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Warning: Contains mild spoilers

“The Gathering” opens with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) robbing a pharmacy. While “End of The Road,” left us with Esther (Alexa Havins) and a gut-shot Jack (John Barrowman) fleeing the Colasanto mansion and the CIA, now they’re in Scotland and banking Jack’s blood. Back at the CIA, Rex (Mekhi Phifer) is trying to track down any trace of the three families and being undermined by Charlotte Willis (Marina Benedict) who is working for the families.

Jumping forward in time is both necessary and a cheat that I wish had been used on some of the previous episodes to cut away some of the narrative fat. The episode moves forward quickly, but is exposition heavy. Oswald Danes is, as Gwen says, “a monster,” but provides the team with information about Jilly Kitzinger, now “Lucy Statten Meredith,” who is becoming the families’, “Storyteller.” The manipulation and control of information is central to their power and the concealment of, “The Blessing.”

John Fay’s script is tight in terms of moving the narrative along. We’re given throwaway lines about rationing and the potential for dictatorships as the categories of life, overflow camps and incineration modules have been reinstated. Borders are closing, diplomatic relations are fractious at best and the global economic depression has made expedience the order of the day.

As the action then splits to Buenos Aires and Shanghai and the Blessing is revealed, with the caveat that no one actually knows what it is, the Nietzchean subtext is writ large. This is a world where the struggle for survival is determined by dwindling resources and whether one is even classed as a living human being. If two months is all it takes for the world to adjust to the new normal, then we’re all in trouble.

Watching this exposition-heavy episode unfold, I’m still unsure if all the questions and storylines can be resolved in the final episode “The Blood Line” but “The Gathering” is all business.

Finally, Torchwood is Torchwood.