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Jilly Kitzinger is a fictional character in the science fiction series Torchwood, portrayed by American actress Lauren Ambrose. The character was promoted as one of five new main characters to join Torchwood in its fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day (2011), as part of a new co-production between Torchwood’s British network, BBC One, and its American financiers on US premium television network Starz. Ambrose appears in seven of the ten episodes, and is credited as a “special guest star” throughout. Whilst reaction to the serial was mixed, Ambrose’ portrayal was often singled out by critics for particular praise and in 2012 she received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress on Television.
Miracle Day depicts the effects of an event which halts the process of death worldwide. Jilly Kitzinger is a public relations expert who sees this phenomenon, labelled “Miracle Day” by the media, as an opportunity she can use to further her career. Early in the series she becomes a representative for the paedophile-murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) which gains both parties publicity; however Kitzinger has little personal sympathy with her client and abandons him when she no longer needs him. Towards the end of the series she affiliates herself with ‘the Families’, the main villains behind the supernatural event of ‘Miracle Day’ and her own personal view of the world becomes apparent. Though those she works for are defeated in the series finale, it is revealed that Jilly has survived, leaving the character’s future uncertain.
The character is used by the production team to provide commentary on mass-media; she is ostensibly first and foremost concerned with profiting from global events. Jilly is also used as a foil to the contemptible Oswald Danes; during the series each uses the other for their own ends. Whilst she was promoted as having a “heart of stone” and described by critics as a “bad-girl” and “amoral”, Ambrose stated that the character also had positive characteristics. Series writer Jane Espenson felt the character to be partly defined by her “ego” and “self-delusion”.
Jilly first appears in the second episode of Miracle Day where she offers the controversial Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), a recently released convicted child murderer and paedophile, representation. Danes agrees to be represented by her after being assaulted by vigilante police officers; with him assured as a client Jilly sets out to sell his celebrity status in addition to the public image of drug company Phicorp and “Miracle Day” itself. Kitzinger also approaches the respected Washington DC surgeon Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur), but she allies herself with Torchwood—a group of renegades composed of two former alien-hunters and two former CIA agents—and distracts Jilly from an infiltration by Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles).
In spite of her professional remit Jilly expresses disgust at Oswald in “Escape to L.A.” when his public persona is eclipsed by Ellis Hartley Monroe (Mare Winningham), stating that she cannot look at his hands after the crime he has committed. When a publicity stunt ensures that Danes starts trending on social networking site Twitter “like never before” her enthusiasm is restored.
Whilst backstage at the Miracle Day rally at which Danes is speaking she is told by a mysterious blue-eyed man (Teddy Sears) that she has started to become noticed by “the right people” through her role as Danes’ publicist.
“End of the Road” sees the tension between Kitzinger and Danes reach a climax; when Danes learns that he has been made “Category Zero” – someone due to be incinerated for moral reasons under emergency legislation – Kitzinger reveals cold-heartedly that she knew about these plans, and Oswald’s moment of fame had changed nothing for him. After Danes and Kitzinger part ways the blue-eyed man returns and offers Kitzinger a promotion.
At the climax of “The Gathering” she meets The Mother (Frances Fisher), the Shanghai representative of the Families, who introduces her to the Blessing, an antipodal geological formation which is said to show an individual the contents of their soul.
When asked what the Blessing reveals to her Jilly appears unfazed, replying “That I’m right.” She is present for a final philosophical stand-off between Torchwood – represented by Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper – and the Families and throws her allegiance behind the Families’ plan for world power, responding to a moral appeal by Cooper by declaring that she considers all altruism to be fraudulent.
After Torchwood end the Miracle and Oswald blows up the Shanghai facility, Kitzinger escapes alive. Some time later she meets the blue-eyed representative of the Families, who informs her that their work is not yet done.
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