“Jane’s Take” on “Torchwood” episode “The End of the Road” by Ryan Scott and Jane Espenson




This is the eighth episode out of ten of Torchwood: Miracle Day and the information dominoes are tumbling and the pace is getting fast and Star Trek actors are just everywhere! So let’s go on this ride! As usual, I’m typing up these thoughts as I watch, so this is a bit random. I’m going for a DVD commentary kind of vibe.

First off, this episode was written in layers, which isn’t an unusual way for things to happen. Ryan Scott wrote the first few drafts, then I did a rewrite, and then Russell T Davies did an uncredited rewrite of that, which is part of what show runners typically do, so there are pieces of all three of us in the final product.

The house that plays the role of the Colasanto house was in a very ritzy area near L.A., very close to, and strangely similar to, the house that played Jonathan’s (Danny Strong) house in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Superstar.” In fact, when we first arrived at the location, I thought it might be the same house – wouldn’t that have been amazing?

And there is Nana Visitor again, Kira Nerys from Star Trek: DS9. She is always so great. I was really impressed with the quality of guest stars we were consistently able to get on Torchwood. By the way, her first name is pronounced naNAH. Did you know that? I didn’t know that.

Okay, let’s watch… And there is Angelo. So so old. Well over a hundred. He did everything to prolong his life, but he couldn’t hang onto youth. I really feel for him and for Jack here – something about watching this episode so soon after the previous episode.

The defect in Angelo’s eye wasn’t originally scripted – it was going to be the fighting scars on Angelo’s knuckles that would confirm his identity. But when the actor developed a burst blood vessel, it ended up working well for us here.

The mustache in the 1970s Jack picture makes me happy.

The amazing writer Bryan Fuller told the Torchwood writers room about the species of immortal jellyfish that Christina Colasanto talks about here — and we obsessed over it in the room. The idea that some creature here on Earth works in this way is amazing. That line, “Consider the jellyfish …” started echoing around the room, and here it is, in the episode. For a while, we joked that that should be the title of this episode.

The three men! We’re getting to the core of it now. Russell brought in the three names – Ablemarch, Costerdane and Frines –  he took the time himself to actually do the searching to find three last names that aren’t last names. And I love that the characters spell them. So often someone on TV says their name is Anne Flynders or something and everyone else just seems to guess the correct spelling.

Newman! Didja notice that he parrots the speech that Rex gave him in episode three when the gun was pointed in the other direction?

And here is Q as Shapiro! I was soooo excited to meet John de Lancie. Babbled at him about Star Trek: TNG and how I got my start there and inspiration and blah blah. He listened kindly and shook my hand. It was very thrilling.

The Red Baron/Snoopy line is a Russell T Davies original. It’s perfect from RTD, as he is a real Charles Schulz fan and I think he loved referencing that.

The Jack-and-Angelo scene here was actually a fairly late addition in the history of this script. And, believe it or not, the Ianto reference was not mine, nor Ryan’s, but also came from Russell.

OMG, Q just said “Captain.”

Charlotte at the CIA is a great character – started out so minor, but does a lot with a few lines.

Madison Weakly, the bisected bride, was an invention of Ryan Scott. Yay!

And this scene of Oswald turning the music up was based on a real interaction that Russell actually witnessed once. Can you imagine?

I’ve always preferred scenes of characters face-to-face rather than on the phone. For obvious reasons. But this scene with Esther and her sister Sarah works really well – I felt Esther’s frustration that it WASN’T in person and that helped with the feeling of helplessness and distance in the scene. It really is the perfect scene to have over the phone because it’s the one you’d least like to have that way – no way to touch the other person. It aches.

I love the way Rhys says “Jack” – it almost ends in a hiss! Hard to do with a ‘k’ in that accent! Wow, the world is going to hell out there, isn’t it?

And that sweet little fact about cancer being cured – that was one of the first things our medical advisor told us about immortality. He said that if Jack switched over, then cancer cells would too (and some jellyfish, of course). Really, the science on immortality is fascinating. And it starts to seem eerily possible.

Oh hey! Prostitute! And Cat Zero. Watch out, Jilly! Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever liked Lauren Ambrose more than I do when she’s yelling in that hallway – and I’ve liked her a lot. “This time line would be terminal.”

That bit with the elevator doors after Shawnie is shot – I think that’s something they worked out on the stage. Priceless!

That tiny little hallway scene of Jack and Rex and Esther took quite a few takes, believe it or not. It’s very hard to time short walking scenes like that so that the actors don’t either run out of dialogue or fail to get it all out before the end of the hall.

And we end with all in chaos. Next week! Episode 9!


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