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Review #2346: Torchwood: Miracle Day: Part 5: “Categories of Life”

Posted on the 08 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

Jane Espenson returns to write another episode, and the results are significantly better than the last time around. (Though I’m beginning to think that Davies is more to blame for “Miracle Day’s” faults than anyone else). Unlike “Dead of Night”, this is a story-driven episode with major implications for the status quo. There’s the usual array of problems, of course. The episode drags a bit, particularly in the Oswald Danes sections, but the final scenes serve as some of the better moments of “Miracle Day” so far.

Review #2346: Torchwood: Miracle Day: Part 5: “Categories of Life”

The majority of the episode is devoted to Torchwood’s attempt to infiltrate the overflow camps and figure out what’s really going on in there. The reveal of the living dead being burned alive and essentially dispersed as an aerosol into the atmosphere is fairly impressive, as is Vera’s apparent death. But I’m a bit disappointed at how little this actually tells us about Phicorp’s (and the green triangle’s) motivations. This is really just a logical (and arguably immoral) step that humans might take to solve the problem of overpopulation and the spread of disease.

I’ve put some thought into the implications of being burned to cinders in “Miracle Day”, and I’ve come to some conclusions. The miracle is almost impossible to define, because though it seems to keep living tissue alive somehow, individual cells are obviously still dying and being replaced. Aging and sickness still occurs. But I have trouble imagining how consciousness could still be present when a human brain is split into millions (billions?) of tiny particles. Death is not yet fully defined, but I’d say that the cessation of all cognitive function could be called death. So I’d say that Vera really is dead, and therefore no longer conscious of anything.

I’ve previously stated my appreciation for the solid concepts that reside beneath the surface of “Miracle Day”. But I’m no longer convinced that Russel T. Davies has the ability to handle these concepts with intelligence. I probably agree with Davies’ politics, and I think that this concept is perfect for exploring the negative socio-political consequences such an event could result in, but Davies’ is being far too obvious about the messages he’s trying to convey. Nobody likes to be aware that they’re being preached at in their entertainment, even if they agree with what’s being preached.

I was initially very interested in seeing what would happen with the Oswald Danes character. And though I continue to be impressed by Bill Pullman’s performance, I’m growing weary of his storyline. Initially, there was something of an intrigue over how such a seemingly despicable and insignificant man would inevitably become an important element in the mystery to come. But the mystery has come and gone. Now, Danes is just a tool to be used. His show of regret over past actions is just that: a show. I suppose there’s still the chance that he’ll do something that’s somewhat redemptive, but it would be too little, too late.

The bottom line is that “Miracle Day” is still the same show that it was last time: a lot of good ideas wrapped up in a messy sandwich of humor, drama, and politics. The characterization is still shifts between problematic and just plain weak. It still feels like Jack (along with pretty much everyone) is being dramatically under-used and under-developed (though I did find myself inwardly chuckling at Jack messing with Rex). Still, “Miracle Day” is entertaining. It’s interesting to watch how the world continues to react to the crisis as the mystery of who’s behind it deepens. The presentation can certainly feel ham-fisted much of the time, but there’s enough of interest here that “Miracle Day” is still worth my time.

Rating: 7/10

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