‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’: Episode 6 spoiler-free review

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Warning: this episode does not feature either Bill Pullman or Lauren Ambrose. As their antics have been some of the most entertaining aspects of the series so far, this results in the sixth instalment falling somewhat short of interest.

Miracle Day does seem to be conforming to the Lost strategy of insanely beguiling episode endings, then following it up with an episode start that bears no relation to the tumultuous preceding events. You’ll find that ‘The Middle Men’ is no different.

The opening salvo features new character, and a rather lofty PhiCorp employee, Stuart Owens; played by actual Ghostbuster, Ernie Hudson. Like the Torchwood gang, he’s curious as to what’s going and has stumbled on some clues which might lead to the mystery of the ‘miracle’ (or, at least, how his employers are involved).

It’s a rather neat subplot, having someone else on the trail of the miracle (as the notion that it’s just Jack & Co. is fairly risible). It’s made all the more amusing when Harkness tracks him down for a stand-off, only to realise they’re on the same page, though Owens is quick to admit that he is merely a middle man.

The specific ‘geography’ mentioned earlier in the series makes a return (thankfully someone remembered the hitman’s odd comments from a few weeks back) with some hints as to where it is. Hudson makes an affable and charismatic businessman-cum-hero and it’s a pity he wasn’t awarded more screen time. Sadly, most of this episode is given up to Esther and Rex as they scamper around in the concentration camp. Sorry, I mean overflow camp.

Both come into contact with a very different kind of middle man to Owens, the badminton-loving Colin Maloney. Actor Marc Vann again delights in this heightened performance, straight off the pages of a comic book (he even has the crazed look of a 2D character). But the misogynistic bravado of last week has been replaced by melancholy and distinct signs of, what is medically known as, “being a nutjob”.

Some may balk at his erraticity but everyone loves a crazy, right? There’s certainly never a dull moment when Colin is around. Which is just as well as Esther and Rex still aren’t exactly proving their worth in the entertainment stakes. Meanwhile, Rhys and Gwen’s stalling in Wales with a rehash of last week’s escapes is similarly frustrating.

As usual, however, the last couple of minutes save you from any dullness endured with yet another electric denouement and a superbly placed twist – leaving you slack-jawed and agape waiting for next week’s episode. Simply cannot wait! Yup, they did it again.

Airs at 9pm on Thursday 18th August 2011 on BBC One (UK) and at 10pm on Friday 12th August 2011 on Starz (US).

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