Doctor Who #878: Rendition

"If the devil himself were to walk this Earth, he'd need representation."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jul.15 2011.

IN THIS ONE... Jack poisoned on a plane. Vera joins a medical panel. Danes #Forgive. Rex and Esther are framed by the CIA. Wayne Knight and Lauren Ambrose join the cast.

REVIEW: It's the Gwen Cooper Show, and I'd watch that whatever form it took. Miracle Day episode 2 features the most memorable sequence of the entire series, and only partly because the "if you're the best England has to offer" "I'm Welsh [punch!]" bit was so heavily featured in trailers. (And it's awesome.) There's something about jeopardy at high altitudes, and having to work with what you've got, that's great for suspense. I don't really want to have to find out if Vera's fix for arsenic poisoning would work in real life, but it looks like Jack is following in the footsteps of another Jack - Bauer - suffering through injuries you couldn't possibly heal from in the time shown. I'm not really bothered. This is all about Gwen giving urgency to every scene, making chemical MacGyverism exciting. I love her complaining about America as soon as she steps out of the airport, just like Rex did about Wales in the previous episode, and her last line takes the edge off the tired grotesque of Lyn walking out with her head the wrong way around.

The other thread I'm quite liking is Vera's. Of the new characters, she's definitely the thinker, and through her more than anyone, we discover what impact unending life will have on the planet. She flips the way we do triage. She realizes first that non-corpses will become incubators for germs and viruses, which could mutate and cause drug-resistant plagues. She makes the case for pain management as an international emergency. News programs and CIA analysts vaguely discuss social and political ramifications, but Vera's scenes are more exciting and better thought-out. More SF shows should strive to do things like this, working out the real consequences the Big Idea would have (though obviously, the Big Idea is pure fantasy in this case). Vera's thread also connects to Oswald's now, through Jilly Kitzinger, the bubbly but sinister PR expert played by Lauren Ambrose. I've loved Ambrose since Six Feet Under, obviously, and her character adds a lot. She's the one spot of color in this whole thing, a blazing red figure in a monochromatic world, smiling through the Apocalypse. She's selling Vera a drug plan (so does this whole thing come down to money?), but also hopes to represent Danes after his tortured performance (and it is a performance) on live TV. Takes one monster to know another, seems like.

The weakest element is the CIA stuff. It's not bad, mind you, just weaker than the rest, perhaps by virtue of being well-explored ground already. Rogue CIA elements inside the CIA turning on the real CIA? Nothing Alias and Chuck didn't do already, guys. I sure hope the real CIA isn't like that. Still, I'm always happy to see Wayne Knight in something, and Dichen Lachman from Dollhouse makes a good assassin. Esther has a good, but not too flashy, escape from CIA HQ. She's resourceful, but it's not over the top. She mostly gets away because the CIA weren't trying too hard. Maybe Friedkin (Knight) thought she was too wet to do any real damage, and based on that scene in his office, I can forgive him for underestimating her.

THEORIES: Jack mentions Earth's morphic field as a possible cause of the mortality flip, which ties into some of the things that have been said (by me and others) about the Whoniverse in general. Specifically, it's been touted as the reason we "look Time Lord", and as a good reason for fighting a Time War and trying to capture Gallifrey. If Gallifrey is the first world to perfect time travel, and if the planet's morphic field resonates through all of time and space, in effect becoming the template for life everywhere, it explains why humanoid types are so prevalent, and why most planets have recognizable vegetation, atmospheres, etc. It also means that if the Daleks (or Sontarans, or whoever else has tried) invade Gallifrey, they could conceivably create a "Dalek universe", rewriting the whole of universal history. Miracle Day proves such a field exists around our planet, so it's just a small leap to say all planets' fields are linked in some way, especially with time rifts and such creating portals from one to another. Now, there is some controversy as to whether Miracle Day really fits into the Whoniverse, but that's something we can better discuss later, as the Miracle days drag on.

- About as good as Miracle Day gets. It's exciting, thought-provoking, and introduces some cool actors/characters to the action.


Jeff R. said...

The irony is that the Daleks would really hate living in a universe full of species that look like Daleks but aren't actually them, even more than they hate living in the Timelord-centric one. (That's assuming that morphic-field-wise they're not still carrying Kaled-shapes with them, in which case nobody would notice.)

Are you planning on talking about the inexcusable innumeracy at the heart of this storyline in any particular episode, by the way?

Siskoid said...

I reckon you're right about the Daleks!

I'm relatively innumerate myself. Do you mean the way the (over)population tallies?

Jeff R. said...

Basically, yes, the idea that stopping the death rate would create "a population explosion overnight" is just insanely stupid. It would take literally decades before anyone would even notice the difference, total population numbers-wise, if then, since growth rates are already slowing down, could easily be slowing down even more due to the various other problems this is going to be causing, and also, the vast majority of the now-not-dying women are going to be past their childbearing years and thus not taking part of any exponential growth.

This is way beyond any government's planning horizon for even starting to organize comittees to discuss the problems, let alone multiple putatively liberal democracies collectively deciding to launch the extreme measures we're gong to see in a wek weeks.

Siskoid said...

In ep3, there's this thing about the 50% of pregnancies that spontaneously abort no longer do. Of course this is past the point where they're already predicting the pop explosion, so I'm not sure it solves your problem.

It IS as if census technology is keeping a running counter, isn't it?


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