5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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MIRACLE DAY: THE MIDDLE MEN
OK, so last episode it was all about the discovery that they’re internin’ and burnin’, plus Gwen trying to get her father out of a death camp. This time, it’s all about the discovery that they’re internin’ and burnin’, plus Gwen trying to get her father out of a death camp.
Spot the difference? Not easy, is it? So what extra do we actually get this time?
Well, basically it’s about The Implications Of It All. Assuming you were too shocked by last episode’s revelations to ponder their meaningfulness, here they helpfully do it for you. And since they’re treading a well-worn path, said implications are equally well-worn, hereunder, forthwith and to wit:
1. First they come for next door’s hamster. Then they come for your hamster.
2. As Edmund Burke should have said but actually didn’t, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
3. Somewhere in between the evil people and the good ones is the massive lump of humanity, taking the orders, taking the cheque and averting their eyes.
4. And, of course, there’s a fourth bunch, the Lonely Heroes. Amazingly, that turns out to be our Torchwoodies (plus assorted cleaners and soldiers). There’s hope for humanity after all. So don’t get too depressed just yet.Given that much of the episode is repetition, the characters are forced to run on the spot to keep in place. Rex, for example, instead of hightailing it out of there ASAP to protect his discovery and video evidence, instead spends ridiculous amounts of time sneaking around the crime scene saying spurious freedom fighter things into the camera. Needless to say, this gets him captured, at which point he gives his real name to the authorities. (Nrrrgh.) Then he proceeds to make the exact same mistake as Dr Juarez, confronting Maloney and explaining to him in detail how he’s about to expose the vile calumnies he’s uncovered. Remind us again: what possible good is this going to achieve? Then there’s Gwen. Such a badass is she that she seems to have enough materiel in her handbag to blow the entire Modules sky high. (Don’t ask us where she got that stuff, or how she managed to spread it around without anyone noticing, because we don’t have a clue.) So she’ll be breaking her father out and damn the torpedoes, right? Wrong. She seems to have the run of the place: she could sneakily change her father’s designation herself, or move him somewhere without any authorisation, without anybody raising an eyebrow. But instead, she chooses to try and talk a doctor into getting the paperwork right. Why bother playing by the rules?
The answer, of course, for both of them is that if they didn’t do it that way we’d miss out on the edifying spectacle being played out of The Banality Of Evil. (See numbers 1-3 above.) Because if they didn’t show us, we never would have worked all that out for ourselves.What else? Well, Esther, wearing the very stilettos mocked by Gwen previously, gets to temporarily mop up the tears while she kicks seven shades of shit out of Maloney. Although she then starts crying again, we’re relieved to see her showing a bit of gumption for once. Even if, like Rex, she gives the camp her real name. (We couldn’t believe it when she was complaining “They’ve got my name!”. Who’s fault’s that, sugar?)
And Jack, meanwhile, is on the trail of The Truth. This involves intriguing scenes in Shanghai (which does not look like that awful Chinatown mockup, by the way) and the highlight of the episode, Jack’s chat with Owens over the breadsticks. While we have no idea why Owens would be so calm about his affair being outed and his wife running off, and equally no clue why he’d spill his top secret findings about PhiCorp to a total stranger, nevertheless Ernie Hudson gives such a magnetic performance that we were nearly convinced it all made sense.Where to from here? One thing that seems clear is that having run through the camps scenario and its Awful Implications, that’s not the direction we’re going in henceforth. The Torchwoodies are all, well, that’s not very nice, but we’re not about arguing with politicians, so…. Um, OK. Not bothering our heads over the camps from now on, then. That leaves the Evil Forces that are Behind It All. Hopefully that’ll be a bit more interesting.
FIRST ONE TO MENTION THE NAZIS GETS A BANANA
“Those ovens are waiting for all of us!” “Not my fault! It’s the system!”
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
Given that her father’s life is at stake, isn’t Gwen a bit too low-key in the shame on you scene?
Why isn’t Jack hitting on that stunning PhiCorp admin assistant? And why does he mention complaining about men? Last we knew, he was pansexual, not gay.
“I like the bit where he calls you limited. Limited.” Lovely line, and great delivery from John Barrowman.
Owens’s wife called the authorities? For having an affair?
If Owens is believably understated, sadly we can’t say the same for Maloney. He’s supposed to be an ordinary man who shows the possibility for evil in all of us, but there’s so much overacting, and an overegged script, that he’s like a cartoon villain.
THE KISS OF DEATH
Gwen travels thousands of miles and risks her life and Rhys’s to save her father. Yet as armed men approach their Dad-laden truck, she takes the time for a leisurely smooch.
U.S. AND THEM
Gwen tells Jack she’s returning to the US, saying “I’m coming back to the fight”. But why would they think America is Fight Central? After all, something very bad indeed’s going down in Shanghai, for example, and the UK seems to have a plenteous quota of death camps and PhiCorps too.
Gwen’s wanted by the US authorities, remember? Yet when she’s in LAX and she’s called to the courtesy phone, it doesn’t seem to cross her mind that owning up to being Gwen Cooper might turn out to be a bit of a liability. And to be fair, it doesn’t seem to be. Weird.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Why would Gwen do the lens thing at the behest of some random, and anonymous, guy?
Why don’t Mysterious Lens People mention Gwen’s Dad?