The Categories of Life

soldierI would be very interested in learning how this series was written. Although ‘Miracle Day’ is a serialised story each episodes feels like its own little entity, no doubt due to the many different writers.

I’ve remarked that this does lead to things being introduced and dropped from story to story. As a result this doesn’t feel like a cohesive whole. Take for an example the sudden introduction of the categories of life that give this episode its titles.

For several episodes Dr Vera Juarez has been part of a team of experts, trying to adapt the health care system. Within the first few moments of this episode she is told that they’ve been suddenly disbanded and new legislation has suddenly been put in place.

Where did this come from? Who decided it? How could it be organised so quickly when the impression we’d been given is that things were difficult to organise? Without clear answers this felt like writers not communicating, with no sense of foreshadowing to make this seem plausible.

Once again we have to accept that the public would happily accept massive violations of civil liberties and human rights. The new system breaks people down into three categories, with category 1 being brain dead or otherwise unresponsive people, category 3 being ordinary healthy people and everyone else falling in between.

A case could certainly be made that category 1 people should be placed in camps since they’re taking up space but the only reason we are given for isolating category 2 people is due to the threat of disease. This is hardly credible when we can see that Rex is an example of a self-sufficient category 2 person and we are yet to actually see any evidence of disease.

This also contradicts earlier episodes that stress that people aren’t just not dying, they are so full of life it keeps them from falling unconscious. Evidently the rules of Miracle Day change to fit the particular episode.

Once again the Torchwood team split up, Gwen returning to Wales to save her father and Rex, Esther and Dr Juarez infiltrating an Overflow camp in California. Since they have broadly similar experiences, both learning the secret of the camps at the same time one has to wonder could one of these plot lines have been cut out entirely? Won’t of had the same story if it had just been about the US team or just about Gwen?

It must be said that the majority of the people we saw at the camps all seemed bed bound, even those who were supposed to be category 2. This made them pretty much non-entities, robbing us of the opportunity to have the perspective of someone who had ‘died’.

The head of the US camp, Maloney, was such a broad character he was as believable as a pantomime villain. Introduced as both racist and sexist it was little surprise that he was running the camp badly, more interested in coming in under budget that helping people.

What was surprising was he apparently suffered a complete mental breakdown with very little provocation. Certainly Dr Juarez’s claims that he stand trial for what he had done would have been provocation if we ignore the fact that Maloney would have been well aware that his superiors knew of his methods and that imprisonment wasn’t nearly the deterrent it once was. After all, when prisoners can’t die who would give someone a long sentence?

Not only that but the soldier accompanying him is turned into a quivering wreck when Maloney shoots Dr Juarez several times with his firearm. Why is this soldiers complicit in covering up the assault (if we’ve avoiding the term attempted murder)? Is everyone involved ‘evil’ so there is no need to justify their actions?

The revelation that the category 1 people are being burned in giant ovens is an interesting dark turn and does lead to one of the best scenes. When Rex finds Dr Juarez in one of the modules and realises he can’t save her he has to force himself to film her death, so they have evidence.

This is just the sort of the thing the series should focus more on, the members of Torchwood having to do traumatic, unpleasant things in the interest of the greater good. The downside is that this eliminates one of the most interesting characters of Miracle Day.

Still very much alive is Oswald Danes, making an appearance at a special Miracle Day festival we’ve not heard about before now. Those attending seem to consist entirely of people experiencing massive mood swings.

First they love him, then they hate him and then after a rambling speech with vague religious overtones they love him again. At this point only alien mind control can explain why people would be so easily influenced.

jackLurking in the shadows is Captain Jack, continuing to be ineffective. John Barrowman hasn’t been given much to do this series and unfortunately the few scenes he is in are poorly acted. All of the charm of the character seems to have evaporated in the heat of America.

His plan to ask Oswald to turn on PhiCorp was as ill-thought out as his plan to stop the alien in ‘Children of Earth’. Pleading with a villain to be nice makes Captain Jack seem weak and simple minded.

Are we really supposed to believe that Oswald would have had a change of heart? Was it really supposed to be a surprise when he towed the party line? It all felt so inevitable that it hardly matter that Jack was there at all.

So here we are, half way through the series and we are no closer to anything resembling a plot. What caused Miracle Day? Who is behind it? What are they attempting to achieve? Why were Torchwood a threat? How can the characters stop what is happening?

By now we should have answers to some if not all of the above. We are past Act 1 and into Act 2 of the overall plot yet you could watch this episode after ‘The New World’ without having missed anything major.

Plot elements are discarded by the wayside such as the infiltration of the CIA by the evil conspiracy, the masked Soul-less, Oswald’s prediction of food hoarding, PhiCorp’s pushing through of non-prescription drugs, social upheaval and overpopulation.

Even the things we have learned don’t actually mean anything. So PhiCorp are burning category 1 people. So what? Wasn’t the point of Miracle Day that people weren’t dying and now we discover they are?

What exactly are PhiCorp getting out of this? Why go to all this bother to kill people when people were doing that before Miracle Day? How can any of this be justified?

With so much time wasted how can this series possibly recover?

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