Episode Title: "Rendition"
Writer: Doris Egan
Director: Bill Gierhart
Previously on "Torchwood: Miracle Day":
As the unrepentant child murderer and pedophile, Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) was put to death, something extraordinary happened to the human race. Every person on the planet was gifted with a form of immortality that prevented them from dying, no matter what their injuries were. CIA Agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) survived a fatal accident on the freeway, even though his body didn't seem able to heal from his injuries. His colleague, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) began investigating the defunct British organization known as Torchwood and she came face-to-face with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) moments before an assassin attempted to kill them both.
Although Jack drugged Esther into forgetting their encounter, Rex became convinced that Torchwood was the key to the mystery of Miracle Day. Rex traveled to the United Kingdom and tracked down former Torchwood member, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles); who was in hiding with her husband, Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) and their infant daughter, Anwen. More assassins soon followed Rex, before Jack showed up on Gwen's doorstep with enough weapons to bring down a pursuing helicopter. As the Torchwood team took stock of their situation, Jack realized that he was somehow rendered mortal. Then Rex took advantage of the team's vulnerability and had them arrested in preparation for their rendition to America.
At Heathrow Airport, Rex separates Gwen from Rhys and her baby as a token of mercy, but she angrily vows revenge for keeping her family away from her. Rex also encounters another CIA Agent, Lyn Peterfield (Dichen Lachman). Annoyed by her presence, Rex makes sure that she knows that he's in charge as he has Jack and Gwen loaded on to the plane. He even confiscates Jack's vortex manipulator despite its apparent harmless nature. Rex then alerts Esther that he is returning to the states with Torchwood in his custody. She then approaches her boss, Brian Friedkin (Wayne Knight) and asks to remain a part of the investigation.
Friedkin agrees to consider her, but then he begins investigating her background in a suspicious way. Back on the plane, Rex admits that he doesn't expect Jack or Gwen to tell him anything about Miracle Day, since they know less than he does. But he does believe that they are somehow connected to Miracle Day. Jack puts forth the theory that humanity's immortality may stem from massive morphic fields that took affect simultaneously around the world. Rex laughs off his theory, but Lyn passes it on to Friedkin via a text. After consulting with his superiors who are clearly not part of the CIA, Friedkin passes on the order to "remove" them.
Rex reaches out to Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) and asks her to bring painkilling drugs to the airport before she meets Jack, the last mortal man on Earth. Around the same time, Juarez begins reinventing the concept of health care and she goes to a medical conference on Miracle Day. Among other revelations, Juarez learns that people are still aging despite their immortality. On the plane, Gwen and Jack ask for something to drink; which Lyn is all too happy to provide. She puts something in Jack's coke and smiles as he drinks it without hesitation. Elsewhere, Oswald Danes continues his new life by giving an interview on live television.
When confronted with the picture of the girl that he killed, Oswald brakes down in tears and apologizes; which seems to win over the sympathy of many people. He is even approached by Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), a P.R. maven. But Oswald refuses her help. Back on the plane, Jack realizes that he's been poisoned and both Gwen and Rex figure out that Lyn was the culprit. At the CIA, Esther discovers that evidence has been planted to make her look like a traitor and she narrowly escapes the building by stealing her colleague's identity card. On the plane, Rex cuffs Lyn and calls Juarez for help counteract Jack's cyanide poisoning.
Using the medical conference as a resource, Juarez talks Gwen and Rex through the process of creating a chelation to save Jack's life. Lyn actually breaks free again to stop them, but Gwen knocks her out with one punch. The chelation is successful and Jack survives. Rex then reaches out to Friedkin and apprises him of the situation, unaware that he was behind it. At the airport, Rex and his three captives are met by Friedkin's men, who subtly free Lyn. Esther then calls Rex and warns him that they've both been set up as traitors, he stalls for time and then frees Jack and Gwen. During the ensuing fight, Rex brakes Lyn's neck by turning it around completely as Jack and Gwen don't bother to wait for him.
Jack and Gwen run into Rex and he manages to get them to come with him to Esther's car. But first they briefly meet with Juarez, who hands over the painkillers as promised. Before Rex, Jack, Gwen and Esther can take off, Lyn appears in front of them with her grotesquely broken neck. Esther is initially shocked, but then she simply drives around Lyn to escape. When she comments on the insanity of what just happened, Gwen welcomes her to Torchwood.
Apparently, Doris Egan — the writer for this episode — has spent four years writing and producing "House" for Fox. And that may explain why the medical conference that Dr. Juarez attended was so oddly compelling. If we're being honest, it was a huge exposition dump on the audience and a lot of talk about how Miracle Day will present some unexpectedly serious consequences for the human race. The problem is that it's almost all talk at this point. The closest that we come to really seeing humans suffer and not die is the brief scene of Juarez at the hospital. The questions being raised about what would happen to humanity are all very interesting. But at some point, the bigger implications of Miracle Day have to move from just theoretical concepts to actual dangers.
Which isn't to say that Juarez's scenes weren't interesting to watch. The entire concept of "Miracle Day" is so intriguing that it could have been told as a medical drama without "Torchwood" being attached to it all. The writers have successfully found a way to make immortality into an unbearably painful concept. It may even get to a point where the living envy the dead.
The majority of the action in this week's episode was essentially a bottle show on the plane. Using the medical conference as a way to help treat Jack's poisoning was very clever and entertaining. Gwen's one punch knockout of Lyn is probably the moment that most people are going to remember this episode for. That and the visual of Lyn with her neck twisted around. It was as if Rex found his inner Bill Compton while Lyn was punching the crap out of him. However, that particular scene where Rex broke her neck was unconvincingly shot. It just looked strange in the context of the episode.
The makeup department deserves special props for making John Barrowman look like death warmed over. Barrowman sometimes goes over-the-top as Captain Jack, so it was refreshing to see him come down to Earth, so to speak. I'm still not a big fan of Rex, as he's still a pretty big douche. The way Rex is written and played makes him very difficult to like and its hard to see why Jack and Gwen didn't just ditch him completely at the airport.
Esther's subplot at the CIA was fun, as was her subsequent escape from the building. However, it's a little disappointing that the whole "Torchwood is going rogue against government agency cards" are being played up again so soon. "Children of Earth" covered that ground as far as it could go and to a certain extent, that part of the story feels like a rehash of what we've seen before. Jack and Gwen are still charming, but charm is only going to go so far.
Bill Pullman's Oswald Danes may end up as a mesmerizing villain in the future. But there is nothing about his story here that makes a lick of sense. Not his release, not his crocodile confession and surely not the immediate forgiveness that he receives from the fine folks on Twitter… the same people who are currently calling for Casey Anthony's death. The public just doesn't forgive child killers or even those recently found not guilty of those crimes. It seems like the show is asking us to believe that Oswald is going to be a transcending icon for the newly immortal human race.
As a set up chapter, "Rendition" did a good job of laying out the team's new status quo. And it looks like the best of "Torchwood" may still be ahead.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.