Review of Torchwood ‘Escape to LA’

Neela Debnath

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 4, series 4 of ‘Torchwood’BB242887@TORCHWOOD 223x300 Review of Torchwood ‘Escape to LA’

‘Torchwood’ gets even more ‘Mission Impossible’ this week with the team breaking into a PhiCorp building to steal some of the company’s hard drives containing confidential material that may explain the miracle day. The mission involves obtaining all sorts of biometric details from the creator of PhiCorp’s complex security system in order to infiltrate the building. Gwen even puts on a dodgy American accent that would rival Rose Tyler’s attempt at a Scottish brogue.

In the meantime weird things are happening in the media. Oswald Danes has been overshadowed by the new “darling of the Tea Party” Ellis Hartley Monroe (Mare Winningham) who has launched a campaign called “Dead is dead”. Given that no one is dying, she is proposing that those who should have died should now be ostracized from society while existing resources should be concentrated upon “the living”.

‘Torchwood’ has always been distinctly dark and depressive, however series 4 has seemed to lose a lot of this pessimism but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead the cynicism is more subtle and ‘Escape to LA’ captures this in a more understated way.

For example, the Tea Party is satirised by Ellis Hartley Monroe who takes a hard-line, right-wing stance on miracle day. It is a campaign that the party could well adopt if the world was faced with the same situation. Behind her perfect smile is the face of radicalism and danger.

The other element of this scepticism towards society, which has been running through the series so far, is Danes and his meteoric rise to fame. Jilly Kitzinger remarks that she despises Danes’ hands and the evil acts which he has committed with them. Then later in the episode he enters the hospital where all the sick people have been moved to. He takes on a pseudo messianic role and begins touching them with his hands as if he is healing them. The scene culminates in Danes holding an abandoned baby – an incredibly skin-crawling moment given that he is a paedophile. The whole publicity stunt to enter what is described as a “plague ship” works and wins back the media from Hartley Monroe. It is all a wry look at the media and the way in which they can be manipulated so easily.

Generally, the episode had a lot less pace to it compared to the previous ones, making it feel less exciting but perhaps the show should be considered as a whole rather than the sum of its parts.

Picture: BBC

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  • Caleb Woodbridge

    I wasn’t entirely convinced that a right-wing Tea Partier would take the “Dead is Dead” stance that the character did in this episode, considering that a lot of the American right is very pro-life and anti-euthanasia. But then, if they were consistent, they might oppose the death penalty as well…

    I thought this episode of Torchwood hung together a lot better than last week’s. It’s still silly fun, but it had more of a sense of purpose. I discuss it more over at Impossible Podcasts:

  • Blagh147


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