Last week’s opener ‘The New World‘ seemed dedicated to putting the pieces on the board. With Rex Matheson extraditing Torchwood to America, you might expect episode 2 to be all systems go as the Torchwood team start investigating the “miracle”. But whereas Rex’s hop across the Atlantic took place between scenes, Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper find themselves in mid-flight peril.
It’s entertaining conspiracy hokum if that’s what you’re after. But the spy-thriller elements seem somewhat divorced from the much more interesting issue of the Miracle itself. The best scenes are those not involving the Torchwood team, but those that continue to explore its impact. Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes continues to steal the show, with Arlene Tur as Dr Vera Juarez also putting in a very strong showing.
There’s an important but credulity-stretching scene that echoes a comedy moment in series 4 of Doctor Who. But whereas Doctor Who could get away with it, it doesn’t convince as easily here, though your mileage will probably vary – it’s already divided opinion among American viewers. Believability takes a definite back-seat to dramatic effect on several other occasions too. I don’t mind suspending my disbelief, but this week I had to hang, draw and quarter it.
There are some great lines, my favourite being “I’m American, too. Can’t I contribute to our global cultural hegemony with a nice frosty cola?” We also meet Jilly Kitzinger, played to perfection by Lauren Ambrose as the annoying, smarter-than-she-lets-on PR lady. So it does have its redeeming moments, but so far is a long way from matching the quality of Children of Earth.
Check back 10pm Thursday night after UK broadcast for our podcast commentary on ‘Rendition’!