TV Review: TORCHWOOD MIRACLE DAY, 4.5 - "The Categories of Life"

Torchwood camps it up!

rating: 3.5

WARNING: A very significant event happens in this episode. Please do not make mention of it in the comments section until after the story airs in the UK! Here we are, half way through Miracle Day. We still haven€™t gotten any real answers to what€™s going on, but at least we€™re seeing some glimmering hope of answers on the distant horizon. This episode focused on the Torchwood gang running around inside overflow (concentration), camps on two different continents. Gwen (Eve Myles), with Rhys (Kai Owen), in tow, is running around in Cowbridge, UK, looking for her father who has been admitted to one of the camps while Rex (Mekhi Phifer), Dr Juarez (Arlene Tur), and Esther (Alexa Havins), all infiltrate a camp in California. Inside these camps, we learn that people around the world are being classified under three categories. Category three means you€™re fine. Category two means that you€™re hurt, but not quite dead yet. Category one means you€™re €œdead€. There€™s no pulse, no brain activity, etc. Some people, like Rex, are capable of moving from one to the other, at least in theory. Dr Juarez was responsible for helping to get these camps set up, and she€™s able to get into one under the guise of working as an inspector. Once inside she finds out that the care for people who are category two is minimal and the care for those who are category one is non-existent. Rex gets in by calling an ambulance (Jack acting all mothering while the ambulance crew is around and telling them that Rex is his boyfriend was all kinds of hilarious), and gets himself classified initially as category two before, with the help of Esther who has gotten herself a position in the office, gets him moved to category one. He then gets out of where he€™s placed and begins running around with a camera filming things (and one would think with 2011 tech he could have a smaller camera). As Dr Juarez explores the camp with a particularly slimy camp commandant administrator (Marc Vann), she quickly forgets she€™s there on a recon mission and instead becomes horrified by what she sees, eventually screaming at the man that she€™s going to see him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. What happens after that is not a happy thing. Meantime, over in Wales, Gwen and Rhys are trying to find Gwen€™s father. They eventually do and while trying to load him into a truck, the poor man suffers another heart attack, resulting in him being upgraded to category one. Shortly thereafter everyone learns what happens to people in category one€ Jack (John Barrowman), had surprisingly little going on in this episode. Mostly he stalked Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), and eventually cornered him before Danes is supposed to give a big speech at a rally; said speech being handed to him by Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), on behalf of her Phi-Corp overlords. Jack passes him another speech and offers him a deal: when all is done, he will help Danes to die. What Danes decides to do at the end is€interesting. Quite a lot happened in this episode, though it felt like there wasn€™t much that moved it forward. There was a lot of build-up but no real payoff, aside from discovering what happens to the category one people (and on a practical level, what else were people going to do with them?). We did get a bit of moralizing from Jack about how horrible it was that governments were now deciding who was alive and who was dead, but really, don€™t hospitals do that sort of thing all the time? I also enjoyed the much larger scope offered by filming in the USA (though seeing the inside of €œCity Hall €“ Washington, DC,€ with a California flag in the background was amusing). The camp in the USA €œfelt€ like much larger, more massive place than the one in the UK. I also liked Gwen€™s horrified notion that health care might be run by a private insurance company. Most Americans would just accept that as par for the course. But I€™d really like to see the series build-up some more steam. Right now it just feels like it€™s wandering a bit aimlessly. Things are moving forward, but not fast enough. We€™re getting some pay-offs, but not many. I€™d like to see a bit more obvious progress towards the goal. Despite that minor complaint, I did really enjoy this episode and cannot wait until next week! Torchwood: Miracle Day Part 5 The Categories of Life has aired on the Starz Network in the U.S. and airs in the uk on BBC 1 HD this Thursday at 9:00pm.
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at wilybadger.wordpress.com