Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
“Rendition” continues where last week’s “The New World” left off, with Jack and Gwen, extradited from Wales, finding themselves on one deadly plane ride to the US. In a world where death no longer exists, the last remaining mortal–Jack–finds himself the target of an infiltrated CIA. But who’s giving the orders for his–and Torchwood’s–execution?
First of all, the serial structure befits “Torchwood,” as evidenced by the success of the third series, “Children of Earth.” “Miracle Day” so far has benefited from the same structure, making for quite suspenseful–if ridiculous–drama. And boy, does “Rendition” get ridiculous, especially when the team tries to save a poisoned Jack via chelation. (Rudimentary chemistry limited to things found in an airplane!) The complications of the “miracle” continue to amp up in intrigue–there’s the need to rethink triage, as well as the decreasing effect of long-term use of antibiotics and increasing need for painkillers (I kept thinking, is all this really just one big ploy by the pharmaceutical industry to rake in the big bucks?)–just as it seems there’s some sort of force controlling death itself, amping up aging and the ironically torturous continuation of life. The cliffhanger structure just keeps me wanting to know more and more.
Whereas last week’s series premiere focused on the reunion of Torchwood 3, this week’s episode brings about the formation of what is to be, I suppose, Torchwood 4. How writer Egan brings the episode to its climax is quite good, with the two CIA agents Rex Matheson (played as over-the-top obnoxious by Mekhi Phifer) and Esther Drummond (played as the requisite blonde by Alexa Havins) essentially pushed out of the CIA and into the perhaps more welcoming arms of Torchwood. We also get more on the secondary characters. Dr. Vera Juarez (played by the svelte Arlene Tur, who kept reminding me of a less saucy but still equally attractive Stacy London), continues to be relevant, acting as unwitting drug-pusher and accomplice to the new Torchwood team; she also serves to fill us in on the medical ramifications of the miracle. Oswald Danes (a somewhat convincing Bill Pullman) on the other hand provides an intriguing view of the ethical/philosophical complications brought about by the miracle. Then there’s Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), whose bubbliness seems to mask some other ulterior motive. My interest in all these various story lines has been piqued; I can’t wait to see how they all intermix.
Any concerns as to the dilution of the homoerotic elements of the show were laid to rest by this episode. In the midst of being poisoned, Jack nonchalantly mentions a former boyfriend from the 1800s who took arsenic for his complexion. To camp it up even further is the presence of in-the-closet male steward Danny as comic relief, as well as the (very) possibly gay “Jim” at the medical panel. Death’s taken a holiday, but thankfully, omnisexuality hasn’t.
Overall, “Rendition” provides an entertaining hour of drama. I’m hoping the momentum carries over to next week’s episode, “Dead of Night.”