TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Recap: 'The Categories of Life' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Recap: ‘The Categories of Life’

August 6, 2011 by  

For the first half hour of last night’s TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY, I was frustrated. While I appreciate the show’s attention to detail, we never seem to get past the need for long expositional scenes. I get it—in a world where major domestic healthcare policies are being rewritten, there are a lot of logistics to be sorted through. But with Torchwood underground and learning about things via web hacking, television, and, apparently, WikiLeaks, it’s getting a little tedious.

The exposition we needed this week was about the “categories of life.” Based on some secret negotiations that excluded medical panel doctors like Dr. Juarez, everyone in America — and, quickly, most everyone in the world — is being classified into one of three categories: alive (3), should-be-dead (1), and in-between (2). Esther invents a fourth category, “Category Jack,” but so far, that’s unofficial.

Categories one and two are being shipped off and sorted in regional overflow camps. Trouble is, people don’t fall into categories. Rex points out that he was a Category One when he was brought into the ER, but now he’s recovering — making him a Category Two. And it quickly becomes apparent that the overflow camps aren’t actually in the business of trying to “upgrade” patients from one category to the next. For instance, if your heart stops, they’re going to downgrade you to Category One and consider you a waste of resources, instead of shocking your heart back into cooperation. But what happens to Category One patients?

This is what our guys are trying to find out when they travel to the San Pedro Overflow Camp. Vera heads in as a medical panel investigator, Esther as an administrative employee, and Rex as a Category One patient — he’s got the chest scab to prove it. They’re on the lookout for the “modules,” the structures that house the Category One patients. Rex ends up inside one pretty quickly — it’s a dark, refrigerated container that holds the grievously sick and injured. After videotaping the inside, he escapes, taking note that there don’t seem to be enough modules to house the Category One patients.

Meanwhile, Vera gets a tour of the facility from Maloney, a guy who’s been kicked up several rungs on the government-employee food chain — from public housing coordinator to overflow camp manager in a matter of weeks. He’s a middle manager whose idea of success at the camp is staying under budget. Laundry isn’t being done, uninsured patients are being stockpiled in a filthy room, and his biggest motivation is the possibility of giving a celebrity tour to Hilary Duff. For those of you who’ve seen TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH, he seems to be this season’s Frobisher, only far less nuanced. He’s a middleman overwhelmed with new responsibility and power, but he’s also a big creep with questionable intentions. While Frobisher was a decent, average bureaucrat who ended up the government’s scapegoat in the middle of a catastrophe, you get the sense that Maloney’s housing project probably wasn’t a model of democratic efficiency.

His bad guy nature becomes clearly evident when Vera, increasingly appalled at the overflow camp conditions, pushes him too far. Maloney shoots Dr. Juarez in the thigh and, when that doesn’t slow her down, in the neck. She’s still conscious, breathing, and screaming when he and his unwilling accomplice (a young military escort) lock her into a Category One module. Rex finds her, but it’s too late — and with his discovery, we learn what the modules are for: PhiCorp is burning the Category One patients alive.

Hey, but at least Gwen’s reunited with Anwen, right?

After the news that her father was moved to an overflow camp, Gwen hopped the next plane back to Wales to be reunited with Rhys and Anwen. The break-in to rescue her dad (Category Two, by the way, so he’s safe for now) is surprisingly easy, but as they’re loading him into the getaway truck, he has a second heart attack. Gwen is forced to call for help, and when he’s back in bed, he is reclassified as a Category One and due to be shipped off to a module in the morning. Even though the Torchwood team has now figured out what happens in the modules, the rescue has just gotten a lot more difficult.

I don’t know what to make of this situation anymore. It now feels both like a heavy-handed allegory for the modern-day healthcare system and a terrifying throwback to Nazi Europe — and perhaps even a suggestion that the two are not as far apart as we choose to believe. More than anything, there is absolutely no indication of who’s benefiting from this anymore. And now that people are going missing by way of a module, it’s only a matter of time before the human race starts questioning these overflow camps. And what then, PhiCorp? What then, U.S. military? It makes me think that the demands are immediate and coming from over PhiCorp’s head. I think PhiCorp is just the deep-pockets facilitator that the real bad guys needed to get the job done. But what is the demand for — pardon my indelicacy — living cremation ash? PhiCorp’s strategy would logically be to create as many patients as possible. How are they benefiting from turning people into nothing?

Meanwhile, Jack tracked down Oswald Danes at a Miracle Day rally, being held to (eww) raise money for the overflow camps. As Oswald prepared to glorify PhiCorp in a primetime speech, Jack cornered him to tell him the truth — PhiCorp was preparing for the Miracle. There’s hope that Oswald will share the truth with the world, but instead he just does this really creepy dance and praises PhiCorp anyway. To make matters worse, an angry Jilly Kitzinger snaps an iPhone picture of Jack. That can’t be good. Even if the truth about PhiCorp isn’t getting out, I would not be surprised to see Jack’s face make the headlines.

All in all, it was not a great day for Team Torchwood. Vera got torched, Jack’s cover may be blown, and Gwen’s dad is on the short list for the next human bonfire. Thank goodness this show has a cute baby.

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