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Escape to LA was the fourth episode of Series 4 of Torchwood. It was written by Jim Gray and John Shiban, and directed by Billy Gierhart. It explored the family relationships of Esther and Rex, which had been strained by their duties for the CIA. Of note was the anonymous organisation that had its hooks into Brian Friedkin began to move out of its thus far quiet operations and take a hostile initiative against Torchwood. This unknown collective, identified by its triangular calling card symbol, contracted a professional assassin to eliminate the group, who dropped hints about what these individuals sought to gain.


Torchwood follow PhiCorp to California to continue the fight, but walk straight into a trap. Elsewhere, Oswald Danes and Jilly Kitzinger face off against their own adversaries.


Despite the risks, Esther Drummond decides to pay a visit to her sister Sarah, only to find her house boarded up with messages to stay away. When Sarah answers the door, Esther discovers she's added several locks to it and is apparently having a nervous breakdown. When Sarah explains that she's been questioned about her, Esther explains she's leaving Washington DC soon and wants to say goodbye to her nieces. However, Sarah says she won't let them outside, believing everything people are saying about the Miracle online. Forced to leave, Esther calls Child Services, explaining Sarah may pose a danger to her daughters. Unbeknownst to her, an agent of the Three Families has found her and is ordered to follow her to Jack Harkness.

Arriving in Los Angeles, the Torchwood team take in their new surroundings while Rex Matheson puts money in the parking metre. Jack expresses his fondness for seeing the Pacific Ocean, saying it must have been in the 1940s that he last saw it. Esther questions him if he's joking, but Gwen Cooper changes the subject, asking where PhiCorp headquarters is; it's in the next city. Jack informs his team that they have to find a base of operations in the meantime, with Gwen complaining about the locations he always chooses.

In the meantime, Rex phones Dr Juarez, having been handed a flyer advertising Dead is Dead, learning Ellis Hartley Monroe is leading a campaign to treat those who should have died as they are dead and wait for their "pause" from death to come to an end. Dr Juarez, on the other hand, is being shown an abandoned hospital along with a medical panel; it's intended to be used as storage for the overflowing ICU patients. Despite protests, the plan will go through.

Elsewhere, Oswald Danes is enjoying the privileges of being in a fancy hotel, everything paid for by PhiCorp of course. Jilly Kitzinger arrives and explains to him that PhiCorp has made her his personal assistant, saying she will do anything within her job description for him; however, that doesn't mean she has to like him, as she is disgusted by what he has done. Oswald prepares to leave for another interview, but is told he has been replaced by Monroe; her popularity is growing fast, putting Danes in danger of being thrown back to the mob.

Jack asks around for a place for the team to stay, no questions; they find a place. The owner asks if it would be pointless to ask who they are; Jack passes the group off as travelling circus folk. Rex quips that Jack's the clown. Jack pays the owner extra to tell them if anything comes asking about them. The owner goes to leave, but then stops to tell them about a fabulous snack served nearby. Rex, taken aback by the man's sudden change in behaviour asks if Jack makes everyone around him gay. With a mischievous smile, Jack jokes that "that's the plan".

Rex goes to meet his dad, who has regressed into a thief, stealing PhiCorp drugs. His dad holds him at gunpoint, but Rex disarms him. He says he doesn't want to live forever. When Rex shows him his wound, his dad tells him to "get the hell out". Rex agrees, exiting. Once out, he takes out a package of PhiCorp drugs, having taken them from his father's stash.

Esther shows that server 113 of the PhiCorp computer system contains information they need. The security for their server system was designed by a Nicolas Frumkin; every entry point is activated by Frumkin's voice print, palm print and iris recognition. Jack and Gwen impersonate a couple and gain the respective things with the help of a water bottle and Gwen's cell phone.

The new temporary hospital that Juarez is managing is failing miserably: no ID checks, no electricity and people just being thrown in without permission. Moore has a rally just outside. Oswald, who is there at the time, decides to go into the hospital, locking everyone out. He says he is not scared of the people inside. He says he wants to help, promising food and security. This gets him more popularity among the populace of the world. Monroe, while leaving, is poisoned.

Frumkin is held at gunpoint by an unnamed person. He tells them that Torchwood is behind what is about to happen. For the palm and eye, he mutilates Frumkin, who lives through every second due to the Miracle. Meanwhile, Esther's sister Sarah has been taken to a psychiatric hospital.

Gwen is admitted undercover at PhiCorp under the alias of Yvonne Pallister, International Sales Representative, and Esther poses as "Lorraine" in Human Resources to get Gwen to Floor 21. She also sends Jack to Floor 21, with him posing as a delivery worker. Jack sets a small fire and then extinguishes it, to set off the fire alarm. They enter the room with a blank server.

Rex realises the possibility that someone might have followed Esther while she was at her sister's house. The mysterious agent who followed Esther knocks out and gags Gwen, and when Jack enters, he follows. Rex berates Esther for allowing them to be traced and then goes to rescue Gwen and Jack. The man says that the reason Jack is mortal is because of something that happened many years ago, and that Jack caused this. Rex is midway sprinting up the 30 flights of stairs, his wound taking its toll. The man says that the moment has come when they found "specific geography". He is about to reveal this information when Rex bursts in and shoots him in the throat. Exhausted, Rex collapses against the wall. Jack and Gwen chastise Rex, stating he stopped the man from telling them what he knew but Rex dismisses them, citing he saved their lives.

Monroe finds herself gagged, inside a vehicle that is placed into a compactor. She's still alive due to Miracle Day. A screen in the dashboard lights up with a spinning triangular symbol and a voice speaks to her. It apologises to her about what is to befall her, musing that they could have been friends under different circumstances. However, though her style was to their liking, the anonymous group has Oswald Danes, not needing another player for their cause. Monroe's strategy nearly revealed their hand too soon, which would have ruined their long-awaited plans. The voice tells her a final cryptic statement: "We are everywhere. We are always. We are no-one. And soon, the families will rise." Monroe is mulched into the wreckage of the compacted vehicle. All that can be seen inside the cube of twisted chassis is one terrified eye from a person who can no longer scream.

Rex reprimands Esther for her mistake during the operation, announcing this is her last warning. Esther apologises and begins the lengthy process of compiling data to seek out the organisation that has put a hit on Torchwood and learn more about PhiCorp. They find that PhiCorp plans to build overflow camps, and worse still, it's already started. Rhys Williams phones Gwen with the news they are moving her father out of the hospital, and into an overflow camp. Rhys doesn't know the government's plans are duplicitous, thinking his father-in-law will be safe. Gwen frantically tells Rhys to stop the removal of her father from the hospital. Rhys runs outside to find ambulances pouring out onto the street. It's too late for him to stop the patient transfer — PhiCorp has captured Gwen's dad.



General production staff

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Make-up and prosthetics

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

The Starz broadcast carried a final credit of "Originally Developed and Produced by BBC Cymru Wales". The BBC One broadcast says, instead, "BBC Worldwide Productions for BBC Cymru Wales and STARZ Originals".




  • Esther's sister is Sarah Drummond. Her nieces are Melanie and Alice Drummond. They live at 1032 King Sovereign Road.
  • The Torchwood team compare themselves to a travelling circus. Jack is the clown and Gwen is the bearded woman.
  • Jilly is freelance, but has been working with PhiCorp for around six months.
  • Jilly states that her job is not to like Oswald, but to find him coffee, accompany him to studios and recommend who is better out of Diane Sawyer and Piers Morgan.
  • Rex is from New York, but has a father living in California.
  • Gwen can impersonate a Minnesota regional accent, but Jack does not like it.
  • Vera asks a male nurse to fetch Mr. Holland. She then asks for the whereabouts of Sally Richter.
  • Gwen has trouble wearing high-heeled shoes.
  • Oswald is trending on Twitter. In France, he is being hailed as "The Sainted Danes". He is to replace Monroe at the Miracle Rally in Los Angeles.



  • The White House is planning a rally in Los Angeles.
  • Ellis Hartley Monroe sets up her Dead is Dead campaign.
  • PhiCorp has sold a strategy to the UN involving overflow camps.


  • Torchwood has stolen another vehicle for cruising around LA unnoticed — a station wagon likely snatched from the local beachfront area.
  • The abandoned hospital used as a containment facility is compared to a plague ship.
  • Inside a Ford, Monroe is put through a car compactor at a scrap yard.


Food and beverages[]



  • Jack refers to a chapter George Eliot wrote in Middlemarch, regarding scratches in metal circling around light.


  • Esther gives Rex a couple of aspirin.

Story notes[]

  • A supporting character in this episode has the last name "Katusi". This was going to be Esther's last name before Alexa Havins was cast.
  • Vera calls Rex a "dead man walking", the exact title of a series 2 Torchwood episode.


  • UK: 5.19 million (Final BARB ratings)[1]
  • US: 1.09 million

Filming locations[]

  • It appears that the beach locations were shot in Venice Beach, CA. (e.g., when Gwen is on the phone with Rhys.)

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When Gwen holds the phone up to Nicolas's face, the shot of Esther's computer clearly shows that the Torchwood software is run using Quick Time Player.


Home video releases[]

  • This episode was released worldwide in a box set containing all ten episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day. In the United Kingdom, it was released on Region 2 DVD and Region Free Blu-ray on 14 November 2011.[2] In Australia, it was released in Region 4 DVD and Region B Blu-Ray on 1 December 2011.[3] In New Zealand, the same sets were released on 7 December 2011.[4] In North America, it was released on Region 1 DVD and Region Free Blu-Ray on 3 April 2012.[5]
  • It was also released in the Series 1-4 boxset (Region 2 release: 14 November 2011.)