Dead of Night

Posted in Episode by - March 17, 2023
Dead of Night

Aired 22 July 2011


With Jack, Gwen, Rex, and Esther alone and avoiding pursuit in ‘Dead of the Night’ by Jane Espenson, this new blend of Torchwood and the CIA begin in earnest its investigation into the truth behind the miracle that has destroyed the world order. As companies like PhiCorp look to take advantage of the situation and as Oswald continues to sway public opinion in his favour, a cult known as the Soulless that believes immortality has taken away humanity’s collective soul has started to gain power.

Strangely, following ‘Rendition’ that only incrementally moved the plot forward while putting key pieces in place for future events, ‘Dead of the Night’ follows the same playbook here. It’s an episode almost completely devoid of any tension, the notable exception being Jack confronting Oswald about his murder but soon finding himself at a disadvantage, but even this is filled with somewhat awkward dialogue that takes away from some of the genuinely frightening menace that Oswald and his mindset present. The story also purposefully circumvents any drama when Gwen attempts to furtively garner information from Jilly Kitzinger’s computer by Dr Juarez awkwardly calling Jilly back out of her office, meaning that themes on immortality and the characters themselves should have all the more time to focus. Unfortunately, little is again done with any exploration of sudden immortality thrust upon the population, simple news broadcasts and theories again doing the heavy lifting as a supposition about pharmaceutical profits builds upon the previous episode’s foundation of people needing pain relief rather than antibiotics that will assuredly lead to widespread resistance. At the very least, the discussion about a total lack of consequences completely changing the established norms of society is quite interesting as attempted murder can no longer be used as a criminal charge and as police brutality can essentially go unchecked.

Of course, the plot does move forward to an extent as it becomes clear that PhiCorp at the very least seems to have known about the impending arrival of the miracle given the billions of doses of non-narcotic pain relievers it has stockpiled and ready to deliver. Little information is provided from the phone taken from Biran Friedkin that supposedly connects to some party that knows everything, however, and even the frightening visual of the Soulless cult members marching down the street in masks and holding candles does little here except to give a more direct and visceral example of a societal change. That Oswald Danes has positioned himself as something of a prophet and is garnering tremendous support as Jack discovers to his horror after their confrontation is a potentially intriguing storyline, and his intertwining with the plotline looking to eliminate the need for prescriptions but not the cost for medications all but confirms the pharmacological involvement in the origin and exploitation of the miracle no matter what the ultimate truth ends up being. John Barrowman and Bill Pullman give strongly emotional performances during their momentous scene together, but tonally it veers far darker than almost anything else Miracle Day has yet presented and is reliant upon the tenuous presumption that Jack sacrificing his grandson to save ten percent of the world’s children is somehow equal to Oswald raping and killing a young girl.

Of course, Torchwood in its early episodes had a reputation for somewhat haphazardly intertwining sexual themes and encounters with its storylines, and that trend reappears here without serving any true purpose. Rex and Dr Juarez together feels completely unearned and out of left field given their relative lack of time spent together and Rex’s rather disparaging behaviour to and around her, and though Jack hooking up with a male bartender is assumedly a consequence of him coming to terms with his sudden mortality, it serves no real purpose and instead only further detracts from any sense of tension that this series should be building. Even Jack coming precariously close to admitting his feelings for Gwen to her just as she is finally able to talk to Rhys and Anwen doesn’t really feel justified even if it does tie back to much earlier episodes given Gwen’s current familial happiness, and so the characterization that Children of Earth so excelled at is instead becoming increasingly lacking and confusing as Miracle Day continues. To this point, there simply hasn’t been enough story or character development through thirty percent of its ten episodes, and the fascinating tidbits of information offered aren’t quite enough by themselves to paper over a relatively disjointed affair that doesn’t quite seem sure of how to blend its Welsh and American components.

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