The Middle Men
By DJ Forrest
Episode broadcast 12th August 2011
Written by Russell T Davies and John Shiban
This episode began to get down to the nitty gritty. It was steering the story in the direction of Phicorp and who they could be. It also leads to a dramatic cliff hanger for the next episode Immortal Sins. We meet a familiar face (if you’re a fan of Ghostbusters – took me long enough to realise that) and learn of his role in the episode. It’s an interesting dinner date with Stuart and Captain Jack.
It’s sky scrapers and office romances, where deals are made and sometimes broken. Of men in control but not of all the facts. Stuart is busy in his sky scraper office at Phicorp HQ, in LA, when his secretary calls reminding him of his meeting with Phicorp executive board at four o’clock. She also tells him of the paperwork she’s pulled together on the Shanghai deal. Stuart is not his usual self, and Janet picks up on that. He insists he’s fine, couldn’t be happier and insists she call him Mr Owens at the office.
‘It’s the philosophy of the 45 Club. People who believe that jumping from forty-five floors up or higher is the only guaranteed way to lose consciousness forever.’
Stuart Owens makes a call to Zheng in Shanghai, China. It’s 11pm over there. Stuart insists the information he requests is for his eyes only. Zheng complies.
‘In 1999 a large parcel of land near Shanghai centre was purchased by a division of PhiCorp. That’s where the records end. I need to know exactly what’s happened to the land since then.’
‘Not on paper. There are subsidiaries, shell companies.’ Stuart says.
‘May I ask what this is about?’
‘Do you need to know?’
‘It could be of some help’.
‘Of course, you are aware of the changes going on in the world.’
‘Yes. My Uncle was dying. Now he's not.’ Zheng replies.
‘I'm trying to understand what happened, whether PhiCorp had anything to do with it. I believe this construction site is key.’
‘I asked my uncle what happened. He told me to never question a Miracle. You may not like what you find.’
‘He may be right.’
‘Call me back in a few hours.’ Stuart says.
Zheng Yibao heads down an alleyway and shoots the lock off a metal gate. He sneaks inside the lot. Later in the day, Stuart phones Zheng again.
High up on the roof of a skyscraper, where the wind whips your face harder than a wet fish wielded by a mad fishmonger Zheng reports back. There was nothing to see. It was a dead end. He ends the call and joins the Shanghai 45 Club.
‘I’m with Torchwood. And we’re gonna expose everything that’s going on here, everything that I just witnessed.’ He pulls the painkillers from his pocket that Vera had prescribed for him and feels bitter inside at her loss. He pops a few pills to take the edge of his other pain.
‘They're calling them Category Ones, and from what I've seen, don't ever let them call you that. The minute you hear Category One, you'd better get the hell out of Dodge, because they are going to burn you. That's what this place is for. Incineration. And we all know the drill. They'll start with the Category Ones, the ones who can't protest. Then they'll go on to convicted felons or illegal immigrants, hell, anyone we just don't like, because everybody gets sick, which means one day everybody ends up here. Those ovens are waiting for all of us. But I will tell you one thing. I'm gonna find the bastard that killed Vera. Oh, yeah, and I'm gonna burn his ass.’ He growls.
Inside the office at San Pedro camp, Esther tries unsuccessfully to get hold of Vera, unaware of what has happened. Rachel downs tools. It’s home time, and since they don’t pay overtime, she’s not going to stay a moment longer.
As Rachel tells Esther about money she can’t move from her bank, Esther notices Maloney walking alone, and Vera nowhere in sight. She glances back at Rachel and makes her excuses.
‘Hey, I forgot my cell. You go on ahead. Don’t wait for me.’
In Colin Maloney’s office, Ralph is bricking it. He witnessed Maloney shooting the visiting doctor but not what happened next. Colin is agitated, convincing himself that the matter has been dealt with. Nobody would ever know. Ralph is falling apart. Although he scrubbed his fingers raw, he knows that there would be evidence on him that wouldn’t easily be removed. The tiny flecks of blood under the nails. He demands to know what Colin did with the body.
Colin tries to justify his actions, after changing his shirt, in case he should ever be able to get a game of Badminton in, he convinces himself it’s not his fault, and as Ralph presses him on the use of the Modules, he digs an even bigger hole for himself.
‘It's the system. The module was storage. We were supposed to use it as storage until some Senator signs some paperwork and gives the command. I just did things a little early, that's all.’
‘But what did you do?’ Ralph persists.
Esther enters the Admin office to find the next shift already at her desk. Playing her role perfectly, she insists that the organisation who recruited them, hadn’t passed the message down the line that Esther was to do a double shift, forcing the young woman out of Esther’s seat, mumbling back out of the room. Esther keeps her eyes on the two in Maloney’s office. Gathering up a handful of papers from her desk, she knocks on the Office door and enters.
Maloney knows he can’t trust anyone with what he’s done, and the more he tries to remain calm, the more chaos enters his day to day life. Ralph continues to stand petrified across the desk from him, as Esther informs Maloney that she has some forms for him. Admitting she’s new, she has no idea what kind of forms they are.
He insists she leaves them on his desk, then causes her to wonder after he explains his shirt change, for a game of Badminton.
It takes her by surprise. Gathering her thoughts, she asks if he would like something to drink. He doesn’t, and insists she leaves his office. NOW!
As she leaves, Ralph bleats.
‘Oh my God, I did not agree to this.’
‘Everything’s gonna be fine.’ Maloney insists, if only to assure himself.
‘But we murdered her.’
‘No. No. The Modules were designed to kill, therefore death within this compound is legal.’
Ralph knows that that can’t be true, but Maloney is taking a stand. In his eyes, murder is legal, while on the camp. She was fatally wounded, would never have survived. She was technically a Category One.
Tony’s having a rough day. While Esther tries to eavesdrop on Maloney, he decides to offload his troubles on her, criticising the office staff who covered the day shift.
‘They’re illegal immigrants, all of them. They can’t even spell. Look at this. This is wrong.’ He tells her, showing off every page of misprints.
Inside the office, Ralph continues to panic, while Maloney who is still trying to convince himself that he’s in the clear, tells Ralph what he’s going to do next.
‘You're gonna take her car and drive it into San Pedro. You know that shopping mall, the Constitution Mall? Drop it off there. It's a huge car park, thousands of cars. And we've got trucks that go past there every half hour, so just authorise yourself a drive back. She goes missing, it's got nothing to do with us.’
Colin tells Ralph that he needn’t worry about a thing as Vera Juarez is now just a pile of dust. Ralph blanches.
Colin gives them an alibi.
‘And we put this place on red alert, complete lockdown. Because lockdown means that every member of the staff is logged and noted. It'll give us a perfect alibi. She disappeared halfway across town while we were on duty all night.’ Maloney makes a call.
‘Security? Yeah, give me the chief. We’re going to Condition One.’
Still filming out near the Modules, activity is happening around him. Rex continues to record.
Soldiers mobilise and begin Lockdown procedures. In the Admin department, Maloney informs his current staff of the situation.
Outside, Rex is determined to get the news out, somehow.
Esther tries to contact Vera again and is instantly caught by Maloney.
‘I said it’s lockdown, miss, what is it?’ Maloney tries to remember her name.
Esther introduces herself again and insists it was a call home. Maloney is adamant that no phone calls will be allowed, reminding her to check the rule book. All exterior calls must all be authorised by the man himself.
‘What about visitors, sir? Shouldn’t we escort them out? Isn’t that observer still here? The one from Washington, Dr Juarez?’
‘No, she left. She’s gone. As a matter of fact, she said I was running an excellent command. Very good indeed. That’s her exact words. Very good indeed.’
Esther is less than convinced.
In Cowbridge Overflow camp, Gwen seeks out Dr Patel who signed off on the papers for her Dad to be marked down as Category One. Desperate to save him, Gwen insists that the young Indian doctor change the details as he’s not as bad as she’s making out. Of course, as Patel explains, letting one away would mean letting the others away too. She has her orders, and that is it. It’s not her department.
Of course, that’s like waving a red rag to a bull as far as Gwen Cooper is concerned, so it’s only a matter of time before Gwen plans another breakout with her father, and this time she aims to succeed.
‘No Janet, you don’t know me, but I know you.’
Sounding like a creepy stalker, Jack explains how he knows her and what he wants. Realising that Jack is one of the good guys and her boss isn’t, Janet agrees to help him.
In a swanky restaurant in LA, Jack leaves his great coat with a hot ‘coat boy’ and heads upstairs to surprise Owens who is contemplating the salad.
‘I’d go for the steak if I were you.’ Jack says, interrupting the date. ‘With a very large bourbon and a pack of cigarettes. Why not? We’re gonna live forever, right, courtesy of PhiCorp?’
Owens tries to calm what could be a fiery situation, insisting Jack may have the wrong table, but far from it.
‘You're Stuart Owens, aren't you? You're the Chief Operating Officer for PhiCorp Industries.’
Impressed, Owens asks who Jack is.
‘I’m a friend of Janet’s, your secretary. We met at a bar, the one you were planning on going to after dinner. Does your wife know?’
Jack hits a raw nerve; the wife leaves them alone. Owens calls after her but Jack prevents him from leaving, insisting that if he did, his associates holding Janet, would hurt her. Aware that Owens would need proof, he hands over his mobile. Janet plays her part convincingly.
Owens asks what Jack wants.
‘The truth.’ Jack says, seated in Elizabeth’s chair.
‘The Miracle. How was it done? Why was it done? How can it be undone?’
‘Why would I have the answer?’
‘When the day came, PhiCorp was ready. We found warehouses stocked with painkillers waiting for the Miracle to come along.’
‘That's your smoking gun?’
‘You're a man in charge. You knew it was coming.’
‘Harkness. Captain Jack Harkness.’
‘Are you with the military?’
‘Freelance. I represent the people who are trying to stop PhiCorp.’
‘So, that security breach on the thirty third floor.’
‘That was us.’ Jack says.
‘It's not me you're after. In fact, I've been trying to find out the truth just as much as you. I'm not a bad man, Mister Harkness.’
‘Captain.’ Jack insists.
‘I'm not a bad man, Captain. I'm not a good one, either. I'm a middleman in every sense of the word. And faced with the thought of being who I am for God knows how long, I'm just as keen as you to find out exactly what's going on. Especially with the stock market threatening to collapse, a man like me needs insurance. You don't believe me. You think I'm the epitome of evil, the devil in a three-piece suit.’
‘In my experience, that's how it works.’
‘Your experience must be rather simple. You have a rather archaic view of good versus evil, don't you?’
‘Tell me who's behind this.’
‘I've been trying to find out. I've sent agents all over the world following the paper trail, the backroom deals, the holding companies within holding companies. That's when I came face to face with the true face of evil.’
‘The system itself.’
‘Precisely. If the schemes and conspiracies are being plotted, then they must be seen only as patterns, waves, shifts that are either too small or too vast to be perceived. Someone is playing the system right across planet Earth with infinite grace, beyond any one person's sight. No, I'm sorry, Captain, but PhiCorp isn't controlling this. Profiting, yes, but this is part of a much larger design way beyond any of us.’
‘But how can you be part of it and not know what's going on?’
‘Let me give you an example. These warehouses full of drugs, no doubt you'd love to uncover an incriminating memo dated the day before Miracle Day signed by me authorising the stockpiling of painkillers. The truth is, a pattern like that began say maybe five years ago with the systematic increase in production in random factories around the world, based on market share projections. What was the warehouse?’
‘Washington DC, Third and Boston.’
‘I'd imagine transportation of the drugs to the Third and Boston was then carried out over a twelve-month period by, say, maybe five different haulage companies outsourced to seven or eight different independent suppliers.’
‘So, that means everyone's to blame.’ Jack says.
‘Everyone and no one. Whoever is behind this, they don't show themselves. Not to me, not to you. But to play the system like this, the markets, the politics, industry, they had to be planning this for a very long time. I wish I knew who they were.’
‘I was told that the miracle involves geography. Does that mean anything?’
‘No. But there is one word that my operatives picked up dating back to the mid-nineties and then erased.’
‘What is it?’
‘What does it mean?’
‘There was a document from Italy from a source inside the Council of Ministers, a contact then deceased. It simply referred to The Blessing. It said, they have found The Blessing.’
Downstairs, the cavalry have arrived.
‘It seems my wife called the authorities. Hmm.’
Jack has gone.
At the San Pedro overflow camp, Rex has no way out, unless… Taking the red peg from inside his jacket, he clips it onto the lapel, knocks over a few barrels, and lies down on the ground, eyes closed. A young guard hears the commotion and checks it out, only to be knocked out by Rex when he leans too close to the ‘patient’. Changing into the young guard’s clothing – the perfect fit – he responds to the man’s radio, when the older guard tries to get his attention.
‘Billy, do you read me, what’s going on?’
Rex informs him that he’s needed at the Module. They need more men at the Module, and suggests he head there pronto as he’s already there. Insisting that he didn’t listen when discussion about the checkpoint was brought up, the older guard buys the new instructions, knowing the younger guard wasn’t good at listening to commands. Lucky break there, Rex!
Rex heads to the security gate. He uses Billy’s card to open the security gate. A tannoy above his head orders him to identity himself. Unsure of how he could get away with it, mumbles that he’s going out for a smoke. Hoping again that there wouldn’t be a huge party on the other side, he steps through, and is surprised by half the platoon. Awkward!
‘Who the hell are you?’
Ralph bursts into Maloney’s office reporting back about Rex. A man with a camera breaching the compound. Poor Ralph, any more trouble and he’s going to require a new pair of briefs. Maloney too, and as much as he tries to convince himself that all is fine, you can tell by his complexion that it hasn’t just crossed his mind that Rex could ruin everything.
Esther can see the pair flustering in the office and decides to try again with paperwork, insisting a few forms require signatures. Maloney snaps. He doesn’t require Esther to walk with him anywhere, and as she heads out after Ralph, Tony calls her back. The annoying, irritable man who has read his Rule book, knows it inside out and back to front, insists Esther remains in the Department.
‘How blonde are you? It’s a lockdown. We haven’t got clearance. Got to stay at your desk.’
In the Generator Room at the San Pedro Camp, poor Rex is chained to a metal strut. He shouts at Maloney, angry at the way his girlfriend was treated, hurt and broken, his shirt open revealing his chest wound, he continues to berate Maloney as he enters the room. Maloney dismisses the soldiers.
‘I need to know who you are.’ Maloney says. Rex has already given his details to the soldiers but does it again, demanding to know who he’s talking to. Maloney fills him in of his position as Director of the San Pedro facility. Rex, despite chained and helpless, insists that as the head of the facility, Maloney stands to face the charges of the injustices happening in the San Pedro facility. Of course, Maloney, heart sinking realises that the net is tightening and begins to break down. But curiously, looks at the footage that Rex has taken, yet still denies that what he’s seeing is real.
Rex of course, at this point has no idea that the man he’s barking at, murdered his girlfriend. He tries to turn it around, hoping that Maloney will become the hero, and give the information to the police. It’s damning evidence of what is going on inside the Compound.
Esther meanwhile knows something is wrong and needs to get out of the office. She pops her head around the door and asks Ralph the details of the man caught breaching the compound and finds out his current location. Despite calls from Tony that nobody leaves the office, she heads out regardless.
‘I’m reporting you.’ Shouts Tony.
Maloney, tears in his eyes, watches the death of Vera Juarez in technicolour. He’s crying.
Esther spies Maloney’s golf cart parked outside the Generator building.
‘I just can’t focus, can’t think. I’ve never been too practical. I’m more of an ideas man. I’m very good at Badminton.’ Maloney mutters. He produces a pen from his top pocket. ‘It’ll have to do.’ Stepping towards Rex, who is curious of the pen, until Maloney moves the fabric of his shirt away from the wound, exposing it fully, shouts and begs for the man, not to do anything stupid, raises his voice, begging and screaming in pain as the pen is pushed into the wound, causing blood to pour from the wound. It’s then that Rex realises, that Maloney is the killer.
‘It was you.’
‘I’m sorry.’ Maloney sobs.
‘You killed her.’
‘I’m very sorry. It’s just been such a long day. All I want to do is go home.’ Again, he pushes the pen into Rex’s body, forcing more blood to pour from the exposed wound.
Her reactions are too slow. Maloney needs to tidy this situation up. Fast. He grabs Esther by the hair and slams her into a wall, and starts laying into her. Esther fights back, gouging her thumbs into Maloney’s eyes. Further tussles and he’s trying to strangle the life out of her. Esther wrestles free and in a double handed hold, crushes Maloney’s windpipe. The man stops fighting and remains still.
Distraught, she goes to Rex, tears in her eyes. The Watch Analyst has turned into a field agent, and this was her first kill. Except, as Rex explains, nobody dies. He needs to get free and insists that she return to the body and get the keys for the cuffs. After returning and fishing them out of his pocket, she makes to leave as Maloney grabs her ankle and brings her crashing to the floor. This time he’s got the perfect strangle hold, and there’s nothing Esther can do.
Ralph fires a shot and Maloney falls to the side, relieving the pressure on Esther’s throat.
‘This has got to stop.’
Grateful, Esther thanks him and returns to Rex.
At the Overflow camp in Cowbridge, Rhys finds a perfect truck for transporting his father in law. It’s still got the keys in. As he’s prepared to move, Pidgeon knocks on the window, and demands to know what he’s doing.
‘My job, isn’t it? Don’t scare a man like that.’ Rhys snaps at him, heart still recovering.
‘Patient transfer at this time of night?’ Pidgeon queries.
Rhys tells him it’s his job, that his supervisor gave him the orders for the patient transfer at 5 am. Pidgeon asks the name of the supervisor.
‘Captain Jack Harkness.’ Rhys replies. ‘He ordered me.’
Pidgeon didn’t see the name listed and went off to make some calls. Rhys waited. Over at the other side of the Overflow camp, Gwen waited also. It was getting late, and Rhys would have ‘Hell to pay’ if he didn’t turn up soon.
‘Not long now Dad, I promise.’
Pidgeon comes back to Rhys. There’s no movement for another hour. After more discussions, Pidgeon goes off to make another phone call. Rhys, tired of waiting a moment longer, drives off.
With more patients, due to arrive soon from abroad, two hospital staff prepare to move the Category Ones to the Ovens. Gwen begins to push her Dad’s trolley bed out towards the soon to be waiting Rhys. It’s a tight squeeze, weaving around many of the rooms, and one door proves difficult, but thanks to a cleaner, she can get through.
Rhys is full of apologies as Gwen berates him for his tardiness.
‘I was on time, only this officious bastard held me up.’
‘Why didn’t you just run him over or something?’
‘I’m not the running over type, you know that. Anyway, I drove off when this silly bugger was on the phone. He’s probably followed me.’
They opened the tailgate and got the old Dad into the back of the truck just at the moment the patrol came around the corner.
‘Take Dad home.’ Gwen instructs Rhys. ‘There’s something I’ve got to do here before I go to the States.’
‘You’re going back to America?’ Rhys is shocked.
‘We’ve got to find out what’s behind all of this, and put a stop to it once and for all. But before I do, I haven’t finished with this place yet.’
As Pidgeon spots Rhys, and Rhys spots Pidgeon, Gwen pulls him into a kiss before they go their separate ways.
Discarding her nurses uniform, Gwen pops into a bathroom and puts in the Eye-5 contact lenses and hopes someone back at the base is listening.
Jack is searching for any mention of The Blessing when the Eye-5 software comes alive on screen.
‘Hello. Anybody home?’
‘You’re a sight for sore eyes.’ Jack smiles typing his response.
‘Jack, is that you?’
‘In the flesh. You OK?’
From her vantage point, Gwen informs Jack that she’s coming back, to the fight, but after finding a box of plastic explosives, she’s just got something she’d like to show him. Tilting the mirror so Jack can see what’s about to happen, informing her that he’s opened up the radio link, so she can send her message.
‘This is the truth for the whole world to see. We let our governments build concentration camps. They built ovens for people in our names. Now I don't care if the whole of society bends over and takes this like a dog, I'm saying NO.’
Gwen detonates the plastic explosives, destroying all the Modules. Jack laughed heartily.
‘That’s my girl.’
Outside the San Pedro Overflow Camp, Esther is far from calm. In her haste to be part of the work team, she had submitted her own name. She would be on the system. Rex calms her as best he can. She’d saved his life. She’d become the lion and not the mouse. He knew this was still new to her.
‘It’s OK, you’re allowed to feel like this.’ He hugged her. ‘This is not over, not for Torchwood, and I need you in this fight.’
In the apartment, Jack, Esther and Rex watch the television. The News forecaster shows the horrors of what the Overflow camps would rather you didn’t see. Jack’s pleased, Rex less so.
Despite all their best efforts, the Press Secretary announces that there will be no backing down on the crisis of the Category Ones process. It will carry on as normal.
‘You see that, they should be shutting down those camps right now. They’re just talking about it.’
‘At least we’ve made it public.’ Esther says.
‘Torchwood wasn’t designed to fight politicians. If we really want to stop this happening, we need to look at the bigger picture, find out what the Blessing is.’ Jack tells them.
Gwen arrives back on US soil and calls her husband for the umpteenth time. Still no answer. Leaving another message, she hears her name called on the tannoy, and hurries towards the white courtesy phone.
‘This is Gwen Cooper. Hello, this is Gwen Cooper, you said I had a message.’
‘What? What did you say?’
Staggered by who else would know about Torchwood’s Eye-5 software. In the restroom she applies the lenses and stares at the mirror in front of her. She receives a message that rocks her to the core.
‘We have your mother. We have your husband. We have your child.’
‘Who. Who are…Who are you? What do you want? What do you want!’
After a pause, she receives the answer.
‘Bring us Jack.’
Next - Immortal Sins – Issue 44.