After the frenetic and rather smart ’Rendition,’ things get a bit silly in episode 3. While the episode opens with the Rex gleefully threatening
Newman Freidkin. While ostensibly looking for information on whoever is behind The Miracle, much of the episode centers around several kinds of bonding (including comparing the different names for chips, cellphones and ATMs the British have) some casual trashing of religion and government, as well as the beginning of what might be RTD’s polemic on the evils of the pharmaceutical industry.
We are only three episodes in, so I expect that there will be more to the story than the simplicity of media manipulation by big pharma or that a character used to be Catholic, but “got better”. Sadly, the ‘Soulless’ an insta-cult who are already marching through the streets come across as more goofy than creepy (the ‘blue hand’ death cult from Flashforward worked better, but then they had Callum Keith Rennie as their prophet). The new cross-Atlantic Torchwood team targets Phicorp for being ready with millions of perfect painkiller pills made for The Miracle, but they seem totally unconcerned about the mass manufactured masks ready made for the ‘Soulless’.
Oswald Dane, on the other hand, in a matter of days, has transformed from a twitchy ex-convict to Jilly Kitzenger’s model PR man for the new age of easy access painkillers. Methinks the transformation has occurred at unrealistically breakneck speed. But, hey, I guess speed is of the essence when you only have 10 episodes. In a wierdly humorous scene he takes a beating from a pair of oddly conscientious policemen: “Nothing on your face,” on of them assures him. “You’ll still be nice and handsome on the TV”.
Speaking of fast, Jack decides to drop himself into a Washington gay bar, seemingly cut and paste from Queer as Folk to engage in a little man-on-man bonding to celebrate his new mortality, and immediately bags a hot bartender. Rex, for his part, breaks into Doc Juarez’s place and waits for her to get home, then surprises her in the dark. In some more scriptwriter generated wrongness, she dresses the hole in his chest and then enthusiastic does the naked mattress mambo with him. While some may be bothered by the gay sex scene, I found myself more bothered with Dr. Vera choosing to have spontaneous energetic intercourse with an patient – one that she performed major heart surgery on less than a week ago. Gwen and Esther? Well, they bond over family issues, then get back to work. Yeah, that’s how it goes in Torchwood reality.
Jack also has a disturbing post break and enter scene that also involves sharing a connection. This is actually the most creepy part of the narrative, as it’s a scene where he has a heart to heart with Oswald over their mutual longstanding desire for execution.
For the most part the light quippy, comedic tone of the episode works – most of the time. Apparently the writers want to amuse us, rather than let the fact sink in that that babies are now being born with “brain outside the skull, no skin no face.” Now, just to let you know, the show hasn’t really slow down much, per se. It still moves along at a good clip (perhaps even too zippy for the content), just in a different way.
I can’t say this episode didn’t entertain me… I’m just not sure I’ll respect it in the morning.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5