The third episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
Now on the run, Rex and Esther are rather forcibly roped into becoming Torchwood members, and they gather in a makeshift Hub. Rex is not happy with being part of Torchwood, partly because he's just naturally grumpy, partly because he hates Jack, and partly because his chest wound is causing him constant agony. Esther just wants to go see her sister, who isn't well — although she doesn't elaborate for now. Rex manages to sneak into CIA director Friedkin's house and take his phone by force. When the phone finally rings, it becomes apparent that Phicorp is linked to it somehow.
Jack's earlier wounds are getting infected, and he's very worried by now. The group realises that when the wounded don't die anymore, the earth would become a massive germ incubator. Other medical repercussions also become apparent: for one, the normal 50% in-utero mortality rate of severely disfigured fetuses is no longer in effect. Several countries have already greenlit contraceptives in the water, with unknown medical results. Meanwhile, supermarkets are being raided, pain killers are still impossible to come by, and the white mask cult is growing stronger.
The new Torchwood infiltrate Phicorp, and discover a massive stockpile of pain killers. Gwen and Jack would prefer to keep the information to themselves for now, but Rex insists on doing something with it, and calls a friend though a number of proxies to get help.
When Rex' friend turns out to have called the cops on him instead of helping them, both Jack and Rex decide to just call it a day and leave Gwen and Esther to their own devices. While Gwen and Esther walk back to the Hub and become friends, Rex visits Dr. Vera Juarez and tries to blackmail her for more pain killers and a new dressing for his wound. The blackmail quickly turns into banter and the banter quickly turns into rather explicit sex.
Meanwhile, Jack decides to enjoy his newfound mortality, goes on a complete bender, and manages to pick up a hot male bartender in under a minute. And so, we finally get to see Captain Jack Harkness getting fucked, which is both surprisingly explicit and utterly magnificent. And he insists on using condoms.
Some time later, while the bartender is asleep, Jack drunk dials Gwen. She and Esther are still at the Hub, working diligently all night and trying to find out more about morphic fields. Gwen correctly guesses that Jack is heartbroken over the fact that Ianto had to die before Miracle Day would have saved him. But she hangs up on him when Esther, using a whole lot of proxies, manages to get her a secure webcam connection to Rhys and Anwen.
The next day, Jack stumbles into the Hub with a massive hangover — his first one in millennia — while Rex discloses that he's convinced Dr. Juarez to help them.
Dr. Juarez decides to take Jilly up on her invitation to attend a Phicorp presentation. Gwen sneaks in as well, using Torchwood's trusty old camera contact lenses. Rex would have preferred to go, but Gwen lies to him and says that the lenses are bio-linked. Also attending is Oswald Danes, who by now has publicly stated a tearful apology on live TV for raping and murdering a child. While Gwen hacks into Jilly's computer, Phicorp announces that it's convinced a U.S. Congressman to try and make all pain relief drugs legal without prescription. Danes is paid to state on live TV how much he loves that plan.
Jack, who knows what it feels like to murder a child, doesn't believe him, but since Danes now has protection from Phicorp as their public spokesperson, Jack is badly beaten and left in the street.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Arc Words: Both Jilly and Oswald (and by extension, PhiCorp) use the phrase "stride across the skin of the world".
- Bigger on the Inside: PhiCorp's storage warehouse. Though it presumably isn't a TARDIS.
- British English: Esther spends the first part of the episode teaching Gwen the American names of the things she's used to.
- Buffy Speak: Jilly says "end of the worldy".
- Continuity Nod:
- Gwen still has the Torchwood contact lenses.
- Jack becomes irritated that someone else is giving the orders, only to proceed with that someone's plan, exactly like the Doctor once did with him.
- Jack seems very interested in the fact that Danes is receiving "forgiveness" for the killing of a child.
- Rex mentions that all of Jack's old team is dead.
- Gwen says she wishes Miracle Day had happened "a bit sooner", because Ianto would still be alive.
- Cult: A group called "The Soulless", who believe that immortality has robbed humanity of their souls.
- Divided We Fall: Jack and Rex butting heads is proving to be quite detrimental to the team's efforts.
- Dramatic Irony: A drunk Jack calls up Gwen to talk about how much they mean to each other, and how they don't need anyone else . . . just as Esther gets a working webcam feed for Gwen to Rhys and baby Anwyn. Jack's face as he realizes she isn't listening and is overjoyed to see her husband and daughter is heartbreaking.
- Fanservice: The equal-opportunity sex scenes; the homosexual encounter of Jack and Brad (with a nice view of Brad's ass) contrasted with heterosexual Rex and Vera.
- Idealized Sex: Pretty much played straight, both for Rex and Vera and for Jack and Brad. Their injuries aren't ignored, though, and Jack insists on using condoms.
- Infant Immortality: Played horrifyingly straight. Everyone is immortal. That includes kids. That includes babies. That includes miscarried fetuses. That includes children with genetic defects so severe that Body Horror would be putting it lightly.
- And this will include stuff that has never been able to exist before.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: A pair of police officers drive Danes out of town and beat the ever loving crap out of him. "You should have run faster," indeed.
- Mythology Gag: When they discover PhiCorp's storage warehouse, Jack describes it as being "bigger on the inside than the outside".
- Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Despite being in a foul mood and smashed drunk and the world is ending, Jack still absolutely insists on using condoms, and he doesn't get dominant until his partner tells him he can be in charge.
- Shirtless Scene: Two.
- Matheson, though the gaping chest wound is less-than-attractive.
- Jack's post-coital scene. John Barrowman is...certainly attractive.
- Shout-Out: Esther quotes the first two lines of Robert Frost's "Acquainted with the Night", as well as "miles to go before [we] sleep", which is from "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening".
- Shown Their Work: Related to Infant Immortality above. How many people actually know that about 50% of all pregnancies abort spontaneously?
- That Liar Lies: Gwen says to Rex that the contact lenses only work on her. Jack types "liar" into the interface on them.