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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  • Anonymous

    new who, now THAT’s something to wait for. Can’t you do recaps for that, too, please? especially as it seems the uk & us are at the same pace for once.
    Torchwood – I gave up a couple of episodes ago. Too much random & pointless plot points & characters dripping down like the early drops of a shower that never comes. I might watch it en bloc when boredom strikes one day, though.

    Torchwood was never a well written show but as long as they had blowfish driving sportscars it didn’t matter so much. Now that they try to be all cool and grown-up the faults are just glaringly obvious.

    • Anonymous

      I 2nd that

    • http://profiles.google.com/eszubert Elizabeth Szubert

      Well…as long as they don’t screw us over with Labor Day like they did with Memorial Day….

  • http://twitter.com/lbcubbison Laurie Cubbison

    Yes, please post about DW! I’m getting frustrated with TW too. I’m at the point where it’s no longer destination TV. I’ll watch it if I’m not too tired, rather than because I’ve been waiting for it since the previous episode.

  • http://masquedbunny.tumblr.com masquedbunny

    Is it sad that “Q as CIA Director” was the only thing I really enjoyed about this episode?

    • Anonymous

      I know!  I saw his name as the guest stars came up and thought “Q!  yay!”

  • http://profiles.google.com/withano Loren S

    The way Esther’s scenes with her sister are written, especially the way Esther seems so invested in her children, if I didn’t know any better, I would have assumed they were partners/wives.  I wonder if they hadn’t originally done that, only to change the storyline in case they wanted to, I don’t know, leave open the possibility of UST between her and Rex.

  • Anonymous

    TLO I think you’re being a bit harsh, this was the best episode of the season, if only this episode had come weeks earlier this seasono may have had potential.

     I suspect russel t davis’ hands might have been kept far enough away from the script to produce something less clunky, and somewhat watchable: RTD wouldn’t know nuance if it slapped a pink thong around his face, which nuance wouldn’t do because nuance is too classy for that.

     I think this is the BERT’S DRESS of this season, the best of a bad bad bunch 
    xmwa 

  • Anonymous

    P.S. your blog was endorsed on a recent episode of the slate magazine culture gabfest, which is how i found yous

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3TXFXXJEL2OLIUC2EMODKALX6E DRDarke

       Also has gotten a lot of mentions on Onion’s AV Club – lots of fans of John Teti’s PROJECT RUNWAYS write-ups also like you guys’.

  • Anonymous

    Half-assed indeed. Don’t care, fell asleep, I see by recap I didn’t miss anything. Movin’ on.

    Doctor Who! Tonight! That I care about. Good luck with the storm/elec/cable/. Hurricanes should be named Bitch***!

  • http://profiles.google.com/eszubert Elizabeth Szubert

    If you recap Doctor Who as well, my love for you two will cement forever.  Not that it hasn’t already with all the project runway recaps and the shiny you bring us.  But Still.  Recaps of Doctor Who = Love.  :D

    • http://twitter.com/MandySCG MandyJane

      Oh yes! I’d love it if they recapped Dr Who. Torchwood is horrible, and I only watch it with half my attention, but Dr Who is kinda wonderful, but hard (for me) to follow, because I only started watching Dr Who a couple years ago, so there are lots of little things I don’t quite get.

  • Anonymous

    Woohoo just watched Doctor Who… Moffat’s ability to explain things while confusing you all the more is something else!

  • MilaXX

    First of all I just want to thank you from the bottom of my nerdy little heart for even attempting to recap this show. Also the DS9 references in the first paragraph? Big Love to you both.
    As for the episode, Oy it made my head hurt. Rex being double undercover, Esther’s stupid sister, who by the way if she is indeed under watch because she’s suicidal, having a nervous breakdown or just plain crazy would not be allowed to give consent to volunteer for anything. I’ve said all along there are too many well known American character actors in this and it’s distracting and they often serve to do very little to forward the plot. The whole Oswald Danes things is definitely nails on the chalkboard. It doesn’t really add to the plot in any meaningful way, but I’m sure they’re going to tack it in somehow on ep 9. Why would Jilly who is in charge of the most controversial man in the world hire someone who appears to be little more than a groupie as an assistant? You can’t even get a job at McDonald’s without references these days and she hires this Yamaguchi chick on the spot. Really? Then we have the world’s mouthiest ( and not in a positive, life affirming way) ho.

    Oh well, my raggedly Doctor is back this evening as long as Irene doesn’t knock out my cable.

    To all my East coast fellow kitten; stay safe!

    • Anonymous

      Well he’s about as far from raggedy as it’s possible to get at one point ;) ….. ‘spoilers’     :D

      • MilaXX

        Getting ready to watch now. Had a little help from a friend  ; -)

      • MilaXX

        Getting ready to watch now. Had a little help from a friend  ; -)

      • MilaXX

        Getting ready to watch now. Had a little help from a friend  ; -)

  • MilaXX

    First of all I just want to thank you from the bottom of my nerdy little heart for even attempting to recap this show. Also the DS9 references in the first paragraph? Big Love to you both.
    As for the episode, Oy it made my head hurt. Rex being double undercover, Esther’s stupid sister, who by the way if she is indeed under watch because she’s suicidal, having a nervous breakdown or just plain crazy would not be allowed to give consent to volunteer for anything. I’ve said all along there are too many well known American character actors in this and it’s distracting and they often serve to do very little to forward the plot. The whole Oswald Danes things is definitely nails on the chalkboard. It doesn’t really add to the plot in any meaningful way, but I’m sure they’re going to tack it in somehow on ep 9. Why would Jilly who is in charge of the most controversial man in the world hire someone who appears to be little more than a groupie as an assistant? You can’t even get a job at McDonald’s without references these days and she hires this Yamaguchi chick on the spot. Really? Then we have the world’s mouthiest ( and not in a positive, life affirming way) ho.

    Oh well, my raggedly Doctor is back this evening as long as Irene doesn’t knock out my cable.

    To all my East coast fellow kitten; stay safe!

  • Anonymous

    I groaned when Oswald showed up again. As far as I can see, the only reason to bring him back was to set up the reveal that Esther’s CIA contact was actually Family. I fast forwarded thru his scene with the hooker, so I have no idea if anything important was revealed in that scene.
    Angelo sure had some mind bogglingly inept security. They all get taken out by the CIA without even being able to raise an alarm to the people inside the house? Time to hire a new security company.
    I’m mildly excited that Gwen’s being shipped back off to England means that the action will be shifting back there for the finale. Which is as it should be. Torchwood belongs in Wales. And if its not — why the hell is Gwen being shipped back to England?
    I’m with you guys though. I’m in it to see how they wrap this up but not really excited about it. And I doubt very much there’s another Starz season in the works.
    Thank god for Dr. Who…….

  • Anonymous

    I kept waiting for everyone revealed to be in ‘the family’ to start burping..it’d crack me up if this were just another Slitheen scheme. 

    Also, I’m done with Esther’s naivety and whining….it was mildly realistic the first few episodes, but now that they have been in crisis mode for awhile, it’s high time for the stress hormones to kick in. 

    • http://twitter.com/dialmformichele Michele Rosenthal

      /One more thing, I chuckled when the red headed prostitute said to call her Claire./

      ME TOO

  • Anonymous

    Despite the obvious faults, which you’ve covered really well, I liked this episode way better than past ones. A little more advancement, more action that isn’t just torture/violence, and some twists.

    Angelo dies when Jack kisses him…hmmmm…

    I’m cutting out of a party early tonight to come home and watch Dr. Who! Just finished watching all the previous episodes from this season, so I’m ready to roll.

    • Scott Hester-Johnson

      ‘Twasn’t Jack’s kiss what killed Angelo. If you paid attention (which granted with this ep was difficult), you would have heard that Jack’s DNA activated the null field, thus cancelling the morphic field that is keeping everyone alive.

      And yes, I am embarrassed that I am such a geek that all this makes sense to me.

      • Anonymous

        Yep, I totally missed that. Thanks. Honestly, I play a lot of iPhone Boggle during Torchwood. I’m curious about where it is going, but I’m kind of tiring of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523566011 Dawn Grimes Stough

    i’m so disappointed…. i have really low standards when it comes to guilty pleasure tv, but i turned off torchwood last night after the stuff in the floor part.  i loved the old torchwood, especially the creepy ones (like the one where everyone in this one little town was a cannibal).  and as for doctor who…..  this season makes me so sad.   :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523566011 Dawn Grimes Stough

    plus!!!!  torchwood has ruined bill pullman for me, for.ev.er.

  • http://twitter.com/IGPNicki Shiromi Arserio

    What? You guys didn’t have anything to say about the way Wayne Knight was disposed off? Just how incompetent are the CIA people on Torchwood that they a)cuffed him with his hands in front and b)didn’t bother to search him for weapons and/or explosives. But I have a feeling that Oswald Danes might be a member of one of the three families hiding in plain sight. Costerdane does sound an awful lot like Danes…
    http://igp-scifi.com/2011/08/torchwood-miracle-day-the-end-of-the-road/

  • http://twitter.com/kittycat2302 Rachel Stevens

    Just popping in to say OMG I so hope you recap Dr. Who as well…. :)

  • Anonymous

    I think T Lo nailed this a few recaps in:  there just isn’t enough story for a 10-episode series.  This appears to have been concocted for the purpose of making heavy-handed comments on such topics as health care, banking, the CIA.  That’s very RTD, including solving problems by inventing something that has no internal consistency with what has gone before (weeping angels, anyone, which began as the most awesomely scary Dr. Who episode ever and was completely twisted up for a bad two-parter).  Plus nice to have a bigger budget for more explosions, I’m sure.  Glad to see alien tech involved, though!  That’s more like it, campers!   Now let’s wrap this up.

  • Scott Hester-Johnson

    The (who cares) sister declares that not only has she opted for Category 1, she has put her two kids in as well. WTF? The last time we checked, if someone was institutionalised for being a whack job, they don’t get to make decisions about their kids.

    It was at this point that HusbandDerrick went to the kitchen for a snack and I started fiddling with Facebook on my phone.

    Although, now that Q is on the scene, we have an explanation for how all this happened; a Star Trek/Doctor Who/Torchwood crossover episode! If only.

    And not to be picky, but if the CIA is occupying a house and investigating, etc, wouldn’t the gates have been closed, preventing Esther from just driving out?

    Sigh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carl.rood Carl Rood

    It’s kind of a strangely mixed bag. On the one hand, they clearly don’t have enough main plot to sustain a 10 episode season.  On the other hand, they took a detour into the political and social ramifications of the miracle which they didn’t have the time to handle in a reasonable fashion.  They pretty much acknowledged that on screen when Jack said Torchwood wasn’t built to take on politicians.  As a result, instead of grazing those situations and giving the audience a feel for how bad things were getting, they resorted to a huge hammer.  

    I’m wondering if they’ll even address the ramifications of ending the miracle.  Won’t Gwen be killing her own father?  Is Torchwoods “final solution” any better than the ovens?

  • http://www.facebook.com/carl.rood Carl Rood

    It’s kind of a strangely mixed bag. On the one hand, they clearly don’t have enough main plot to sustain a 10 episode season.  On the other hand, they took a detour into the political and social ramifications of the miracle which they didn’t have the time to handle in a reasonable fashion.  They pretty much acknowledged that on screen when Jack said Torchwood wasn’t built to take on politicians.  As a result, instead of grazing those situations and giving the audience a feel for how bad things were getting, they resorted to a huge hammer.  

    I’m wondering if they’ll even address the ramifications of ending the miracle.  Won’t Gwen be killing her own father?  Is Torchwoods “final solution” any better than the ovens?

  • Anonymous

    Finally got to watch this episode. It almost put me to sleep, which is too bad since I’ve got to stay awake to pick up my sis-in-law at the airport. Otherwise I would have happily moved my sleepy ass to the bed and called it a night. Miracle Day has become so dull I find myself not caring about the lame plot nor any of the characters, except Jack and Gwen.