Escape to LA was the fourth episode of Series 4 of Torchwood. It was written by Jim Gray and John Shiban, directed by Billy Gierhart and featured John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Kai Owen as Rhys Williams, Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson and Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond.
It explored the family relationships of Esther and Rex, which had been strained by their duties for the CIA. Esther had to deal with an addled sister, Sarah, and Rex had a disgruntled father, Maurice, neither caring for each other's company very much.
Of note was the introduction of politician Ellis Hartley Monroe, a foil to Oswald Danes. Moreover, 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.
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.
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Rex Matheson - Mekhi Phifer
- Esther Drummond - Alexa Havins
- Rhys Williams - Kai Owen
- Oswald Danes - Bill Pullman
- Jilly Kitzinger - Lauren Ambrose
- Dr Vera Juarez - Arlene Tur
- The Gentleman - C. Thomas Howell
- Ellis Hartley Monroe - Mare Winningham
- Bisme Katusi - Juanita Jennings
- Sarah - Candace Brown
- Nicolas Frumkin - Kelvin Yu
- Male Nurse - Desean Terry
- Thin Old Man - Roger Vernon Burton
- Woman - Katsy Chappell
- Young Mother - April Clark
- Lobby Guard - Anthony Dilio
- Burly Guard - David Fofi
- Spanish Newscaster - Teresa Garza
- Maurice - Roy Lee Jones
- Veronica - JoNell Kennedy
- Japanese Newscaster - Masami Kosaka
- Simran - Ronobir Lahiri
- Sick Man - Michael D Nye
- Scared Old Woman - Barbara Mallory
- Landlord - Keith Russell
- Chauffeur - Christian Svensson
- Candice - Randa Walker
- Male Newscaster - David Grant Wright
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter|
|Co-executive producer(s) Vlad Wolynetz and John Shiban|
|General production staff||Art department||Make-up and prosthetics
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.
- 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.
- KCNU reports on the miracle. As do WYUB, WNKW and NNM.
- It says on the news that revolutions have started on Twitter.
- The scientists, White House and Vatican are all silent regarding Miracle Day.
- Pharmaceutical companies, including PhiCorp are predicting record profits.
- There is a Big-Daddy Pizza by Venice Beach.
- An abandoned hospital has been empty since 1992 or 1993. It is toured by representatives from City General Hospital, St Mary's Hospital, St Helen's Hospital, Open Brook, Grand Maple Forest, Attenwood's Hospital and Woolsey Heights.
- Saint Helen's and Open Brook send all their patients to the abandoned hospital at the same time, followed by patients from Conniston Drive. The second floor has no electricity.
- Central News cancelled Oswald and booked Ellis Hartley Monroe, who has been looped on channel 55 all day.
- Server number one thirteen is PhiCorp's secure server.
- Monroe asks that her guards get hold of Fox News.
- The British government steps in to prop up the NHS.
- 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.
- Venice Beach is on the west coast of America beside the Pacific.
- Venice and Los Angeles are separate cities.
- The landlord says that the apartment "ain't Nirvana".
- Rhys understands that it's boiling hot in Los Angeles all year round.
- Rhys puts Gwen's dad in the Cowbridge Overflow Camp.
Food and beverages
- Esther bounces the mobile phone signal off a Chinese satellite.
- Jack sets off a smoke alarm as a distraction.
- Jack refers to a chapter George Eliot wrote in Middlemarch, regarding scratches in metal circling around light.
- Esther gives Rex a couple of aspirin.
- 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)
- US: 1.09 million
- It appears that the beach locations were shot in Venice Beach, CA. (e.g., when Gwen is on the phone with Rhys.)
- 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.
- Jack introduces himself as John Smith, the alias often employed by the Doctor. (TV: The Wheel in Space, Spearhead from Space et al.)
- When Ellis Hartley Monroe takes centre stage at the hospital instead of Danes, Jilly describes it as a "timing malfunction". This was also the term used when the Master took control of the Doctor's TARDIS before landing in San Francisco on 30 December 1999. (TV: Doctor Who)
- Rex's wound hinders him physically, having pushed himself to the point of death again. (TV: The New World, Dead of Night)
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. In Australia, it was released in Region 4 DVD and Region B Blu-Ray on 1 December 2011. In New Zealand, the same sets were released on 7 December 2011. In North America, it was released on Region 1 DVD and Region Free Blu-Ray on 3 April 2012.