Recap: Torchwood S 4 E 4 Escape To LA
The fourth episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
As seen in the previous three episodes, our heroes are being monitored. And it seems that it's not just Phicorp: a black screen with a white triangle shape has been popping up everywhere.Esther secretly visits her previously mentioned sister, Sarah, who lives in a boarded-up house with paranoid writing all over it. She won't let Esther in, instead telling her that the Miracle is an airborne poison and that no one is safe. When Esther hears the voices of Sarah's two daughters inside, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Choking back tears, she calls child protection services.She's immediately spotted by an assassin, who takes orders from someone identified with the triangle symbol. He merrily follows her to Torchwood, and all the way to their new temporary Hub in Los Angeles, where a Miracle Day Parade is being planned.Mayor Ellis Hartley Monroe, the new media darling of the Tea Party, is campaigning for her new idea: "Dead Is Dead", a system to see who is allowed human rights and who should be confined. Phicorp argues an extremely similar, but slightly more nuanced idea: since people no longer die, new categories of life need to be determined.Monroe's popularity is fuelled by worldwide hospital overflow and food panic, and by an almost cult-like devotion of her followers. This upsets Oswald Danes, whose television appearances are being cancelled in favor of Monroe, and it greatly upsets Jilly Kitzinger, who sees her own plans failing quickly. Jilly is also becoming increasingly disgusted by Danes, because the more his popularity power wanes, the more she's reminded of the fact that he's still a child rapist.Gwen and Rhys have a chat over the phone, and because this is still Torchwood and Torchwood has the worst security on the planet, she does so right out in the open where the assassin happily takes half a dozen snapshots of her. With all that talk about family (both Gwen's and Esther's), Rex is eventually guilted into visiting his father in L.A. His sick father is rather upset that his son waited 15 years to show him some normal family contact, and gets just plain angry when Rex (crying Manly Tears) takes off again with boxes of his hoarded pain killers.The team begin plans for a raid on Phicorp in order to steal server hard drives, where Esther reveals they have a bio-metric security system. In order to bypass it, they need a voice recording, a palm print and a retina scan from Nickolas Frumpkin, Phicorp's security head honcho. Gwen and Jack pose as a married couple and gush over Frumpkin's baby in the park to surreptitiously get his data (and Gwen tries really hard to fake an American accent). Rex and Esther are both a bit weirded out by the fact that Gwen and Jack treat the whole thing as a game. The assassin also takes Frumpkin's biological data, although he's a bit more practical about it and simply cuts off the needed body parts.Esther calls child protection services using a fake identity. She hears that her sister's children have been taken away, and that they'll probably be allowed to stay together once a nice foster home has been found. Sarah has been committed in psych. Esther is extremely shocked, because she never expected that to happen — she thought the family would just be monitored for a while.Gwen and Jack sneak into Phicorp: Jack posing as a delivery boy, and Gwen dressed as a business lady, which causes Jack to giggle and call her "Mistress". After her painful high heels annoy her, Gwen decides to chuck the mules and pad around in her pedicured bare feet, while Jack models a handsome figure in his delivery uniform. Esther rerouts phone calls from security directly to herself and poses as HR. Their plan is to steal Phicorp's most secure server and replace it with one that looks fire-damaged. Activating the fire alarm, Jack and Gwen are able to remove the hard drives. However, when Jack leaves to get them out of the building, Gwen is ambushed by the assassin. When Jack finds one of the delivery staff hung, he rushes back to help Gwen and finds her bound and gagged, and soon enough, he's captured too. Luckily, Gwen's camera contacts alert Rex and Esther — in the middle of a heartfelt conversation about Esther's family, and Rex getting extremely angry at Esther when he hears she visited her sister's home and was spotted there. Rex rushes in to save them, climbing 66 flights of stairs and suffering heavy bleeding.The assassin likes Jack's uniqueness and mortality. After all, when you're an assassin and people don't die anymore, finding one supposedly mortal man is very appealing. Gwen tries to coax him into telling them who's behind everything. He's just about to when Rex rushes in and shoots him in the throat. Gwen and Jack scold him, and Rex is once again extremely confused as to why Torchwood is seemingly treating this whole thing like a fun little game.The hard drives reveal plans for "Overflow Camps". Rhys informs Gwen that her dad has just been sent to one.Dr. Juarez visits an abandoned hospital that's being used to handle the surplus of patients and abandoned people. Much to Vera's frustration, there are too many patients admitted to the hospital and they don't have enough equipment to handle them. Ellis Hartley Monroe makes a speech near the hospital to promote segregation, and Oswald, also present with Jilly for media attention, makes a bold move by entering the hospital and meeting the patients there. He puts on a face mask, gives a rousing speech, picks up an abandoned baby, and establishes himself as being just like the sick. After all, he should be dead too — he was executed, and society shuns him just like the segregated sick. Even when they do recognise him, the tired, filthy, cold, sick, desparate people start to cling to their new Dark Messiah. Jilly happily grins while Monroe is ignored by the press again.The secret organization that controls Phicorp drugs Monroe, and when she comes to, she's is tied up and gagged in her car. She's told that "The Families" will eliminate anyone who poses a threat to them, and she's stuffed into a car compactor.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Affably Evil: The Triangle's representative apologizes to Mayor Monroe about having to "kill" her, claiming that under other circumstances, they could have been friends.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Triangle is evidently this.
- And I Must Scream: Ellis gets put through a car compactor. The only piece of her that isn't crushed is one eye, which is shown to be still conscious.
- Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Jack and Gwen use non-invasive methods to get the biometric data from their target. The assassin chasing them, however, is a little more pressed for time. Bonus points for needing both a hand and an eye. It also, probably unintentionally, avoids one of the problems inherent in this trope: because cell tissue never becomes necrotic, severed body parts would still read as if attached.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Gwen does this while she and Jack are trying to get Frumpkin's biometric data, trying out an astonishingly hideous attempt at a Minnesota accent. Both she and Jack agree that she should never do it again.
- Also a Mythology Gag to Doctor Who, as the Tenth Doctor had to tell each of his major companions to never try to imitate an accent again.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Jack and Gwen make a big deal of Rex rendering their only lead incapable of talking, completely ignoring the fact that said lead was about to shoot Gwen in the head.
- Continuity Nod: Jack uses the alias John Smith, a favorite of the Doctor.
- Cryptic Conversation: The assassin gives one of these.Gwen: Oh great, he's cryptic.
- Dark Messiah: Danes was on the road to becoming one last episode, but he really skyrockets into it here.
- Eye Scream: Of a sort. The leader of the Dead is Dead movement, Ellis Hartley Monroe, having been deemed a nuisance by the shadow organization, is trapped in her car and put through a car compactor. Her eye is still intact after it finishes.
- And of course there's the assassin, who gouges Frumpkin's eye out.
- Fantastic Racism: The "Dead is Dead" movement, intent on segregating the should-be-dead from the living. Unfortunately for Ellis, the Triangle decided her strategy was too similar to their own, and happening too quickly.
- Idiot Ball: Esther, you don't visit family when you're on the run, dammit! Rex bitches her out for it. It depends on whether it was a display of hypocrisy or not of his part when he himself visited his father, since he was trained for that sort of thing.
- Just Between You and Me: The assassin is all-too willing to spill his guts about the Triangle to Gwen and Jack. Partially justified in that he was extremely dissatisfied with the miracle ruining his profession.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Well, not quite killed, but shot mid-sentence. In the throat, no less. Lampshaded by Gwen.Hitman: They once had names, long ago. And those names are—*shot by Rex*
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: See The Unreveal below.
- Overly Long Name: The name Gwen makes up for Anwen whilst talking to Frumpkin. "We couldn't choose."
- Shout-Out: The episode title is an inversion of the title Escape from L.A..
- The Triangle got rid of Ellis the same way Goldfinger got rid of a dissenter.
- The Unreveal: The assassin comes within a word of revealing the names of his employers, up until Rex shoots him in the throat to rescue Jack and Gwen.
- We Are Everywhere: The Triangle claims this, while simultaneously claiming that they are "no one".
- Zettai Ryouiki: Gwen sports a Grade B when she and Jack pose as loud-mouthed Americans.