If last week’s episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day felt like it was propelling the show towards much, much darker waters, then The Middle Men, with its running theme of people content to live within the system rather than challenge it, continues very much in the same vein.
It’s a more concentrated instalment than recent weeks, homing in one or two narrative strands, and in the process, putting to the side the larger arc of the miracle investigation, and the Oswald Danes character. Instead, we get Torchwood in investigation mode, and not necessarily liking what they find.
We get a significant new face introduced this week, in the shape of Stuart Owens. He was teased in the trail of episode five, and he’s played by former Ghostbuster, Ernie Hudson. Owens and Captain Jack come face to face here, as the latter tries to dig up more about the former. Meanwhile, we’ve also got Rex dealing with the aftermath of the shocking conclusion to episode five, while Esther, too, is now far removed from the innocent, upbeat office worker we met all that time ago in The New World.
The tigher focus of The Middle Men really helps a lot here, as Torchwood zooms in on a couple of its most interesting threads. And it does so through the eyes of the core Torchwood team of Rex, Jack, Esther and Gwen. None of them have many reasons to be happy.
One interesting factor about this season of Torchwood is just how impotent, in effectiveness terms at least, Captain Jack appears to be. It’s not just that he’s been ridden of his immortality: he’s also struggling to make any kind of meaningful difference to the ongoing work of Torchwood as a whole. Instead, it seems to be the other three who are carrying him far more than we’re used to seeing.
It’s a really good episode, this. The Middle Men has been penned by John Shibhan, who co-wrote Escape To L.A. earlier in the season. As we noted then, his background in writing episodes of The X-Files has made him a strong and welcome choice for the plotlines of Miracle Day. The Middle Men is pretty intense, and utterly confident piece of television.
Miracle Day is really improving, really pressing ahead with its daunting premise, and presenting us with a bunch of human beings willing to do utterly despicable things to survive. It’s here where it builds on the haunting final episode of Children Of Earth, and it’s beginning to escalate that on a far larger scale.
And there are still four episodes left to go…
Torchwood: Miracle Day airs on BBC1, Thursdays at 9:00pm.
Read more about Torchwood: Miracle Day here.