Torchwood 4.6: The Middle Men review

Review

The Middle Men

(Ep6 of Torchwood Miracle Day)

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Jack’s scenes add some sparkle to the gloom of this episode…

Torchwood

He’s not in it much though, so it remains rather gloomy. As the other three of the newly four-person Torchwood team are continuing their overflow-camp plotlines from the previous episode, it’s left to Jack to advance the larger plot and follow-up on the PhiCorp plotstrand.

He’s trying to speak to PhiCorp executive Owens, though flirting with Owens’s secretary Janet is one step towards that. He eventually gets a dinner date with Owens – what Jack takes away from the restaurant is the idea that PhiCorp may just be “The Middle Men” in all this (always read the Torchwood ep titles – there’s also other “middle men” this ep, “only following orders”), and something called “the Blessing” is involved too.

twGwen manages to record a vid-message that’s quite like her previous one in the fifth episode of Torchwood Children of Earth – actually the whole idea of rounding people up in a fascist way is used in this and that Torchwood story. The tautness and connectedness of the previous season is highlighted by this comparison, a particularly baggy episode for Miracle Day gives the impression it’s, at the moment, a loose collection of set-pieces. Yeah what Gwen does is spectacular, but doesn’t seem to have much of an ultimate effect on attitudes towards the camps.

The CIA

Esther and Rex retain their dual Torchwood/CIA status, though we haven’t heard much from the rest of the CIA with this ep and the previous one.

As Rex’s plan to get the footage of Vera “out there” doesn’t quite go to plan, it’s up Esther to rescue him from the loathsome Maloney.

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Like the horror of the camp that Gwen sees, Maloney’s loathsomeness has already been established, so for these to be onscreen once more in this ep does for once make any criticism of “hey more plot progression please Torchwood” a reasonable one, as the first four eps each had their own entertaining character moments – this week it’s all rather grim.

It’s tense stuff though, Esther’s rescue of Rex.

And as the “big bad” of the season is so amorphous, and even what’s happening with the established villains of Danes and Kitzinger is vague, Maloney means Torchwood have a straightforwardly monstrous character to battle, the “monster of the week”, (well, two weeks).

The Villains

twMaloney’s plotline ends with this episode.

There’s a new plotstrand introduced, as “they” contact Gwen.

No Danes and Kitzinger? Just as Kitzinger had manoeuvred her client into the spotlight with a “what happens next with this media star plotline?” question unresolved, they’re not in the episode after.

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This Torchwood story is going beyond the characters that started the season though: scenes of the man in Shangai who speaks to Owens over the phone – the sequence that begins this episode – sketches the idea that this Miracle Day conspiracy is global.

This is the first Miracle Day episode that’s less than consistently impressive entertainment however.

Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):

Wordbuilding  World-mapWorld-map

Gore                Weevil-chompWeevil-chompWeevil-chompWeevil-chompWeevil-chomp

Dancing           Carys

Angst               Tear-stained-pizzaTear-stained-pizzaTear-stained-pizzaTear-stained-pizza

Aliens             Philoctetes

Episode Quality-rating: GrinGrinGrin3/5

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Top 10 Doctor Who monsters countdown continues on Saturday, and more Torchwood reviews next week (Tuesday and Thursday).
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(The Middle Men on bbc.co.uk/programmes/)

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