Torchwood Miracle Day episode 4 review: Escape To L.A.

Lots of spoilers lie ahead, as we take a look at the fourth episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Escape To L.A…

This review contains spoilers.

4. Escape To L.A.

I remain impressed by Torchwood: Miracle Day so far. I think, when you consider what it’s achieved in just four episodes, it deserves some credit. It’s introduced the show to a new audience, it’s bedded in a big new story, it’s brought in a lot of new characters, and it’s still managed to get in some important touchpoints for fans of the old series. All of those are factors that the team behind Miracle Day deserves credit for.

But here’s my slight grumble. Appreciating that Miracle Day needs time to build up, I do wish that the overall story arc had progressed just a little further that it has done. We’re forty percent of the way through the show now, and yet it feels that we’ve only scratched the surface of its main mystery.

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Every time the show starts to dig into the mystery of the Miracle Day itself, my ears prick up. I love a good conspiracy, and PhiCorp’s awareness that the miracle was going to happen is, for me, the storyline that I want more of.

PhiCorp wasn’t ignored, of course, and more revelations about it lay within this episode. The overflow camps, for starters (why does it need those?). But I’m eager for more.

On the flipside, I should be clear. We don’t have the Caprica problem here. The Battlestar Galactica prequel spent so long laying down foundation work that it lost sight of the immediate story that needed to be told. It failed to give viewers something to enjoy, while all the background work is going on.

Torchwood: Miracle Day isn’t making that mistake. In this new episode, we get more of the net closing in on the Torchwood team, for instance, as it becomes apparent pretty quickly that they’re being followed.

Better than that, though, we get a full-on Mission: Impossible sequence. There’s a building to be broken into, people to get out of the way, defences to break, and a good solid dose of excitement to enjoy. So, you get a voice being secretly recorded, the security system being beaten, phone calls intercepted, and John Barrowman auditioning for Tom Cruise’s job. He might just get it, too.

We don’t seem too much closer to answers here, but we do get escalation. Thus, at the end of the episode, Gwen, who is already clearly missing her husband and child, learns that her father has been driven away to be locked up. Could she be heading back to Wales anytime soon?

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Oswald, meanwhile, seems to be treading water a little. For this episode, a media rival emerges in the shape of Ellis Hartley Monroe. She’s the catalyst to get Oswald to get his act together, else he’ll be “yesterday’s news”.

Ellis, meanwhile, ends up crushed by a car, but, of course, is still alive. Whether the micro-version of Ellis comes back to haunt everyone remains to be seen. What is clear is that Oswald is emerging as a bit of a superhero, encouraged by Lauren Ambrose’s Jilly.

More interesting, though, is the digging into the family backgrounds of Esther and Rex. The deepening of Esther is welcome, and clearly, she’s not short of a bit of baggage of her own. And the cocksure Rex suddenly looks a lot less confident in the company of his father. Both have a bit more at stake now than we knew at the start of the episode. And, by the end of it, Rex realises that Esther has led their pursuers to them. Uh-oh.

Further highlights of Escape To L.A.? Well, Eve Myles’ American accent was a piece of comedy gold, and I really thought that Alexa Havins was terrific this week. I’ve been impressed with her each and every week, but in a cast of strong performers, she’s bubbling to the top.

Even taking into account my grumble at the start of this review, though, I enjoyed Return To L.A. I don’t think it was as strong as the last instalment, Dead Of Night, which remains, for me, the highlight of the new run thus far. But it had enough ingredients to comfortably add up to an entertaining hour.

And we got a real tease, if not anything substantive, as to the scale of the ‘they’ who are behind Miracle Day. Was Captain Jack involved with them a long time ago in the past? Why have ‘they’ been waiting so long? What were their names? Just who or what is capable of turning the world around, so that nobody but Jack can die? Is the whole thing a mass attempt to bring down Captain Jack? There are lots of threads currently in play.

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Balls are being juggled, then. Some are more interesting than others, but there’s little doubt that Miracle Day has left plenty in the tank to get it through the next six episodes. Roll on The Categories Of Life next week…

Read our review of episode 3, Dead Of Night, here.

Torchwood: Miracle Day airs on BBC1, Thursdays at 9:00pm.

Read more about Torchwood: Miracle Day here.

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