Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Torchwood 4.06: "Miracle Day: The Middle Men"

“This has got to stop.”

First of all, I ought to apologize for the lateness of this post. I moved to a new apartment over the weekend, and then a few days later hosted a dear friend from college who had a job interview in the area. So not a lot of time for blogging! Anyway, “The Middle Men” had some high highs and some very low lows. A high point was a distinct lack of Oswald and Jilly. Another was Gwen getting to be super badass again like she was in the season premiere. A low point was the continued ridiculousness of Colin Moloney and the borderline torture porn in which is plot line resulted. There was also a distinct lack of anything substantial for Jack to do, which is a problem considering, at least in my view, that Torchwood should really be all about Jack. It was a very uneven hour, definitely with more bad than good. Despite the optimism with which I began this season of “Torchwood,” I’m about to write it off as one of those Russell T. Davies works, like much of Series 3 of Doctor Who (except for “Gridlock,” “Human Nature/Family of Blood” and “Blink), that happened when he was just plain off his game.

The episode opens by introducing us to two new characters, Stewart Owens, Chief Operating Officer of PhiCorps, and his administrative assistant, Janet. It’s obvious that there’s more going on than just an employer/employee relationship between Owens and Janet. When Janet leaves his office, Owens places a call to a contact in Shanghai. He wants to know more about a deal PhiCorps made for some land there through a shell company. The contact agrees to investigate, and we see him break into a locked compound. We then see a news report about something called the “45 Club,” which is a group of people who believe that jumping from 45 floors up is the closest someone an come to death. Next thing we know, Owens has called the Shanghai contact to learn the results of his investigation, and the contact says he found nothing before leaping off a very tall building. I guess whatever he found was too horrible to live with having seen.

We then shift to the San Pedro Overflow Camp, where Rex is still making a video about the horrors happening there. He does a little narration about Vera being killed, which I guess is supposed to remind us where the last episode left off. Although that would be hard to forget. Elsewhere at the camp, Esther’s shift is ending. On her way out of the camp, she sees Colin returning in his golf cart without Vera, and she starts to get concerned. She tells her coworker that she needs to go back to the office for her cell phone, and she heads back inside to investigate. Inside Colin’s office, Ralph is freaking out about Colin shooting Vera and placing her in one of the modules. He really wants to know the purpose of the module. Colin is kind of freaking out too, but more under the surface. Esther interrupts their panicking, and she gets shoed off. Colin wants Ralph to drive Vera’s car to a “car park” at a nearby shopping center. The use of British slang in this context doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. To cover their tracks even further, Colin calls for a lockdown of the camp.

In Wales, Gwen confronts Dr. Patel, the doctor who labeled her father Category 1. Gwen tries to reason with Dr. Patel and get her to change Gwen’s father’s categorization, but Dr. Patel won’t budge. It also turns out that Dr. Patel knew the Module was full of incinerators. Gwen is really pissed about this, especially when Dr. Patel says it’s necessary because the health care system is on the verge of collapse. Gwen makes the very good point that it’s always possible to say “no.” Gwen then finds Rhys and informs him that they are going to get her dad out of there ASAP. The nurses change shift at 5 AM, so that seems like the option with the most chance for success.

Back in Los Angeles, Jack finds Janet at a bar waiting for Owens. Jack mentions that Owens is currently having dinner with his wife, which makes Janet not especially happy. The fact that Jack knows a lot of details about her life doesn’t make her especially happy, either. Jack shows Janet a bunch of e-mails from Owens, including a few related to Owens trying to get her transferred to Ohio. Now Janet’s anger is directed towards Owens, and she agrees to help Jack get information out of him. Jack confronts Owens at a restaurant, where he’s still eating dinner with his wife. Jack pretends that he’s abducted Janet, and he hands over the phone to Owens, where Janet continues the con. Owens tells Jack that he doesn’t know how/why the Miracle happened, but he’s been looking into it. He’s figured out that someone has been gaming the system in such a gradual way that nobody would notice, and the plan has been in motion for years. The most important thing he’s found is multiple references to something called “the Blessing.”

At the San Pedro camp, Rex is trying to figure out his next move as lockdown hustle and bustle is happening around him. He plays unconscious, and when a soldier notices him, Rex knocks out the soldier and takes his uniform. The uniform doesn’t provide especially good cover, though. Rex leaves the compound, claiming he needs a cigarette, but on the other side he’s promptly met by a bunch of soldiers who don’t recognize him. Oops. Next thing we know, Ralph is bustling into Colin’s office to say the camp has been infiltrated. Colin immediately rushes off, leaving a kind of dazed Ralph in his office. Esther is very concerned, because she heard Ralph mention Torchwood. She tricks Ralph into saying where they’re holding Rex by saying she needs to call Colin.

Rex is chained up in a generator room, and when he arrives on the scene, Colin tells the soldiers that he’ll take over. Rex mentions Vera to Colin, which makes Colin jittery. Rex doesn’t know Colin killed Vera, but he wants Colin to find out who committed the crime. Rex says he has video evidence of what happened to Vera, which makes Colin even more jittery. Rex shows Colin the video, and Colin completely flips out when he sees it. He starts poking at Rex’s wound with a pen, which is just plain cruel. At this point, Rex realizes that Colin is the person who killed Vera. The whole bloody debacle is interrupted by Esther. She says she has a phone call for Colin, but she messes up big time when she says the phone call is from Vera. Rex yells that Colin killed Vera, and Colin attacks Esther as she tries to run away. Esther fights back, and she successfully chokes Colin until he appears to be dead. Esther goes to where Rex is chained up and freaks out that she killed someone. Rex reassures her that he’s not dead, just Category 1, and he says that she needs to go back to Colin’s body to find the keys to unlock the chains. Esther gets the keys, but Colin regains consciousness and attacks again as she’s walking away. Colin is choking Esther when Ralph appears in the doorway and shoots Colin, determined that all this killing to hide things needs to stop.

Over in Wales, Rhys is in his lorry all ready to go for Operation: Rescue Gwen’s Dad. The scheme hits a snag, however, when a higher-up bureaucrat-type notices Rhys and gives him trouble about how movement orders have been stopped until 6 AM (aka, he shouldn’t be transporting any patients in the lorry at 5 AM). While the bureaucrat is on the phone, no doubt stirring up trouble for Rhys, Rhys just drives off. Gwen is a bit concerned that Rhys isn’t going to show up, but she wheels her father outside anyway. Rhys arrives, and warns Gwen that they need to load her dad up quickly, because the bureaucrat has likely sounded the alarm. Once her dad is safely in the Lorry, Gwen says she’s going back to LA to continue the fight against PhiCorps. Rhys doesn’t seem especially happy about it, but he knows he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. Some military guys approach and start shooting, and Rhys has to drive the lorry right through a gate to escape them. Before she leaves Wales, Gwen has one last thing to do. She puts on her contacts and communicates with Jack, then she goes totally badass, pulls up to the Module on a motorcycle, and blows the whole thing up as Jack records it for the media.

Esther and Rex are in a car, presumably now outside the San Pedro camp. Esther is totally freaked out that her real name is now associated with such a horrible place. I want to know what the heck she was doing using her real name for an undercover operation. Couldn’t she have used all those analyst skills to craft herself a solid fake identity? I’m sorry, but using her real name was just plain dumb. Anyway, Rex tells Esther to get herself together, because the fight isn’t over yet, and he needs her in the fight. At Torchwood HQ, Rex, Esther, and Jack watch TV coverage of their overflow camp footage. There is apparently public outrage, but a White House spokesman shows absolutely no remorse. Jack says that they need to go higher than PhiCorps to win this thing. They need to find out what the Blessing is.

Gwen lands in LAX, and there’s an announcement over the PA system saying that she has a phone call on a courtesy phone. Gwen picks up a courtesy phone, and a mysterious voice just says “lenses” repeatedly. She goes into a rest room and puts in the hidden camera contacts. A very sinister message appears. Whoever is behind this has Gwen’s mom, Rhys, and Anwen captive. That doesn’t seem to faze Gwen overly much, really. She just yells and demands to know what the powers that be want. They say they want Jack, and that’s when Gwen finally decides to look shocked and horrified. Go figure.

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