As Miracle Day continues, Oswald Danes takes to the airwaves, a mysterious red-haired woman plots, and the CIA brings Torchwood to America—but those who want them dead have a very long reach….

Title: “Rendition”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Bill Gierhart
Written by Russel T. Davis, Doris Egan
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper
Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson
Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes
Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond
Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez
Dichen Lachman as Lynn
Kai Owen as Rhys Williams
Lauren Ambrose as Jilly Kitzinger, the Mysterious Ginger
Marina Benedict as Charlotte Willis
Amy Benedict as Bridget Howe
Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Agent Matheson fails to endear himself to Captain Jack, Gwen Cooper, or the audience as he hamhandedly forces the remnants of Torchwood to come to the United States. Things change when he realizes the forces who want Jack dead aren’t too happy with him, and they’ve infiltrated the CIA. As our band of heroes gradually assembles, the world deals with the crises brought about by Miracle Day, Oswald Danes reaches out on television, and Jilly Kitzinger noses around various characters.

High Points

1. The Mythbusteresque/ Apollo 13ish effort to save Jack’s life had the right blend of tones to really work. A lesser show would have had some Wes Whiz kid-type McGyver together the solution in a few moments. They needed an e-conference with a team of doctors and frantic efforts by the cast to make it work. I like it when SF shows use real-ish science.

2. “I’m Welsh!”1

Low Point

I accept when SF tv uses made-up science, speculative science, and highly dubious science, but I hate it when they use Urban Legend science. Captain Jack can postulate morphogenic fields, because they make a very handy plot device that allows them to tell this story, and anyway we cannot disprove their existence. He does not need to posit them with reference to the widely-believed but discredited Hundred Monkey Hypothesis. Petty on my part, and someone is bound to say, “maybe 100 Monkeys is real in the Torchwood universe”– but it was entirely unnecessary, and smacks of a writer who didn’t bother to do proper research.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 We see very little this week that’s terribly original. The heroes meet, but don’t get along. They realize they have a common enemy. They use brains and brawn to escape… but now, they must overcome their differences and escape their adversaries, so they can work outside the system to ensure the system survives!

Never mind. They’re doing it quite well, and that’s what matters.

Effects: 5/6

Story: 5/6

Acting: 5/6. The acting varies, but generally holds up. Bill Pullman gives us an Oswald Danes who is creepy, fascinating, and believable. My main concern is some needless over-the-top acting. I’m not talking about Pullman on the tv show, nor Barrowman dealing with the remedy; I’m inclined to think people might be that wildly emotional under those particular circumstances. Lachman plays Lynn so shadily and suspiciously, she might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says “Judas” or perhaps a fake mole’s nose (or a nose mole). They didn’t need to telegraph her role quite so clearly.

Emotional Response: 5/6. It’s not as strong as last week’s, but I give them credit for keeping us interested in an episode that mainly concerns a few people sitting on an airplane.

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 6/6 The show gives us fun character interaction and promises conspiracy-thriller-sf action, but it also touches on very real issues. Miracle Day amplifies our concerns about global population growth, the effects of an aging population on a strained health care system, and even the rise of China as an economic power. Torchwood is fiction, but the real world in which we eventually die will be radically unlike the one in which we now live.

In total, “Rendition” receives 34/42

1. This true story from my younger days perhaps gives me a special fondness for that moment, and I suspect people who actually are Welsh loved it even more.

Anyone Welsh here?