“You’re Category Jack. So, don’t you go getting yourself into trouble!”
It’s a welcome return to the Torchwood typewriter for Jane Espenson this week, whose earlier episode for the series, Dead Of Night, has been the highlight of the first four episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day. For episode five, we get The Categories Of Life, and it’s a nice mix of slow development and barnstorming big moments.
The clue to the latest plot development is in the title of the episode, in that, within a minute of the opening credits, an order comes down that all people have to be sorted into categories. These categorisations are spread right across the world, with lots of governments adopting them, and the different categories are explained. Get in the wrong category, basically, and it’s off to the overflow camp. And it doesn’t seem that the overflow camp is a nice place to be.
Why, though, are the overflow camps in existence in the first place, and who actually wants them to exist in the first place? And is there more to them than first appears? All good questions, and the episode does pose a few of them. But we won’t reveal any more than that.
We will say that the episode does dig into how we treat and group people, and the metaphor of the overflow camps is not lost.
For long periods, it’s an episode with a more relaxed pace to it, this one. It takes its time to explore its issues, and it does have points to make. It also sees Dr Vera Juarez stepping up a lot more, and becoming part of the Torchwood fold. She’s been busy right throughout the series to date, but here, she heads more towards centre stage.
Where things turn is two thirds of the way through, when Espenson cranks the gears up and builds towards a denouement that, again, we’ve little intention of spoiling. But there’s a real sense of escalation here. It’s really quite sinister, and inevitably, it opens up further questions.
Espenson, again, delivers here, and for my money, her two episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day have been the best. This one takes the show up to the halfway point, and leaves things in a dangerous place for pretty much all concerned. There’s still a lot of work to get through in the second half of the season, as you might expect, but I think it’s all poised quite nicely as things stand.
Miracle Day isn’t yet at the level of Children Of Earth for me, though. But then, it’s only played half of its hands thus far, and there’s clearly plenty yet to come.
Read more about Torchwood: Miracle Day here.