Friday, 22 July 2011

Torchwood - Miracle Day Series 4 Episode 2: Rendition

What Condition My Rendition Is In

Torchwood - Miracle Day Series 4 Episode 2: Rendition
Airdate: July 21st 2011. UK. BBC1

Now that’s what I’m talking about. This episode was much, much better and it was "all over" the spirit of Torchwood, even in the lengthy scenes away from the two surviving members Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper. The three new series regulars Rex, Esther and Doctor Juarez were all sensational and I expect we’re supposed to be thinking now that these three will be joining the Torchwood team for any future series', should they get made. However, I suspect at least one of these three characters will be killed off before the end of the series... after all, one of them is technically dead now already and given the mortality rate for regular characters in Torchwood, anything can happen.

I guess they’ll need to start making that point to the larger audience they are expecting sometime soon so I’m expecting at least one of these characters to drop out early in the game... but I sincerely hope not because all three of them are beginning to grow on me already.

Carrying on exactly where it left off last week, this episode sees Gwen torn from the side of her husband and child and flown with Jack to the US, prisoners of the CIA... however, there are conspiracies afoot in the CIA and the rot starts with Esther’s boss, played by the “Ahh, Ahh, Ahh!” guy from Jurassic Park (wow, how lazy at research am I? Ah, leave it. Everyone knows who I mean when I say “Ahh, Ahh, Ahh!” guy. He was even on the pinball machine). A faction of the CIA are already gunning for Torchwood and now it’s been properly clarified that, while the world has turned immortal, so Captain Jack has become mere mortal, which means we’re probably going to see a lot of “Jack in peril” type situations over the coming weeks (even though we know he can’t die because we’ve seen that happen already in an episode of Doctor Who, set in the far future of Jack’s timeline).

This weeks assassination attempt came in the form of a poisoning with a cure which was, to be fair, a little more protracted and milked than a similar scene in The Girl Who Was Death episode of the original series of The Prisoner, but perhaps not “quite” as much fun. However, this sequence where Gwen Cooper is strong-arming her captors as she orders them to strip the plane of ingredients for the antidote cocktail she is making on the instructions of Doctor Juarez is both comedy gold and Torchwood writing at its best. It also shows the ballsy character of Gwen again, played with absolute perfection as always by series regular Eve Myles. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if her performance in this show sees her heading back to the US sometime soon for some stateside roles. People are bound to sit up and take notice.

It was good to see the very bleak Torchwood humour was back with a vengeance, best seen after Rex snaps the neck of the CIA agent who tried to poison Jack. Since nobody can die in the world depicted in this story, said CIA lady stumbles after our escaping heroes but proves ineffective and, it has to be said, highly comical. The look that passes between Jack and Gwen is comment enough on this turn of events.

The pacing in this weeks show was fantastic as we are quickly made aware of unforseen developments to the trouble mankind is in because it can’t die out anymore. Never mind the population explosion, another worrying threat is that the antibiotics given to horrendously injured but undying people will just, over the course of time, allow various diseases to build up resistances to various medicines and disease will be rife within the human race. Since the prospect of intervention at a massive scale seems probable (divine or otherwise) then this could be a set up to turn the ability to die back to the "on" position and let humanity die of its own lack of resistance to numerous illnesses.

Of course this is all very bleak stuff and, so far, we’re being lead to believe that this is all a symptom of something to do with Jack’s ability to die and not heal himself... but here’s the thing. Jack would inadvertently heal himself every time he took any kind of side swipe or mortal wound... but the people of earth in this story really aren’t doing that. They’re all left in various states of dying or perpetual living death so there’s a good chance, I reckon, that they’re not exactly suffering from what ails Jack. So in this instance that might well be a red herring from the writers. It will be interesting to see if the end explanation for all this turned up, “our goes up to eleven” existence is written as being extra-terrestrial in origin or is a symptom of “man meddling in things he can’t understand." My best guess right now is that it’ll be a little of both.

As this episode ends our band of flung together “regulars” are on the run from the law (Rex and Esther having been set up by cloak and daggery faction of the CIA) and we have the introduction of a new character who is currently selling herself to her customers as a PR woman... those customers being Doctor Juarez and the executed-but-not-died-and-free-to-roam-legally killer pedophile, played marvellously against type by Hollywood actor Bill Pullman... who I’ve liked ever since seeing him as a young actor in Kasdan’s big screen adaptation of Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist. I think this PR woman is going to turn out to be a lot more than what it says on the tin so I wouldn’t be surprised if her role starts growing now in leaps and bounds from week to week.

All I can say at this point is what I know... and that is that if this episode is anything to go by (as opposed to last weeks misfire) then this is going to be one intense TV show. It’s left me wanting more of the same next week and that’s quite a turnaround because I’d all but lost interest in the show after the first episode. I hope it doesn’t all come down to who’s writing the show because, and I find this surprising for a serialised story that follows a single arc, their are a few different writers on different episodes... so I’m kinda hoping the quality doesn’t drop down again next week.

Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this second episode is the start of something good.


  1. Hey there,

    Just peeking in at the many, many reviews you've done. You pick the best films! I just started watching the original Torchwood to get me through absence-of-cat, and I'm liking it. But I can't read your review of it and spoil the first season!

  2. Hey there Bucko. So the cat finally went the way of all fur. I'm so very sorry!

    Thanks for the kind words. My only advice on the first series of Torchwood would be... if you find yourself flagging on it because it's not as great as you think... stick with it because it gets IMMEDIATELY 10 times better from the first episode of series 2!

    Take care of yourself amigo!