Stars: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins, Kai Owen, Bill Pullman, Lauren Ambrose, Arlene Tur, Jonathan Spencer, Frederick Koehler, Jason Brooks, Tom Price, Marc Vann, William Thomas, Ciera Payton, G. Lane Hillman, Lena Kaur, Liz Jenkins, Ernie Hudson
Writer: John Shiban
Director:  Guy Ferland
Network: Starz, airs Friday nights
Original Telecast: August 12, 2011

In the sixth episode of the all-new BBC/Starz co-production of TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY, “The Middle Men,” the action takes place on two fronts as Gwen (Eve Myles) and Rhys (Kai Owen) struggle to save Gwen’s father from the incinerators at a camp in Wales. In the US, Esther (Alexa Havins) tries to find out what happened to Vera (Arlene Tur) at the San Pedro camp run by the creepy Colin Maloney (Marc Vann), but Rex (Mekhi Phifer) already knows the truth and makes a poor choice of ally in a bid to escape.

This story seems to excel in examining all the permutations of its premise in society – such as the intriguing “45 Club” early in this episode – but the further it goes in following the actual plotline with the Torchwood team and their investigation, the more frustrating it gets as a viewing experience.

As shocking as the finale of episode five was – although shouldn’t we have seen that coming, at least in retrospect? –the story has ground to a halt now that most of the cast are in the two overflow camps. It takes the rest of this episode to extricate our characters and the flagging story from the camps, and we’ve also lost all momentum on the investigation into what’s behind the miracle. One crucial scene with guest star Ernie Hudson as Phicorp’s COO Stuart Owens moves things forward incrementally, but otherwise we’re just spinning wheels. Hudson’s performance is odd too. When informed that his mistress may be suffering extreme physical distress at that very moment, his entire demeanor is bemused and relaxed, and not in a way that suggests the character doesn’t care. He seems more like an actor that isn’t paying attention to his script but just showing up to deliver his lines and get that check cashed.

Speaking of middle men and “the true face of evil,” we at least get to see some comeuppance for last week’s cartoon villain, camp director Colin Maloney (Marc Vann). His final scene with Esther is intense, and Vann does a great job with the over-the-top role he’s given to play, but it’s also good to know we aren’t likely to see Maloney again. His departure from the stage is steeped in more cliché when he grabs Esther in a classic Michael Myers move and a downtrodden private, part of Maloney’s cover up, shows up to save the day and his own soul.

Now that we know she’s gone, Vera’s death is a terrible loss not just as a heart-wrenching part of the plot but in terms of the series; Arlene Tur was one of the strongest members of the cast. As for John Barrowman, he remains a guest star in what was once his own show. This episode also continues to reinforce that Jack is no longer ominisexual, commiserating with an attractive young woman about men at a bar rather than showing the slightest interest in her, even when it’s strategically important to win her to his side in a crucial battle against Phicorp. One wonders when Jack decided to cross an entire gender off his list, and if other alien races are also now out of luck when it comes to that Harkness brand of loving.

Gwen gave us a “punch the air” moment when she decked the evil agent on the plane a few episodes back, and now she one-ups herself by blowing up an entire overflow camp. With Jack’s peripheral status, and the climactic request for Gwen to bring him to mysterious parties in exchange for her family, perhaps we should hand the reins of Torchwood permanently to Gwen Cooper? We could do a whole lot worse.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET US KNOW HOW YOU FEEL – COMMENT BELOW!

Click on link: TORCHWOOD – “The Middle Men”  – Review #2
Click on link: TORCHWOOD – “The Categories of Life”  – Review #1

Click on link: TORCHWOOD – “Dead of Night”  – Review #2

Click on link: TORCHWOOD – “Rendition”  – Review #2

Click on link: AX’s 10 Things About Torchwood You Need To Know

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Article: Review – TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY – “The Middle Men”

 

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  1. Pingback: TV Review: TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY – “The Middle Men” – Review #1 – Assignment X | US News

  2. I do find the story gripping if it wasn’t called Torchwood I’d love it, but it is called Torchwood. I hate the coat, the lack of theme tune (if it wasn’t in the budget what was wrong with the old one), the gun. Torchwood is supposed to be camp and fun, and it has lost that element. There is no one for John Barrowman to bounce off for comedy except maybe Kai Owen and they never seem to meet. The best bit for me so far was the story with the woman in the bar and the PhiCorp guy for the first time Captain Jack was Captain Jack with humour etc

    Rex and Esther are real drips. I don’t mind they killed off the old characters, the wardrobe department has irritated me no end (who put the baby in the daft bow etc). I’m not disliking it enough to switch off, but I do miss Torchwood. I miss the humour and the warmth. Does anyone else feel this misses the parts of Jack like with Estelle or the other Jack the depth. I miss Captain Jack’s character and would like to see him back :) However feel free to ignore the lady that loved the fairies episode.

    Charlotte
  3. The only problem with Punch the Air Moment #2 is, by blowing up an overflow camp, Gwen just doomed a everyone there to the very fate she was supposed to be delivering them from: death by immolation. Big action fun, yes, but not well thought out by the writing staff.

    I still don’t understand why Jack has to be interested in only men this series. It certainly wasn’t the Americanization of the show, because STARZ is well known for its freewheeling ways with sexuality.

    Miracle Day bears little resemblance to the Torchwood that worked its way up the BBC’s ranks. I loathed “Children of Earth,” and it was full of logical failure and plot holes, too, but the pacing was better and the acting far more even.

    lawsontl
  4. I’ve been a TW fan from way back, and of DR Who as well. I’d disagree that Torchwood was “campy.” I think TW has always been darker, and less “fun” than its originator, Dr Who.

    The one thing I found unbelievable in this episode was Rex confessing everything to Maloney. This struck me as supremely stupid, given Rex was in the CIA; why would you directly to the person in charge with something like this? When presumably — since they are in charge — they KNOW.

    I was glad to see Esther come in and do something more active, and thought Vann did a great job showing Maloney totally cracking under the pressure.

    I have faith in the writers and creators; Jack will come into his own, and figure more heavily, especially after the message Gwen received at the end.

    Eve
  5. Russell should have say from start that he wanted to tell Gwen’s story and that Jack was just the way to get the show produced. Instead he kills everyone except Gwen and makes Jack suffer as he cannot kill him (but he may do it this time…)

    Pat75
  6. Agree that this episode was the weakest to date. It led me to think though, that maybe given the tight budget and filming schedule, that maybe Barrowman’s absence in the earlier part of the show is down to him filming parts elsewhere – especially seeing the trailer for the next episode which looks fairly Harkness heavy.

    It’s a technique that they use to stretch their resources and it’s come out unevenly in the final episodes making us think Jack is second fiddle to everyone else. I don’t find Gwen’s appearances any greater in time really. More focus is on Rex and Esther.

    As for plot – it’s moving slowly, but again it looks like the next episode will change that significantly. Might be too late for some, but I am staying with it.

    I’m still OK with the way the story has played out. People seem uneasy about the idea of governments reacting this way to the Miracle, but I find it quite logical really. Also Jack’s absence in the action has more to do with his new found mortality than anything. He can’t do anything on the front line anymore because he can get hurt and die. Makes sense that he would take a back seat.

    As for his sexual preferences – I too think he’s been “gayed” up too much. He’s meant to be pan or omni sexual, and this hasn’t been spelled out nearly enough…maybe he’s gone off sex, because, again, he’s making himself susceptible to disease and ultimately possibly death. His drunken shag with the barman is OK, because he evidently didn’t much care about anyone or anything – it was his lowest point morally.

    So no problems with plot or anyones actions…keep it up on the storyline though…it nearly came to a grinding halt with episode 6!

    Gabby
  7. Any initial excitement i felt at the return of torchwood has vanished and probably disappeared at the end of episode 2. This is formulaic, poorly written and the characters are unconvncing. . The previous bbc episodes were quirky and intriguing but Miracle Day is just another second rate US tv show. We have deleted the series fom our sky recording plan as we have zero interest in what happens next. Barrowman is wasted in this and Gwen is surely one of the most irritating characters ever. Thank God for a new Dr Who series starting soon in the UK.

    Slb
  8. I think maybe part of the reason Jack isn’t so sexual any more is that he still feels guilty about Ianto. He had that moment with the bartender but that was perhaps just the rush of being mortal, I think?

    Billie
  9. I certainly don’t agree that this episode was kind of lacklustre. I was sitting on the corner of my chair yesterday evening. I think the series is pretty wel built up actually. Every week you get to know a littel bit more, but we still don’t know who the Families are yet. Or what Jack’s past has got to do with it. Probably something particularly nasty like in CoE – which I happened to enjoy. Yes, I do miss a real musical theme, it would be nice if Jack could interact more with his team, be more “omnisexual” again like he was before. But then, there are still some episodes to go. By the way, I believe Gwen blew up the ovens before the people got in. So, it does make sense. And even if they were, a blast is somewhat quicker than incineration.

    Christine

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