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Dr Vera Juarez is a fictional character in the science fiction series Torchwood, portrayed by American actor Arlene Tur. The character was promoted as one of five new main characters to join Torchwood in its fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day (2011), as part of a new co-production between Torchwood’s British network, BBC One, and its American financiers on US premium television network Starz. Tur appears in the first five of the overall ten episodes, and is credited as a ‘special guest star’.
The narrative of Miracle Day depicts the effects of an event which halts the process of death worldwide meaning the gravely-wounded continue to remain alive. As an attending surgeon, Vera is amongst the first to realise the significance of events and the associated repercussions. Her morals and professionalism pit her at odds with the increasingly inept medical system and shifting government legislation. After establishing a sexual relationship with Rex Matheson she allies herself with his Torchwood team. However, her first undercover investigation for the group is her last; she is burned alive after dissenting against one of the middle-men in charge of a government run concentration camp.
In early episodes the character provides a reference point for viewers in regards to the effects of people who should be dead not dying. To prepare for the role, Tur spent time in a hospital emergency room and shadowed a professional medical doctor. Some critics felt that the character’s hands on role enabled the audience to relate more to the crisis; others maintained that she wasn’t given enough time to develop. Response to the character’s violent death was mixed; some praised the increasingly dark shift whilst others felt it was too evocative of the Holocaust for a TV drama. The writers intent in scripting her demise had been to remind audiences that intense human cruelty is possible in human society.
Vera first appears in “The New World” when she is called upon to treat Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), who has been impaled through the chest by a metal pole. Vera conveys news that Rex has survived to his colleague Esther (Alexa Havins) along with the news that no one has died in the past 24 hours, which she corroborates with accounts from other hospitals. In “Rendition” Vera realises that the hospitals cannot cope and suggests overriding the orthodox triage system so that in the wake of “Miracle Day” those with less severe illnesses are treated first. She later joins a series of medical panels; she engages the help of one to provide Rex with instructions to concoct emergency EDTA which when used as a chelating agent saves the life of a poisoned and now mortal Jack (John Barrowman). “Dead of Night” marks the beginning of a sexual relationship between Rex and Vera; he later enlists her to aid Torchwood’s infiltration of a Phicorp conference. Unlike onlookers, she is disgusted by the battle for popularity between Oswald Danes and a rival spokesperson which occurs on the grounds of her hospital. In “The Categories of Life”, when the Washington medical panels are abandoned in the wake of a new system of categorising life Vera allies herself with the Torchwood group, now based in Los Angeles. She goes undercover as an inspector of the San Pedro[disambiguation needed] overflow camp against Rex’s wishes. Appalled at the inhumane conditions and low management standards she tells camp manager Colin Maloney (Marc Vann) she wants him prosecuted. Maloney shoots Juarez twice and takes her to a ‘module’ within the camp. This is revealed to be a giant oven used to burn surplus but still alive people; Vera is incinerated whilst a horrified Rex watches on.
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