TV Review: TORCHWOOD MIRACLE DAY, 4.2 – “Rendition”

This week’s episode is more about moving pieces around on the board than it is about advancing the plot which we don’t mind but more plot progression is needed next week.

Chris Swanson

Contributor

Rating: ★★★★☆

When we last saw Captain Jack (John Barrowman), and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), they’d been captured by CIA officer Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), who’d ordered them to be arrested with plans to take them to the United States. And as the second episode of the season opens, we see him doing exactly that, putting them onto what appears to be a chartered 747 and heading back to DC with them and another CIA officer named Lyn Peterfield (Dichen Lackman). Rhys (Kai Owen), and the baby are left behind.

Back in America, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins), gets more to do as she continues her investigations and tries to help out Rex. Her supervisor, Brian Friedkin (Wayne Knight, proving that he can be quite menacing when he wants to be), appears to want to help the investigation, but seems to have a different agenda

Meantime, Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), is out of prison and doing the talk show circuit with a police officer in tow just waiting for him to screw up. After an apologetic break-down during his first interview, he’s approached by Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), a PR agent who thinks he could be doing much better for himself.

And finally we have Doctor Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur). She’d treated Rex when he came into the emergency room and now is working on revamping hospital procedures and changing medicine as we know it, while also providing Rex with a bit of over-the-phone assistance when someone gets poisoned. She also crashes a medical conference and, interestingly, gets a visit of her own from Jilly Kitzinger.

I liked this episode. It wasn’t exactly action-packed or anything like that, but it did feature some nice moments, like a conversation between Gwen and Jack about how dangerous being around him is (shades of similar conversations on Doctor Who).

I also very much liked that they are continuing to examine the logistics of exactly what would happen in a situation like this. Interestingly, no one has yet suggested mandatory birth control, but we do see discussions about the fact that the entire medical industry would have to change from a life-saving position to one that’s more about pain management.

Further, it would nice to see expanded roles for Esther and Dr Juarez. I also find it intriguing that the only connection we have between Danes and the larger story is the one established by Kitizinger. I predict now that she’s going to be a more important character than she appears to be at the moment.

As for what didn’t work, well, there was a moment where Gwen was dealing with a major crisis while on board the 747, and she was panicking quite a bit more than I think a professionally trained police officer would. I also strongly doubt that the US government would be allowed to kidnap British citizens on UK soil without any sort of legal oversight, but I could be wrong, and it’s quite possible that the British government was happy to wash their hands of anyone from Torchwood.

I also really rolled my eyes at the concept of “morphic fields”, which is science so pseudo it almost insults the prefix. For those of you who might have believed what Jack said let me reassure you that, no, it’s not true. At least not in our world. In the Who-niverse? Possibly.

Speaking of Jack, I was reassured by one thing in the episode, and that was mention of one of his former boyfriends, who was specifically referred to as his boyfriend. I had been concerned that with this series moving to America and being produced by an American TV network, we might see a “straightening” of Jack’s sexuality, and I’m pleased to see that, at least so far, that isn’t happening.

This week was more about moving pieces around on the board than it was about advancing the plot. I don’t mind that, but I do look forward to more plot progression and hopefully we’ll get some of that next week.

Torchwood: Miracle Day Part 2: Rendition has aired on the Starz Network in the U.S. and airs in the uk on BBC 1 HD this Thursday at 9:00pm.