Torchwood-Death is Cheap

Death has never been cheap on Torchwood. With the exception of Jack, when characters die, they die for real, and nothing can bring them back. They will be buried and left dead, and often never mentioned again (I’m looking at you Steven). This whole mini-series was supposed to be about the weight of death, about the weight of that pain, and about why it is important and necessary.

So why does death feel so cheap at the end of the Miracle? Because no one who really matters died. Esther was a totally uncompelling character—we already killed Tosh, we didn’t need an American Googler to replace her. She had little effect on the story, and had even less to distinguish her as a character. And what was Gwen’s father’s name, anyway? Why should I care about his death? And for the love of God, why did Torchwood make me put up with Oswald Danes for ten freaking episodes?

Jack Harkness should have died this time. Gwen would have been acceptable too, but we all know that the Wesley never dies. Don’t get me wrong—I freaking adore Jack, and when I thought he was dying for real (fool on me), I cried my eyes out. But his death would have had resonance, it would have had an effect on the show forever, it would have changed the world of Torchwood. Esther’s death left the world of the team essentially unaltered, because she wasn’t there long enough to integrate into it, much less change it. Tosh, Owen, and Ianto’s deaths all changed everything, and Jack’s death would have done that.

And of all the characters this show has, of all the characters they have killed off, why is Rex the one who was made immortal? Rex is even less compelling than Esther, he is loud, angry, spiteful, nasty, and uncaring. He is also supremely uninteresting. How on earth does this character description lead to the idea that he should be the only character, aside from Jack, in the show forever?

On to Oswald—what was up with this character? Was his death supposed to be the culmination of some sort of redemptive arc? “Keep running Suzie I’m coming after you”?!?!?  Was he supposed to be an anti-hero, balance out the cast of do-gooders? An example of how stupid Americans are when they get put on TV? Proof that some people really do deserve to die? His true motivations were never clear; I for one was really confused about whether he was suicidal at all, because I figured that’s Jack was convinced Oswald wanted to die because he was transferring his guilt about Steven. So what was the point of Oswald, in the end?  Honestly, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion he was what half the screentime this year was: filler.

The new character arcs this year were clearly a big old failure, with the new people give boring and confusing arcs (except Jilly Kitzinger, who I will love forever). How about the old character arcs? Well, after being an integral member of the team in Children, Rhys was shunted sideways again to make room for the Jack/Gwen plot. This is a ship that is so unpopular I couldn’t find shipper shirts on  Cafepress. I can find Xander/Spike easily, but not Jack/Gwen. Yet once again, after being laid to rest in season 2 it was brought back to the forefront, and Eve Myles compared it to Mulder and Scully, which I will never forgive here for. Gwen bounced between her love of Torchwood/Jack and her love of her family, and she never really did seem to choose. It was boring in season 2 and it’s boring now.

Jack’s arc can be summed up with “I’m haunted and stuff but I’m not going to mention it and I’m just going to throw myself back into what got  everyone I love killed in the first place.” He murdered Steven. He murdered his grandson. AND THEN WE ALL FORGOT ABOUT IT. Jack left earth broken, apparently forever, but when he came back it took him the space of an episode to heal. If it had been revealed in the final few episodes that he was still haunted by this guilt, if he had had a death wish or a secret hatred of Torchwood, some secret plan, then I might have believed it. This sudden return to form just didn’t ring true.

Now for the plot post-mortem. Apparently, the earth has a giant loving vagina which will make everyone on earth have a certain lifespan if the right type of blood is poured into it. The families are the least sinister villains since Grey (don’t get me started), and apparently their master plan was to just take over the world. This is what took 10 episodes to build to. It sure ain’t no cocaine kids.

I was absolutely thrilled about Miracle Day. I spent a ridiculous amount of time watching trailer after trailer, trying to find something, anything. I hunted down every one of those 1minute character trailers. And what I got was filler after filler, with circular plots and weird detours, and a pedophile I was told gained a positively religious following, because if the Tea Party is popular why not pedophiles?

But at the same time, I felt very leery of anything continuing Torchwood after Children of Earth. I think Torchwood essential ended with the end of Children, because Team Torchwood is over. At the beginning of season 2, after Spike tried to kill everyone, Gwen told him that “You can beat us, poison us, shoot us, and we will always come back stronger than ever.” At the end of season 2, Tosh and Owen were dead, and Ianto and Gwen were leaning on Jack for support, but they were still standing. But at the end of Day Four, Gwen and Jack were on their knees, sobbing, and Ianto was dead. With the end of Day Four and the death of Ianto Jones, Team Torchwood was broken. There was no more Torchwood: there were just the survivors of Torchwood.

I hoped that the survivors may regroup, may save the world one more time. I hoped that they could return, haunted but alive. I was wrong. Torchwood ended with Children of Earth, and it should have been allowed to rest in peace.

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2 comments on “Torchwood-Death is Cheap

  1. Thank you. You’re absolutely right about how the finale changed nothing, really. I mean, I have almost no reason to care what happens to Rex at all. Or Esther. Or Oswald. Jilly was compelling, and I’m glad she’s still around.

    I have to say, I loved the amount of backstory we got for Jack. THAT was interesting. Actually, I think anything about Jack is interesting. I would have been devastated if they’d killed him, but I would have felt something.

    I did feel anger about Rex being immortal (if he is) but now I can see a few interesting things that they can do with this. I think my anger was mostly — of all the people they could make immortal, they pick this mediocre/boring guy that I really won’t mind if suddenly just didn’t show up in the next series, no explanation given, whatever. Because he’s booooring.

    In COE I was like, ok, I can go with this format instead of Monster of the Week (which I loved). But MD? Ugh. Too generic crime drama, or something. Kept expecting the Criminal Minds crew to show up.

  2. nan00se says:

    great review-i think there are many of us out there who share the sentiments

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