly lecturing us did we have to watch? How much time did we waste on Oswald Freaking Danes?

To be fair, when the story cut away from the Colosanto mansion to Jilly and Oswald, we thought, for a brief moment, that we were happy to see the characters again after 2 weeks away, but no. All we needed was to spend a couple minutes of screentime with them and we were right back to nails-on-a-chalkboard. We GET it, writers. He’s creepy. We got that in the first scene he appeared in. That hooker scene was especially stupid. She clearly went to the Vera Juarez School for Confronting Dangerous Men While Alone with Them. And what’s the point of all this? To get Oswald back on the run and Jilly in the good graces of the Three Families? Couldn’t we have gotten to that story point without SO MUCH time spent on these horrible characters? Without trying to get the viewer to believe the utterly ludicrous conceit that a pedophile/murderer would be filling stadiums as an inspirational figure?

And can we say? We just DON’T CARE about Esther’s suicidal sister. She’s a nothing character. What’s her name? We’re sure it’s been mentioned but she’s so unimportant that it never registered with us. We couldn’t pick the actress out of a lineup and we don’t know anything about the character except that she’s crazy. She’s just a tool to get Esther to do something kind of stupid. Again.

But we’ll stop complaining. For now. It’s getting old.

Things we liked:

– The scene with Jack saying goodbye to Angelo. We’ve said it before: John Barrowman’s not likely to receive many acting awards because he’s just a bit too campy and bombastic, no matter the scene or the role. But in Jack, he’s found the perfect character to play because even when Jack is being tender or pensive, he’s still going to be a little campy about it.

– The fact that, no matter how long it took to get there, things really do seem to be winding up to a climax of some sort. We know about Angelo, we know about the genesis of the Miracle (and we were very happy to see Jack confirm to us that his blood is nothing special, as we said last week), we know that there’s some sort of alien tech involved, we know at least a little bit more about the Families.

– Gwen being an impatient, temperamental, mouthy pain in the ass. LUV HUH.

And…. that’s about it. Our shortest Torchwood review/recap yet. Not because the episode was bad (it wasn’t; just typically uneven) or because we don’t care about the story (we do, but we’re not engaged enough to do anything but ride it out); it’s because as an episode, it only works as a sort of “between” chapter. We’re set up for the climax but the setting up took way too long and there were too many diversions along the way.

And besides, the Doctor returns tonight (assuming Bitch Irene doesn’t take out our electricity or cable) and that’s taking up all our nerdy attention at the moment.

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