TV REVIEW: Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 5 – The Categories of Life

Here we are at the midway point of the season.  The themes this week are infiltration and revelation.  What is Phicorp up to?  We finally get the answer in Episode 5…Caution: Contains Spoilers.

Episode 5 went much the same way as all of the episodes before it, with the exception maybe of the first episode.  The episodes are generally a little slow to get going, but they really pick up in the last fifteen minutes or so.  “The Categories of Life” is no exception.

We come to learn that the government has passed legislation dividing people into three “categories of life.”  Category 3 are the healthy people, those who are going about their business without illness or injury in sight.  Category 2 are those who have sustained some sort of injury during the phenomenon, but they are healing.  Category 1 are the people who are so sick they’re unconscious, braindead – basically those who should be dead but they’re not.  Dr. Juarez and the Torchwood team are alarmed over this development; someone having the power to control life also gives them the power to control death.  Turns out, their fears are well founded.

The team runs parallel infiltration missions: Gwen in Wales and Rex, Dr. Juarez and Esther in California.  They all sneak into the overflow camps to try and get a better idea of what is going on.  Gwen has the added motivation of trying to save her father from whatever is going on.  What they discover is truly shocking – Phicorp is taking all of the Category 1 people and storing them in secret containers called modules.  Once there, they are burned alive, thus removing them from the equation.  It’s the team’s worst fears come true; Phicorp has the power to determine who should live and who should die.

Lauren Ambrose continues to impress as Jilly Kitzinger, the pharmaceutical rep slash PR person who represents Oswald Danes.  She and Bill Pullman are equally good at straddling that line between good and bad.  Sometimes you want to like them.  Other times you want really bad things to happen to them.  The thing I really like about Jilly is that even though she wanted Oswald as a client, she makes it perfectly clear that she thinks he’s scum.  I really enjoy that kind of moral ambiguity in a character, because it makes them infinitely more complex and interesting.

And speaking of Oswald, he is once again on top.  He travels to L.A. to make a speech at the Miracle Day Rally, where he meets Jack.  Jack asks him to go on stage and reveal what Phicorp is doing.  Instead, Oswald goes out and gives the speech that Jilly wants him to give, thus firmly allying himself with Phicorp.  It’s actually quite a compelling moment.  While Oswald is on stage talking about human evolution and revelation, the scene keeps switching back to Rex and Gwen discovering what it is Phicorp is doing with the Category 1 bodies (and with Dr. Juarez).  So we get two revelations here: 1) Oswald really is a bad guy (even though we kind of knew that, I was still holding out a bit of hope), and 2) we find out what Phicorp is really up to.

I thought the final ten minutes was great – the juxtaposition between Oswald and his speech to the adoring masses and Rex and Gwen making their gruesome discoveries is really well done.

All in all, it was a very entertaining episode, if a bit slow. Going into the second half of the season now, things should definitely start picking up.
Rating: 3/5
GS Reporter: Mirjana

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