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.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Review – TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY – “The Middle Men”