Torchwood: Matters of Life and Category 1

Torchwood: Miracle Day's fifth episode, "The Categories of Life," provided the most horrific look yet at what happens when no one dies. With the undead and undying piling up, the government has gone into Gestapo mode, rounding up the "children of the Miracle" and cramming them into "overflow" camps just like, well, take your pick—Jewish people in Europe in the early '40s, Japanese people in the U.S. later that decade, or fat kids every summer.

New sanctions have been approved by the United Nations and legislation has been signed in the U.S. to clarify the definition of "life." You're no longer just alive, you're either "healthy alive," "unhealthy alive" (Category 2), or "dead alive" (Category 1)—which is basically dead. Naturally, some people have a problem with this. The whole idea is a clever and messy mashup of the real-world principles of universal versus privatized healthcare and pro-life versus pro-choice, with the government deciding who gets what kind of medical care and what exactly "life" means.

Russell T. Davies has succeeded once again in keeping things accessible and interesting while theorizing on what would happen in a world where death takes a holiday. Halfway through the series, Davies' initical concept is still going strong, and I'm totally Category 1'ing to find out what happens next because I can't wait to see what happens to world where no one expires. I'm guessing your current level of enjoyment of the series comes down to how into the concept you are, and whether or not you were just hoping for some alien intervention. Personally, I'm completely fascinated by the idea; it's really solidly grounded sci-fi. But maybe we just haven't seen aliens yet.

The big reveal in "Categories of Life" was that the government is now taking control and, for reasons unknown, providing facilities that put the near-dead into EZ-bake ovens. They're essentially cremating the living. But why? To free up space in crowded and overworked makeshift hospitals for those who have a chance at survival? Fat chance. I'm guessing that the bodies, forever blessed with the magic of life, are being turned into ash so that crazy aliens can snort it at kick-ass alien parties. Or maybe they can dissolve it in some liquid to make alien Emergen-C? Granted, these theories are ridiculous (and awesome), but there's something unsettling about the fact that ultimately, these ovens are producing are a lot of ashy remains. Ashy remains that are still alive.

We happened upon this knowledge by watching Dr. Juarez get lit up on her first (and likely last) assignment as a member of Torchwood. It's her fault, though— she could have avoided getting broiled if she'd played it more cool. Knowing that cover-ups run deep, she should have kept her fussing to a minimum and escaped with the knowledge she had. I'm not going to shed any tears over you, Juarez, because you were dumb. Admirable, but dumb. And dumb people get themselves killed.

Elsewhere, Oswald set out for the Miracle Rally to speak on behalf of Phicorp. This thread is totally losing me. I love the character of Oswald, but I'm just not believing his situation, and the show isn't convincing me otherwise. Was his deranged, nonsensical speech about humans becoming angels so moving that he's become a voice for the people? And why were the people wearing "Dead is Dead" shirts (the slogan for Oswald's car-crushed opponent) suddenly jumping on the bandwagon? This Oswald storyline needs to grow some legs... fast.

All told, "The Categories of Life" was another entertaining chapter of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Sure, the series is the equivalent of a conspiracy theorist going off the deep end, but it's tons of fun.


QUESTIONS:
... What do you think is the purpose of the Module ovens? Come up with a better theory than my alien dust-snorting party, please!

... Under what circumstances, if any, would you listen to the words of a child-raping murderer?

... Who was that mystery man who talked to Jilly?



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

Comments (55)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Aug 12, 2011
Hmm, personally, I thought the first few episodes dragged, but they did get the story off the ground. I'm a solid Torchwood fan so was going to give it a rn either way, although I really don't like it when Brit series are Americanized. (Look at the incredibly unoriginal American version of Being Human compared to the fantasticness of the Brit version.) I think the module ovens are baking the secret ingredient in Phicorp meds. At first I thought maybe they were just trying to maximize profits, but I didn't think that would be a Davies storyline. I really wonder if somehow this would tie into the "angels" of Doctor Who. I still hold onto the idea that somehow this will tie in to an enemy from the Torchwood past becasue of the ominous warning that "Jack gave them something long ago." As for the child rapist... I would not listen to him. Like you I can't swallow the story line...it's just too haphazard. I would be one fo the people trying to get in to separate Oswald from his head...living or dead or in between. The mystery man really made my mind spin back through all of the Torchwood and Doctor Who episodes I could come up with and the only thing that stuck was the Demon Jack confronted and the old Warehouse where items were stored. I truly felt chills running up my neck when The realization was made that they were ovens!
More+
Reply
Flag
Aug 12, 2011
i love this show plus its great to watch zombies tha\t dont scare the c*** out of me.

ps so looking forward to walking dead coming back .
Reply
Flag
Aug 11, 2011
The only thing I don't understand is where is The Doctor through all this, and in Children of Earth too? Doesn't it bug anyone how the Doctor goes around to all the important events in time, but never happens to come across whats going on in the world when these huge world-shattering events happen? I just think it's weird. BTW, I love this season of Torchwood, even if is moving slowly. I just wish Jack had more lines, and was his usual smart, cocky self.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
I really don't like the slow pace that the show is going. I know there are 10 episodes but by now, we should already know some answers. The only things we know about the miracle are morphic fields and Phicorp. At least give us some subtle hints and clues at the background or something.



I also don't like how Rex and Esther still don't believe that Jack is some of special person. I also don't like how the show points out American and British stereotypes whenever they can, just for obvious fun which is not.



I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't like how American the show has become. Its possible that Torchwood would have never been given another season without Starz but I would have preferred if it was still very British.



Also I'm given the impression that everyone in the show FORGOT about the Children of Earth incident! I thought by now there would be some international Alien task force that deals with this kind of problems.
Reply
Flag
Aug 10, 2011
American-British stereotyping makes the show feel campy at best. The show is still in the hand's Torchwood's show-runner. I wouldn't blame it on Americanization per se, it more seems like just an error in writing, where the writer feels the show needs to be different. I don't think they give American's enough credit; good television can defined in global terms, and not necessarily based on cultural influences. It's not like I jumped up and down and exclaimed "Yes it's AMERICANIZED!!!!" I thought instead, "This is feels fake."
1
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
The main problem with the hospital camps is the unbelievability of how fast everything's progressed. Airing right as the insanely long-lasting debt ceiling debacle was happening was an unfortunate coincidence, as it shows nothing like those camps could ever be set up so quickly. Mark Vann was great as 'administrator who was probably just a pig before, but now circumstances have made him lose his mind.' And seeing Chip from "Kate & Allie" (as bad guy's golf cart bodyguard) is always fun..
Reply
Flag
Aug 10, 2011
Money isn't real, but living corpses.... that's pretty "in your face." There is obvious difference.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
Don't believe Juarez is really dead.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
I think that using certain words in his speech, Oswald somehow mesmerises the listeners. So how can that be stopped??

As for Jack, of course he has to stay alive. But he is kind of slow in this series. He can do spectacular things, but now he is going with the rest and their ideas. Why is that, because he is mortal??

Good will win in the end, but there are plenty of unexpected turns to the plot. So, I keep wanting to see what happens the next week.

Another question- if everyone turns mortal again, will the ones who should be dead, be dead? We,ll have to wait and see.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
^I was thinking "and what happens if a Dead-is-dead person is piloting a plane when death returns to the world". My guess would be those that have healed enough will survive, those that are only hanging on due to the miracle, well those ones will get the big bye-bye. So fingers crossed for the FBI guy who should be ok since iirc the Dr said he was healing.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
Alex, there was a recent article saying Jack can go back to Doctor Who, but the Doctor himself will NEVER show up on Torchwood because of the adult nature of Torchwood and too many kids would want to see Doctor and Torchwood and Torch is not for kids. But Jack may show up in Whoniverse. Fingers crossed.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
Also, wtih all this talk of morphic fields and the monkey islands example, this whole incident could be a mistake of the human doctor's when trying to grow his own TARDIS in the parallel universe. This would allow Davies to introduce American audiences to David Tennant and Billie Piper, now making new fans for Torchwood and Dr. Who. Phicorp could have been a subsidiary of 'bad' Torchwood causing Rex to distrust Jack/Gwen. This WILL NOT happen though, because I don't think you will ever see the doctor cross over to Torchwood, only the other way around. A cameo might be nice though, just like Matt Smith walking past Jack or maybe asking for the time. Jack would not even recognize him if my thinking is right. Jack has not yet met the 11th incarnation. I'd settle for a random 'Bad Wolf' poster or a sticky note with the words 'Come along Pond' scribbled on it for a fleeting second.
Reply
Flag
Aug 10, 2011
Considering there is no dialogue of Children of Earth or the 456., it makes good sense that aliens will not be the perpetrators in this series.
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
I don't like treating Miracle Day as Torchwood season 4. Even the author of this article had previously stated he had not seen Torchwood series 1 and 2 (mixing my british and american tv lingo there). Miracle day and to some extent Children of Earth are like long movies with the Torchwood characters and do not 'perfectly' fit into the Whoniverse as well as the first 2 seasons. I don't believe the antagonist in TMD will be any off the previous alien villians since Davies had said that this season will be directed at a new audience as well as the existing Torchwood fans. Also Owen and Ianto are gone forever, never coming back, deal with it. The only theory here I think may be plausible is where poster terrygoodness says it may be the remnants of Torchwood 1 or other cells that are much more arrogant/niave/sinister then the Torchwood 3 team (watch like "Army of Ghosts"/ "Doomsday" Dr. Who episodes). Still I think it will be something else entirely. I do like how the skepticism Rex and Emma are exhibiting towards jack and Gwen mirrors the skepticism of the new american viewers feel about Torchwood. Bill Pullman is a great *villian* (I'm still hoping he is a more complex character and somehow contributes to the demise of whoever is behind miracle day, maybe pulling the metaphorical trigger so Jack doesn't have to, something that was very sad in COE), it is a fitting casting choice since he is a protaganist in one of the most recognized recent American alien invasion movies, ID4. Finally, I'm excited because the end of MD roughly lines up with the return of Dr. Who season 6 and even though Jack doesn't have his hand shaped beeper, I think it is a great oppurtunity to throw in a little easter egg for Who fans about Jack's return to the doctor (along with Billie Piper and David Tennant) which I have read will occur on the 50th anniversary.



If I was to be like everyone else and throw in who I would like it to be (although I know it won't be), I'd love to see Timothy Dalton (Time Lord President King) come back. Giving eternal life (like Rose did for Jack by glaring into the heart of the TARDIS) is a Time Lord technology and Timothy Dalton is such a great bad guy (except in Chuck).
More+
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
Here is what i think about this season...

Someone wants to Kill Jack.... Jack is the main Target..

Having deseases that wont be killed by meds or SUPERBUGS will get to Jack so that he wont survive and finish this T.v. Series...

But i'm sure that Gwen, Jack and the others will find a Way to end this CURSE of living eternaly.



To reply to someone's comment, living up to 1000 years, would suck bad...

I wouldn't mind if i didn't age, but in a previous episode, they say that they continue to age...



Might have some Red earth or Green earth of even Blue earth food....

Just add coloring and some vitamines and there you good, a new food sources..........

That would be discusting but hey, food is food... I wouldn't buy it if it came up to that and i would hide not to get burned to a crips but would make sure I waited for the Curse to finish to finally die.



Jack told Oswald to help him and he will help him die... That's another stupid thing to do... He doesn't want to die, he wants to live and controle everything, even if he show's that he's nervous before each time he goes and talk to people... but he likes the attention too....



Oswald is not the bad guy, it's phi-corp. They must of found out how to make everybody stay alive meabe by taking some hair / blood or even urine from Jack :D lol
More+
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
hmm re: Oswald. When Jack first said the "you want to die" thing I felt he'd cracked Oswald true yerning(?). It was only later, as he was onstage at the "Revelation" event that something switched inside and a more darker goal was decided upon - or something like that. BTW having Jack pee in everyone's faces is a new "here's how things will be righted" theory.
1
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
I think that the explanation is as simple as it gets, and already given - when no-one dies, the number of people on earth grows so rapidly, that a severe, disasterous overpopulation is a matter of weeks
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
This season of Torchwood is a 'nice try' but it is so blatantly 'Americanized' that it hurts. The good: the writers tried to repeat the mystery/horror feel from the 'Children...", which was probably the best SF mini-series in decades. And they left the 'big British two'.

The bad: the lines they feed Harkness are typically sophmoric (read: moronic), especially in exchanges with agent whassizname. Plot holes: in this episode both Dr. Suarez and Gwen go on STEALTH missions only to completely obliterate all that as soon as something gets their respective hormonal rates up. And finally, and worst of all: we're back to "it doesn't matter if the world is falling apart, I got my dear old grandad to save" is back, present in all American movies and TV since the dawn of time. Just ONCE I would like a hero who would first save the planet, then their relatives.

The good: the supporting cast worked well and since we don't know the "whole story" yet, interest should keep us going.

Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
great as always,
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
the only reason i would listen to the words of a child-raping murderer would be ... how f___ing deranged would you have to be to do that ???
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
I am surprised they havent called the doctor
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
Since miracle day it appears that camera batteries also don't die. In every shot through the camera viewfinder there was 54 minutes of recording space and 1 hour 23 minutes of battery life available.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I was thinking about cremation last week...what would happen if you cremated all the organic flesh of the body...the brain and the heart, and everything else. Would the person still be alive at all? Being reduced to ashes they are not thinking anymore. It's one way of actually killing someone off. They no longer speak, take up space, use up resources, or like that lady that got smashed into a car and is still alive....can no longer see anything. So for all intents and purposes, they're ashes may still somehow be "living" but their consciousness is gone.

So I think it's the 1 way that they can still kill a person....full cremation. Otherwise the person is still "alive".

In other words..once cremated they are not people anymore. If the ash is still somehow "living cells"...which I doubt....then it would be nothing more than a giant amoeba pool of ashes that does nothing.

This is their solution to overpopulation and no ordinary deaths. Burn them alive!

Evil.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
A rogue timelord is behind it all.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I don't think they're going to go with alien influence as the driving force. Has with Children of earth the aliens where a MacGuffin, they wanted the children but ultimately it was human greed and ignorance that threatened earth. I hope I'm wrong, because it hate to spoil stories for myself, but the way things are shaping up will lead to; a consortium of humans (possibly another torchwood cell) used "the thing that you gave them Jack" that the assassin mentioned. Which was probably his physiology since the only thing he ever has is his remote and jacket? To pervert humanity to prevent future energy, political, religious and finical crisis from destroying society. The miracle gives them a chance to reshape the societies the world over while keeping power in the hand(s) of Phicorp and the governments.

As for the questions:

-no purpose beyond removing the dead and giving us a red herring

-just has the modules are a call back to other "camps" Oswald represents any and all talking heads in the media. The public will listen to what he has to say since he's charismatic, even though they know they're being fed a lie

-Mystery man is the "Delta group's" point man for contacting and assessing potential assets. Since previous methods have proved flawed, the CIA commander was discovered and Oswald being questioned by Jack hours after meeting with Phicorp.

More+
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I'm loving this show - Not just the "not dying" thing but everything and while Vera was rather dumb in confronting the evil bureaucrat without backup she certainly didn't deserve to become a living bunch of dead person ash and I really hope before Rex leaves the camp he tosses that douchebag in there and hits the extra crispy button see how he likes it, I'm still not convinced that she won't be saved though because as far as I know the only 1 of the characters who won't be in all 10 is Jilly so maybe they'll save her maybe but I doubt it.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
As to who is all behind this, I'm just thinking about who has the technology for all of this, and isn't entirely alien (because I don't really think that would mesh with the show). I'm thinking that it's Torchwood.



Now, hear me out. I don't mean the good old Torchwood 3 that we all know and love and have seen die. I'm thinking about the higher up levels of the Torchwood that used to operate out of canary wharf, before they all became Cybermen and subsequently died. But some really connected people such as investors or some power hungry people who were associated could have easily not been in Canary Wharf at the time of the cyberman invasion, and then taken the money and resources from the institute and set up 'Phi-Corp'.



Just a theory, but I think it makes a bit of sense.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
Well, "never dying" is a interesting concept as long as it includes "never aging", because being a 1000 years old in the BODY of a 1000-year old isn't very appealing to ME, at least. So I'm thinking (because you got me on the idea) that the Category 1-dust (maybe just call it Soylent Green ;) ) is a "fountain of youth", suitable for keeping the wealthy healthy for ever and ever - for a price, of course.

Kind of like "In Time" with that singer-dude that's coming soon.
Reply
Flag
Aug 10, 2011
This is best conclusion to the show. I just hope its not the 456 that wants the dust. It will probably be some AMERICAN big-wig, as to fully flesh out the American stereotypes Miracle day falls back on.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
That sounds pretty feasible.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I forgot to say that I agree with you about the Dr. being an idiot! In a room with a guy that's much bigger than you with evidence that could get him sent down, and you scream in his face that you're going to tell the authorities. Idiot. Deserves to die! Although I hate the ham-acting from the guy that burnt her. Hope he burns too!
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I hope the camera zooms in on the ashes and we see an ash with a tiny eyeball blinking. Guess she went too far when she called him a limp d*ck!
Reply
Flag
Aug 10, 2011
I hope you mean like Sandman in Spiderman... when the eyes are made up of dust. Probably to literal for Torchwood, and too expensive with CGI.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
The idea of doing something with the ashes is an interesting theory. While watching last night, I assumed that burning a body would actually destroy life. Burning to that temperature would destroy every cell.

I think you're on to something because there's no reason to cause Miracle Day simply to sell pain pills. Perhaps the plan is:

Step 1: Create Miracle Day.

Step 2: Cremate category 1 people.

Step 3: Profit by selling the processed ashes to cure category 2 people.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I don't know what there doing with those Module ovens. I mean they can't die even if they are burnt to crisp. Here's a wild and crazy thought though. Let's say aliens are behind Miracle Day, which I think they are, maybe after the Category 1 people are burnt to crisp in those ovens the aliens materialize them back into there original forms without the pre-existing trauma that they incurred but less human and more alien. I think that would be plausible.



Answer to your other question, under no circumstances that I would ever listen to someone like Oswald Danes, none.



The mystery dude must be a mouth piece to either the bosses at Phicorp or the aliens that are helping Phicorp.



Yes Dr. Juarez could have played it cool but her doctor instincts took over. But she didn't have to die though that sucks. That's one less eye candy from the show.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
Still got Jack. Thats eye candy enough.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
Damn TIM, i think your theory of turning corps ashes into a product is right. Everyone did say that every fibre of a human being is SOO ALIVE. Now imagine able to capture that aliveness and turning that into a product. Better then crack ons teroid, pure unadulterated life in a white powder.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
What I cant accept is, there's billions of people on the planet, why the hell would they choose the childkiller as their spokesperson. It doesn't make any sense, except like I said before the miracle ruined peoples emotions. that's something I already thought 2 weeks ago when Jack got all whiny when phoning gwen after he had sex.



If there isn't some twist coming that explains this, the show is just badly written. There's just no continuity on the people's reactions towards this whole fiasko. First everyone loves Oswald, then next week we get the whole dead is dead campaign, then it is just dropped entirely and we love oswald again. At the same time everyone gets categorized, but noone cares that they are cheering a Category-2 person...



The burning is just for space reasons I think, as I see it the category 1's are all unconcious, so they wouldn't be able to buy painkillers anyway.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
Good episode, I don't really care for the Oswald parts, but other than that this season is pretty good. (Still, Children of Earth was better)
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
Chilgren of Earth was dreadful! But it's all a matter of opinion I suppose.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
I really hope they get to a point with the whole daynes story soon. The miracle must have some other factor to it, like some disturbance in their emotional brain-cells. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense that they'd like him. And also, why isn't oswald in category 1 and burning?
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
Isn't Oswald like Mr FBI, previously Cat1 but now recovering and thus Cat2.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
My 2c out of left field: Owen Harper.



Can't die.

Has no body.

Has good reason to hate Torchwood.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
I'm not going to lie. I immediately saw a correlation between Owens death and Dr. Jaurez. Vaporized and baked. But I don't think Owen has anything to do with it.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
I can't stand the Oswald Danes story arc. Ok, so some confussed people, looking for answers may turn to a radical voice, but the overwelming majority of the public would want him dead and I feel confident in saying that in a real world situation someone would have caved his head in by now - or more likely, the authorities would have found some way to lock him up! Never in our lifetime would someone who admitted to hurting kids be a public icon. They should have made him guilty of a different crime, less shocking, but ultimately better for the story.



As for the giant people ovens, I predicted this a couple of episodes ago! I genuinely believe that you are giving Russel T. Davis more credit than he deserves.



On a less ranty note: I was thinkng the same about the ashes being useful for another purpose. Considering all (more or less) of the episodes of TW and Dr. Who revolve around aliens, it's now just a case of trying to guess which race? Obviously it's not about killing jack as there has only been one attempt on his life (and that was a p*ss poor attempt). The reason for the life'death reversal is the only reason I'm continuing to watch this, i just hope that it's worth it!



By the way, the guy talking to Jilly was probably from Psycorp...opps, sorry, I mean Phycorp!
More+
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
"Ashy remains that are still alive" - can't wait to see how the writers deal with that. Am totally loving the series, being firmly in the "what a concept for a season" camp from Day1, though the added American-ness has defn helped. As for the people milling(?) behind Oswald and his every word, I look at it like this, Miracle Day was a horrific thing to happen, so the people look to someone who has done horrific things to bring someone kinda understanding to the situation
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
btw that sure was some bigass camera he smuggled in with him, doesn't Torchwood have anythng more concealable ?
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
awesome, loving it all
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
I wish I could comment, but us Canadians have to wait until Saturday to watch this episode. First you get the Iphone before us, then the Ipad, now this, if this continues I think I'm going to lose my calm Canadian civility, politeness be d.amned. That was rude, I'm sorry . . . . . ***
Reply
Flag
Aug 09, 2011
try downlaoding it on internet. that is much quicker. (a european watcher)
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
All things considered, both Torchwood: Miracle Day and the iPad are made in America.
Reply
Flag
Aug 07, 2011
You mean partly made in America. Most of the components of a Ipad are made overseas (China) and Torchwood: MD is a UK/US show partly filmed in the US.
Reply
Flag
Aug 08, 2011
Nice! Geographical Burn.
Reply
Flag
Aug 06, 2011
I agree that they really haven't gotten us to believe in the Oswald Danes story line. I think that we are looking at it too much from a real world stand point. In the the world of the show an absolutely crazy thing has happened and people are looking for answers from anywhere. Like Jack says It's the loudest voice. The government has said nothing until the categories and even that is not being communicated.



This may be a bad example but look at the recent debt crisis in the United States. People are confused and angry and they turn for answers to anyone even the Tea Party. Now imagine if it were even more serious dealing with life and death and the Government wasn't saying anything right along with not doing anything.



The writers haven't shown us the desperation in the population so that we believe that they would jump on board with anyone even an unapologetic child rapist an murderer. (plus they make it seem like his followers are impressed that he survived instead of dying like that is impressive in that world)
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook