‘Torchwood’ blogging: “Children of Earth: Day Five”

Warning: spoilers ahead. Assumes you’ve seen all five episodes of Children of Earth

(Before commenting, please read the intro to my Doctor Who blogging; the same caveats apply to Torchwood.)

(previous: Episode 4: “Children of Earth: Day Four”)
So, I mentioned in my blogging for the previous episode how conspicuous the Doctor is in these events by his absence. And now Gwen wonders about this, too. She

wanted to know about that Doctor of [Jack’s], the man who appears out of nowhere and saves the world, except sometimes he doesn’t. All those times in history when there was no sign of him, I wanted to know, Why not? But I don’t need to ask anymore. I know the answer now. Sometimes, the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame.

I do wonder what the Doctor would make of any of this. There hasn’t been any new Doctor Who since this, and the next one — “The Waters of Mars” — appears to take place in the not-so-near future. But we do know that Tennant’s Doctor will be appearing on The Sarah Jane Adventures soon, and we know that SJA takes place in the here-and-now. I hope Davies addresses how planet Earth has changed as a result of the events of Children of Earth, and what the Doctor’s reaction to all of it is. I’m not saying I need an entire episode focused on this, but I want something: a comment, a sad face, something…

Oh, we’re not so bad, though, are we? I keep thinking about Ianto’s sister, telling her son to run to the neighbor’s and let her know that she — Ianto’s sister — will have the kids for free at her little ad hoc day care. That’s gotta count for something, that some people did fight back. Right?

Our leaders, though… ugh. The most powerful aspect of the entirety of CoE may be that it plugs right into the mistrust I think most people have of their governments of late, certainly in the U.S. and the U.K.: that we cannot trust anyone to do what’s right for us ordinary folk. “I thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your faith,” the Prime Minister says, and I want to spit on him. (Though props to actor Nicholas Farrell, of course, for being so good at being so bureaucratically evil as the PM.) And oh! The BBC newscaster says, “The World Health Organization has issued a statement guaranteeing the safety and beneficial effects of the treatments” — that is, of the nonsense about the vaccine that is the cover story that will allow so many children to be rounded up and given to the aliens — so WHO is in on it to. I mean, if you cannot trust the World Health Organization, who can you trust?

And even Torchwood gives up, in this environment. That might be the worst thing. Maybe it’s good the Doctor wasn’t here, because to witness him giving up too would simply be the absolute end.

Okay, so there’s all this stuff:

= Gwen suggesting she’s going to abort her pregnancy…

= Children being rounded up by armed soldiers (how many of these poor guys are going to end up committing suicide or doing something else awful to themselves later on?)…

There comes a point in this episode, which is the most despairing of the whole series, when you think, Okay, it cannot possibly get any worse than this… and then it does. Jack sacrifices his own grandson. You can’t really say he did the wrong thing… but you can’t really say he did the right thing, either. (Just keep kicking me in the stomach, why don’t you? Bloody Torchwood.) And Steven really is dead — there’s no last minute miracle, no “oh, we miscalculated the technobabbly whatever.” The kid is just stone dead. The whole planet owes him a debt of gratitude, but, you know, he’s dead, and will never appreciate that.

And he knows, just at the last moment, that something bad is happening to him:

What happens from here? What happens in between Steven’s death and that “six months later”? What has Gwen been doing? Did she get Torchwood up and running again? The Rift is still there, running under Cardiff, right? Doesn’t someone have to watch over it?

Apparently, Torchwood is coming back for another season, but I just don’t see how it can be anything like anything we’ve seen up till now. (I would have loved, actually, to see a show about Jack out in the universe, continually running away from his demons.) Shifting gears isn’t a bad thing, of course, but I don’t see how the show can not shift gears: the stakes were raised so high by CoE that it could be tough to top this. I look forward to seeing how it happens.

Random thoughts on “Children of Earth: Day Five”:

• What’s in the box? What’s in the box? </bradpitt>

What’s in the box:

Oh, damn, we kinda already knew what was in the box, didn’t we?

• Oh, crap:

Really, Davies? You’re going there? Crap.

Gotta hand it to Russell Davies, though: he does not pull any punches. Not a one. One two three shots in quick sucession, then a long moment before the fourth, as if Frobisher is contemplating the horrible — yet, perhaps by some interpretations, generous — thing he’s done before offing himself.

And you kinda can’t blame Frobisher, because he knows what his daughters are in for:

• “They create chemicals. The chemicals are good.”

Oh god, that is so totally demented, so totally sickening, so totally original… (except we did have that early Torchwood episode, didn’t we, with the aliens that feed on human orgasms? hmmm, that’s not so entitely different). It makes we want to see Torchwood — and Doctor Who — taken as far as they can be taken. Science fiction has a reputation for being “out there,” but it hardly ever goes this far. It could go a lot farther… but it needs someone with real balls and real imagination to take it there.

• So, do we have a new PM? Is this woman

going to show up again later as the heartless new leader of the United Kingdom?

• Great quotes:

“I can’t look at her anymore.” –Jack about Gwen (yeah, he was at least a little in love with her)

“It was Torchwood. Bloody Pill didn’t stand a chance.” –Gwen, when Andy asks who the father of her baby is

“The nice kids are safe” and “All those kids on street corners, we finally got rid of them” — government bureaucrats (“great” quotes in the sense of them being trenchant, not nice or cool)

(next: ???)

share and enjoy
notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Proper Dave
Sat, Oct 24, 2009 6:22pm

The Doctor returns on Thursday (spoilery trailer follows)


but I seriously doubt they’d even allude to Torchwood on a kiddie show like The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Sat, Oct 24, 2009 6:42pm

I’ll be in my bunk… downloading. :->

Seriously, though: isn’t a kiddie show precisely the place to be mentioning the fact that all the kiddies had recently been under alien influence?

Sat, Oct 24, 2009 6:50pm

I haven’t commented much, but thank you for your CoE reviews, MaryAnn. I got a bit depressed after it screened thanks to the rabid Jack/Ianto thing going on online, and it was nice to find out you pretty much shared my views on the story (horrific, but powerful).

Sun, Oct 25, 2009 5:36am

I hope none of the SJA target audience know what happened in CoE. Even DW shouldn’t allude to it except obliquely, given that it has an enthusiatic following of young fans of 5 year olds upwards. Torchwood was always intended to be the adult part of the universe but never really achieved it before CoE – shown by the fact that they could make slight edits for series two episodes and show them before the watershed! There is no way CoE could be adapted for an earlier timeslot.

Joanne – There are some places online where a few people are rabidly against CoE and seem to suggest that ‘real fans’ hated it, but there are other sites where those who have been TW fans from series 1 thought that CoE was fantastic, traumatic storytelling and that TW had finally achieved what it had promised. Don’t feel alone!

I’m sure we will get a fourth series – the viewing figures and audience appreciation for CoE were astonishing – but I can’t see how it can be done. I’ll certainly be there for it, though!

Sun, Oct 25, 2009 3:49pm

I used to just love dystopias. Bladerunner, Alien*, etc.

But between CoE, BSG and Children of God, I don’t think I can hack them any more. A few years ago I would have been gung-ho to see The Road but now… no fracking way.