Torchwood Q&A: Miracle Day
A spoiler-lite Q&A on the opening episode of Torchwood Miracle Day – The New World, by Clint Hassell. Thanks to the Doctor Who TV community for their questions.
Questions about the characters
Does Jack come in at the beginning, the middle, or the end?
The middle. Not counting cameo appearances in photographs, Jack first appears just seconds after the 20-minute mark.
How does Jack reunite with us? I want all of his entrances to be as epic as the last!
I won’t spoil how we first encounter Jack. I will say that he is wearing a duster, and that it is the first time you hear the Torchwood leitmotif within the episode [see the description of the opening credit sequence below]. I promise you that it is epic. I got chills!
Does it explain why Jack is in America, as last time he was propping up that bar with Alonso?
A better question to ask is, “Why doesn’t Gwen know that Jack has returned from outer space?”
But to answer your question, no mention of Midshipman Frame is made.
Does Jack start immortal, or has it already been “removed” when we see him? Is [Jack’s mortality] caused by the “miracle”?
Jack and Gwen think that the “miracle” has reversed Jack’s mortality, and since the “miracle” occurs before we first see Jack in the flesh, I’m going to go with “it has already been ‘removed.’” However, when we first see Jack, he is unaware that he is now mortal.
Does Jack’s vortex manipulator get any use?
No. To be honest, I didn’t even notice if he was wearing it. [It does appear in press photos for Miracle Day.]
Does Jack find Rex, or does Rex find Jack? Or do they just sort of bump into each other at the beginning of the episode?
Jack finds Rex – twice. It’s a funny payoff. They meet about 44 minutes into the roughly 50-minute episode.
Incidentally, Jack also finds Esther.
How long until Gwen comes [appears]?
3 minutes, 52 seconds. She appears in the teaser, just before the start of the opening credits.
How do Jack and Gwen reunite? Is it epic, [because] I really want it to be!
Telling you how – or when – Jack and Gwen reunite would ruin at least one, if not two surprise moments. I will say that they do meet, and that it is sufficiently epic.
Is Rhys in it much, or does he get pushed to the side?
Does Gwen’s baby or Rhys have any huge significance?
Do we see a lot of Gwen and the baby?
Rhys is pivotal, and is in every scene – and practically every shot – that includes Gwen. Rhys makes decisions that affect the narrative, he gets to participate in action-y stuff, and his lines range from impassioned to wryly sarcastic. Gwen’s character is completely defined by Rhys, who has developed an inner-strength to match her frantic paranoia.
Do not get me started on how angry I am that Kai Owen is billed fifth, and not third, in the opening credits.
Anwen, who is adorable, is also present in all of Gwen and Rhys’ scenes. Protecting Anwen is the driving force behind almost all of Gwen and Rhys’ behavior and decisions.
How long is Andy in it for?
A decent amount. Andy is in four scenes, two of which are connected.
Incidentally, Andy is the character that first uses the phrase “Miracle Day.”
Is there any mention of the Doctor in the first episode?
Are there any references to Doctor Who?
Are the new characters good?
I hope so.
If they give her something to do.
If he doesn’t talk. And he wears less clothing.
I’ll let you decide to whom I am referring with each comment. Your choices include Alexander Peterssen, Anwen, Dr. Juarez, Esther, Oswald, and Rex. First person to guess them correctly wins a Miracle Day squeeze ball!
Questions about the format
Apparently, there is a proper opening credits sequence. What’s the theme music like, and who’s credited?
The opening credits are clever and kinetic. A red line traces the pattern of an electrocardiogram across solid white background, it’s “beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep” becoming the percussion over which the Torchwood leitmotif is played. (You know, the “doo doo DOO doo DOO doo” bit that plays over the title card from Children of Earth.) As the heart rhythm peaks, an actor’s name is displayed in black letters. The contracted cast members are billed in the following order: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havens, Kai Owens, “and Bill Pullman.”
The opening credits play after a multi-scene teaser. When we return to the episode, the rest of the cast are listed, in white letters, in the bottom of the screen. Arlene Tur, whose character is in this episode, is billed as a “special guest star.” Tom Price is listed about seventh in the list of “guest stars,” and I want to say that Sharon Morgan and William Thomas shared billing before him. The crew – including Russell T Davies – are listed after the cast.
The closing credits are simple – white letters on a solid black background, though they flash in sequence like a slide-show, instead of whizzing past at supersonic speed as in previous Torchwood episodes. The music is abstract, melancholic, incidental, and slow, and completely jarring when compared to the excitement of the final scene. I almost didn’t recognize it, but I think it is a reworked version of the main title theme that has played over the closing credits of all previous episodes.
Murray Gold is credited for all of the music in the episode.
Does the episode end on a cliffhanger?
Is the cliffhanger huge and amazing?
Um . . . I’m going to go with “no.” While certain characters are in a tense situation from which there is no current plan for escape, no one is in mortal danger.
That being said, the final scene does spell out exactly where the narrative will go in the following episode, and it did leave me wanting to see more.
Were you given any indication about the trailer you saw airing on the TV version?
Not specifically, no. The episode ends and fades to black, the credits run in their entirety, and then the preview aired. They were three distinct entities and not mixed together, as is the practice on Doctor Who.
That being said, the upcoming clips seemed like they were edited for television broadcast, so my gut feeling is that we will see the trailer come Friday.
Incidentally, a little tidbit for you: though Jilly Kitzinger, the character played by Lauren Ambrose, does not appear in the first episode, she can be seen, briefly, and speaks one line, in the trailer. She is not credited with the other guest stars in the episode proper.
Questions about the plot
Why are Gwen’s fairytales disturbing?
Sorry, but that joke is way too good to spoil for you. I will say that the scenes of Rhys and Gwen’s “domestic bliss” is a large part of the episode’s humor, and a terrific indication of how truly messed up Gwen is after the events of Children of Earth.
Do you find out who is the enemy in episode 1?
No. Not even a clue.
Any hint of aliens being involved?
Not really. A coroner speculates that only aliens would have the technology to override death, and Jack mentions aliens when describing Torchwood’s mission, but neither statement is meant to imply that aliens are actually the cause of the “miracle.”
Is the beach/helicopter scene in episode 1?
How long is Cardiff featured?
Wales is featured prominently, with at least half of the scenes occurring in Wales. As for Cardiff, specifically? The Williams-Coopers travel there, and the final scene occurs in Roald Dahl Plass.
Is it possible, story-wise, [that] they could return to Britain in the future? Is there a good reason for them leaving it behind and heading to the U.S.?
As the “miracle” is a world-wide event, the action of the first episode occurs in both the U.S. and Wales. At the end of the episode, there are main characters in both countries. The cast and crew have stated that every episode will include footage shot in Wales.
And, yes, Gwen and Rhys are given a very compelling reason to leave Wales for the U.S.
Is there a new Torchwood “hub” set up?
No, though, again, the final scene occurs in Roald Dahl Plass.
Is the nipple male or female?
Can they show nudity in TV-14?
Not usually, no. In the U.S., television shows with nudity are labeled “TV-MA” for “Mature Audiences.”
Jack’s present to Rhys – is it a kiss by chance?
Nah, more like an awesome action sequence where he does something really heroic and then walks up to Rhys and comes out with an awesome witty line involving the word “present.”
A shag from Jack? Anything is possible in [Torchwood].
Sadly, no. And, surprisingly, that is a pairing I had not yet considered. (Though I am sure that I will now. Often.)
No, Jack’s present to Rhys is more of a practical gift – something needed at the time. Like socks, if socks ***** **** ** * **********. (Best guess wins a Miracle Day squeeze ball!)
Questions about the ‘feel’
Does it have that Children of Earth action feel?
Miracle Day is even more action-oriented than Children of Earth. Aside from the scenes where the Hub was destroyed, and the ensuing gun fight, the action in Children of Earth was fairly limited to, um, office workers running from a virus, children running from the military, and Ianto stealing a credit card and driving a forklift. (He even wears a safety vest!) Trust me, Miracle Day will satisfy your need for action.
How gory is it?
The teaser opens with Oswald’s botched execution and the “miracle.” The scene is not gory – and is, in fact, completely inaccurate – but it is meant to be disturbing. (It succeeds.)
A car accident results in what would be a fatal injury, though the blood loss is portrayed as a softball-sized stain on a shirt.
An autopsy is performed on an impossibly-alive burn victim. The reveal is surprisingly realistic, as is a close-up shot of nerves being cut. Though gory, the scene is played to startle, not horrify. The victim does not appear to be suffering. If you could stand the sight of Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face in The Dark Knight, then you will be fine.
Does it still feel like the Torchwood we knew and loved?
Honestly, is it still the same Torchwood as it used to be?
Is the new American production particularly evident throughout the show? (Excluding the American setting, of course.)
Honestly, if I didn’t know that Starz was co-producing the new series, I’d wouldn’t have guessed that anything was supposed to be different. To me, the episode felt similar to the Doctor Who episodes “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks” – while some of the action may be occurring in America, the sense of the show is still very British.
Three things I did notice:
- I missed the many stock shots of Cardiff at night. They are still present, but are greatly reduced, due to the plot not being based solely in Cardiff.
- While there are many dialects and accents in the U.S., inexplicably they all seem to appear in Miracle Day. I’m not used to hearing that on American television, much less on a show originally based in Wales. I questioned whether the accents were genuine or a move to aurally signify, “We are definitely in America.”
- Where is Trinity Wells, the American newsreader previously featured in Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures? Miracle Day is full of reporters, and her presence would not only have made sense from a story-perspective, but would have been one more tie to previous series.
Please remember that, despite new American actors or more global filming locations, the guiding force behind Torchwood is Russell T Davies, who is still British. Having talked directly with Starz representatives, I can assure you that Russell was not ordered to “make it more American,” but more to “make a great series, and we’ll use our resources to make it successful in America.”
Does it live up [to] the past series?
Yes. I’d describe Miracle Day as a combination of Children of Earth and the Series 1 episode “Everything Changes.”
Because Miracle Day will spend 10 episodes to solve one mystery, the series has the epic scope of Children of Earth. However, the tone has yet to sink to quite that series’ level of depravity. While the characters are beginning to ponder the nature of a life without death and the significant ramifications to the human condition of said situation, the narrative has yet to be overwhelmed by melancholy. In fact, Miracle Day is often very funny.
Because Children of Earth will be Torchwood’s introduction to an expanded American audience, the basics of the show have to be reiterated and explained. For this reason, Esther goes through the same character arc (and I mean, the exact same character arc) as Gwen in “Everything Changes.”
Again, I promise everyone that this series does not in any way shy away from Torchwood’s rich history:
- While the Doctor has yet to be mentioned, the audience is expected to be aware already that Jack is immortal (they highlight his mortality, but not why that would be unusual for Jack).
- Gwen is genuinely messed up as a direct result of the events of Children of Earth.
- Owen, the 456, Torchwood employees all “dying young” – the episode is a minefield of Easter egg references.
Are you going to watch it AGAIN?
Is it worth to wait after America?
I’m assuming you mean, “Should I wait to watch the episodes when they air in the U.K., or should I download the American version?” Well, here in America, it is illegal to download copyrighted material, and I am not encouraging anyone to break the law. More importantly, since the success of Torchwood in the U.K. – and by extension, the likelihood that further series will be commissioned – rests on the number of people who actually watch the series when it airs in the U.K., I would ask, even if you do choose to download the episode early, that you please also watch the U.K. broadcast. Besides, the U.K. version is supposed to contain additional example of jokes “too British” to American television.
I don’t remember the Bad Wolf virus that erased all information regarding Rose Tyler from the Torchwood database. What episode is that from?
The Doctor Who episode, “Love & Monsters.”
May I just say, Clint Hassell is a great writer. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and I hope to see him write again. : ) –
Mom, is that you?
Seriously, Thomas, if you really feel that way, then please click on the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page and tell Chris that you’d like to read more from me. I would love to be a regular contributor, and I’m always thinking of articles that I’d like to read as a regular visitor, but this site is his, and I do not wish to overstay my welcome. Perhaps you’d enjoy a weekly list of teasers? A review of the episode? Commentary? A list of the differences between the U.S. and U.K. versions? I’m a huge fan of what Chris has accomplished with this site, and I hope to be asked to contribute again in the future – so send him a note!
And, thank you for the compliment.
Can you please, please, please provide more teasers?
- Y’all are correct that Owen is referenced, but you are all incorrect as to why.
- So far, every guess as to who betrays Torchwood has been incorrect.
- Though she is not directly referenced, we see Jack do something that Toshiko did when we met her.
- Similarly, though the two do not meet, we see Esther do something that Gwen did when we met her.
- Ianto is not mentioned in the first episode, nor is there a flashback. Also M.I.A.: Myfanwy, the Rift, and Lois Habiba.
- When in danger, it’s all about the bunny.
Okay, that’s every question answered. Now, I have a question for y’all: where is Tom Colman? I want to say hi to that guy. Minions, bring me Tom Colman!
Squeeze Ball Giveaway
Also, the following people have all won Torchwood: Miracle Day squeeze balls. Please e-mail me your mailing address at [email protected], so I can send you your swag. In your e-mail, please mention the Disqus screen name under which you leave comments so I can verify your identity. Thank you all for asking such terrific questions and contributing to my article!
Alex, alex_494, Bad Wolf Jen, badwolf66, CJ, dalekray, Eric Besonen, The Hat Killer!, hcake420, Jack Harkness, James Morgans, J M, Jon G, Michael Greenhalgh, MrJellyBabiez, MSFFL, Nathan Morrow, PreTitlesSequence, pyro_anthony, Rio Kai Onyx, Rory McKeon, Thomas94, xoxoGOSSiP.GiRlL