Wow, what a change in tone. After a somewhat goofy third episode, this episode has now turned serious and dark. sure there are some attempts at humor, but it generally falls flat, with a notable exception. More on that later.
The team relocates to Los Angeles, with plans on retrieving some data from a Phicorp server. Gwen acts like she’s never been to anyplace sunny before (and despite the heat, doesn’t take off her leather jacket.) Her american accent is brutal, so maybe she hasn’t.
Jack’s gaydar quickly gets them a place to setup and they get to work. In the meantime, other, less friendly places are being set aside for the newly non-dead, something Dr. Juarez finds troubling and aggravating. In fact, the hospital sequences reminded me a little of Blindness. Yeah, yuck.
Meanwhile, a dead is dead campaign is promoted in this chapter, but like the ‘soulless’ appears to be a one episode phenomenon. When you watch the ep, you’ll find out why (and get to see the grisly way it gets dealt with.)
The team gets to working well, planning a heist from the Phicorp headquarters, but family gets in the way. Not physically, of course, but emotionally. Gwen and Esther try to stay involved with those close to them, but that makes them vulnerable to the enemy. Rex visits his father, but that serves to anger and frustrate him more than anything else. And that’s where the team’s plan breaks down. A very nasty assassin, hired by the evil triangle masterminds uses the weaknesses to track them down. In the big heist, Esther starts to crack under the pressure, goaded on by an angry and exasperated Rex who can’t keep his cool (but can sure climb stairs well for a man with a hole in his chest.)
And thus any potential answers are stayed (well, we do have 10 episodes here, as opposed to Children of Earth’s 5.)
In the meantime, Oswald Danes is finding his star descending as ‘Teaparty darling’ (hey, a political dig!) Elis Hartley Munroe who is promoting the ‘Dead is Dead’ movement. In response Danes pulls a Princess Diana Moment of empathetic triumph (the motivating music backing him has to be heard to be believed!), and thus regains his former media momentum. This leads to the most humorous moment in the episode with an newly re-excited Jilly Kitzenger encountering Dr. Juarez.
“This is disgusting,” the good and angry Doc growls.
“I know!” replies Jilly happily, practically jumping up and down in joy.
That may not sound funny, but in context…
Now, what is really starting to strike me is a short sequence where Jack called on obessing over Danes. he brings up a George Elliot quote about patterns from scratches from Middlemarch. He’s referring to Oswald, but the same could be said about RTD and his repeating formula for Torchwood. Maybe Danes is some weird authorial proxy for Russell.
Tell me if you’ve seen this before:
1. A bizarre event occurs with human beings around the world.
2. An immediate attempt to kill all members of Torchwood is made.
3. A large organization/government is in colludes with an alien influence.
4. large groups of people are being hearded to certain locations ‘for their own good.’
5. And this has to do with something Jack did with the aliens in his past.
Sound familiar? It should to any Torchwood fan.
Sure it’s playing out differently, but formula is formula. No wonder Starz isn’t committing to a followup series next year. Perhaps they don’t want to buy into Russell repeating himself again.
Rating: 3 out of 5