5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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MIRACLE DAY: ESCAPE TO LA
Yeah, we’re back. Our hearts wrung by the pleas of everyone who wrote entreating us not to leave them to face Torchwood alone, we gritted our teeth and manned up. Whatever dreck may come, we’re here for the duration.And lo, our courage was rewarded, because Escape To LA (tee hee hoddle ha) was definitely less excruciating than last week.
Top of our like list is the inimitable C Thomas Howell, who munches the scenery magnificently in the role of an assassin who enjoys his job just a little too much. (We laughed. Were we supposed to? Please tell us we were supposed to.) We haven’t a clue what he’s rattling on about, but then we’re not meant to yet, and it’s about time they got the cryptic hints going.
There was also some ace Rhys work, and that always cheers us up immensely. The rest of it, all earnest and suchlike, is such heavy going, and Rhys is a desperately needed sprinkle of joy amongst the doom.
And we’re beginning to warm to Jilly. We like that we really have no idea who she is and whose side she’s on: in a show that’s all too often determined to whack you over the head with every plot point, her ambiguity is a real plus.
What’s more, things actually happen, a bit. They’re starting to accelerate the world filling up with people plot: it’s good that it’s lumbering into action, but oh dear, someone’s been thinking with one lobe switched off again. It’s all a bit murky about what happens if you should die but don’t. Danes got a hefty dose of extremely toxic drugs, yet he seems A-OK. Is he different from everybody else, or have they just not thought it through?
And what about Rex? He was lolling around in a hospital bed covered with wires, and while he keeps gobbling drugs, nevertheless he doesn’t seem nearly as ICUish now as he used to. (More’s the pity.) In fact, he can sprint up thirty-three flights of stairs with nothing more than a bit of corpuscle leakage and an ominous ba-DOOMP! ba-DOOMP! to show for it. To put this into perspective, Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack after climbing seven flights, and while he was 50 and unfit, he didn’t have a fecking great hole in his chest either.
So how does it work? If you catch something, or if you sustain an injury, that’s not life-threatening you just recover as usual, but if you reach the point of death you just stay there? No healing for you? Doesn’t make a lot of sense, given that lots of the people in the ward Danes went into were clearly not on the point of keeling over. Also, what about head twisted backwards girl? Where does she fit in? Call us picky, but when you build an entire season around a single concept, we think it’d be nice if you had more than a vague idea about how it actually worked. And, even more vitally, were consistent about it.
The whole what do we do with all these people thing is also getting some development, which is, alas, a mixed blessing. As one of us said when the Tea Partier started spouting off: “It’s such an obvious campaign - why don’t we let the dead have armbands with stars on first, start them off nice and easy?” At that point, we placed a hefty bet that the word “camps” would come into it before the end of the episode, and sure enough… It’s not just that this is a plot that’s been used again and again: it’s even previously been used in Torchwood. Bor-ing.
Meanwhile, the new Torchwoodies get a bit of emotional development. We all groaned and clutched our heads when Esther trotted up to her sister’s front door. How dumb is she? Also, what good did it do? What did she achieve by talking to her sister in person? What’s more, she clearly knows her sister is a potential danger to her children: why leave it till now to do something about it? After drying out last week, Esther is back to the boohooing: sigh. We like her Toshesque mad computer skillz, but honestly, does she have to be so droopy?
Rex also gets to show his vulnerable side after he realises that if this miracle comes to an end, he’s going to as well. His visit to his father is clearly supposed to soften us towards him, but good luck with that: not only is he still with the homophobia, but also, remind us again why he gets to yell at Esther for visiting a family member when he does the exact same thing?
Torchwood wouldn’t be Torchwood without small but exquisitely formed mountains of stupidity, and this episode again fails to disappoint in this arena. When they were banging on about replacing the server with a copy, we burst out laughing. We won’t bore you with the details, but yeah, that’s not gonna work. Then there’s the stuff about how only the designer can access the server, leaving us marvelling about how he managed to bamboozle the PhiCorp IT department into giving him such a sweet maintenance contract. Hilarious.
And the phones. The phoooones. They’re trying to hide, yet are happily chatting away repeatedly on cellphones to the very people whose communications are going to be monitored. Didn’t they watch The Wire? You need to switch up your burners, guys!
At the end, our opinions were split: some of us are quite looking forward to seeing how it all pans out, while others would rather run up thirty-three flights of stairs. Ah well, onwards.
SHE’S SO HIGH
We liked Gwen’s crack about working in heels, although it was a little weird when in the same episode they show Dr Juarez stalking the wards in Christian Louboutins. Which…yeah.
TWO WORDS….FIRST WORD…
Why does Jack demand that Gwen tell him who did this to her when she’s gagged?
WHO'S THE DADDY?
Our thanks to Tom Hickey, who wrote to point out that the US government aren't exactly slugabeds when it comes to background checks. Rex's drug-dealing Dad slipping through the net is, therefore, somewhat smirksome.