'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'The Categories of Life'
Written by Jane Espenson - Directed by Guy Ferland
Sorry once again readers for skipping the review for episode 4 which by the way was brilliant - I've been totally swamped with things to do and unfortunately the review slipped under the radar, but fear not, here's my thoughts on the half-way point of the so far exquisite 'Miracle Day'...
Going undercover, the team go to the ‘Overflow Camps’ where they find a shocking revelation to those marked categories 1 or 2. Meanwhile, Captain Jack attempts to convince Oswald Danes to expose PhiCorp’s advanced knowledge of the ‘Miracle’ in front of a live and televised audience.
After 4 episodes that focused predominately on building tension and developing an impeccably strong narrative arc, 'The Categories of Life' combined these elements and adds them to a mixture of high-octane investigation and action, along with further establishing the identity of PhiCorp and the role they have played in regards to the 'Miracle', and in doing all this, produced one of the most gripping 60 minutes of British/American television one has seen for a particularly long time.
Everything was executed perfectly and has proven the mass potential this series has to offer in it's closing 5 episodes. This episode had two greatly shocking moments which I will not note due to spoilers, as well as visually addressing the 'Overflow Camps' which were hindered at during the fourth episode. It's clear that the idea behind the camps was taken from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, but rather than being painstakingly obvious in their cruel ethos and mistreatment, the 'Overflow Camps' bear a presentable façade and are constructed upon a false but positive image which is cracked by the Torchwood team; particularly through the nose-poking of Dr. Vera Suarez (Arlene Tur).
Sadly this series has received a bit of hate from fans who believe the Atlantic move was a bad idea but hopefully they were more pleased by this entry as it had a decent and constructed balance between Wales and California. Personally I think the move was a fantastic idea and people should be relishing the fact that more people are able to access this wonderful show. 'Miracle Day' may not be complete Sci-Fi through and through, but it is certainly powerful and thought-provoking drama laced with wonderful performances and the best writing the show has ever had. Apart from 'Children of Earth', the first two series were plagued by the odd episodes with dodgy writing and poor dialogue, but now the show is getting experienced and knowledgeable writers who are helping to dramatically boost this series' potential. Jane Espenson's script was flawless here and performed with great skill. Oswald's speech sequence was a thing of scripting beauty; his dialogue felt so real, so articulate, as was Pullman's impeccable delivery.
In regards to the action/thriller elements, Gwen's return to Cardiff to find her father made utterly gripping television alongside the brimming news of the camps state-side, and consequently made each cut from place to place intense and entertaining - a mere moment was not still in this episode due to it's fantastic pacing and persistence, and it's performers. Thankfully, 'Miracle Day' hasn't plodded along and has been bursting with energy and excitement, but this episode was explosive, rich and deeply satisfying for it's consumer.
Realistically, Jack was slightly side-seated in this episode and only really came out to play before Oswald's big show, but that was a good thing. It's better to get further and stricter understanding of those characters who could perhaps become underdeveloped. We all know Jack and Gwen, and why Torchwood was formed, so it was wise to give the majority of the drama to the other characters. Yes, Gwen did have an important role here and she is included one of the shock moments so maybe my last comment was slightly contradictory, but overall, episode 5 allowed viewers to completely unlock the US arrivals, and I for one thought that was marvellous.
Now I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I cannot wait for next Thursday. Not many shows leave me completely reeling and desperate for more but 'Miracle Day' is. Russell T. Davies has certainly got his game-face on with this series which is making me think one thing - I hope the second half of 'Doctor Who' is as good as this... 'The Categories of Life' was simply fantastic.