After the shocking revelation at the end of last week, episode 6 of Miracle Day needed to hit the ground running. Doctor Juarez is dead. Esther and Rex are trapped. Gwen’s dad will be burned alive at six o’clock. Here, then, is an episode that is expected to deliver high tension and drama.
But what we can have is Captain Jack back – at last. He plays a more… er, Captain Jack style role this week, and the show is much better for it. Wit and charm shines through as Jack meets with Owens’s secretary in a bar, revealing that he knows everything about her, along with some suspect emails where Owens is asking for her to be moved from his offices. A woman scorned, the secretary plays along with Jack, who next meets with Owens himself, telling him he has kidnapped the woman, and will kill her unless Owens reveals all. As we know, Owens has nothing to tell, but there is some exposition as he slips in a reference to The Blessing. Before the police can arrive, Jack slips away, presumably to get his coat back from the waiter he flirted with (very amusingly, I might add) on the way in.
This scene is a brief pause, a pit stop while the rest of the episode hurtles around a track. Rex is still recording his video diary within the camp, understandably devastated with the loss of Vera, determined to expose the Overflow Camps for what they really are. Captured after failing to impersonate a guard – good to see that the soldiers actually recognise each other – Rex is interrogated and subsequently tortured by Colin Maloney, who takes pen-pushing to the ultimate extreme. Who can save our hero now?
Esther, that’s who. Yes, Esther. In what is effectively her first mission, Esther shows initiative and is able to stay in the camp after her shift to keep an eye on developments within the office. Unable to contact Vera, Esther’s concern rises when Maloney returns without the doctor. Later, Esther follows Maloney and rescues Rex, ‘killing’ the evil accountant in doing so. As she searches his body, Maloney grabs her ankle. Esther is almost beaten when shots ring out; Ralph the pathetic soldier, like Esther, finally shows his strength. It’s a nice touch that Esther admits she was stupid to use her own name, the writers putting me in my place for the criticism last week.
Torchwood’s roots are firmly in Wales, and it’s here where Gewn shines. We can often tell what’s going to happen depending on what Gwen’s wearing. This week, dressed as a nurse, she’s caring and concerned for her father, as well as the other patients. She also fights with doctors; the concentration camp analogy is by no means subtle, but there’s no denying the emotion of the scene. “Don’t you dare tell me you’re obeying orders”, Gwen argues, “Don’t you dare.” It’s powerful stuff, suggesting that man had learned nothing from the lessons of the past. To teach them a new lesson for the future, Gwen dons her leathers, finds explosives and a motorbike, then rides off into the night, the modules behind her exploding. Let’s hope they were empty…
Gwen then takes a flight back to the US, where her name is called out on loudspeaker. I’m not sure how convincing it is that the CIA can’t find her, while the shadowy villains behind PhiCorp know exactly what flight she’s on, but hey, this is Torchwood. Able to hack into Gwen’s Mission: Impossible contact lenses, the bad guys reveal they have kidnapped her family and will exchange them only for Jack Harkness. It’s a good ending, the perfect setup for next week.
So, good stuff. Not the best, but a solid, well-paced hour of TV. Yet, it feels again like something’s missing. This could have been any espionage based TV series; beyond the underlying concept, there’s little here that could be called sci-fi. While there’s more clues being dropped – admittedly, I’m intrigued regarding The Blessing, which shows further religious connotations – it’s frustrating that we still don’t know who, or what, is behind PhiCorp. Torchwood’s remit was to protect the world from aliens; at the moment, it appears to be protecting mankind from itself.
No Oswald Danes this week and, to be honest, it doesn’t suffer from the lack of his presence. Next week looks like we’re going to see more of Jack; based on what we’ve seen this episode, it should be welcoming. So, come on, Torchwood – we know you can deliver thrill and drama, let’s see sci-fi come to the fore.