Torchwood: Fun in the Sun

For its fourth episode, Torchwood: Miracle Day went California or Bust to deliver its best episode since the season 4 premiere. And how did they do it? With a deft combination of the show's trademark humor, a grisly death, and putting people's lives on the line in a way that was much more tense than seating them on a plane (still not over the episode 2 plane ride).

"Escape to L.A." featured a caper ripped out of Danny Ocean's playbook, a war of words between two psychos with different ideas on what it means to be dead, and a car crusher that put an end to an evil consortium's problem. But the most exciting moment saw our heroes Jack and Gwen tied up with Ethernet cables. Someone call IT!

An assassin who had been tracking Gwen and Cap'n Jack all episode finally caught with them in Phicorp's sparkling white server room and had our heroes dead to rights. He was 99 percent done with his villain's speech when Rex finished his own hero's journey–a wheezy trek up 33 flights of stairs–and killed made the rest of the assassin's long life incredibly painful. It was a moment that had to happen. Rex had to, at some point or another, prove his worth to Jack and Gwen by saving their lives. Unfortunately, he did it RIGHT BEFORE HE WAS GOING TO SPILL THE BEANS! This being the cheeky Torchwood, everyone's reaction to that was great.

This wouldn't have happened if Esther hadn't been such a moron and visited her sister. Esther! How could you do that? Why didn't you-- Oh, I can't stay mad at you. You're too adorable! You're like that little Golden Retriever puppy that pooped on the carpet. Aww shnookums, it's okay. Here's a treat. She'll redeem herself down the line.

Elsewhere, creepy Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) was seeing his newfound popularity decline thanks to Ellis Hartley Monroe (Mare Winningham) and her "Dead is Dead" campaign. So what does a convicted murderer and child rapist do to get back some of the limelight? The just-so-crazy-it's-brilliant move of walking among the undead, something no one else in the country seemed willing to do. It's a genius step for Oswald as now he can win the favor of those who should be dead, which as I see it, is the fastest growing population on the planet. Of course it also helps to have whatever shadow organization that is pulling your strings literally crush your competition by squashing her in a junkyard's compactor. Awesome! Creating a world where no one dies must be a lot of fun for writers.

So we don't know who is behind all this, but we do know they want Captain Jack dead as we thought from the first episode. We know that someone from Jack's past is involved, and if anyone has any guesses (I never watched the first two seasons of the series), let's hear 'em in the comments section below.

We also know that the bad guys or gals or aliens or time-traveling hermaphrodites have a huge plan in place. It involves Phicorp–either in cahoots or as a puppet organization, it involves the government–which is setting up overflow camps for our perpetually dying and is silent on the whole "Miracle Day" issue (very suspicious), and it involves people with some sweet-ass phones and connections to everything. Miracle Day is still very much a mystery. But the clouds over it are slowly dissipating and now things are getting interesting; at least I'm more invested in the series more than I ever was. It's the old TV.com four-episode test, and Torchwood: Miracle Day has passed.

Notes:
–Some great humor in this episode, led by Torchwood's leather-bound landlord and his love of guava jalapeno cheese tarts. I love how the openly gay Davies is okay with poking fun at the culture and stereotypes; that's a sign of a confident man.

–Not a huge fan of Rex reuniting with this dad so far. What's the point? Seems like a shoe-horned storyline. Ditto for Esther's sister (though her situation is quite tragic).

–Have the years been unkind to C. Thomas Howell? I barely recognized him as the assassin. It's been a longtime since Soul Man.

–Anyone else cringe when child rapist Oswald Danes held the baby? Do people really have such short-term memories? Also, he was totally copping a feel on that baby girl.

–Wouldn't the world be a little bit more in a state of panic if no one died? People seem way too calm. I'd be buying canned goods and shotguns and heading for a nice air-conditioned bunker in the woods. Wi-Fi enabled, of course.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Aug 10, 2011
Perhaps something to do with Grey...?
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Aug 08, 2011
Add a comment...@ArjunaJenning I m sorry but do you have your head up your A$$? You just named Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Lost, Battlestar, Mad Men, Breaking Bad... all terrible and unsuccessful television. And yet EVERYONE of those shows Have been hugely successful and have either made their full run or or still going. Now whether or not you liked or disliked these shows, in your case disliked doesn't matter at all. You seem to have this idea in your head that because you don't like them nobody else does either and the shows did not do well. Out of all you listed the only I don't like is Mad Men, but I guess you haven't noticed It is still going on strong ratings wise and has won a whole lot of awards.

Anyway I am getting sick and tired of people saying that Torchwood sucks because it's Americanized. Maybe you haven't noticed but Russell T davies is still the executive producer and showrunner so he is in charge and came up with the Miracle day storyline. it seems that just because most of it takes place in the US and has American actors some people, noticed i said some not all, seem to not like it just because of that. People have been complaining about the look being different, because they are using american cameras. the most stupid thing is I have read that people dislike is that there is too much action like an american film. I'm sorry to say that most of these whiny complainers are from the UK. Don't get me wrong not all i said only some UK viewers dislike it NOT all of them. I don't get it they should be happy that TW is back on after such a really long time. And so I ask those people if the Miracle Day story had happened only in Cardiff would you like it? If your answer is yes than really you should realize you really have a an unfair dislike for americans. After all it was not us who made TW come here. So really just try to watch the show for what it is: Torchwood, not Torchwood kidnapped tortured and being forced to also air in the US.

My last thing I would like to say is while I am one in the US who saw the first 3 seasons, i know plenty of people who have been watching TW MD who never knew that this is it's fourth season. I talked to all of them and they all said pretty much the same thing that there were minor things that made them think they missed something but not enough to make them stop watching. You should all be happy that TW is getting a whole new group of fans not just in the US bu around the world.
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Aug 08, 2011
As a SF & Fantasy fan for a large number of years I've seen a great many changes, eg look at the effects before Star Wars, compare storylines from series and films from the 60s, 70s, 80s. all the way through to today. They all change greatly. I'm still able to enjoy TV & Movies from the past, I just allow for how things have changed. Torchwood evolved from Doctor Who, a show which has seen many changes since it was created in 1963. Look how many times the character of The Doctor has regenerated, to be played by a different actor, he has been joined by many companions, storylines have been varied, here we are 48 years on from the characters creation. New fans are able to join the show at any point and the same applies to Torchwood and other SF & Fantasy shows. The character of Jack is full of mystery, he has lived for a long period of time (as do The Time Lords in Doctor Who). A nod to Doctor Who was included in this episode by Jack giving his name as John Smith, a name used on several occasions by The Doctor. We only have to look around the real world to see how many events get forgotten, or history at school no longer teaches, or the events are played down due to not being PoliticallyCorrect. Danes just goes out there and gives the people what they want, which of course isn't always correct.

Most of all if we enjoy Science Fiction & Fantasy, these give us a temporary escape route from all the problems of the real world. Thanks to Russell T Davies and all the writers for a great series
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Aug 05, 2011
Are you serious???? Can I please apply for a job with you guys doing reviews?? Because reading this was almost as painful as watching the early episodes of Falling Skies!! Now I hate R.T.Davies (can't get over what he did to WHO) but this episode delivers!! Now I just hope he delivers on the outcome and not weebly wobbly the ending as he has done sooo many times before.
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Aug 05, 2011
On your point of the world being more in a state of panic, I thought they addressed the unpredictability of an event like this very well. Esther the adorable idiot predicted that with mortality out the window, India and Pakistan would start a war that would make the Kashmir conflict look like a friendly neighborhood dispute. Instead, they declared peace and put a halt to all conflicts, with this the writers were trying to tell us you just can't predict what humanity would do if confronted with sudden immortality.
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Aug 05, 2011
Seriously can't believe you like this thing. Not Torchwood, just some incredibly uber-hyped action fik spit-shined and over-exploded for American audiences. Gwen is still annoying. Jack is still camp. Got a nice swirly coat, though. I suppose that's its nod to continuity.
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Aug 04, 2011
C. Thomas Howell is on Southland.. on TNT.. yep the years have been so unkind.. and I cringed at the thought of a child molester holding a baby.. and people just EATING IT UP
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Aug 02, 2011
It might have something to do with the Resurrection gauntlet that was used in season 1 of Torchwood.
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Aug 03, 2011
I hope so, though I doubt it. This season doesnt seem like a continuation of the show but something new that americans can watch without worrying for what had happened.
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Aug 02, 2011
imo, its getting boring and boring. Im only watching out of love for Jack and Gwen...
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Aug 02, 2011
I would like to add that Captain Jack was especially hot in this episode :)

I liked the episode but I wish i could watch all of them during a marathon.
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Aug 02, 2011
Really great episode
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Aug 01, 2011
I think this was the best episode of the season so far, but I still prefered the first couple of seasons. As some others have commented, the show now seems to be weighed down by Davis using it as a platform to joke about sexuality. And I can see how some Americans could be a bit pissed at some of the stereotyping going on (although it's not as bad as the recent episode of Futurama - worst episode i've ever seen of the show). I'm going to stick with TW but only because I want to know 'who done it' and I want to know if it has any impact on the up-coming season of Dr. Who - although I very much doubt it will. On the issue of guessing 'who done it' - not a clue, although I doubt it will be Owen Harper as no-one previously dead has come back to life (would have been a good twist though). Does anyone remember the evil faeries from the first season? Random possibility? Also, I'm sure there is a crude joke in there somewhere between Davis, Faeries and how camp the show is - i'll leave it yo
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Aug 01, 2011
Pretty sure its the 456 who have come back to harvest the human race and punish Jack for stopping them in series 3 Children of Earth. Jack used Steven (his grandson) as a weapon against the 456 and Steven died to save the children of the Earth. The first four episodes have been somewhat tiresome and repetative and we can only hope that it picks up pace and starts revealing whats going on. Long drawn out arcs are so passe'; ie Flashforward, The Event, LOST, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes etc.
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Aug 02, 2011
Whoever is responsible it will definitely not be the 456 or any other entity previously known on the show.
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Aug 01, 2011
The script constantly poking fun at it's american audience, tied with its unrealistic social interactions and just-roll-with comedy, weigh down the science fiction overtones-- banishing this into the realm of sci-fi camp.
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Aug 01, 2011
It's not the same, I've lost interest.
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Aug 01, 2011
i usually like torchwood but lately its gotten distrubing i mean really is world go to spend time listening to a child murderer and a rapist really now and why havent they addressed the fact that jack killed his grandson
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Aug 02, 2011
"!i mean really is world go to spend time listening to a child murderer and a rapist"

yes they would. have you read people or usmagazine lately? watched nancy grace, Bill O'Reily, Fox news and their ilk? YES THEY WOULD.
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Aug 01, 2011
they sort of addressed the grandson part but only for those who had seen series 3, when Jack was talking to Danes about how it felt with killing the girl at the end of episode 3. Nothing major but it has been over a year...it is done.
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Aug 01, 2011
this episode was aweome.it had action suspense and intensity.i love tortchwood.
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Jul 31, 2011
like the show, good storyline
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Jul 31, 2011
Given that people are dying, yet not staying dead; my vote is Owen Harper. He's probably STILL ticked off with Torchwood. And this is his payback.
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Aug 02, 2011
that would be so aswesome. but why would Owen be mad? it wasn't their fault.
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Jul 31, 2011
I agree with tvguy. All I could think was that when the "dead" were being sent to abandoned hospitals, it was a lot like Nazi concentration camps and it is just a matter of time before mass cremations begin.
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Jul 31, 2011
I have nothing constructive to add except: JOHN SMITH! The guy talked like he was a Time Agent. Grey's dead. John Hart is making a new show for Syfy.
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Aug 02, 2011
I hope they've managed to be really stealth and Captain Hart pops up as the Time Agent causing this brouhaha. Loved him.



And I love your icon. Verrrry cool!
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Jul 31, 2011
Also...they cut off the head in episode 1 and the person was still alive. But what happens if you incinerated a corpse, via cremation. Wouldn't that destroy all brain matter, all organic living cells and therefore someone would in fact die from that?
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Jul 31, 2011
As seems to be happening with this season, I'm sure they'll answer this question in a future ep. (I was pondering the bath of acid scenerio).
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Jul 31, 2011
I totally cringed when Danes picked up that baby. I was like WTH is going on here? why isn't everyone freaking out on him.

I think the world would be in much more of a state of panic. The realization that painfully living forever is worse than death would be terrifying, and people would be isolating themselves and trying to avoid disease and injury at all costs.

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Aug 05, 2011
Isn't that what Esther's sister is doing, hiding away from possible germs and freaking out? I was a little creeped-out by Danes' picking up the baby girl unchallenged too, but it was also darkly funny, like electing people professing a hatred of government to run the government. Also, Rex's meeting with his father fit in with the theme of families. All of the Torchwood team except Jack had some contact with their families in this episode.
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Aug 01, 2011
not to mention they are still growing old, there bodies will break down and yet the will still be alive.
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Jul 31, 2011
If a show can only be successful and enjoyable if you have to have watched all the years that came before, then it's not going to be a successful, enjoyable show.
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Aug 02, 2011
I watched Children of Earth before this one, I haven't seen the previous two seasons. There is little going on that ties in previous seasons-- this works fine all by itself. And your statement cannot be more false. Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Lost, Battlestar, Mad Men, Breaking Bad... all terrible and unsuccessful television.
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Jul 31, 2011
Maybe I'm unique but I haven't seen the first three Torchwood series, coming to this season just knowing about Captain Jack's imortality and the welshness of the lady. And I'm loving Torchwood US and do NOT feel lost in the slightest.
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Jul 31, 2011
People aren't freaking out as much because at this point on Doctor Who and Torchwood, the Earth has been invaded by aliens every Christmas for over 5 years, they've had to deal with Slitheen (DW S1E4), Cybermen (DW S2E5), Sontarans (DW S4E4), children almost being farmed by aliens (TW S3) and the death of the US President by an alien madman (DW S3E9). In this world, I doubt much surprises people anymore. I honestly can't understand how jumping into Torchwood at Series 4 with no knowledge of the show or atleast of Doctor Who can be enjoyable for anyone. (Not to mention how Americanized they made everything!)
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Aug 01, 2011
The death of the US President by an alien mad man?? DW s3 ep9 is the Family of Blood.. with the Doctor becoming John Smith cause the aliens are coming after him..

Do you mean the Master in End of Time turning into everyone?? Or just remembered the Master in Sound of Drums.. I think he kills the President then..

Sorry for been a nitpick I was just really confused bout that cause everything else in your comment is right.
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