Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Review of Torchwood's 4x06: "The Middle Men"

Written by John Shiban
Directed by Guy Ferland

Shanghai Contact (to Stuart): “I asked my uncle what happened. He told me to never question a miracle. You might not like what you find.”

Oh great, the whole bury your head in the sand approach – because that never causes trouble, does it? Oh wait, I think it does. For the people who are aware of the horrors that the government and PhiCorp are doing but refuse to acknowledge it – shame on you.

Gwen’s rant to Dr Alicia Patel (the anti-Vera Juarez if one was needed) might have sounded a little on the heavy handed end of the scale but what do you say to a woman in the medical profession that refuses to stand up against the modules? Alicia should probably consider herself lucky that Gwen didn’t thump her but the point still stands.

The allusions to the overflow camps as concentration camps is pretty much stating the obvious but it’s barbaric how readily nearly all the world’s governments have embraced this option to deal with the patients who are near death. There is no justification for this current dilemma but at least this episode actually went out of it’s way to combat the situation.

Gwen for instance did more than just rant about the modules – she bloody well blew the one up in Wales towards the end of the episode before the next batch of people were in them (presumably) and also managed to get her father to safety. Now that’s the Gwen Cooper we all know and love.

Not be outdone, Rex managed to get through his own anguish over Vera’s horrible demise to keep filming the extent of the module and while it did look like Colin was going to get the best of him and Esther, Rex achieved a first for Torchwood – getting their message across.

I liked that Torchwood publicly outed the modules situation as well as Vera’s death. It might have taken them six episodes to properly assert themselves but at least they’re finally fighting back in a threatening way. No more skulking about the place – Torchwood are finally posing a credible threat to PhiCorp and the world’s governments who are abusing the miracle.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy and while Torchwood are on top of their game, there’s also the issue of the blessing. What exactly is the blessing and can PhiCorp middle man Stuart Owens actually be trusted? It would be nice if Torchwood had at least one ally working within PhiCorp and Stuart seemed sincere enough to Jack during their conversation.

He wasn’t exactly deceptive when he told Jack that he had been doing his own investigation into the miracle, even if it was just dead ends (literally, considering that Shanghai contact killed himself) but still – how can he not know any more about the miracle? I know he’s supposed to be a middle man but he seems like a well connected one, so it’s a bit odd.

And speaking of middle men – how glad was I that Colin did not make it out of this episode alive? Okay, so he’s a Category 1 but both Ralph and Esther deserve medals for taking that scumbag out in the manner that they did (Esther – strangling, Ralph – shooting). While Colin was nastier than Oswald has been on screen, I certainly won’t miss him as a character.

In some ways this was also a huge moment for Esther. She may have contributed to Colin’s “death” because she was trying to save Rex but it still affected her. I know some fans will gripe about that but I like the fact that Esther isn’t a hardened character. That being said though, Esther would do well to heed Rex’s advice about picking herself up quickly. I have a feeling that tougher times are ahead for Esther.

As for Rex, the writers should pat themselves on the back. This is the second episode in a row where I’ve actually enjoyed the character. Probably because Rex was responsible for getting the world aware about the module and also because when he was being tortured by the odious Colin, I couldn’t not feel bad for the guy. Either that or heaven forbid, Rex is actually improving as a character.

However while Torchwood did achieve more victories than screw ups this week, things still went down south when Rhys, Mary and Anwen got kidnapped by a mystery abductor. I’m guessing because of this dilemma, Gwen is going to have no choice but to hand Jack over for her family and that will certainly make for some interesting television.

Also in “The Middle Men”

As well as Vera being out of the series, both Oswald and Jilly were absent from this episode as well.

Rex: “No, strike that, I’m not with the CIA or the US government authority. I’m with Torchwood and we’re gonna expose everything that’s going on here. Everything I just witnessed.”

I gotta ask – why didn’t Esther come up with an actual alias when she was in the San Pedro overflow camp? Surely, she’s on wanted lists now along with Rex.

Gwen (to Alicia): “Then you’d have to face the truth, wouldn’t you? This isn’t a hospital, this is a concentration camp.”

Stuart (to Jack): “You don’t believe me? You think I’m the epitome of evil. The devil in a three piece suit.”

I have to admit that I loved Jack’s flirting with the waiter and even Janet, the now ex mistress of Stuart Owens.

Receptionist (to Esther): “How blonde are you? It’s a lockdown, we haven’t got clearance. Stay at your desk.”

Rex: “It was you.”
Colin: “I’m sorry.”
Rex (re Vera): “You killed her.”
Colin: “I’m very sorry, it’s been a long day. I wanna go home.”

Did Rhys actually admit that Jack is an attractive fellow? He seemed to when he was trying to bluff his way past security? And where’s Gwen’s dad as well? Do the mystery kidnappers have him too?

Rex (re Colin): “What happened?”
Esther: “I killed him. Oh my God, I killed him.”

Gwen: “This is the truth for the whole world to see. We let our governments build concentration camps. They build ovens in our names. Now I don’t care if the whole of society bends over and takes this like a dog, I’m saying no.”
Jack: “That’s my girl.”

Chronology: From where “The Categories Of Life” left off.

I’ve been critical about this season and I still will be until the end but at the same, I actually loved this episode. “The Middle Men” had Torchwood being competent; it had actual progress and some decent mystery. I cannot wait for the next episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10


Guada GN said...

I agree with you, I still don´t know if Im liking this season - sometimes it feels like Im watching out of a sense of loyalty more than anything else - but this was a good episode all around.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Yeah, I get where you're coming from. It's still enjoyable stuff but it's not the show at it's best, though this was a wonderful episode.