Immortal Sins

Posted in Episode by - March 19, 2023
Immortal Sins

Aired 19 August 2011


With Gwen willing to go to any lengths to save her family, Jack’s involvement in the lengthy history of the miracle that has given immortality to humanity finally begins to come to light in ‘Immortal Sins’ by Jane Espenson.

Narratively, it’s a means to an end, but Gwen’s rash decision to capture Jack with the intention of exchanging him for her captive family is wholly fitting for a character who never second guesses herself and who wholly commits to any course of action she believes is best. There are, of course, ways to circumvent the spying eyes on the other end of her contact lenses, but Gwen is nothing if not direct and determined; more satisfying, however, is her eventual discussion with Jack about this scenario being representative of her relationship with Torchwood as a whole in which she gets a grim satisfaction and thrill from confronting the perils she and those she cares about constantly endure as result. Miracle Day hasn’t delved too heavily into the relationship between Jack and Gwen or featured them together nearly as much as the Torchwood moniker would suggest, but John Barrowman and Eve Myles share a great chemistry as they work in this tense situation, and Gwen’s guilt and continued mourning of her fallen coworkers that in itself bolsters her own confidence in herself as well as Jack’s own sins and his ability to convincingly lie and charm in equal measure help to flesh out these characters in the present quite effectively and only further reinforce how integral these two are to the vitality of the series given the relative lack of characterization that has otherwise featured except in the broadest strokes possible.

In a move that brings into question just how relevant so much of the preceding six episodes truly were, ‘Immortal Sins’ is heavily reliant upon a flashback of Jack in 1920s New York City. Of course, Jack’s modus operandi is to flirt with nearly everyone he encounters, and so it’s only natural that he should hook up with Angelo Colasanto after a confrontation on Ellis Island. Even if the story doesn’t explicitly state Angelo’s importance to the overall narrative until the very end, it’s clear early on that Angelo is far more than a superfluous character, and Barrowman and Daniele Favilli do well to portray the needed emotions as the two characters quickly develop a relationship and as Jack reveals to Angelo firsthand the dangers of his job. Whether or not the alien that can alter the course of history which the two dispose of has any relevance to anything going forward, it serves as an impetus- much more than Jack’s show of advanced technology earlier- to truly open Angelo’s eyes to the greater wonders and dangers within the world, awe and fear that are only reinforced when he sees Jack die from gunshot wounds and later re-enter his life as if nothing had happened. By no means does superstition or religion excuse any of Angelo’s consequent actions, especially since Jack never actually did anything to harm Angelo, but Angelo’s decision to stab Jack for being the devil and to then hand him over to a mob that kills him over and over again is particularly brutal and effectively reinforces the curse that immortality can bring with it. Of course, the three men who eventually appear and form a partnership as a result of this so-called blessing as well as their association with Angelo- if any- remain an enigma, but Jack’s ultimate decision to leave Angelo behind is a glimpse of real and raw emotions that- though not subtle even by Torchwood standards- are a welcome and needed moment of honesty for a series built upon so much secrecy and hidden agendas.

Once again, Oswald and Jilly are wholly absent from this episode, and the minor roles that Rex and Esther play up until a momentous conclusion in which Angelo is said to be waiting for Jack after so long really ask just how much of the earlier six episodes has been necessary since delving into a character’s past so deeply with a relationship that has never been referenced in any way but that will be crucial for everything the remaining three episodes have to offer is a risky strategy at best no matter how engaging that extended sequence is. Still, the decision to bring Jack and Gwen to the fore in the split but linked narratives is an undoubted strength of this episode that offers the most satisfying narrative of Miracle Day yet even if it so disparate from everything else before it.

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