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Monday, August 8, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day sorts "The Categories of Life"


Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series [Blu-ray]     In this week's episode of Starz's Torchwood: Miracle Day, the U.S. and other government unveils new categories of life, sorting people into three subsets. As dead no longer applies, this is the next best thing. Or so people are told. Gwen (Eve Myles) and Rhys (Kai Owen) break into a Wales medical facility to rescue Gwen's father (William ThomasAlys), while Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and the rest of the new Torchwood team infiltrate a similar compound in California. What both teams discover is that anyone labeled category one, those who are not conscious, are burned to ashes. Gwen's father is labeled such, and Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene TurCrash) ends up inside a chamber as the fire ignites.
     While Tur's name does not appear in the opening credits, five episodes in she certainly seems like a main character of this new season. Which is why it is surprising and sad when she is burned alive. Considering how no one can die on Earth right now in the series, and even a burned, detached head shows some sign of life, it is worth wondering if Juarez is still aware as a pile of ashes. Unconsciousness can happen, so she likely won't feel anything. But what happens to her soul, and those of the other victims? When they can be healed, why destroy them? Juarez's death comes as Torchwood begins to understand more of what is going on, but it wasn't necessary for her to die for that to happen. Instead, one must watch helplessly by, as Rex (Mekhi Phifer) does, while she perishes.

     Why would the drug company who is behind the whole thing choose to destroy living bodies instead of heal them? Certainly creating never-dying humans increases their business, so from an economic standpoint, it would make sense for PhiCorp to unleash Miracle Day. After all, they now have an endless supply of patients they can sell drugs to. Though it seems odd that a group sophisticated enough to put the "miracle" in place wouldn't also forsee the diastorous consequences. Is that why they are killing off some people? To try to prevent the human race from overpopulating too quickly, though it will still happen? And surely they have a plan to get over the planet before people begin starving en masse?
     Now the big question remains, what can Jack, Gwen, and the others do about it? Rex should be able to overcome loosking Juarez, whom was a love interest for him, with even more determination to stop what is going on. Jack and Gwen have been through worse, as long as Gwen can rescue her father. But the only other member of their team, Esther (Alexa Havins), isn't showing much field prowness, and losing Juarez, even though the two didn't know each other very well, may make her emotionally crippled to their operations. A small group going up against such a large corporate represents a long shot anyway. Things are not looking good for Torchwood.

     The other important thing going on in "Categories of Life" is the crowning of Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) as a religious leader. Up til now, Oswald has had his fans, and put in appearances. But speaking at a rally is his first true test, and one that can easily go a number of ways. Jilly (Lauren Ambrose) does her best to prepare Oswald, but she can't speak for him. The moments Oswald is on stage, with Jilly and Jack's competing agendas in front of him, is a powerful trial by fire. Loathe Oswald as one must, it is hard not to be impressed by the reaction he provokes with his revelation that mankind has evolved into angels. It's obviously crazy talk, but Pullman has the charisma and gravitas to be a leader of gullible masses, and he shines.

     Torchwood: Miracle Day continues Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Starz.
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