David Chute bids Torchwood: Miracle Day a fond farewell. Honestly.
An antipodal cleft pierces the earth, along a line drawn from Shanghai to Buenos Aires. Into this cleft the blood of an immortal (you know who) is introduced, and it has to be at both poles simultaneously. The effect of this transfusion is to re-jigger the polarity of the cleft, reconfiguring the force field it generates, toggling a morphic resonator switch that had the effect of making everyone who was mortal at that moment immortal and vice versa — meaning that Y.K.W. became mortal, because he was immortal to begin with and the polarity had been flipped. Are e clear so far?
I’m having a laugh, as I suspect quite a few other fans did as they watched this jaw dropper of a finale, but the truth is, the Torchwood: Miracle Day season grand finale and explanation episode, “The Blood Line,” really did kind of work for me, in a wibbly-wobbly, metaphorical sort of a way, in which it almost kind of makes sense that in the finale the only possible way to flip the polarity of the cleft’s morphic field back to its original settings, ending the global miracle of non-death would be to introduce fresh geysers of man fluid into both of the cleft’s pulsating pink openings simultaneously. (That’s blood, obviously. Mind out of the gutter.)
I think you could make that Torchwood, an edgy supposed science-fiction series, has always been closer to the anything-that-sounds-good blitheness of fantasy than to anything mathematically hardcore. Its explanations lean heavily on a form of dream logic, as in the Kipling Just So Stories in which a nose that is grabbed and pulled eventually stretches into a trunk. A similar gratifying dream animates some Chinese martial arts legends, which suggests that if you practice walking on sheets of rice paper until you can do so without tearing them you will acquire “lightness skill,” and that before long you will be able to elude sword-fighting foes by floating onto roofs.
This sort of thinking certainly isn’t science but it has the seductive charm of folk tales that seem to generate explanations directly out of our feelings, out of our sense of the way things really ought to be. Much closer, perhaps, to the symbolic way of thinking familiar to artists.
Torchwood creator-producer Russell T Davies seems to believe that if any idea appeals to him emotionally and symbolically, that’s plenty good enough. And surprisingly often he turns out to be right. In the case of “The Blood Line,” the whole ludicrous blood-ejecting mechanism of this finale is almost justified by the twist in it’s final couple of shots – because it’s exactly what we were secretly hoping would happen. A creator who can appeal to wishful thinking on such a deep level isn’t going to let a minor detail like dismal ratings slow him down.