Torchwood episode 36: The Categories of Life (11/8/2011)
‘Instead of dead or alive, there are now three categories.’ The analogies – of categorising human beings, confining the “wrong” categories to camps with massive crematoria – are pretty blatant. So too is the idea that the face of evil is banal. Maloney, camp commandant in L.A., is a pathetic, budget-conscious middle manager, over-promoted and fully aware of what he’s doing, but too dully compliant to question it.
Espenson’s brilliantly dark and disturbing script has an effective mounting dread. The first half, as Gwen and Rhys infiltrate a camp in Wales while Rex and Vera do the same in L.A., is funny. Gwen, typically, goes in all guns blazing and nearly gets locked up. Vera takes a subtler approach – at least initially. Posing as an inspector, she starts to uncover the scale of Maloney’s mismanagement. But she can’t control her anger at what she sees, and while Gwen manages to rein herself in, Vera vents her fury on Maloney. As a result, she experiences first-hand the secret horror of the machinery of extermination, getting – what’s the opposite of fridged? Ovened? – in front of Rex.
I guess that leaves him available for Jack, who’s enjoying his discomfort with homosexuality and takes every opportunity here to laugh at it. While Rex and Vera infiltrate the camps, Jack is trying to convince Danes to blow open PhiCorp’s conspiracy on TV. But Danes is working to a different agenda. By the end, the new Torchwood team has lost its latest recruit, and PhiCorp is ascendant.
Next Time: The Middle Men