Torchwood: “The Categories of Life”

The heat is on, though they could fire up the pacing just a little more.
This week’s episode improves on last week’s. We have some interesting developments, Nazi echoes, a new (if likely temporary) villain, and an arguably Jackass decision. Please remember to use Spoiler tags where necessary.

Title: “The Categories of Life”

Cast and Crew

Written by Jane Espenson

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
Lauren Ambrose as Jilly Kitzinger
Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez
Kai Owen as Rhys Williams
Marc Vann as Colin Maloney
William Thomas as Geraint Cooper
Sharon Morgan as Mary Cooper

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.


Dr. Vera Juarez joins the team, and they take advantage of her status and Rex’s injury to infiltrate the camps where patients go. We’re deep in a conspiracy thriller here, as the team learns the final solution the world governments have sanctioned for the severely injured.

Meanwhile, Gwen returns to Wales to save her father while, Jack, left to mind HQ, makes another major decision without consultation or discussion.

High Points

This episode works as a conspiracy thriller, and it probes deeper into the mystery and effects of Miracle Day. The team explicitly addresses the notion that something beyond Phicorp pulls the strings—though they have no idea who or what their hidden enemy might be.

The camps themselves evoke bugbears and paranoia of the left and right, as all really good conspiracies should, and echo more than a little the Third Reich, as most conspiracies inevitably do.

Low Point

This is more of a mixed point. Marc Vann as Colin Maloney makes an interesting transition from good ol’ boy administrator to cold-blooded villain. The situation would make villains out of some people; I get that point, and I understand the parallel to atrocities past. But why make him such a doofy stereotype of an American? Why not a more nuanced character? That would better demonstrate what circumstances can do, and better engage the audience.

He’s surprised Vera is a doctor? Seriously? Are we suddenly in an episode of Mad Men?

The Scores:

Ja vohl! Er, nice touch.

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 5/6

Story: 4/6

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 5/6

In total, “The Categories of Life” receives 32/42

11 replies on “Torchwood: “The Categories of Life””

  1. I think r=this going in the same direction as children of earth which was season 3

    • Yeah, he seems to revisit a lot of his old themes in shows these days.
      Too old to come up with new and greater ideas?

  2. Does anyone think there’s any chance that a certain character will somehow have survived?

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