Torchwood “Escape To L.A.”

Given this is Torchwood, a show that routinely has the weird and crazy on display, what does it say about this show that the strangest thing to jump out for me when this episode started is the team has relocated to sunny Venice Beach, California?  I mean, it’s so odd seeing Jack and Gwen standing out in outdoor light that bright…

OK, granted, this is still a show co-produced by the BBC, so this is still perhaps a British idea of what Venice Beach is like, and I have no idea where they filmed this episode, but it sure is bright on that beach, made moreso given Gwen’s leather jacket and general pallor, to say nothing of her general tourist-y approach to the place.

And yes, I could probably look up where they filmed this episode or the nationality of the writers, but where’s the fun in that?

Of course, this episode also introduced someone referred to as a “Tea Party favorite” and I just went “OK, then…”  If the British view of California’s coast might be a bit off, I don’t want to guess what they think American political movements and ideas are like.  That just seems like it could be asking for trouble.

But there’s this Tea Party favorite, a woman named Ellis Hartley Monroe as played by Mare Winningham, and she’s arguing for, well, segregation.  Set the people who should be dead aside somewhere and wait for them to die because sooner or later, that will happen.  So, you know, she was advocating for segregation in the name of religion.  I’m sure that’s not allegorically problematic at all.

The fact that evil Big Pharma company PhiCorp might already be doing that segregation stuff, and that by episode’s end, Rhys will have unknowingly shipped Gwen’s father off to a PhiCorp camp is…wait, the best name they could come up with for an evil pharmaceutical company is “PhiCorp”?  It’s like they aren’t even trying.

OK, this episode makes it clear that PhiCorp isn’t the real villains as the real villains may be the people above them.  Whoever they are.  Oswald tried looking for them and couldn’t find anything using Google, but I’m still not sure why he’s on the show at this point aside from the fact he has a natural gift for showmanship that upends Ellis’s attempts to make an issue out of an abandoned hospital full of people who should be dead because Oswald beat her to the punch by simply going there and promising to fight for them.  That’s a really long sentence.

Once again, most of the people present seem to have forgotten who he is, but then again, there was also an abandoned baby there and that thought it a little too depressing for me.  Didn’t Torchwood kill enough children already?

So, who are the real villains?  I don’t know.  They do send a nameless agent played by C. Thomas Howell after the team (it’s Esther’s fault they got caught, but she’s kinda new at this), and Rex shot the guy through the throat before he could offer any answers, but he was about to put a bullet in Gwen’s brain to torture Jack, so that guy gets no sympathy from me.  The point is, these people seem like bad news.

Like, they drugged Ellis and put her in a car, then put the car in a compactor, and she of course isn’t dead inside.  That’s scary.  Of course, it also means people might miss someone who was making a lot of media appearances and seems to be well known in political circles until maybe five minutes earlier, so maybe not the smartest of moves from people trying to maintain their secrecy.

I may just be pulling threads at this point, and Ellis’s terrified eye looking around a small hole in the crushed car does make for a cool image, but it’s little stuff like this that could potentially derail a story.  I’m still mostly onboard with this final batch of episodes, but it’s existence was a little questionable to me from the very beginning.

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