Saturday, 3 September 2011


Saturday, 3 September 2011

The penultimate episode had its share of unbelievable, ridiculous and stupid moments, but smarter use of its ensemble and a few big reveals went some way toward making this a minor highlight of the miniseries. Maybe it also helps that John Fay (one of only two British writers working on Miracle Day, the other being Russell T. Davies) helped in some indefinable way, because this didn't seem quite so ham-fisted. In particular, the scenes set in Wales with Gwen (Eve Myles) as a Robin Hood figure, stealing expensive medicine for the local community, restored some of the show's eccentric edge that's mostly been lost in favour of dull Americanised procedural.

Um, let's forget how stupid it is that Esther (Alexa Havins) decided to travel to Scotland with the injured Captain Jack (John Barrowman) for no discernible reason; or that paedophile murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) managed to also hop on a plane to the UK, find where Gwen lives, and pose as a pizza delivery man to get inside her house unchallenged. Both were such horrifically terrible creative decisions that "The Gathering" had to work extra hard to win me over, but it just about managed to, probably because Miracle Day's taught me it's best to overlook the bad and focus on the good. No matter how diluted and clumsy that goodness may be.

We were finally given answers about The Blessing, even if I'm still not sure why PR maven Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose) is required to help The Miracle's architects "rewrite history". There was a lot of talk about the media mistranslating Chinese to put a different spin on world events, but as far as I know Jilly's not fluent in Mandarin or any other Chinese dialects.

Still, The Blessing itself was a suitably eerie and unexpected sight: a gigantic underground fissure that bisects the planet from Buenos Aires to Shanghai (hence PhiCorp's logo of a circle with a line through it). This pink subterranean crack is later revealed to literally attract Jack's blood like iron filings to a magnet, but I'm not sure what connects Jack and this cavernous phenomena. Is it an alien intelligence that craves only the blood of immortals? If so, how has it survived pre-Miracle Day? I'm also not sure how The Blessing brought about worldwide immortality, or The Families (upgraded from city mobsters to clans who control the world's politics, finances and media) are involved in this. A part of me would like to think the Families are themselves beholden to occupying aliens (perhaps the passive young man who met with Jilly?) who helped them get to this position of power, but we'll have to see.

So yes, there was actually a fair bit to chew on this week in terms of Miracle Day's mythology. But even without all those clues to the overall mystery, a few other things worked better this week. Having Rex separated from Torchwood at the CIA (bonding with boss Shapiro and beginning to suspect there's a 24-style mole where he works) seemed to work in the show's favour, because it allowed the story to move to three distinct storylines and gave Rex opportunities to demonstrate his detective skills. The only downside was how his investigation was all done in-between episodes, so was more of an information-dump than anything else.

And the subplot with Gwen trying to keep her sick father hidden from the authorities (who want to take him away to be incinerated as a "Category 1") was also effectively handled, if slightly too drawn out. The sequence where the police searched Gwen's basement, where her dad was hidden behind a false wall with his nursemaid wife, was one of the show's better moments of tension—perhaps because it was grounded by simple, relatable emotions of a daughter trying to stop her father being effectively murdered by the state.

Overall, "The Gathering" was good, if not quite as propulsive and engrossing as you want from the penultimate episode of a ten-part miniseries. A lot of Miracle Day's storyline has tangled in my head, so I have no clear theory about how The Families, Angelo Colasanto, The Blessing, and Miracle Day all connect, but if next week's finale can give us good, believable answers it will be a huge relief. However, it seems likely that Jilly and Oswald are just characters the writers never had a firm grasp on, as there's feeling of desperation in how the plot's bringing those two into the main story to justify their existence. I mean, will it ever be explained why Oswald was being sponsored by PhiCorp to give life-affirming speeches in sell-out arenas?


  • One line of dialogue revealed that this episode is taking place two months after last week's episode, so why couldn't we get a "Two Months Later" legend on-screen? That was also a real cop-out. Apparently there was a legend, but I missed it!
  • This wasn't made clear in the episode, but the credits state that the middle-aged woman who made contact with Jilly and showed her The Blessing was "The Mother Colasanto". So are we to assume she was Angelo's daughter, the sister of Olivia who died last week? As it's been pointed out in the comments, she must be Angelo's wife and Olivia's mother.
  • Any theories on how Miracle Day will end? It's safe to assume that death will be restored to the planet, but will Rex die of his chest injury? Will it be revealed that The Blessing is of alien origin? Are The Families working for alien masters? What is Jilly's role in all this? Will Oswald Danes redeem himself somehow? Why is Jack's blood attracted to The Blessing? Are the people who are being cremated having their ashes fed to The Blessing? Will Rhys ever stop being the most annoying person the planet?
written by John Fay / directed by Guy Ferland / 2 September 2011 / Starz