TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY: ‘Rendition’ Recap

July 16, 2011 by  

Now that was TORCHWOOD.

After spending week one in full-on set-up mode, the team was ready to get down to business in last night’s episode, “Rendition.” The hour brought scientific intrigue, pond-crossing thrills, and more hints about the nature of the Miracle. It also introduced some fancy new terminology to the TORCHWOOD vocabulary — we can recap the episode as we dissect this jargon.

Morphic fields: While being extradited to the United States, Jack offers his first theory about the nature of the Miracle. He references Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic fields, “the passing of connective information through the process of morphic resonance.” The example he uses is monkeys on an island learning to use a rock as a knife, while hundreds of miles away, a different group of monkeys also learns to use a rock as a knife. Jack is convinced that the Miracle, because it happened to everyone at the same time, is the biggest morphic event in history.

A Google search for “morphic field” turns up a Wikipedia page for Rupert Sheldrake. The theory is real — in fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t been the basis of a FRINGE episode yet — and describes an idea that different species or groups have a “universal database” that is tapped into and used for each individual’s development. Using this theory, is it possible that someone, or a group of someones, figured out how to “upload” information to the human race’s collective morphic field and prevent death? And was it all part of an extremely complicated plan to kill Jack Harkness?

PhiCorp: After blubbering his way through an interview during which he wails “I’m sorry” on live television, convicted murderer Oswald Danes meets Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose) in an elevator. She’s a public relations guru with some thoughts on Danes’s next moves as an overnight celebrity. Jilly is unrelenting in her pursuit of Danes as a client (who wouldn’t, after his interview prompted #forgive to trend on Twitter?), but he ultimately rips up her business card in a show of independence.

Meanwhile, Dr. Juarez crashes a city-wide meeting of hospital administrators to offer her brainpower toward addressing post-Miracle medicine. She churns out breakthroughs left and right, from revolutionizing the triage system to identifying makeshift ingredients for an arsenic antidote. (More on that later.) One particularly troubling revelation was about antibiotics: namely, that scientists need to start inventing new ones ASAP. Since no one is dying from infections, humans are now, in her words, “germ incubators.” Because the hosts aren’t dying, neither will the bacteria; they’ll just multiply and become increasingly drug resistant. It’s a gross, grim reality for everyone.

Later, Jilly offers her services and some advice to Dr. Juarez: start meeting with policymakers to reverse the Senate’s recent decision to “ringfence” a stockpile of surplus drugs for the sole use of the Civil Defense Program. Dr. Juarez takes Jilly’s card and notes the “PhiCorp” logo on it. It’s a pharmaceutical company — perhaps one of the only entities that’s going to profit (at least for a while) on the Miracle, especially now that Dr. Juarez and her peers are clamoring for new drugs. They also theoretically have the resources to do the research on manipulating the morphic field. But would a motive of temporary profit before a supreme global catastrophe really be enough to convince someone to try this?

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid: While being extradited to America (in handcuffs, no less, and after Gwen’s been ripped away from Rhys and Anwen), a CIA hanger-on (Lyn, played by DOLLHOUSE’s Dichen Lachman) poisons Jack with an arsenic-laced Coke. The resulting race to save our hero — using only materials that can be found on the airplane — highlights three things: Jack is definitely mortal, the CIA is up to no good, and Gwen Cooper is not to be trifled with.

After Jack identifies the toxin as arsenic (he had a boyfriend in 1800’s Slovenia who took arsenic for his skin), Rex uses an Airfone to call Dr. Juarez for help creating an antidote. She says they’ll need ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, a chelating agent that removes heavy metals from the bloodstream by introducing competing chemicals that bind with and counteract the poison. Luckily, she’s in a room full of doctors with Internet access, so they speedily research plane-ready ingredients. It involves laptop battery juice and landing gear degreaser — it’s disgusting, but it works.

U.S. Code 3184 and 3185: While all of this is going on, Esther is having a really bad day back at the office. She’s still following leads on the Torchwood malware, but she finds out she’s barking up the wrong tree when her bosses pack up Rex’s office, revoke her credentials mid-day, and frame her for accepting a $50,000 bribe from China. After making a great escape from Langley, she hurries to the airport to try and meet Rex. He answers her phone call just in time, and after hearing her warning, he casually uncuffs Jack and Gwen, citing their rights under “recent amendments to U.S. Code Section 3184 and Section 3185, in transferring prisoners from airside to landside.” After some quick but meaningful eye contact, he confesses that this legislation is “bullshit,” and the three turn the tables on the CIA agents.

For a hot second, all five known good guys (Jack, Gwen, Rex, Esther, and Dr. Juarez) are in the same place at the same time, when Rex’s meds arrive from the good doctor directly ahead of Esther’s getaway car. The new Torchwood team leaves Dr. Juarez behind, along with two CIA goons and Lyn, whose snapped neck has left her face and feet pointing in opposite directions. As Esther looks on in horror, Gwen can only say, “Welcome to Torchwood.”

What this episode ultimately set up was the completion of the new Torchwood unit: Jack, Gwen, Rex, and Esther. Now officially on the run—and with government-sanctioned bad guys in hot pursuit—this new team has a challenge before them and very few leads. The future looks bleak, but at least now there’s some team unity.

What did you think of the episode?

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Comments

3 Responses to “TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY: ‘Rendition’ Recap”

  1. Wade Smith on July 19th, 2011 6:40 pm

    Sheldrake’s ‘morphic resonance’ is magical thinking crapola. Very sad and sorry thing to see in a sci-fi series, but then, since when is Davies known to let actual physics intrude on his fantasies?

  2. Vat on July 22nd, 2011 5:59 am

    But you’re okay with an effect that allows aging but not death across the entire human race, but no other species on earth, and a previously immortal guy from the 51st century?

  3. AK on October 22nd, 2011 5:22 am

    There was no Slovenia in 1800s, the country is only 20 years old. Is it so hard to look things up before you put them in a script? (I know this is not really relevant, but being Slovenian, it just bothers me).

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