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Recap / Torchwood S 4 E 1 The New World

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The return of Torchwood, now with 25% more badass.

Rex: Who the hell are you people?
Gwen: Torchwood.

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, stretched, 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.
  • Babies Ever After: Subverted. Gwen delivered a healthy baby, Anwen Williams, and would have lived with Rhys in a secluded house where they couldn't be dogged by bounty hunters or assassins still seeking to off Torchwood members. Even though that life was relatively peaceful, they lived Properly Paranoid with a stockpile of weapons and apprehension toward any unfamiliar faces getting too close for comfort. And then Rex showed up and blew any chance of a "happy" ending sky high, because a helicopter with a heavily armed sniper with tailed him and immediately went gunning for Gwen and her family.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Captain Jack arrives to save Rex and the Williams family.
  • Brick Joke: Rex is not impressed that he has to pay to cross the Severn Bridge. Some time later, when talking with Jack, Gwen and Rhys, he moans again about “having to pay for this bridge”.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Torchwood is still considered an enemy of the government by some, and therefore, its members fair game to be target practice.
  • 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: What happens to Matheson.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Someone over the phone at the CIA genuinely confuses the name "Torchwood" for "Touch Wood". Then again, Torchwood Three wasn't too far off from living up to that namesake better than their original moniker with all the naughty shagging going on.
  • Jerkass: 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. He's later shown to be a Broken Bird and cynic because his family life is in the tubes.
  • Meta Guy: Matheson seems a little too eager to accept that no one dies, and immediately starts asking questions only the audience would ask.
  • More Dakka: From handguns to automatic rifles to a rocket launcher during the helicopter fight. While the former two made the copter pilot and sniper back off for a few seconds, only the latter has an astounding effect against high caliber enemy bullets- it destroys the helicopter altogether in a burst of flames.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Oswald, Rex, Geraint, the suicide bomber, presumably whatever is left of the sods in the helicopter, and absolutely everyone else affected by the Miracle who would've died from an otherwise death-rendering force.
  • 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 & Stacey was going to use New Jersey as its Wales equivalent.
    • Jack suggests to "detach the head" of an immortal. Sound familiar?
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Rex complains about the tolls on the Severn Bridge into Wales. The tolls would be removed in 2018.
  • Wham Episode: Gwen learns her father, Geraint Cooper, had a massive heart attack and is clinging to life just barely, thanks to the Miracle sparing him from death.
  • 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.

And where's the 25% more badass? Here she is! note 

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