Recap / Torchwood S 4 E 2 Rendition

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Jack Harkness dying? Not a very remarkable sight. But on a day when he's Out of Continues...

The second episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, written by Doris Egan of House fame.


Rhys and Anwen are forced to stay in Wales, despite Rhys' protests that he's been a proper Torchwood member, and Gwen and Jack are put on a plane to the USA. Jack's vortex manipulator is taken by Rex.

On the plane, Jack explains that Miracle Day could very well be a morphic field event, which CIA operative Lyn Peterfield relays to Brian Friedkin. It seems that she's working directly for Friedkin, and she poisons Jack with arsenic. Rex subdues Lyn while Gwen gets on the phone with Dr. Juarez and, with great effort, they manage to create an arsenic antidote using ordinary plane supplies.

Dr. Juarez attends as many medical panels and global debates as she can, hoping to make a difference. She realises that hospitals need to start working in reverse order now: treat the midly injured first in order to get more beds available, then treat the badly wounded, even if making them comfortable is all they can do for now. Also, the living tissue of the wounded is shown to be aging at a normal rate, a cult has formed of people in white sad masks walking the streets, Somalia's war has ended because war without death is too horrifying, North Korea is mobilizing because they feel invincible, and the Hindu community in India has declared a wish for eternal peace with Pakistan, despite — or rather, because of — never being able to reincarnate again.

On the phone, Rex begs Dr. Juarez for pain killers, since his chest wound is causing him constant agony. But there's a run on pain killers and pharmacies are all out. She eventually gets some from Jilly Kitzinger, a nosy and loud red-headed PR woman working for big pharma corporation Phicorp. Jilly also tries to get chummy with Oswald Danes, whose plan to become a media darling is working quite well.

Esther notices that $50.000 has been deposited into her bank account from China, framing her as a double agent. She sneaks out of CIA headquarters by stealing co-worker Charlotte Wills' identity, which is an impressive feat in itself, and she and Rex eventually agree to go AWOL. He breaks Lyn's neck while still at the airport, very quickly meets up with a rather confused Dr. Juarez to get his pain killers, then takes Torchwood with him in Esther's getaway car while Lyn stumbles backwards around the airport in agony.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Artistic License Medicine: Mostly averted. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is a real substance used in chelation therapy. While it's not the best chelating agent for arsenic (there are better alternatives - EDTA is usually used for lead poisoning), it does work. The procedure they use to make it on the plane is at least somewhat sound in theory, though it's questionable whether the small amount of improvised EDTA they gave Jack would be enough to make a difference.
  • Author Appeal: Doris Egan writing a medical drama. Very much lampshaded on the plane.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    Vera: Everybody, today's challenge: Create EDTA using only materials that can be found on a plane!
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Immortality is not as fun when you're still going to age as well.
  • Faux Action Girl: Lyn, Rex's CIA minder in "Rendition", who shows herself to be a competent martial artist except for whenever it would actually be useful. A rare Dark Action Girl version, which was possibly intentional.
  • Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: The electronic banking version.
  • Hard Work Montage: Making the antidote for Jack's poisoning.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Played straight, then subverted with the male flight attendant (it was only once, honest).
  • Idiot Ball: Gwen and Jack, lost in the airport thinking it was the international terminal. Lampshaded by Rex a minute later.
  • I'm A Doctor, Not A Chemist: Dr. Juarez says this to Rex when he asks her how to make a cure for arsenic.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!:
    Lyn: If you're the best the English have to offer, then God help you.
    Gwen: I'm Welsh. (cold-cocks the woman)
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Gwen and Jack bicker on the plane ride to the US. Lampshaded by Rex.
  • MacGyvering: Rex and Gwen are forced to mix together a treatment for arsenic poisoning with nothing but what they can find on a commercial airliner.
  • Neck Snap: Rex does this to a woman who attacks him. The state of life being what it is, she manages to (rather impressively) catch up to him later despite her head having done an almost complete 180. At that point, however, Rex just goes around since she's in no shape to actually fight.
  • National Stereotypes: Gwen Cooper has a fit of this, when picked up by a Mini Cooper.
    Gwen: What's this? I thought all Americans were supposed to have these huge SUV's! This is rubbish!
    • Also counts as Hypocritical Humor, given that Torchwood spent the entire series driving around in a huge black SUV.
  • Smug Snake: Lyn, overwhelmingly so.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: An elite CIA operative with training in martial arts politely waits around for Gwen to deliver her Pre Ass Kicking One Liner before getting decked in one punch.
  • Transparent Closet: Danny, whose denials get less and less convincing as the episode progresses.
    "It was only one time!"
  • Wire Dilemma: Trying to find the orange tube in the plane.
  • Would Hit a Girl: See Neck Snap.

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