‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’: Episode 2 spoiler-free review

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Continuing directly where the explosive first episode left off, we find Captain Jack, Gwen and Rhys (and the baby!) being extradited by CIA Agent Rex Matheson and his sultry colleague Peterfield (Dollhouse star Dichen Lachman). To make matters worse, Gwen’s hubby and child are left back in Blighty as the Torchwood twosome are taken to the US.

But more of their ambitious airborne antics later. Back on the East Coast, Dr Juarez  (still skulking about in heels) has joined fellow professionals in an attempt to deal with the Miracle whilst blonde CIA operative Esther Drummond finds herself on the nasty end of an internal conspiracy, led by Friedkin (played by Seinfeld‘s Wayne “Newman” Knight).

Sadly these scenes featuring the women (actresses Arlene Tur and Alex Havins) fail to catch fire and you’ll be glancing at the watch waiting for the other, more engaging characters to appear. There’s nothing terribly wrong with their performances but, against their fellow cast members, Tur and Havins come off as bland at best. Even more so with the introduction of new character Jilly Kitzinger, played with unequivocal lovability and instant likeability by Six Feet Under actress Lauren Ambrose.

Her role as a PR guru is electric and will have the audience beaming with delight as she smokes her way across screen (figuratively and literally) trying to seduce Dr Juarez  and kiddie-killer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) into using her services. The Independence Day actor’s role is also more considerable in the episode; Pullman really shines with his odd mannerisms, unnerving glances and speech patterns. Truly mesmerising.

Back on the plane Jack finds himself poisoned by a certain sultry CIA agent, leading the audience to make the connection with her contact Friedkin who seems to be pulling at more than one string. There’s also a mysterious glimpse of his “boss”, a green triangle on a mobile phone dictating events…

The following scenes, where Gwen and Rex employ the help of Dr Juarez and her new chums, to cure Jack of his new ailment (a quickly diagnosed ingestion of arsenic), are almost an ode to The A-Team in how the gang make do with their own devices to solve the situation. Some may shirk (and smirk) at the broadness of the events but they counter the serious tone elsewhere and feel like a good old Torchwood adventure.

It’s certainly a more a fun instalment than the first episode, with Eve Myles coming to the fore with a wonderfully bullish performance, pushing aside all in her path. The mysteries and conspiracies are also being addressed as new alliances are formed; both “good” and “evil”. And, despite these slight imbalances in tone and style (from the actors), Episode 2 is a real treat as Torchwood 2011 begins to take shape.

Airs at 9pm on Thursday 21st July 2011 on BBC One.

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