8 Problems With Torchwood: Miracle Day
6. The Subplots
Miracle Day is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of sub-plots. And, along with the pacing, that is its largest failing. As well as the main plot of nobody being able to die and the reasons for that, we’ve got paedophile murderer Oswald Danes’ rise to stardom after he is released from prison on a technicality, amoral PR agent Jilly Kitzinger moving through the ranks of the Three Families, Rex’s relationship with Vera (which luckily ends pretty finally by the climax of episode five), Gwen’s family problems, Esther’s family problems, the mole inside the CIA, and Jack’s relationship with Angelo. There are probably a few more that I’ve missed there but that’s at least seven subplots all jostling for screentime at varying points. A cult called the Soulless were featured heavily in the promo material with some press packs even including a Soulless mask but in the end they mean diddly squat. We get a few shots of them, one or two mentions of them and that’s it. Wham bam thank you totally irrelevant plot point that didn’t need to be in there at all.
At other times, things just skipped over either because so much has been stuffed in, or because it’s the easy way out. The eighth episode ends with Jack being shot (the Miracle removed his immortality making him the only person on Earth who can die) and the episode ends on a cliffhanger as Esther drives away with him. The next episode begins two months later with Jack pretty much in good health and the only explanation of how they got from America to Scotland despite all nations having closed their borders was that they got some people to smuggle them in. This is also the explanation for Oswald gets to Wales from America for the final few episodes despite the fact that he’s a convicted murderer and paedophile.
Had this been an ongoing series (in a similar mould to Survivors or The Walking Dead), the huge amount of subplots would have worked as the writers would have around twenty-four initial episodes to leisurely set them up and let them develop. But because it’s a story that can’t even satisfactorily span ten episodes in the way it’s written, the majority of the subplots are drawn out too much, left dangling, or resolved unsatisfactorily.