Last week's episode had its detractors, but I thought "Immortal Sins" was the best installment of Miracle Day so far, if only because it ignored most of the regular story and focused on a flashback with Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and his Italian lover Angelo in 1920's New York. I was therefore quite keen to see "The End Of The Road", hoping it would continue this uptick in quality, but it was alarming how many scenes produced unintentional laughter or simply didn't work. Here we had to endure more of Gwen's (Eve Myles) ridiculously stroppy behaviour, Jack killing his elderly ex-boyfriend by kissing him (well, that's what it looked like), child killer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) dad-dancing in his hotel room, the irrelevant return of Esther's (Alexa Havins) screw-up sister, and Jack once again injured and lying on the backseat of a car...
I don't think Russell T. Davies is good at investigative storylines, as this episode again involved a huge amount of information-dumping from characters who've only just been introduced. Team Torchwood don't really solve mysteries through deduction and skill, they just blunder around follow their guts, eventually chancing upon people who tell them what they need to know. This week, Olivia Colasanto (Nana Visitor) took them to see her ailing father Angelo; Jack's old boyfriend, now bedridden after a life spent trying to reproduce Jack's immortality so they could be together. Quite why Angelo thought it would be a brilliant idea to capture and threaten Gwen's family in order to get Jack to see him is anybody's guess. Their split wasn't especially acrimonious. I'm sure Jack would have called round for a visit if Angelo's daughter had just phoned him with an invite. Confusingly, Angelo wasn't in any fit state to communicate with Jack, anyway, and I'm not sure why Olivia was so disdainful of her dad's old flame either.
Regardless of the ludicrous amount of exposition throughout this episode, at least we now have a handle on what may have caused Miracle Day: heartbroken Angelo assumedly partnered with the three Families (who siphoned Jack's blood while he was being tortured, killed and resurrected), and with their help succeeded in creating immortality—but far too late for it to be of any use to an old man. It's still unknown why the whole planet was turned immortal, but I'm guessing it was intentional so the Families could profit through their stake in the pharmaceutical company PhiCorp.
The Oswald storyline continued after a two-week break, but is now just a colossal failure I just wish it would go away. The show made the unforgivable mistake of making this character a paedophile, which means it was immediately impossible to believe in his transformation from Death Row inmate to global folk hero. This episode tried to humanize Oswald slightly, by having him request a prostitute he could go on a date with (showing he's trying to change and better himself), but that scene didn't work because I couldn’t believe a prostitute would be so upset about the fact a child-killer wants to pay her not to have sex with him. And the reveal that Oswald's manager Kitzinger's (Lauren Ambrose) been aware the government are readying a "Category Zero" status (to deal with criminals like Oswald who escaped justice thanks to The Miracle, by forcing them into ovens to be burned), felt very sudden and inexplicable. Equally so the fact The Families are so interested in Kitzinger she's been recruited by them outright, after dissolving her partnership with Oswald when he got violent with her. Why do these people need a headstrong PR girl on their side?
It was fun to see Star Trek's John de Lancie as CIA boss Allen Shapiro appear on the show, putting his fine comic timing to good use with a few quips at the expense of both Gwen and Jack ("what is it with you, Red Baron? You got Snoopy up your ass?"), and the return of Wayne Knight as Brian Friedkin to confirm he's working for The Families was appreciated. At least there's some attempt to tie up the whole season now, despite the fact Miracle Day has felt half-improvised week to week. Every time the show presents us with the supposed mastermind behind Miracle Day, they're proven to be either an oblivious underling (PhiCorp) or get killed within two episodes (Olivia, Angelo), which has become rather tedious.
Overall, we're finally approaching the end of Miracle Day and I'll be glad to see the back of it. There's just something about the writing and performances that's become increasingly irritating, with weird lines of dialogue and silly moments that don't feel natural. If I'm being honest, I have a funny feeling the explanation for The Miracle could be something that's not entirely horrible (provided you can swallow the inevitable pseudo-science behind it), but the way this story's been told leaves a lot to be desired. So many mistakes, so many wasted opportunities, so many laughable sequences, so many god-awful new characters. There just hasn't been enough good stuff to latch onto and pull you through the mire.
written by Jane Espenson & Ryan Scott / directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton / 26 August 2011 / Starz