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Recap: Torchwood S 4 E 1 The New World
The first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day.

One day, the word "Torchwood" is emailed all across the world, only to be quickly deleted again as soon as CIA internet analyst Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) gets on the case. Frustrated, she phones the hard-boiled, no-nonsense CIA agent and Scary Black Man Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), who dismisses Torchwood as completely irrelevant. He promptly gets into a car crash and gets impaled by a very large metal bar right through his heart, but to his shock, he remains conscious.

In the hospital, Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) explains to Esther that Rex isn't dying. And neither is anyone else. Not anywhere in the world for the past 24 hours. This quickly propels convincted child rapist and murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) into infamy, when his execution just leaves him in prolonged agony. Danes decides to use his execution as a legal loophole and tries to become a media darling.

Gwen, Rhys and their baby daughter Anwen are living a quiet seaside life in the witness protection program. On Miracle Day, Gwen gets a phone call from Andy, telling her that her father suffered a heart attack. She comes out of hiding, and when she learns what's happening all across the world, she aches to jump in and help. Rhys won't let her, because Anwen needs to come first now.

Esther decides to investigate Torchwood, and eventually happens on Jack's files with some help from co-worker Charlotte Wills. Unfortunately, people notice, and she encounters a suicide bomber. Fortunately, Jack has beamed back to earth, saves her life, douses her with Retcon and notices with shock that jumping out of a window has left its marks on his body. And that he's not magically healing. And he can't know yet whether he's truly mortal now or just as immortal-but-fragile as everyone else.

Despite the Retcon, Esther still manages to figure out a link between the exact moment the last person on earth died and the exact moment the word "Torchwood" was emailed across the world. However, her superior, Brian Friedkin (Wayne Knight), is getting orders from some unseen entity that's decidedly not part of the CIA.

Global consequences very quickly emerge. Food supplies and birth rates are calculated and the resulting Malthusian economic issues become apparent, wars and truces change within minutes, hospitals are completely overrun, and the entire legal system will need to be revised.

Jack manages to sneak into a hospital investigation also attended by Dr. Juarez, where he poses as "Dr. Owen Harper, FBI". The doctors uncover the severely mutilated body of the suicide bomber. His remains are spread out across the table, scorched, streched, blackened, smashed — his neck hanging by a few thin threads while his eyes dart about wildly. Jack suggests severing the head to see what would happen. Although Dr. Juarez protests, the head is cut off and the man remains just as conscious.

Rex, who has hacked into the security camera from his hospital bed and seen the whole thing, rips off all of his medical gear, limps out of his hospital bed with several gaping wounds and takes a plane directly to the UK to go fetch whatever's left of Torchwood. He's accompanied by CIA operative Lyn Peterfield.

Gwen, Rhys and baby Anwen face assassination, but as Jack just happened to meet Rex on the plane, he's able to save them. One tense helicopter chase later, they're eventually captured (with the help of Andy, who's still just following orders).

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Action Mom: Gwen Cooper, of course.
  • The Ageless / Immortality Inducer: Jack's immortality seems to be on the fritz, since he remains injured after escaping from the CIA Archives. He may still be immortal, he just has the same type of immortality as the rest of world.
  • And I Must Scream: The bomber.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Captain Jack arrives to save Rex and the Williams family.
  • Continuity Nod: Hooooo, boy.
    • Torchwood is classified under "the 456 Protocol" and when Esther Drummond goes to the CIA Archive to look for the old Torchwood files, the listed materials all pertain to Children of Earth.
    • In the morgue, Jack introduces himself as Owen Harper. Cue the "awws"/waterworks.
    • Jack uses the Retcon drug on Esther Drummond.
    • UNIT gets a Shout-Out while Matheson is on the phone to Esther.
    • The Rift wasn't mentioned because it never existed.
    • Probably unintentional, but the fact that "hospitals are now churches" and that some doctors are being worshiped seems almost too much of a callback to the reaction that some have to a certain other doctor on some occasions. Also a nod to the New (new, new, new, new) Earth hospitals.
    • Jack wonders whether an immortal man can survive having his head detached, reminding us of his probable future as the Face of Boe, a disembodied head.
  • Double Meaning Title: "The New World" refers to America (which, unlike most previous Whoniverse stories and especially Torchwood stories, is the main setting of the story) but also to the fact that, after Miracle Day, it's a whole new world and all previous assumptions need to be changed.
  • Eye Awaken: One of the creepiest examples in recent history. A suicide bomber is still alive despite being, well, exploded. Jack suggests that they cut off the head to see if it'll still live. They do so, and it looks like the bomber is finally dead... And His Eyes Open.
  • Fridge Horror: So what about the people in that helicopter Gwen shoots down? Are they reduced to burned but still living husks like the suicide bomber?
  • Genre Savvy: Matheson seems a little too eager to accept that no one dies, and immediately starts asking questions only the audience would ask.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: What happens to Matheson.
  • Jerk Ass: Matheson seriously gives this impression in his first scene, where he is gleefully gloating over the fact that his superior's wife got leukemia, which puts him in line for a promotion.
  • More Dakka: From handguns to automatic rifles to a rocket launcher during the helicopter fight.
  • Oh Crap: When Esther notices she's being watched as she reads the Torchwood files in the warehouse - by the man whose picture she is looking at.
  • Panty Shot: Esther gets one as she and Jack jump out the exploding building.
  • Shout-Out: When Captain Jack approaches Esther he reaches out his hand and says "Come with me."
    • Matheson calls Wales the "British equivalent of New Jersey". The aborted US-adaptation of Gavin and Stacey was going to use New Jersey as its Wales equivalent.
    • Jack suggests to "detach the head" of an immortal. Sound familiar?
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The attitude of some people, including Rex Matheson; Gwen and Rhys ponder this with regards to their daughter.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: When the characters are calculating how fast Earth's population is increasing now that no one can die,they count the dead people twice. Explained by SF Debris at 9:05 here

Torchwood S 3 E 5 Day FiveRecap/TorchwoodTorchwood S 4 E 2 Rendition

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