‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ – ‘Rendition’: Aches on a plane

A review of tonight’s “Torchwood: Miracle Day” coming up just as soon as I contribute to our cultural hegemony with a nice frosty cola…

There are essentially three pieces to “Rendition,” each with its own positives and negatives.

The most prominent is Jack and Gwen’s long, dangerous flight from the UK to the USA. On the plus side, it gives us more of Jack and Gwen interacting than we got in the premiere, and John Barrowman and Eve Myles still have great chemistry. On the minus side, Rex is such an unbearable ass (the guy actually seems pleased to be separating a mom from her baby) for so much of the early going that it felt like the show had dug too deep a hole with him by the time he was forced to reluctantly team up with the Torchwood duo. Also, the whole jeopardy with Jack being poisoned by the duplicitous CIA agent (played by “Dollhouse” alum Dichen Lachman) felt oddly like filler, or like the producers’ attempt to shoehorn a semi-standalone plot into one of the early chapters to help fill the miniseries’ long running time.

Our second piece involves Dr. Juarez and the rest of the medical community responding to all the complications that come with a populace that’s suddenly immortal but still aging and getting sick. I don’t love Arlene Tur’s performances as Juarez, but all the details about the unexpected complications of the miracle were great – even if sci-fi universes always have a much easier time enacting major policy reforms (in this case, overhauling the entire healthcare system) than the real world does. (That’s one of the reasons it’s called speculative fiction, I suppose.)

Our third piece involves the Oswald Danes apology tour. On the one hand, I think Bill Pullman’s doing some interesting work here, and I really enjoyed our first glimpse of Lauren Ambrose as giddy PR specialist Jilly Kitzinger. On the other, it feels like the transition from Oswald being despised by everyone to being forgiven by some (at least enough to become a Twitter trending topic) came even more ridiculously fast than everyone’s talk about healthcare reform. One minute he’s a pariah, and then after a few tears (delivered in response to badgering by a really stiff guest actor), the PA is herself tearful and apologetic for mistreating him? I know we’re a culture that loves to forgive – I imagine Casey Anthony will have her own sycophantic reality show within a year or two – but even for the sake of getting Oswald into position for wherever the story needs him next, this was clumsy.

Comic-Con starts next week, so my post on the third chapter may be especially brief. But in terms of “Rendition,” what did everybody else think?