Torchwood: Miracle Day: Episode 5: “The Categories of Life” (review)

Torchwood Miracle Day

Previous: Episode 4: “Escape to LA”
There are so many ways in which I’m hating this new Torchwood, but they all boil down to: This isn’t Torchwood. It’s not even something vaguely Torchwood-esque, as becomes clearer and clearer with each passing episode.

The most important way that this isn’t Torchwood is this: Torchwood — the institution and the show — is about aliens. It’s about fighting alien influence on Earth. We’re now halfway through the 10 episodes of Miracle Day and there are no aliens in sight. So either we’re still heading toward the revelation that aliens are behind the Miracle, which will be no revelation at all, because aliens have always been what Torchwood was about. Or we’re heaing toward a nonalien revelation, which won’t be Torchwood. Either way, the essence of Torchwood is wasted.

All the “secrecy” around Jack is getting tiresome, because we do know what he’s alluding to every time he says something like he lost his mother “long ago and so far away.” “Where are you from?” Esther asks, and gets no answer… and what is the suspense of that? We know Jack’s story, at least to a degree far beyond what Esther knows. Is this supposed to be amusing? What is it supposed to be?

Torchwood used to be postgay, where no one gave a shit who was sleeping with whom or what sort of naughty bits everyone had. Now, teh gay is being used to humiliate Rex. “I love him, that crazy old boyfriend of mine,” Jack teases Rex — and it works: Rex is angry:

Torchwood Miracle Day

This is not Torchwood.

“I’ve never dealt with anything like this,” Jack tells Oswald Danes… which makes no sense. Has Jack and everyone else on the planet forgotten that merely two years earlier, aliens demanded a tribute of a huge percentage of the planet’s children? If that event and the knowledge of the existence of aliens and how humans behaved in the face of them changed humanity at all — as it should have done, dramatically — there’s no evidence of that here.

And then there’s the preponderance of illogic. If Phicorp is watching anyone connected to Torchwood — we saw in the last episode how that was the case — how is it possible that Rhys is not being watched? How can he just sign up to be a driver to the Southern Wales overflow camp? How can he meet Gwen at the airport and no one notices? And how would Gwen and Rhys be so stupid as to go to all the trouble of him pretending to be a hired driver picking her up:

Torchwood Miracle Day

and then blow it like this:

Torchwood Miracle Day

Why did Rhys even bother with the disguise?

What’s with the pointless outrageous racism and sexism of Maloney, the guy in charge of the San Pedro overflow camp? He’s surprised to see a woman doctor? Did something think this was Mad Men?

This really makes no sense: It may be shocking and awful that Phicorp is burning the people who would otherwise be dead, but is it particularly nefarious, in the grand scheme of what we’ve seen? It seems, in a certain way, a logical if a horrifically cold way to deal with the ramifications of Miracle Day. What’s more, it’s a sort of reset to the pre-Miracle status quo. It appears to defy the notion that Phicorp wanted the Miracle to happen, or was behind it in any way. If that ends up being not the case, and Phicorp has other motives for creating or helping to create the Miracle, then this has been a huge detour that means nothing.

What is the purpose of the Miracle Rally? What are people cheering about? No clue. Why do people buy Danes talking about humanity ascending to angelhood? None of this feels emotionally plausible.

That may be the least Torchwood-y thing about Miracle Day. Even in the face of the seemingly absurd — as in Children of Earth — the way individuals and society on the whole reacted was believable. Sometimes it was dreadful to imagine people would behave that way, but we couldn’t deny that it was realistic. Here, though, nothing feels authentic, and it’s making Miracle Day increasingly impossible to watch.

Oh, and the fact that they klled off the one truly likeable character in this episode doesn’t help, either.

Next: Episode 6: “The Middle Men”

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