If there's been one episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day so far that we could've skipped without losing much of the overall story, Friday's "The Middle Men" was probably it. It's not like wasn't entertaining, but as far as getting closer to solving the mystery of the series—which is probably why most of us are hooked on the show—we only took about half a baby step toward learning the truth. Overall, the episode was all about escaping the overflow camps and blowing the whistle on the bad guys.
I got the feeling that the purpose of "The Middle Men" was simply to bridge the last episode with the next episode and reset things, so to speak. Get Rex and Esther out of the San Pedro overflow camp and get Gwen back to the States. Mission accomplished. Golf clap. But as far as real meat to chew on, we didn't really get any.
Instead, "The Middle Men" revealed just how much the Torchwood team flies by the seat of its pants. Rex filmed a bunch of stuff, faked being passed-out, punched a guard in the face, put on his clothes, announced he was smoking to get past security, and was finally caught because, well, he had a pretty flimsy plan. Esther kept on breaking lockdown rules, Jedi-Mind-tricked a guy into telling her where Director Maloney was, and couldn't come up with a convincing lie when she was confronted by him. Rhys just figured he'd drive a truck through some checkpoints and gave up Jack's name for lack of a better wit. No one had a plan, because they're all just winging it. This is understandable, given their circumstances. The problem is it can make for frustrating viewing, since in the end they pretty much just punched their way through whatever obstacles appeared before them. Or in Gwen's case, exploded her way out with a BOOM that would make Michael Bay jealous. Seriously, that was an impressive pyrotechnical display.
But—and I'll say this over and over until your ears bleed—even with some sketchy plotting, I'll watch Torchwood: Miracle Day 'til my eyes dry out as long as the main characters stick around. The originals, Jack and Gwen, lead the pack, but Rex and Esther have continued to grow on me. Russell T. Davies even manages to create memorable throwaway characters, and that goes a long way. The "They're all illegal immigrants, this is wrong, this might make sense in Mexico" guy was great! The tattooed landlord who loves tarts was hilarious! The gay flight attendant was memorable! That extra effort that Davies and his staff put in to make the universe they've created come alive makes the show very watchable—and it's arguably the most important part of giving a series an identity. The more depth the world has, the more we can immerse ourselves in it, the more we can forget about our horrible jobs and escape our banal existences, and that's exactly what Torchwood: Miracle Day does so well. It's like Calgon on your TV.
Beyond that, I'm kind of grasping at straws trying to find something to discuss about this episode. We learned that "the blessing" might be a key component to Miracle Day, though I wouldn't trust the COO of Phicorp (Ernie Hudson!) as far as I can throw him. We know that someone tapped into Gwen's contacts and is demanding she turn Jack in. And... that's about it. No Oswald or Jilly. We're no closer to the mystery of Miracle Day or proving/disproving my alien life-dust party theory. But we did get to hang out with some of our favorite TV characters for another hour, and that works for me.
... It was nice to see some of you validate my theory that the cremations might be part of a plan to make some weird super life powder. Maybe I'm not as crazy as people think... aww who am I kidding?
... Eye-gouging! Biting! Screaming! Esther fights just like I do!
... Even if I knew I couldn't die, I wouldn't jump off a 45-story building. What's up with the 45 Club?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom