Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Six: “The Middle Men” (Contains Spoilers)
There was something wrong with this episode; I could tell from the opening credits that something wasn’t as it should be. It didn’t contain those three magic words, “and Bill Pullman”.
This was a Danes, Jilly free and Captain Jack light episode. Danes and Jilly are the two most interesting new characters it’s a bold move to sideline them. If the story doesn’t require them it’s a logical step, but it did feel a bit like they couldn’t afford them all in this episode.
In their place we get a massive explosion, a gut wrenching decision to be made, a twisted scene with a pen and Winston Zeddemore himself, Ernie Hudson. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment. Ernie Hudson!
Written with flair by John Shiban, who also has written and produced episodes of two of my favourite US imports, Breaking Bad and Supernatural. For those of you who have yet to check out the exploits of Sam and Dean Winchester in the insanely brilliant Supernatural, what are you waiting for? I won’t go into it now; I’ll save that for another day. Don’t even get me started on the brilliance of Breaking Bad.
The episode was aptly entitled The Middle Men, with Hudson playing Stuart Owens, a Phicorp middleman who is every bit as interested as Torchwood, in finding out what is behind the miracle. Owens contacts an agent in Chinato look into a hunch he has, once the agent learns the truth he jumps off the roof of a skyscraper. I’m guessing as he’d rather die than live with the truth, whatever is behind the miracle is clearly beyond terrible. Well, it was never likely to be something nice now was it.
Spreading over the world is the phenomenon of the 45, no that’s not a typo and the 456 have not returned for our children again. 45 is the number of floors up you need to jump off in order to fully lose consciousness. Faced with a changing world it’s truly shocking to see just how many people see this as the only option.
Colin Maloney (Crazy admin man) is becoming unstable in his attempt to cover up Dr Juarez’s murder. Maloney is a terrifying character, not because he is monstrous or evil, but because he is just a low-level middleman pushed to breaking point. Owens is a different kind of middleman all together, unlike Maloney he doesn’t blindly obey and panic. Owens is a calm and calculated person, in a razor-sharp suit. Hudsonadds a touch of class to the episode and his scene with Jack is very well-played. We learn a little bit about The Blessing, which I’m sure will be a bigger part of future episodes and I hope Hudson is back as well.
Sadly I think it says a lot about Esther and Rex that even in an episode where they are front and centre they still fail to truly take charge, and I have lost count how many pep talks Esther has had and how many times she has been told to pull herself together. Rex continues filming as much as he can and in one blog entry calls himself a member of Torchwood. The stark warning he gives to whoever may find the camera paints a desperate picture of the future. Rex previously referred to Torchwood as being just a code word, so it’s quite a moment when he declares his allegiance; meanwhile Jack is at command centre keeping an eye on everything.
The botched escape scene at the overflow camp was a bit of a rehash of last week‘s botched escape attempt and for some reason I was annoyed with Gwen as she was putting a lot on poor old Rhys. Loyal and loveable Rhys, who has no special training, is sent out alone to get everything they need to bust Gwen’s father out of the camp. Gwen’s snap line of ‘just do it’ was a bit of a cop-out. I understand her concern for her father but she is the one with all those fancy skills. It was in my opinion the first misstep those two have had all season, it just felt a bit forced and didn’t have any real tension to it.
Rex gets hold of an army uniform and attempts to infiltrate the base, and it isn’t long before he is captured and left in the demented hands of Maloney. Rex tries to explain why Maloney should let him go, but as soon as Rex starts speaking he may as well be signing his own death warrant, if death was possible that is. This leads to a gruesome use of a fountain pen and possibly the least game for it ‘bad guy’, I don’t think it’s normal for the bad guy to weep uncontrollably as he stabs you with a pen. But then stabbing someone in the chest with a pen isn’t exactly normal.
Esther finds her way to where Rex is being held, sadly her excuse that Dr Juarez called is wasted on Maloney and he turns on her in a continued effort to cover up his mess. I think this sequence was a slight missed opportunity, anybody who has seen the amazing The Walking Dead will know what I’m talking about. A motionless body has potential for tension galore, and the Walking dead feeling could have been replicated here but instead you could literally count the beats before Maloney moved. This might sound like I have not enjoyed this episode, it was a bit patchy and some things didn’t work that really should have. But, that said it was still enjoyable. My current nagging worry is the story is being stretched rather than expanded, it would be a shame looking back on the finished season thinking it would have been better if it was shorter.
Gwen is planning to rejoin the fight in L.A as soon as possible and once again it’s the final few minutes that saves the episode. Gwen detonates the facility, while Jack stares on from the command centre recording her message. Arriving at the Airport, Gwen gets a message to put the contact lenses in; she does so and is then told that they have her family. In order to get them back-unharmed Gwen has to deliver Jack to the unknown captors.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the teaser for the next episode but as we get a rare window into Jack’s past it does have potential. Torchwood continues next Thursday at 9pm on BBC One. For Ipad and Iphone users check out the interactive story/game/motion comic Torchwood: Web of Lies, Voiced By John Barrowman, Eva Myles and Eliza Dushku and written by Jane Espenson. I’m on episode two and it’s pretty damn good so far.