Jim Gray and X-Files veteran John Shiban step into the world of Torchwood for the first time, with the fourth episode of Miracle Day, Escape To L.A. And while it’s not quite at the level of last week’s installment, there’s still lots going on.
Crucially, it’s another very good hour of telly. It won’t convert anyone who hasn’t warmed to the show thus far. But, for those who are enjoying what Miracle Day has to offer, us included, then it more than does the job.
The highlights this time are when it all goes a bit Mission: Impossible. Without giving anything away, there’s a need to get to a certain point of a tricky-to-access building, which naturally takes a fair amount of guile to pull off. It’s good fun watching all concerned coming up with the masterplan for this, and trying to put it into action. The execution of said plan is suitably glossy, but no less entertaining for it. It’s an example, too, of when Torchwood is at its most movie-like.
There’s certainly no shortage of folks lurking in the shadows, either (you can see the benefit of an X-Files writer, certainly), and the Torchwood team doesn’t get things its own way at all this week. This is an important step, too. For all that’s been going on these past few weeks, Torchwood hasn’t really been fully tested as much as usual. Here, the ramifications of its involvement and actions are beginning to be felt, and Miracle Day feels richer for it.
We also get to see those ramifications begin to hit on an individual level, as the focus in particular moves to Esther. She, as we mentioned the other week, is the one character whose emotional journey is going just a bit slower than the others. Here, though, we get to dig into her background more. It’s welcome exposition, and Alexa Havins is proving to be an excellent bit of casting.
Other highlights? Eve Myles tackling an American accent is worth tuning in for, for starters. And there’s some building on the broader conspiracy work that the last episode, Dead Of Night, began to investigate.
And there’s space, too, for a lot more Oswald Danes. There’s important stuff happening here, which again, we won’t spoil.
It’s still a case of more questions than answers, but then we don’t hit the half way point of Miracle Day’s run until next time. And as Russell T Davies has noted, Children Of Earth’s big payoffs in its last episode only had such gravity because so much work had been done building up to them in the episodes ahead.
And there is more build up work going on. There’s space in this episode, for instance, for the broadening of the show’s moral debate. There’s also some continuingly good humour. From episode one, Torchwood: Miracle Day has handled a diligent dose of comedy extremely well, and that’s the same here, too. Expect it to be toned down as the show begins its descent towards its final act, though.
Come the end of Escape To L.A., it feels as if most of Miracle Day’s key themes are now firmly established, even if the detail is yet to come. And the episode is an interesting one. It doesn’t have the lovely smaller moments that really set Dead Of Night apart, and we still think that episode three is the peak of the series to date. But, episode four? It’s still strong, and it’s still worth tuning in to see.