Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.03: Dead of Night

By Heather S. Vina

Written by: Jane Espenson

[spoilers ahead]

Recap: Oswald is on TV again, being interviewed about why people are accepting him as an “expert” on Miracle Day. He says he’s not an expert, but he’s speaking out about it when no one else is. He calls out the pharmaceutical companies for the profits that they are making on the backs of the people who need the pills that they have. He thinks that the pills should be given out to everyone for free.

Rex goes after Friedkin at his house and wants to know why he was set up. Friedkin is freaked out and denies it, but ends up telling Rex about the people who have been running him. They are everywhere and have been around for a long time. They know everything. With the help of the team, Rex ends up with the phone that the bad guys use to contact Friedkin.

On the streets, Gwen sees a parade of people wearing white masks with sad eyes on them and a tear drop, holding candles. Seems a new cult is forming from Miracle Day.

(Interesting note: They showed this episode at Comic-Con and they gave away these masks to everyone who showed up that day. So, there were a lot of people wearing these weird masks the next day at the convention!)

Jack discovers that Rhys and Anwen have been moved to a safe house and are being guarded by Sgt. Andy, Gwen’s old colleague and friend. She’s glad to hear that they’re OK, but anxious for Jack to get in touch with them.

Gwen hands out the clothes that she bought for everyone, using one of Jack’s old accounts that’s been gathering interest since “1906”. Cute little scene where she keeps using English versions of words for things like chips and ATMs, and Esther gives her the American version of the word. Gwen thanks her and jokes that Esther should never leave her side. I like the potential friendship between these two.

Gwen tells the gang that the people marching in the streets with the masks call themselves the “Soulless”. Have they been watching season 6 of Supernatural?? Anyways, they believe that Miracle Day has robbed human beings of their souls.

Watching Oswald on TV, Jack wonders who he is. Rex explains that he’s a convicted child-killer and pedophile. Jack thinks that they need to investigate everyone who has made a profit off Miracle Day, including Oswald.

Rex overreacts when Esther is programming her sister’s phone number in the new cell that Gwen bought for her. Jack and Gwen tell Rex to take it easy on her, since she’s not experienced in this kind of thing, but Rex doesn’t cut her any slack. Jack explains that his search for “morphic fields” now gets ten million results. Esther says that she’ll go through them, because that’s what she does. She discovers that Friedkin was trying to misdirect attention from a warehouse and they decide to go investigate.

The gang steals a car and then has a funny little moment, with the others teasing Rex about his changing into the dry cleaning that was left in the car. It’s a nice little moment and I hope they have more of them between the team. I actually like Jack, Gwen and Esther together. Rex is still on trial for me, with the outlook looking bad for him.

They break into the warehouse and discover that PhiCorps has a stockpile of a non-narcotic pain reliever. Seems PhiCorps has stockpiling the drugs for at least a year. Rex surmises that PhiCorps knew that Miracle Day was coming.

At the hospital, Dr. Juarez gets upset over a patient who was strangled by her husband, to the point where her neck/throat bones are dust, and she has no higher brain functions, anymore. A police officer explains to her that they aren’t even allowed to charge people with Attempted Murder, anymore, because there is no murder, just assault. She’s disgusted over it.

Dr. Juarez heads to her next medical panel, where the doctors are all arguing over what their priorities should be. One is upset because there are no spontaneous abortions, anymore, and the other says that “no baby is a mistake.” Juarez points out that these pregnancies are foetuses with brains outside of the skull, no skin, no face, horrible deformities that are going to be suffering forever: They are mistakes. And yeah, Miracle Day is just sounding more and more horrible, every episode.

Another doctor is worried about disease and one suggests that they put birth control in the water, which China and India are already doing. Juarez is more concerned about not having enough facilities for sick and injured people.

Later, out on the steps, the PR rep, Jilly, approaches Juarez about talking to PhiCorps. With some persuasion, Juarez agrees to think about it.

Back at the temporary Torchwood headquarters, the gang starts to investigate PhiCorps. Rex wants to share the information they found out about PhiCorps with someone else. He convinces them to let him approach his former instructor from Langley. He says that they can trust him and he’s willing to take the risk. He calls him, but when he goes to see him, he sees the police surround the meeting place. Guess he can’t trust him, after all!

Ticked off, Rex rants at Jack when Jack tells him that they need to tackle this themselves. He tells Jack that there’s no Torchwood, but Jack tells him that it’s them. Rex calls him out on having gotten all of his staff killed. Esther tells him to stop, but he tells them, basically, “Screw you” and takes off. Yeah, Rex, you’re really not winning any points with me; you know that, right? Being a jerk is not a good way to win friends.

That night, Jack, Gwen and Esther are taking a walk down the street, when Jack takes off to a gay bar to have some drinks.

Rex goes to Juarez’s place and she bandages up his bleeding wounds. Then they have sex. John picks up a guy at the bar and has sex with him. These are apparently the sex scenes that both John and Mehki talked about at Comic-Con.

The ladies, on the other hand, have a bonding moment together that is much more meaningful. Esther tells Gwen that she’s not sure if she can handle this, that she might be holding them back. Gwen gently asks her about her sister, whom Esther had said earlier was ill. Esther explains that her sister is older than she is, and has a hard time coping with things. Esther’s always looked after her. Gwen tells her that she can go to her sister’s, but she’ll get caught and she’ll be proving to Rex that she can’t handle this. Esther laughs a little and tells her that they can’t have that. Gwen offers Esther her arm. They go hand-in-hand down the street, with Esther quoting Robert Frost: “Miles to go before we sleep.” And yep, I am totally digging the friendship that is developing between these two!

Meanwhile, Oswald has ditched his police “guard” and wound up at a diner. He almost ends up being jumped by two people who recognize him, but approaches a cop car for protection. The cops send the two would-be attackers away then beat Oswald up themselves, dumping him at his motel, where Jilly finds him. He finally agrees to meet with PhiCorps and let her help him, but there’s a vague threat in there to her that she had “better deliver.”

Post-coital, Rex tells Juarez about his discovery about PhiCorps. She tells him about Jilly approaching her about a meeting with PhiCorps and Rex tells her she has to go, so she can get him info on the company. Rex, in his own “charming way” ends up turning her off, because instead of asking, he bumbles his way by first ordering her to do it, then bringing up her guilt over her mother dying a year earlier, and she kicks him out.

Post-coital for Jack, he calls Gwen and tries to reach out to her. She catches that he’s drunk, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to say that he missed her and that they’re a good team. She brings up Ianto and thinks that if this had happened earlier, he’d still be alive. He says that they still have each other, like the old days, and they don’t need anyone else, right? Gwen doesn’t answer, because Esther has finally made contact with Rhys and Anwen, and Gwen starts to video chat with her family, forgetting about Jack.

Rex is moping on a bench the next morning, when Juarez agrees to try and get him inside PhiCorps. Jack is all excited about his hangover and surprised to see Rex back at the Torchwood hangout. Gwen is showing Rex her contact lenses that allow them to see what she sees, and to contact her by typing so she can read it via the contacts. She’s the only one who can use them, though, since they’re tuned just into her, so she’s the one who has to go on the mission, much to Rex’s irritation. Esther types “liar” for Gwen to see, but Gwen just ignores it, while Jack and Esther laugh.

Juarez shows up at PhiCorps and is shocked to see that she is not having a private meeting, but that there is a roomful of other doctors there for some kind of presentation. Juarez ducks out to let Gwen in. Gwen tells her to return to the meeting and keep Jilly busy. Jack is disturbed at seeing Oswald there, too, and wants Gwen to follow him, but Rex thinks that they should stick to the mission. Jack watches a clip of an interview with Oswald. He seems disturbed by Oswald and what he is saying. Shortly after, he ducks out without telling Rex and Esther.

Juarez calls Rex, who has her leave her phone on so that he can hear the meeting. Congressman Patrick Morganthall (Richard Gilliland) comes on a screen and tells the PhiCorps meetings (which are not just being held there, but all over the world), that he plans on introducing a bill that would allow everyone to have access to any medication, without prescription.

Gwen breaks into Jilly’s office and downloads the files from her computer. Gwen is almost caught by Jilly, but Rex and Esther manage to contact Juarez, to get her to lure Jilly back out of her office.

Back at Torchwood HQ, Rex and Esther are surprised to see a phone call coming in from Friedkin’s red phone. Rex picks it up and tries to keep the caller online, while Esther traces it. He keeps asking questions, but we don’t hear any answers. Esther isn’t able to trace the call before they hang up, but the caller might have traced them, so Rex and Esther pack up the office. Esther asks Rex why he’s so happy about it, and he tells her he thinks that Torchwood has “them” worried.

At the green room before another interview, Jack confronts Oswald with a gun and a recorder. Jack wants to know why he met with PhiCorps, but Oswald refuses to tell him. Jack asks if they mentioned the name “Jack Harkness”, but Oswald says that he never heard of it. Jack is still suffering from his intense guilt over the death of his grandson and the fact that he caused it (Season 3, “Children of Earth”). He calls Oswald out on Oswald saying that he feels forgiven for the murder he committed. Oswald admits he doesn’t feel sorry about it and tells Jack about how he felt like he was “painting” on the girl, as he beat her up and the bruises appeared on her flesh. He didn’t think it could get better than that, till at the end, when he felt her life end and he knew that he was the one who did it. It was “the best moment” of his life.

Jack says he knows what Oswald is searching for: execution. In a world without death, Oswald can’t die, and it’s “killing” him. Oswald wants to know what Jack is going to do with the recording and when Jack says he plans on broadcasting it, Oswald calls out and his two PhiCorps guards come in and grab Jack. Oswald explains that, in exchange for the “message” PhiCorps wants him to put out there, he received protection, plus a few other things. He tells them not to hurt Jack too much and then leaves for his next interview, where he backtracks on what he said about wanting the drugs to be free, and instead says he thinks that there should be free access to drugs. He’s basically backing up the Congressman and PhiCorps’s desire to push through a law eradicating prescriptions and praising PhiCorps for being on the people’s side.

Jack is thrown out of the building and approached by an Oswald fan, who wants to know if he “touched Oswald.” Jack’s horrified by both the adulation and the message that Oswald is sending.

Review: This is the episode that aired at Comic-Con that the cast showed up for, and talked about a little bit, at their panel. Watching it reminded me of a few stories that the cast told that I forgot to recap.

The first one was about the sex scenes both John and Mehki had. John talked about being excited to go to work everyday. His husband would ask him why he was so excited and the first day, it was: “I get to go blow things up!” And he was all animated and exuberant about it. And the next time his husband asked, he was like: “I get to go have sex with a 22-year-old!” What I liked about it was that John was using those stories to talk about how much he loves his job and was having fun with what he was doing. The panel also joked around about the sex scenes, but it was good-natured ribbing.

As to the sex scenes, I was pretty meh about them. I like romance, and I’m not adverse to a nicely done sex scene, but I have no emotional investment in either of these relationships (Juarez and Rex was telegraphed a mile away, and I just thought it was lame, and Jack’s guy was just a hook-up who was never going to be on again), so they were just kind of a waste of time for me. I do like that they had Jack insist on a condom. Hopefully, they had Juarez and Red practice safe sex, too, but since Jack is the character I care about, I was more worried about him than them, LOL!

The second story I forgot was a cute little moment with Alexa Havins, where one of the audience commented on the ridiculousness of Esther running around in those heels in the first episode. Alexa talked about how she agreed. She had asked them about it and pointed out how unlikely it was, and they insisted she still wear them. So, she ended up with a few twisted ankles and bruises as a result. What I liked was that she did ask about it. So, even though she was overridden, at least someone there had thought to point out how stupid it was. It made me like her even more!

And speaking of Esther…I really like the bonding between Gwen and Esther. Jack and Esther had a few cute little moments, too, but the Gwen-and-Esther walk in the night was a really lovely scene. I really like Gwen taking Esther under her wing and both Torchwood members appreciating that Esther is really trying. I honestly didn’t think I’d like Esther much, but I think she makes a nice addition to the cast. Between Alexa charming me at CC, and Esther being a more humble and easier fit character than Rex, I’m warming up to her. She still has her idiotic moments, but they’re lessened for me by her other qualities.

So glad that Gwen was able to talk to Rhys and Anwen, and see that her family is okay! And I like that they had her ignore Jack midway through his drunken phone call, to focus on her family. It’s not that I like seeing Jack hurt, but I really don’t like the co-dependent relationship that they had developed between them, where it almost seemed as if she were having an emotional affair with Jack and wanting him, while she was with Rhys. It just wasn’t good for either character to have this drawn out and I didn’t enjoy watching it. I like a strong friendship, and I am all for that between these two, but I don’t want some romantic triangle between Gwen, Jack and Rhys, because it’s just not going to be good for any of the characters, or be good for the show. So, having Gwen love Jack strongly, yet platonically, and have her be willing to put her family above him, is a good thing for me.

I like all of the little hints about how old Jack is and the alien tech Torchwood had that they threw out there in front of Esther and Rex. Obviously, Esther and Rex still don’t get how old Jack really is and that, when he said he had been immortal, he wasn’t lying! I wonder if Esther and Rex will believe Jack and Gwen when they tell them the truth? Maybe, by the time they get there, they will.

I know they hinted earlier that Esther has a crush on Rex, but Rex is such a jerk that, honestly, I wish they’d drop it. Esther, while na├»ve and occasionally idiotic, is way too good for him. Rex is just not getting better for me. I was willing to give him a chance. I thought he might improve after the first episode, when everything went to hell for him, but so far, he’s still the same arrogant jerk. I don’t get why they have to make one of their protagonists so obnoxious to his own team. He’s just coming off worse and worse to me, and not even the fact that Mehki seemed like a nice guy at CC is making me feel any kinder towards Rex.

Bill Pullman is really good at those sleazy/slimey Oswald scenes, because, when he was describing to Jack about how amazing it was to beat up and murder a little girl, he made my skin crawl.

Working in the pharmacy industry, I’m curious how they are going to tie in this whole PhiCorps stuff. It seems pretty far-fetched to me for a pharmaceutical company to create Miracle Day just so that they can sell more drugs. So, hopefully there is more to it than this.

Speaking of Miracle Day, I still find the whole thing horrific. Hearing about the foetuses that weren’t being aborted naturally, but were going to be born in such horribly disfigured and miserable ways that they would be forever in pain, was pretty terrible. Juarez had a line where she told Jilly, “We don’t deserve this miracle. We’ll just mess it up.” I didn’t like it, because it doesn’t fit with her character or what is actually happening. Because this is no miracle. I can’t see how any doctor who knows what people are suffering, and that they will never be able to end that suffering, could see that this would be a miracle.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaReview: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.03: Dead of Night