Created by: Russell T. Davies
Cast: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins, Kai Owen, Arlene Tur, Bill Pullman, Lauren Ambrose, C. Thomas Howell, Mare Winningham
Synopsis: Given their base of operations in Washington D.C. was compromised, the new look Torchwood team shift their locale to Los Angeles. There they hope to break into Phicorp to steal a sensitive hard-drive that may hold the key to a few of the as yet unanswered questions. Meanwhile, Danes popularity wanes as a new politician starts a “Dead is Dead” campaign, promoting that those that should have died should be ignored to prevent their drain on the system.
After the last episodes misplaced steps, Escape to LA went a long way to restore my favour in the series. Though the series certainly feels more Americanised by the collaboration with US cable network Starz, more elements of the first three Torchwood seasons were allowed to peek through on this occasion. This was especially clear given the fact that there was a genuine mission requiring high-tech that was run by Jack and Gwen, and the simple fact these two characters got more interaction without resorting to the unresolved romantic path.
The tone also got the right mix of drama and humour back. I am starting to pick up that almost every episode has a Doctor Who reference, whether it be last episodes reference to a warehouse being “bigger on the inside”, or Jack using the Alias John Smith in the episode currently being discussed. The latter reference was more surreptitious, and as such, more clever, a mark of the increased quality of this episode. The guest stars for this episode are also of high quality. Thomas C. Howell is “The Gentleman”, a mysterious figure working for the big bad that tracks down the Torchwood gang to their new base of operations, and manages to throw a spanner in the works on this weeks big operation. He adds to the mystery of Miracle Day specifically too, indicating he and Jack have a history, that thew latter at this stage cannot recall. It seems that Jack is very closely linked to whatever is happening however. The other introduced character is Mare Winningham’s Ellis Hartley Monroe, the politician in direct conflict with Danes. These scenes form some of the most exciting character moments yet since the advent of Miracle Day.
I am still coming to terms with whether Rex and Esther are contributing a lot to Torchwood or not yet. The dynamic is very different to what we have seen before, and if anything it is clearly a less British dynamic. I immediately warmed to previous season characters, especially Tosh and Ianto, yet I am finding it harder to care about Rex, who is largely just a brash, arrogant American, and Esther, whom is kind of too much of a wallflower. She gets a very significant story arc in this episode emotionally, with the introduction of her familial problems, but this introduction feels very isolated, to build the character, yet for me it did little to get me to know the character any better. The episode cliffhanger is also an emotional one for Gwen, and I feel this one was better handled, as it will clearly influence her for the rest of the season.
The episode is certainly flawed, but there is a lot to recommend it as well, especially using the last episode as a benchmark.
4 stars out of 5
Torchwood Miracle Day – Episode 4 preview