Torchwood Review: “Escape to L.A.”

We learn more this week about the forces behind Miracle Day, though the revelations pose new mysteries of their own. Flaws in the series, however, have grown and, despite some good moments, this episode left me disappointed.

Title: “Escape to L.A.”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Bill Gierhart
Written by Jim Danger Gray and John Shiban

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper
Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson
Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond
Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes
Mare Winningham as Ellis Hartley Monroe
C. Thomas Howell as Dangerous Guy
Lauren Ambrose as Jilly Kitzinger
Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez
Kai Owen as Rhys Williams
Randa Walker as Candace Perlmutter
Kevin Yu as Nicholas Frumpkin
Juanita Jennings as Bisme Katusi

Additional cast and crew information may be found
here.

Premise

We’re closer to learning the identity of those behind Miracle Day—but the series may be getting too bogged down by its own ten-episode run-time and some issues with the writing and direction.

High Points

The High Points this week mostly involve what they attempted to do. They did not consistently succeed.

I like that Torchwood addresses social issues, but this week’s satiric and socially relevant moments lacked any sense of subtlety (and referring to Monroe as a “Tea Partier” just seemed silly and gratuitous).

I like that they’ve introduced the religious element, but it feels, for America, less pervasive than it should be. Oswald Dane’s ascension as a Christ figure has potential, though only Pullman’s acting kept his speech in quarantine from going completely over the top. Then again, media displays usually do, so perhaps he was just in character. The fact that Oswald plays the role cynically doesn’t necessarily negate the role. As Vonnegut once wrote, we are who we pretend to be, so we should be careful who we pretend to be.

Low Point

The plot this week involves too many stupid decisions. Esther might check up on her sister, but she wouldn’t follow up during the middle of crucial maneuvers. Gwen wouldn’t take a call while she was performing a delicate operation (the attempt to mix suspense and humour, a Torchwood trademark, fell flat for me this week). More significantly, if Phicorp was shortsighted enough to give only one man access to their key server, he would be protected by more security than the president. They then would double that once Phicorp came under attack in the media.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 4/6

Story: 3/6

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 4/6

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 4/6

In total, “Escape to L.A.” receives 29/42

Lingering Question

1. So, who are our secret villains? They’re anonymous and they say they’re “from everywhere,” but clearly, /b/ couldn’t pull this off on their own. The mystery villains hired the assassin– he discusses their identity, and he knows Jack– and Phicorp is involved with our villains, but the assassin had to break into Phicorp. Clearly, some distance exists between Phicorp and the mysterious puppetmasters.

2. What will we do with all those old and sick survivors in the next century?

10 replies on “Torchwood Review: “Escape to L.A.””

  1. bsm117532 says:

    I just can’t find Oswald Dane convincing. His character and circumstance is absurd. Yeah, the media would make a circus, as they do with other clowns like Sarah Palin or Charlie Sheen, but that kind of media shit-show is not interesting enough to deserve fictional treatment. It’s just a tragedy, and disgusting to watch. Give us competent, clever characters, not absurdities.

  2. PuppetSocko says:

    Oswald Dane and Ellis Hartley Monroe.

    When will characters named Kennedy and Ruby show up?

  3. Jethro says:

    Eve Myles sure can rock that dress… and do an adorable American accent. “I’m completely mortified!” was my high point.

  4. GSVNofixedabode says:

    Rather disappointed with this series and the episode seems to reinforce things. It’s not Torchwood, but ‘Five Jack & Gwen go mad in Dorset Escape to L.A.

  5. Fozzy_Bear says:

    “” if Phicorp was shortsighted enough to give only one man access to their key server, he would be protected by more security than the president. “”

    JD, what were you thinking? Is it really such a surprise that a low-level manager made critical IT decisions that risked the entire company? Do you think the group behind the triangle was pouring over the company roster and debating who should have access to that one door on that one floor of that one building?

    The worst thing about this is that as somebody who audits IT procedures for a living, I had no problem whatsoever believing that plot point.

    The only issue I had with that part was that modern systems have heart-beat detectors in the biometrics. – So Gwen would have got in with her solutions because her heartbeat would have been sensed, but the other guy ( with the knife-based solution) would have been rejected by the system and locked out. –It’s actually a feature that is touted by the vendors of the systems, since often the people purchasing the systems are the ones who risk getting cut up. In real life, that corporate dude would have been quickly mentioned that at the first sign of a knife in the conversation… “That’s not going to work, my hand and eye HAVE TO BE ATTACHED or the system locks…” He might have become a hostage, but he wouldn’t have been cut up.

    But that is a nit-pick technical detail that I wouldn’t have even mentioned otherwise… I’m not going to criticize a gang of British TV producers for not being up on modern biometrics.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      JD, what were you thinking? Is it really such a surprise that a low-level manager made critical IT decisions that risked the entire company? Do you think the group behind the triangle was pouring over the company roster and debating who should have access to that one door on that one floor of that one building?

      In a regular company, perhaps– you know a lot more about it than I do, and I’ve seen my share of problematic tech decisions. In an Eeevil Corporation that knew in advance about Miracle Day? I’m still having trouble with it. Even more so if the probably-not-human Triangle Group is in fact behind Phicorp, instead of just using Phicorp. That’s no longer certain, since Triangle is also connected to the assassin, and he had to cut his way into Phicorp.

      On another note– yeah, the faux American Couple bit was pretty funny.

      • Fozzy_Bear says:

        “”and he had to cut his way into Phicorp.””

        One thing to consider about that… The assassin in question had already chosen at that point to disregard his instructions and investigate Jack on his own. If he had asked for access to that room, he would have generated logs and would have had to report what had happend in the room.
        If he breaks in, he can (according to his plan) grab Jack and investigate without informing his employer that he bailed on his mission. — An historicly dangerous thing for an assassin to do…

        Or, maybe I’m just overthinking a fun little show from the BBC.

      • Fozzy_Bear says:

        Oh, and on an unrelated topic: My high point was when the CIA guy was talking to somebody and said “YOU aren’t The Doctor!” But I was the only one in the room who caught that one… maybe nobody else noticed.

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