Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day 4.06: The Middle Men

By Heather S. Vina

[spoilers ahead]

Written by: John Shiban

Recap: The episode opens at PhiCorp central in LA, with Stuart Owens, the CEO of PhiCorp (Ernie Hudson! Hi, Ernie! I remember you from Ghostbusters!), receiving some information from his secretary, Janet (Ciera Payton) – and obvious secret lover – regarding the “Shanghai Deal”. There are maps and layouts amongst the papers. On the news, some woman is talking about the “45 Club”: a group of people who believe that, since suicide is impossible now, the closest you can get is jumping off a really high building (45 floors or more, hence the name), so you can be rendered truly unconscious forever. Oy, people are stupid.

Stuart calls and asks a mysterious man (Eric Steinberg) in Shanghai, China to check out a parcel of land near Shanghai Center that was purchased by a subsidiary of PhiCorp in 1999. He tells him that this is strictly confidential and his “eyes only”. He admits to the man that he is trying to discover if PhiCorp was involved in Miracle Day. Wouldn’t he know, since he’s the CEO and everything? The man warns him he may not like what he finds out and Stuart says he might be right, but he still needs to know.

In Shanghai, the mysterious man checks out the building, blowing off the padlock on the gate to check it out. We don’t see what he discovers, but when Stuart calls him back, the man tells him that it was a “dead end”. He found nothing there, nothing at all. He says goodbye, right before he hangs up and jumps off a building, taking a page from the 45 Club.

Interestingly enough, this all takes place in a span of a few hours. The mysterious man got Stuart’s call at 11pm, China time, and jumped off the building at 6am, China time. So, whatever he discovered, it was enough to make him almost immediately decide to jump off a building. And he didn’t seem like the type to spook very easily. I’m disappointed, though. I thought he’d be around for longer than two minutes. I like that actor.

Back at the San Pedro Overflow Camp, Rex is continuing his video recap. At first, he tells the video that he’s with the CIA, then changes his mind and says he’s with Torchwood. Progress, I guess? He’s determined to get the video proof out of the camp, so he can expose what is going on. He basically recaps what has been happening and says, “We know what will happen.” First, it will be the Category 1s, then prisoners, and then anyone that “they” don’t like.

At the office, Esther is still trying to reach Juarez, when the end-of-shift bell rings. She and the other office worker start walking out when Esther sees Colin coming back into the office without Juarez. She goes back on the excuse that she left her cell at the office.

Ralph asks Colin what he did with Juarez and Colin tells him he doesn’t want to know. Ralph is freaking out and wondering what happens in the module. Colin is rambling about badminton and clean shirts. He says that the module was supposed to be used as storage until a senator gave the command, but Colin just did things “a little early”.

Esther lies to another office worker and takes her place. She goes to Colin’s office on an excuse to try and find out what is happening with Ralph and Colin, but Colin kicks her out. She stands outside and tries to listen to what is going on, but is distracted by another worker who tries to talk to her, so she can’t quite hear what Ralph and Colin are talking about.

Colin tells Ralph to drive Juarez’s car out to some mall, where it will be found abandoned. They will think she disappeared from there, rather than from the camp. Colin puts the camp into lockdown so that it will “prove” that he and Ralph were at the camp and had nothing to do with Juarez’s not-murder. Unfortunately, the lockdown traps Rex in the camp and Esther in the office.

Esther tries to fish for information about whether Juarez is still in the camp, but Colin tells her that she left, after telling him he was doing an “excellent job” at running the camp. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what she was saying as she was burning to death.

In Wales, Gwen confronts Dr. Patel (Lena Kaur) about her classifying her father down from Category 2 to Category 1. Gwen protests and says that he is going to be moved in the morning. Dr. Patel tries to brush Gwen off with more talk about how it’s “not her department”. Gwen is horrified when she realizes that Dr. Patel knows that the patients are being burned. Dr. Patel tells her that Category 1s are dead. Under the law, the dead can be burned. Gwen confronts her not being there when the patients are being burned, how she is “safe” away from there, where she isn’t faced with the fact that this isn’t a hospital but a concentration camp. Right on, Gwen! Dr Patel tells Gwen that the “entire health care system is about to collapse,” so what else is she supposed to do? Gwen tells her she says no, she says no. Dr. Patel tells her she can’t and Gwen tells her not to dare tell her that she’s just “obeying orders.” That’s the same thing those Nazi officers said as an excuse for torturing and gassing innocent people. Gwen leaves, but not before she gets in one parting shot and tells Dr. Patel not to call herself a “doctor”, anymore. Shame on her.

Man, I loved this speech and both actresses played it brilliantly. Eva Myles gave me chills as she confronted the doctor and told her not to “dare” tell her that she was just obeying orders. It was an awesome scene. I am so glad that we finally saw someone who seems reasonable and rational, yet is going along with such horrifying stuff, being confronted in such a direct and straightforward way! It’s about time. Great scene.

Rhys is horrified that he was driving patients to the modules to be gassed, but Gwen tells him that he didn’t know what was happening. He wants to quit, but Gwen wants him to do one more transfer: her dad. Rhys tells her that they shut down the camp. There are no more transfers until 6am. Gwen insists that he get a truck and that they save her dad. Rhys agrees. They plan for it at 5am, before the nurses switch over.

At a bar in LA, Jack confronts Janet, Stuart’s secretary and lover. He convinces her to help him get to Stuart by telling her all of the information he knows about her and showing her that Stuart doesn’t love her, but is planning on transferring her to Cincinnati to get rid of her, because he’s done with her. Janet agrees to help him.

At the restaurant where Stuart and his wife are having dinner, Jack interrupts them and manages to chase the wife away by bringing up Janet, his lover. The wife takes off and Jack tells Stuart that he has Janet hostage. He calls Janet and gets her to tell Stuart that she is being held hostage. Stuart agrees to talk with Jack, who calls him on what PhiCorp has been doing. Stuart tells him that he doesn’t know anything about the Miracle or what has happened. He explains to Jack – in a very convoluted explanation – that he’s basically a middleman, that PhiCorp is a middleman. He doesn’t know who is behind everything, but PhiCorp has been used, as well. It goes back years and is buried in paperwork. He hasn’t been able to find out what is going on, either. He tells Jack that the real “face of evil” is the system itself. There are patterns and waves that are too vast or too small to see. PhiCorp isn’t controlling it. Profiting from it, yes, but not controlling it. Stuart tells Jack that the “geography” statement from the Hunter doesn’t mean anything to him, but there is one word that has come up several times: the “Blessing”. There was a document from Italy that said, “They have found the Blessing.” Before Jack can ask any more questions, the police arrive at the restaurant. Jack takes off.

Back at the San Pedro Camp, Esther is still in the office, watching Colin, and Rex is trying to escape. He manages to overpower a soldier and get his uniform, but is caught when he pretends to go out for a “smoke” by the other soldiers out there for a smoke. It wasn’t a bad plan; he just didn’t account for a bunch of other smokers, as well.

Ralph comes to Colin’s office and tells him that they have captured Rex, who wants to talk to the person in charge. Colin goes off to go talk to him. Esther tries to follow him but Colin shuts her down.

Colin goes to confront Rex, who is chained up, hand to foot. Colin sends the soldiers away and starts to interrogate Rex. Rex tells him who he is and demands to know who he is. Rex demands he call the police, because he plans to expose the camp and what is going on there. He spills that he knows about the ovens and what happened to Juarez. Colin denies being the one who decided what to do and says that he is just following orders. Rex foolishly believes him and tells him that Juarez was burned alive, that this is Colin’s chance to be a hero by blowing it wide open with him. Colin goes along with him and says that they can do this if they can find the “one to blame”. Rex tells him about the camera and encourages Colin to look at it so he can see the “proof”.

I really don’t understand why Rex so foolishly believes Colin. I mean, he knows Colin is in charge. He knows that someone murdered Juarez. Why wouldn’t he figure out that the most likely culprit is Colin himself? I really don’t understand why Rex is so stupid in this scene, but it’s really annoying.

Anyways, Esther goes into Colin’s office and tricks Ralph into telling her Rex’s name. She takes off after Colin.

Colin watches the tape and starts crying over it. It’s not guilt or horror over what he did to Juarez, but horror over his life all going wrong. The man is still a selfish and self-centered murderer. He starts rambling and Rex FINALLY buys a clue that Colin is the bad guy. Colin starts to torture Rex with a scalpel through his wounds, which is pretty disgusting. I guess he’s trying to make Rex bleed out and really become a Category 1 patient?

Colin’s torture of Rex ends up being interrupted by Esther, who came looking for them. Alas, she starts shouting Colin’s name. Colin comes out to confront her and she tells him that Dr. Juarez is on the phone for him. And really? Why are both Rex and Esther so dang stupid in these scenes? Rex comes out of his unconscious state and shouts for Esther to run, but Colin attacks her. Despite not using her ridiculous heels against him or kicking him in the groin, Esther manages to get the upper hand on Colin and goes to see Rex, traumatized that she might have killed Colin. Rex convinces her to go get the keys. When she does, Colin pops up and starts to strangle her, like any good horror movie villain. Ralph ends up saving the day by shooting Colin in, I guess, a last minute burst of conscience.

Honestly, this was all so incredibly stupid. There was a way to write all of this without making both Rex and Esther look as dumb as dirt. Too bad the writer didn’t bother to even try.

Back at the Wales camp, Rhys is pulling his truck around to go meet Gwen when he’s confronted by a bureaucrat guard. He wants to know who authorized Rhys to do a patient transfer at this time of morning. Rhys drops Jack’s name as the one who did. Rhys starts fretting, eventually gunning the truck and taking off.

Gwen starts moving her dad out and ends up being helped by a nice custodian woman. Man, finally, someone decent! She manages to get her dad out to Rhys and helps him load him onto the truck, before sending both men on their way. She’s staying behind to do something before she heads back to the States. They kiss goodbye and Rhys takes off, driving through the gate when they try to stop him. Luckily, he doesn’t appear to be shot.

Back in Venice, Jack is thrilled when he sees Gwen with the contacts in, coming back up on the computer. She tells him that she’s coming back to the fight, but first, she wants to do something. Jack starts recording what she is seeing. Gwen discovers some explosives and gives a lovely speech, right before she blows the everloving crap out of the ovens! Frankly, it was awesome, and not even Gwen’s silly little motorcycle trick stopped me from cheering at her little speech and explosive move!

At the San Pedro Overflow Camp, Rex is comforting Esther. She is upset about the fact that the government sanctioned this and that they now have her name on file, since she foolishly used her real name. Why is everyone using their real names? Oy. Rex convinces her to get it together and both say that they’re ready to get back into the fight.

Back at the Torchwood base, Jack is grimly pleased that they are now whistleblowers, but Rex doesn’t believe it will be that easy. A White House press agent says that, while Juarez’s death will be investigated, they stand behind the plan to burn Category 1 patients. Jack tells the others that they need to look at the bigger picture, and figure out what the Blessing is.

Gwen lands at the airport and leaves a message for Rhys, wondering why he hasn’t called her back yet. There’s a page for her, telling her that there’s a phone call for her. When she goes to answer, she’s told to put the contact lenses in. She ducks into a bathroom and puts them in and is horrified when she reads that someone has her family. When she demands to know what they want, they tell her to “bring us Jack.”

Review: I’ve really enjoyed this season of Torchwood…until these last couple of episodes. It just seems like there’s way too little Jack and way too much of the characters being stupid! I couldn’t believe Rex and Esther in this one. I can cut Esther a little bit of slack, since, as they have said before, she’s new to all of this. But Rex? The fact that he believed Colin and spilled everything to Colin was ridiculous. He knows Juarez went to talk to the person in charge of the camp, he knows that the person in charge of the camp is Colin, and he knows Colin knows what the modules are for. And yet, it doesn’t occur to him until Colin starts rambling that Juarez’s murderer is Colin? Oy.

Plus, why was anyone allowing Esther to use her real name? Wouldn’t someone have clued her in that using her real name might not be a good way to go?

I loved the way that Gwen called out the Doctor at the Wales camp about her complicity in what was happening. That was all kinds of awesome. I have been waiting for a scene where one of them confronted a “normal” person (ie: one who isn’t fully corrupt like Jilly or Oswald, or crazy-weird like Colin) on what they were involved with, and it was a great scene and a great speech. When Gwen told her not to dare call herself a “doctor” anymore, I cheered.

And I loved the scene of Gwen calling everyone out on allowing the governments to build concentration camps and ovens and blowing up the modules, but was that little trick she did with the motorcycle really necessary? That was a little lame.

But then Gwen’s family was captured and all I could think was, “Well, I was waiting for that.” She’s been so incredibly lax with her family’s safety. I mean, Rhys was using his own name, for crying out loud! At least, with Esther, you can semi-excuse her with this being all new to her. But Gwen had no such excuse. She’s been careless with her family’s safety since she came out of hiding. Just because Jack managed to erase everything about them online, doesn’t mean that all knowledge of them was erased. She knows that the CIA knows about her and Jack because they were extraditing them to America. She knows that the bad faction knows about her because of that CIA agent who tried to kill Jack. Why in the heck would she NOT think that they would go after her family? It was careless and stupid.

As to the revelations in this episode: So, PhiCorp isn’t behind this? I know there was mention of the “Families” before, but I figured the Families would be in charge of PhiCorp, somehow. Not sure what to think of PhiCorp suddenly being revealed to be some red herring. I am betting the whole Shanghai camp that the guy broke into and Jack’s “geography” clue will tie into together, but alas, this episode didn’t give us any clues to that. And what is with this “Blessing” thing? I still think that somehow, Jack’s immortality will lie at the root cause/reason for Miracle Day. Perhaps the “Blessing” will tie into that.

But they still have yet to come up with a reasonable explanation for how Jack, whose immortality was caused by the Time Vortex and who was a “fixed point in space and time”, could have his immortality reversed by a group of humans in the 21st century. And if Jack and his immortality IS the cause of all of this, how about we get some time spent with Jack? There’s just way too little of him to suit me.

Interestingly enough, no Jilly or Oswald! I didn’t miss them.

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 4.06: The Middle Men