Friday, July 24, 2009

Torchwood Children of Earth, part 5: Sacrificial lambs

We've come to the end of "Torchwood: Children of Earth," which means we can all openly discuss the whole series. Unfortunately, my Comic-Con stint means my review won't be much longer than for any of the previous chapters. Spoilers coming up just as soon as I stand back...
"That's what Torchwood does, you see: it ruins your life." -Gwen
So who's feeling upbeat right about now? Anyone? Ready to party? No?

I have to applaud Russell T. Davies and company for having the courage of their convictions. While I took issue with a few things in the finale, overall it felt very much of a piece with the thrilling, squirm-inducing four hours that preceded it. There was no attempt at false uplift. Yes, The 4-5-6 are killed(*), and the British Prime Minister is basically stripped of his power, but his replacement is the equally odious Denise. John Frobisher kills his family and himself for what turns out to be a solveable problem. Many are still dead, many others are still traumatized, and in the end, our hero -- smiling Captain Jack, the man who's supposed to be perfect at everything, who can conjure a solution to any problem out of thin air, who lets the world wash off his back -- is left with the image not only of his dead lover, but of the grandson he chose to kill in order to save millions of other children. In that moment, he has to make a similar decision to the one Denise was proposing last night -- needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few (or the one) -- but he does it in a very different way. Where Denise and the rest of the British government were all about protecting their own kin at all costs, Jack has to sacrifice his grandson, because there isn't any time to find someone to take Steven's place.

(*) Or, at least, their Earth-bound representative is; I wasn't entirely clear on whether the rest were also slaughtered, or simply turned tail and ran once it became clear they weren't going to win.

And it's with the matter of timing that I take my biggest issue with the finale. I realize that Davies wanted to create a scenario where Jack had no choice but to use Steven to save the world, and it feels like much of the episode was structured to lead us to that point. Jack is kept on the sidelines, brooding over Ianto's death, for much of the hour, so that when he finally takes action and comes up with a solution, there just isn't time to look for another sacrificial lamb. And that doesn't track with the Jack we know, even after Jack tried to tell Ianto (and us) last night that we don't know him nearly as well as we think we do. Even in mourning, Jack would have taken action, would have fought to make sure Ianto's death wasn't completely in vain, rather than throwing in the towel until Agent Johnson goaded him into saving the day.

I know Jack being useless ties into the general apocalyptic feeling of the first two-thirds of the episode, with Frobisher's murder-suicide and Gwen and Rhys frantically trying to protect the "bad kids" from the neighborhood of Ianto's family from the army, but it was so out of character that it felt like a cheat to get the desired result. And what I think could have made Steven's death even more powerful -- and, admittedly, it was plenty powerful -- would be if he wasn't Jack's only choice. What if Jack is working on this plan all along, does have time to get access to some other random kid, but realizes in the end that he can't be a monster like the PM or Denise -- that if he's going to do this monstrous thing, then he has to suffer personally for it?

Or maybe I should stop trying to rewrite Davies, who, as I've written all week, really delivered the goods throughout "Children of Earth," with the help of a great cast (and I again want to praise the work of Peter Capaldi as the doomed Frobisher, who wasn't quite the unfeeling bastard the PM took him for), director Euros Lyn, and everyone else. Just a superb week of television, and a quantum leap forward for "Torchwood." Assuming the show's going to be back -- and based on the ratings in the UK, it almost has to -- I think the miniseries format is the way to go.

Now Davies just needs to find a way to bring Jack back to Earth, and maybe deputize Rhys and Lois Habiba (and, if he can be found, Mickey Smith) so that Gwen isn't a one-woman agency.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

It's funny you say that. I had similar thoughts, particularly when out of character Jack pleads with the 456 to save Ianto and he takes back his threats so that he can save the one he loves. When this last episode started, I thought to myself that was either mighty out of character for the heroic Jack or yet another example of Torchwood personnel making difficult decisions only when their pals are unaffected. But we can't say that anymore. With a few exceptions, this series really seemed to cure a lot of my earlier critiques of Torchwood, namely that it was a show about a bunch of self absorded, unprofessional agents who fight the alien of the week.

Myles said...

I have similar issues with the finale (rushing a few things, drawing a few things out), although my one major one is the non sequitor that was "The Kids are Drugs to the 4-5-6." It was one of those things that seemed like a cheat, a way to make the 4-5-6 less mysterious and more ghoulish, and also to offer a sort of trade context with which the political side of things would seem more adequate.

It was, however, just a few things like that in the episode that bugged, and overall its tragic pathos were in great effect. Having never seen the show before, I jumped in on hype from you, Alan, and so many other critics, and I was certainly not disappointed - a great, great miniseries.

So, now, the million dollar question: is going back through Torchwood worth it at this point? Or would moving on with "Season" 4 without the back story be sufficient?

Jeff L said...

These five episodes were a FANTASTIC roller coast ride. As soon as I finished Day 3, I decided I couldn't wait, got a hold of days 4 & 5, and finished the whole thing up in one shot.

From about the mid-point of 4 on, I literally could not sit still. I was fidgeting uncomfortably in my chair the whole time, wanting desperately to know where this was going, what were The 4-5-6 all about, who was going to live, and on and on.

I was horrified as the politicians coldly discussed how to find and deliver "the units" -- and at the same time, as a parent myself, identied with them as they maneuvered around, finding ways to spare their own children.

And I found myself absolutely hating Jack as he almost easily sacrificed his own Grandson -- and at the same time sympathizing with him, since he seemed to have no choice.

But, yeah, after it was done, I realized that a whole lot of it doesn't hold up -- there's a lot of cheating going on, a lot of people acting very unnaturally, just to move the plot forward. A little "trying to hard" to make a point about authority in general, and politicians in particular.

So, would I watch it again? No. Am I now hooked on Torchwood? No. Do I regret watching it? Not for a second.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

When they had the promo for the DVD set of Torchwood; Children of the Earth, my initial thought was "why would I want to watch something with so much tragedy and pathos again?"

And I mean that as a compliment to all involved in the series- it was as effective a drama as anything I've seen in a long time. It really got to you emotionally, with Frobisher killing his family and himself, Jack having to sacrifice grandson Stephen, the alienation with heartbroken daughter Alice, the death of Ianto. There was very little "feel good" at the end...and that's a good thing. I made reference to STORM OF THE CENTURY in a previous comment; its theme was similar; ultimately sacrificing a child to save many others, and its destructive repercussions. And their similar bottom lines- sometimes the good guys don't really win.

Now that they've gotten me hooked, I hope the BBC does produce a Series Four.

I can't wait to see Gwen and the little one on "Take Your Daughter To Work Day."

It was a terrific and emotional ride....SciFi for grownups. What a concept!

Anna said...

I don't want it to be back. It's not Torchwood without Ianto. I'm not interested in the Jack/Gwen show. They are the two worst characters in the whole show, and I cannot believe they are the only ones left. I think this was a great way to end the series, so if it does come back for another season, I'm just going to bow out.

BigTed said...

Wow, that was bleak. And, yes, pretty great.

There were still some things that didn't make sense. We never heard anything about the Internet being blocked, so why wasn't the news about government agents grabbing kids spread by Twitter? While we only saw what was happening in Britain, how likely was it that every other country on Earth would have rounded up its kids so efficently? And if what the aliens wanted was "chemicals" -- some kind that could be produced by humans -- wouldn't it have been possible, and a whole lot easier, to produce them artificially?

From a moral point of view, it really is hard to see an entire government, with no exceptions, agreeing to do what they did. (Maybe that's the difference between a British show and an American show -- it wouldn't be believable to see a U.S. cabinet meeting in which everyone agreed to sacrifice some "bottom" 10 percent, and anyway, the audience wouldn't have stood for them just giving in and not fighting back.)

I was also surprised that there was no further argument when they found out what the aliens wanted the children for. It's bad enough to talk about society continuing after "losing" millions of children, but something else entriely when you know those children will be tortured for what may well be eternity.

Of course, none of the regular "Torchwood" episodes would have brought up anywhere near this level of discussion. Overall, this was by far the best thing on TV this summer. If they decide to do more miniseries and they're anything like this, I'm all for it.

tabernacle said...

1. I was impressed that the show dared to kill Jack's grandson.

2. It feels like such a waste, for Peter Capaldi's character, Frobisher, to have annihilated his family--and it was all rather foreseeable from the moment he asked for that requisition form (including the fact that it would be a waste: the world would be saved, after all). And surely self-preservation and protection of one's kin would have led Frobisher to consider other options first, such as attacking the PM or something, no?

3. I'm not sure, but I think the show meant that scene with the Primer Minister at the end to be some sort of victory, some comeuppance we are supposed to cheer for, but (as others have said) the woman who would replace him was just as bad. (So was that the point? The vacuum will always be filled, as when druglords are jailed/killed?)

4. Once it was revealed that the children were used as drugs, the calculus should have instantly changed: The 4-5-6, as junkies, would inevitably come back (it was, indeed, a hardcore racket)--which should have given all involved more pause when it came to giving them the 10% now. I.e., there was more reason to fight rather than appease; this was never going to end.

Thanks for discussing this show; I would have missed it otherwise, and I really enjoyed it.

tabernacle said...

"And if what the aliens wanted was "chemicals" -- some kind that could be produced by humans -- wouldn't it have been possible, and a whole lot easier, to produce them artificially?"

Yeah. Even if we accept that adults don't produce the same chemicals as children do, I would have thought that at some point someone would have wondered whether any of the following would have served: (a) Jack himself, with his evergreen blood; (b) synthetic chemicals; (c) [this is still awful...] young chimpanzees or some other non-human species.

Johanna Lapp said...

If they selected the 10% of kids to be sacrificed from the slums, the underperforming schools, the not-"nice" classes, the poor destined for a life on the dole and hanging out on street corners... Why were 99.999% of those kids white?

I swear, there were more nonwhite faces in the Prime Minister's conference room than in all the school roundups put together.

Has Britain so well solved its race issues that there are no black, brown or yellow poor people left to be genocided?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a brilliant stretch of television. Allowing a story and lead character to go so dark is not something we get to see very often, especially in characters that aren't painted as the brooding anti-hero from the start. RTD and crew did an amazing job. No plot-hole nit-picking from me.

I liked Iantos character at I went through the emotional wringer when he died, but honestly -- I thought it was a great story decision. Anyone complaining about it makes me wonder -- are they also in favor of rewriting any story in which good people die? I truly have a laugh at anyone who'd miss out on further adventures in this universe. RTD created a character that made you weep...and you don't think he'll be able to do it again...and again...and again? It's his job, and he does it very well!

Thought Jack's sacrificing of his own grandson was epic. Biblical. As was Frobisher's offing of his whole clan. Nevermind that if he'd just WAITED an hour, all would have been fine. It made perfect sense in the moment, and it made for a great acting moment -- one of many for the guy who played Frobisher.

I'm hooked! Bring on Season 4!

Anonymous said...

"Has Britain so well solved its race issues that there are no black, brown or yellow poor people left to be genocided?"

I doubt it was an intentional, or even accidental thing. They really only had those 40-50 child actors (great budget saving technique having them change coloured uniforms). Maybe there just wasn't a lot of ethnically diverse child actors for the BBC to chose from.

Also, the "junkie" reveal was so horrifying, and I think really contextualizes some of the 456's odd, intimidating behavior. It's also probably why they'd run after Jack found a way to kill even one. Like Bubbles and the fishing wire scam from The Wire, it's all fun and games until you know they can kill you.

Turning the scary aliens into pathetic junkies, albeit technologically superior ones, also reinforced just how much the English government was the real villain. In everything from killing Torchwood, to covering up the 1960's incident, to trying to positively spin a 10% loss of their kids.

Unknown said...

For those wondering if they should watch seasons 1 and, don't buy. They are not nearly the same caliber.

That being said, they are a good bit of fun. Some episodes more than others. Just don't have super high expectations.

I too found the "kids as drugs" twist kind of disheartening. Hard to explain why that didn't have the same resonance with me as "kids as lifeblood." (Was it Alan or some other critic who suggested that meant the kids would become the "fannypacks" of the 4-5-6?)

Since I've never commented on Torchwood here before, I'll just add this: I have always found Gwen really annoying. Mostly because she started bossing everyone around the second she joined Torchwood. I don't know why I care, but I always thought, "Goddamn it Gwen, the rest of them know more than you, so shut up." Clearly I have issues.

black magic woman said...

After seeing all 5 parts, I have some real problems with the miniseries as a whole. I get that Jack behaved despicably in 1965 and sacrificed the 12 kids, but the only reason his grandson was available for sacrifice is because he was held for ransom against Jack. Could he not have found a terminal child (with the parents' consent) to use for this purpose? This plot relied on coincidences and people (and institutions) acting in an incredibly stupid fashion. Are we really to believe that governments around the world would so readily give up 10% of the children? Without a fight? Without discussing what this would mean?

I wish there was a bit more realism involved in this sci-fi miniseries. People would have gone down fighting rather than let that many of the world's population go.

I also didn't quite buy Jack's immobilization post-Ianto. This man has lived for decades and decades and seen loss more times than he could count. Why did Ianto's death affect him so much more than the hundreds he's already experienced?

docapplescorner said...

I have been a huge fan of Jack and of Torchwood from his first appearance on Dr. Who and I have watched and enjoyed both seasons one and two. I say this because I found the 5 part season 3 to be riddled with bad writing, artificial plot gimmicks whose only purpose was to move other artificial plot gimmicks ahead.

1. Why destroy Torchwood? No plausible explanation was ever given. All we get is a mysterious blank paper doublespeak line from the PM to his lackey who has worked with Torchwood and who now dutifully just follows orders. Why, with a monstrous threat to earth returning, destroy the "last line of defense" heralded in the ads? All that did was set up the absence of Torchwood from the problem solving team so that the spineless bureaucrats could show how weasley they are.

2. Iantos's death made sense. In fact, his was the only one that did. He died in his lover's arms having shown some genuine courage in the face of overwhelming odds. He had neither plan or power, but he followed Jack and was let down by Jack's hubris.

3. Why do we only now find out that Jack has a daughter and a grandson? So he can kill the kid of course. Why else. And it is a long standing tradition that you don't hurt or kill the kid(s). Obviously Jack was so unaffected by his betrayal of 40 years ago that he has spent no time at all trying to figure out what to do when, not if they returned.

5. Given that the plan is to give away the kids of the losers of society, just where do you suppose that most of those very obedient soldiers would have come from? Not from the protected upper crust. So why would they watch as the kids of families like their own were being carried away? They wouldn't, not all of them.

6. Why would Jack give away all of his principles to beg for the life of Ianto and then struggle not at all for his grandson?

7. When Torchwood was destroyed, why was Ianto killed when the bomb went off. He had only just cleared the ceiling when it went boom. Gwen only just made it and she had several minutes to run.

8. Previously, Jack has always found a weapon or a trick to use to snatch victory from disaster. So why does he just run inside the inner sanctum with nothing other than bluster?

I can go on, but this should be sufficient to the moment. Torchwood is over. There is no Torchwood. Gwen will have a baby and that would be absurd to watch mommy alien buster and super Jack. Please!! They might try to come back with the further adventures of Happy Captain Jack, but I surely will not watch any of it. I have never been a fan of Greek tragedy and do not plan to start now.

Anonymous said...

"Are we really to believe that governments around the world would so readily give up 10% of the children? Without a fight? Without discussing what this would mean?"

Again, time and fear was the issue here. The collective governments of the world had basically 48 hours to hand over 10 million children or everyone on Earth would be wiped out. Think of Earth as being mugged. If the 456 set up camp and expected 10% a year, everyone would eventually find out and fight back just out of principle. But with a gun to the head and no time to think it makes sense 10% could be justified as acceptable losses.

"I also didn't quite buy Jack's immobilization post-Ianto. This man has lived for decades and decades and seen loss more times than he could count. Why did Ianto's death affect him so much more than the hundreds he's already experienced?"

Did it? It wasn't convenient to be immobile for a few hours after Ianto's death, but he did love the man, and he really had no other plans available. Besides, it took him half-a-day to get back to smiling, child-sacrificing Jack Harkness. He's obviously used to losing people, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Also, this;

"3. Why do we only now find out that Jack has a daughter and a grandson? So he can kill the kid of course. Why else. And it is a long standing tradition that you don't hurt or kill the kid(s). a pretty stupid criticism. When were we supposed to find out about Jack's kid? Five years ago in Doctor Who? CoE didn't pull any magic characters out of the blue in the last act, everyone that they set up in Chapter One followed through until Chapter Five. It's such a nitpicky thing to be so obsessed with continuity that you'd find fault in this separate and whole miniseries for not sticking to established canon or some such.

Anonymous said...

this shows the writer had way too much power cause the story could have been sooo much better, all the holes could have been filled and made for awesome ending and it didn't have to be a sappy one, that been said the ending made the whole thing suck!!! I am sorry I watched it, and it made me remember why i stop watching the series and hope it is all over with

Karen said...

Well, that was horrifying and brilliant.

I thought the reveal of the children as drugs rather than as life-support added depth and additional horror to the story. Knowing that the 456 were junkies, that they were happily milking another species' children for "the hit," added levels of squirm factor I hadn't felt previously. It also explained, to a degree, the 456's behavior--I'd been wondering why it thrashed around so much, why it hurled that noxious substance against the walls of its cube: knowing it was a junkie in withdrawal made sense.

Through almost this entire episode I found myself trying to reimagine the changes that would have been made in the story if this had been a show on American television. I can't believe that anything this dark would ever get greenlit. Not without profound changes. I couldn't sit through anything this dark on a regular basis, but I have enormous respect for the effort.

I didn't know what Requisition 31 was going to be--I expected lethal injections of some sort--but as soon as Frobisher asked for it I knew what he was going to do. It was really the only thing he could do under the circumstances--although, again, I can't see it playing out that way in an American show.

The main plot point that troubled me was Gwen's seemingly immediate understanding of what the children had accomplished. She hugs the little girl, "What did you do, you brilliant darling!?" But how did she know? How did she know the 456 were defeated? How did she know they were safe? Wales is very, very far from London--there's no way she would have seen the departing column of fire. Even if she had, how would she have known that wasn't the children being beamed away? I just don't know how she--and the soldiers who were hunting all those children--knew the coast was clear.

Finally--I just don't know how the show can come back. The Jack I loved best was the Jack of "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances": the insouciant, devil-may-care jokester. He'd been MIA through most of the run of Torchwood, with only occasional glimmers. But now? Now he's like the Doctor, forever scarred by the experiences he's had (how do you recover from sending your grandson to fry from the inside, and as a result lose contact with your daughter forever? Speaking of which, the silent reproach of Jack's and Alice's final meeting was incredibly powerful). How can he do anything but stay dark? And what does that mean for the series?

I think it should just end here.

jim treacher said...

As a wingnut fascist wingnut, one of my favorite moments of the series was when when the British PM said he couldn't be blamed for the 456 because he was just a kid back then... delightful! And Obama was never a member of the Weather Underground.

I was pleasantly surprised that they spent so much time on the ethical issues. The scene where the British government sat around trying to decide which children to give up to avoid global destruction was kind of astonishing. Eugenics, eh?

Also, John Barrowman is very good-looking. From an objective standpoint, I mean. Ahem.

Alex Mullane said...

I won't spew my thoughts on the series in any depth (You can read them here if you wish

But the one thing I will bring to the table here, that I don't think anyone else has... When it returns for the 4th series, can we lose Gwen please?

Now hear me out. I don't have anything against the character, but nor do I have much love for her either. She has been our guide through Torchwood from novice to expert, and all of her friends and original members of Torchwood have fallen by the way. She says it herself, Torchwood ruins people. But now she and Rhys are baby-bound, I'd like to see them be allowed to step out of the action and just raise their baby in peace. Essentially, I'd like to see them get their happy ending.

When Jack returns to Earth, I'd like to see him set up camp somewhere else, perhaps with an entirely new cast of characters to help him in the fight. A Jack recruitment episode could be fun, and telling, to see the type of person he'd pick this time. Perhaps it would be too hard for him to go back to Cardiff where all the memories of Tosh, Owen and poor Ianto are too fresh. In any case, the hub has been destroyed.

I know that the show is filmed in Cardiff, and they have the plot device of the rift to keep them there, but I'd still like to see Jack leave both the location, and the characters we've met there behind.

Having said that, Mickey, Martha, Lois or anyone non-Cardiff based could easily come with him to where ever he next sets up camp. But I think Gwen's story has come to an end.

Anyone agree?

Mapeel said...

I agree with Karen: horrifying and brilliant.

I was also struck by the lack of fighting back. Short time period or not, the government folding like that in face of evil has echoes of the perception of France/WWII. Interesting trope for RTD to use.

I thought the same thing as docapplescorner: Jack's assault on 456 was sheer hubris. He had no plan, except "this is what we do." Hmm. Maybe a comment on recent US foreign endeavors.

I was also struck by the realistic British ability to mobilize large numbers of people, still in the national DNA from the Empire. Once the decision was made, the logistics of the kids, the buses, the army were frighteningly well executed.

Kensington said...

At the risk of overstatement, this was a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare.

I love how Jack is chosen in 1965 to be the one who delivers the kids because the government knows he wouldn't really care and then we get to see how that cavalier attitude with which he coasts through life not only comes back to bite him, but bite him in a decidely dreadful manner.

Sacrifice a bunch of anonymous orphans in '65, pay for it with your own grandchild in '09. This is dark, dark, grim, horrifying stuff.

I really don't see how the show could return after this. It just doesn't seem like the kind of trauma from which Jack can recover.

As my enthusiasm for Dr Who has waned in recent years, I wasn't sure that RTD could still pull off stuff this brilliant. It was a pleasant surprise to learn how wrong I was.

Unknown said...

I never saw any of the new post-millennial Dr. Whos and this miniseries was the first time I saw any Torchwood. (on Alan's recommendation -- You can sure pick 'em guy)

As on old X-Phile, I was very impressed how some the same issues were dealt with dramatically and at an incredible pace. The twist of Jack having blood on his hands really struck me.

I'll definitely check out more Torchwood and new-school Dr. Who based on what I saw here.

For the fans who say things were rushed:

I can't speak to pacing when it comes to Torchwood, but for this old X-Files buff -- a lot of things done quickly and well is better than being teased for YEARS by bogus revelations that felt improvised each time, rather than tightly controlled like Children.

dee said...

I believe RTD planned this from the beginning of Torchwood. The shows opening clearly states that Torchwood exists until the 21st Century...that's when everything changes....I just didn't expect the change to Captain Jack to be so dark ...the hero worship I felt towards him is now tarnished.

Anonymous said...

I guess my problem with the end, after thinking about it, is that I thought Jack's reaction to what happened didn't fit with the character anymore. The original Jack, I totally would buy it. But this is a man who's fought Dalek's, been tortured by the Master for a year, and then lived and worked with 6 generations of humans on Earth.

By now he would be used to death. He's lost people he loved before, including his daughter's mother. It just doesn't fit that he ran away like a wienie at the end after everything he has been through.

pantone290 said...

I think that understanding the character of Captain Jack, his behaviors, or of other members of the team, or of general plot-driving decisions by governmental agencies really comes with knowledge of both the TW and Doctor Who universe. As one of those, some of my thoughts about some of the criticisms:

- Jack feels more for Ianto than he has for anyone else in a very long time. His protestations to this are designed to protect Ianto. When Ianto dies, and Jack realizes that he ultimately couldn't protect him, he does "give up" a little. (Immortality comes with a lot of burden- I kept humming "Who Wants to Live Forever" from the Highlander movies)

- And he starts to feel that Ianto's loss is the universe paying him back for the mistake he made in 1965. When the idea of using Steven is presented, he realizes that not only isn't there time for another solution, one loss is not gonna do it. He MUST sacrifice Steven, to try to make it right within himself. And I don't think it was, what one poster said, "easily" done, or done "with his smirk back". John Barrowman's facial expressions tend to that smirky look, you need to look at his eyes (not a bad task!)

-I really don't agree with "oh, this and that is just plot manipulation". All of writing is plot manipulation! In the end, RTD wrote THIS story, with THESE decisions. Who's to say what is natural or unnatural behavior for HIS characters? Each of us goes "against character" sometimes. TW's not a documentary.

- which is why we don't see the twitter stuff, or more citizens fighting back. Of course it is happening. It's just not a part of THIS PART of the story.

- Because this is part of a larger story. I think Jack will be making an appearance in the upcoming British season of Dr. Who. Will TW the series be back? I hope so. Maybe without Gwen, and that's okay (I personally like her, but I can see how some don't)
After all, there are plenty of alien threats out there....

Anonymous said...

Docapplescorner said
" where do you suppose that most of those very obedient soldiers would have come from?... why would they watch as the kids of families like their own were being carried away? They wouldn't, not all of them."

Don't know if you heard it, but the instructions about the soldiers included the threat that their own families would be held accountable if they didn't follow orders to a T.

Anonymous said...

Was anyone else reminded of Kristallnacht & Anne Frank hiding, in the scenes with Ianto's sister?

I was also thinking that in the U.S. most of those kids would have been Black and how that would have felt (bad, very very bad).

Great stuff. I've seen a lot of great TV, but this may be one of the most powerful.

Anonymous said...

The UK is about 92% white. However, there are places with significant diversity, such as London, Birmingham, Bradford and some other cities. Large scale immigration from the Commonwealth really only started in the 1950's.

Cardiff isn't particularly diverse. I can't remember if the school scenes were set around there or if it was Cardiff standing in for London. (Cardiff-for-London never looks quite right because of that, however much they try!)

Pirate Alice said...

Something I've been wondering, didn't the hub have some kind of device keeping the rift closed? Wouldn't blowing that up make the device fail and open the rift?

Other than that, I really loved the series. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I can't wait for more.

Craig Ranapia said...

Norm N. Conquest:
If they selected the 10% of kids to be sacrificed from the slums, the underperforming schools, the not-"nice" classes, the poor destined for a life on the dole and hanging out on street corners... Why were 99.999% of those kids white?

You're taking the piss, aren't you? Anyway, who thinks that if RTD had made sure there were plenty of black kids front and center he would have been roundly attacked as either 1) a racist, or, 2) some PC dingbat making a heavy-handed (and rather patronising) party political broadcast?

And it is a long standing tradition that you don't hurt or kill the kid(s).

Hum... then if either the 1976 or 2008 version of Terry Nation's post-plague drama Survivors ends up screening in the US, I'd suggest you look the other way. Both pilors involved gut-wrenching scenes where one of the leads goes looking for her son, and discovers a school full of dead children.

Karen from the Cape said...

My particular plothole was that instead of doing a slow (but dramatic) house to house search for the missing 20% of kids, why not go to the 11-13% ranked schools and scoop up another batch efficiently.

I thought the series was well-done, well-written, but dark enough that I don't know I'd recommend getting the episodes to someone who missed it, unless there turns out to be a fourth season.

Nekkel said...

Thank you, Anonymous:

"Again, time and fear was the issue here. The collective governments of the world had basically 48 hours to hand over 10 million children or everyone on Earth would be wiped out."

That's the point I was going to make. Why was that so hard for so many to wrap their brain around? I know that's a horrible thought and hard to listen to and I don't mean that to sound pissy..but I'm really curious. You have been given two days to get over 300,000 children (in their country alone) together or EVERYONE will die. There's no time to mobilize, there's no time to wonder what sort of chemicals the kids have or even make any. There's just no time so it's either give them the kids (of course there's going to be fear and panic) or die. Ok, let's give them the ones do we give because no one is going to unfortunately, it's not hard to see a government act/sound that way.

As for Frobisher - that was also realisic. Desperation..or fear or loss of hope or just "you're not going to take my kids". People have done it for less, unfortunately. You never know how one's mind will respond to that sort of thing. Not everyone will be your definition of "strong".

And finally, Jack running. Not hard to believe..and not out of character. Maybe he loved Ianto more than anyone else or more than anyone in a very long time. Then to have to have to watch your grandson die by your own hand. This all just goes back to how much can one person take, immortal or not.

Depressing? Yes, but very good. I have been watching from the beginning and will continue to do so if they bring it back.

Andrew said...

Finally got around to watching Part 5, and given that I was expecting an ending more like RTD-brand Doctor Who than The Wire, I was shocked that Jack's grandson actually died in the end and wasn't saved as part of the deus ex machina working better than expected. While the hand of Ianto's death was tipped in the first couple of episodes (the equivalent of the veteran cop remarking on this being his last week before retirement), killing the grandson was a major shock. Who knew Torchwood could do bleak? Did Davies watch The Wire before writing Children o Earth?

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is that the 456 never really prove that they can wipe out the planet.

Sure, they prove they can release a small amount of disease so virulent that it kills in minutes (i.e. will not spread). Certainly it was safe to re-enter the building shortly after it's release.

But, that's not the same as taking out an entire species.

The reveal that they are junkies makes it even worse. It could be that they have some trucking (transport the children) and a small amount of virus.

Their reaction to Jack saying no -- the initial "but you yielded before!" just makes me think they were largely full of hot air, and they could do little more than the virus attack.

This is backed up by them running pretty quickly after Jack unleashes the feedback.

Otherwise they'd probably have hit the "wipe 'em out" button as they ran away. They didn't seem like the sort to be nice.

K J Gillenwater said...

I feel kind of sad for myself that Ianto's death meant nothing to me. Ianto has always been a sort of non-character to me. Empty. Background character. I didn't care one way or the other if he died.

I find this interesting, though:

"I don't want it to be back. It's not Torchwood without Ianto. I'm not interested in the Jack/Gwen show."

Jack and Gwen, plus Tosh, were always my favorites. Tosh was also a non-character to me until the last season when they revealed more about her shyness and who she was as a person. I really felt for her then.

However, if they bring in Habiba, I'm there. I really liked her a lot.

I don't know if any other commenter mentioned this, it would've been a MUCH better ending for me if, as Jack was walking down the hall away from his crying daughter, we get a flash to the kid's dead body in the other room on a gurney, and he gasps for air, coming back to life, just like his dad. HELLO!

What a missed opportunity for a really cool ending. Jack would take off (okay, maybe the 6-months-later bit wouldn't quite fit here) not knowing he left someone behind just like him. It would also be a great reason for him to return!

All in all, an entertaining mini-series.

Girl Detective said...

KJ Gillenwater, I don't know if you watched the series, but as I understand it, Jack got his immortality from hanging off the Doctor's Tardis as it went through time, so he became as he says "a fixed point in time"--it's not something genetic, but acquired.

I thought this was a really good series, and well above the high water mark for Torchwood. That said, I think Barrowman does better playing Capt Jack as a swashbuckling wise-cracking hero, and is much weaker at the drama. This played to his weakness, and he did OK, but it also sets up any possible return for the series as continuing to be dark and to that weakness, and that's what concerns me.

I liked Lois, I don't mind Gwen. I'll certainly watch to see what happens.

K J Gillenwater said...

Thanks for the explanation of Jack's ability. No, I never have watched Dr. Who. I was going on merely what was revealed in the series...and Jack always said he didn't know why he was the way he was...unless that was his way of keeping a secret?

I still like my idea. :-)

Christina said...

Actually, Rose made Jack immortal when she had the time vortex in her. Jack only hung on to the TARDIS because he wanted to ask the Doctor if he knew why he couldn't die.

Clip with Jack being brought back to life:

AdamW said...

I'd also note, long after anybody cares or is still reading, that it's possible that Ianto meant more to Jack than some of his other relationships because their relationship was interrupted for, oh, about 2,000 years while Jack was BURIED ALIVE at the end of Torchwood Season 2. Which could have a certain altering effect on personality and whatnot.