Torchwood: Middle Men

(Episode number 6 in the series Torchwood – Miracle Day)

Torchwood – Miracle Day is rather like an Onion, each episode a layer of peel removed to reveal some new element that, we hope, will eventually make sense of the bizarre goings on. In The Middle Men the first reference to the Blessing is made, no doubt heralding a brand new set of worms to be let out of the can. Perhaps “worms” is an especially appropriate word?  The wormlike alien creature seen in the end of the episode trailer seems to have a modes operandi that is reminiscent of The Hive in TV Series Dark Skies, but perhaps I shouldn’t jump the gun?

As well as developing the plot the episodes also include critical elements of our society. in the case of Middle Men (an appropriate enough title since we’re in the middle of the series, more or less) it is how corrosive government secrets have become in Western Democracies and how the antidote to this may be organisations that specialise in whistle blowing.  Torchwood takes on this role in episode 6, but with limited results, which may also reflect something of the weakness of this process. The population can simply be overwhelmed by a continuous flow of government secrets, most of which seem to have little impact on their own lives. This makes it easier for the Spin Doctors to do their work. The Torchwood team takes the high moral ground, that incinerating category 1 humans is equivalent to the gas ovens of the Nazi regime, yet offers no practical alternative to the problem of what to do about people who are essentially dead, but whose bodies continue to live and present a genuine threat of incubating new more potent diseases. Their stance seems to be life in any state rather than trust a group of appointed medical and other experts to come up with a definition of category of life. Granted this gives Governments potential power to eliminate particular groups, but the chances of them getting away with an abuse of that system seem no more likely than using some other available method. They also seem to reinforce the idea that whistle blowers are subversive and criminal and, bearing in mind how Wikileaks have been denounced and attempts made to secure any sort of conviction against its founder, Julian Assange, it begs the question, have they become more vulnerable or is this the future Journalism? A question asked by an edition of Al Jazeera’s Inside Story aired in 2010.

We’re all cogs in a machine in one way or another and just because you might be a bigger cog it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better understanding of what’s really going on. Stuart Owens (Ernie Hudson) illustrates the point. He is a senior executive at PhiCorp who doesn’t understand what’s behind Miracle Day or why PhiCorp is benefiting so much from it. Companies, by their very nature, exist to make profit and if the prevailing circumstances change in their favour they will exploit the situation to their benefit. PhiCorp is like some huge lumbering beast grazing for profit that has presumably be cultivated by an entity that is advanced and far seeing enough. And we’re all waiting to see what that entity is.

Written by Peter Grehan

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