Sunday, July 26, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Five

After watching every episode of "Children of the Earth" twice (and some even a third time) and then posting my thoughts on the invididual episodes less than a day it aired on BBC America, I found myself needing some more time to digest its final episode. It was probably the darkest episode of the series and when you look at the four previous episodes, that is saying something. And while the BIG threat of the 456 was expectedly neutralized in the end, the journey to get there surely left permanent scars to everyone involved.

It was almost appropriate that this episode began with Gwen delivering a sort of soliloquy wondering why the famous Doctor who have come to Earth's rescue many times before is not here right now. It set the tone of the episode as grim, harrowing, and all together hopeless.

After Torchwood's unsuccessful tactics from the previous episode, it was do or die for the humans and they've decided to give in to the demands of 456. This meant that they had to move hell and earth to get millions of children and deliver them to the aliens. In a manner of horrific efficiency, they convinced a good chunk of the population that it was safe to bring their kids back to school and that in fact they would be given an inoculation to provide as protection for future alien attacks. The fake inoculations even got the World Health Organization seal of approval which just showed you how far and wide this lie went.

And while the threat of going to a war with these supreme alien beings might have helped temper the absolute horrificness of this situation, the knowledge that the children were being used by the 456 as nothing but drugs made you just want to throw up. The 456 are nothing but drug addicts and they are shooting up on our children.

The central character in all of this as I stated in my previous post was Frobisher and he took center stage yet again when the Prime Minister demanded that he make the ultimate sacrifice in offering up Frobisher's young girls to the aliens so as to appear that the government was also a victim to the 456. This led to a chilling sequence of events where Frobisher was forced to kill his whole family and then himself. Wow.

One of my favorite parts of the episode is when Jack dispatched a nearly catatonic Gwen on a mission to save Ianto's niece and nephew. Along with Rhys and Andy, she broke the news of Ianto's death (cue more tears from me) and was able to bring about 20 kids to safety just as the government started their second phase of going into the homes of those who didn't bring their kids to school that day. The violence of the neighborhood men played for laughs in the first episode took on a more noble and heroic form as they used their undisciplined testosterone to protect their children from the soldiers. It was a touching moment as well when Andy joined them.

In the end, the soldiers still managed to catch the kids. That whole sequence with Gwen, Rhys, and Ianto's sister along with all of the kids running from the soldiers was powerfully done. A few scenes earlier, we saw the soldiers taking the children from the school and the hopelessness of the teachers' and parents' cries really elevated the direness of the situation.

And finally there's Jack. This is the man that, one day earlier, realized that he had a hand in creating this dire situation and for that many people are dying including someone he loved very much. Things got worse for him in this episode. With the help of the black ops team headed up by Johnson, he figured out a way to kill the 456, but at the cost of his grandson Steven. In Jack's mind he had no choice since Steven was the only child in the immediate area and they needed to act quickly before the 456 took millions of children around the world. One child for a million children. And while his mind was telling him this, his heart was dying. With his one nod, he not only condemned Steven to death, but he also sufficiently killed yet another relationship he cared about, his daughter.

So the final few scenes sort of played out in slow motion for me. The 456 were defeated and they disappeared in a pillar of fire. All of the children were safe and sound. Bridget Spears singlehandedly avenged Frobisher's death as well as give the Prime Minister his comeuppance. And then SIX MONTHS LATER... we saw Gwen ready to pop and Jack come back from travelling around the world. He blamed himself for the deaths of Steven, Ianto, Clem, Tosh, Owen, Susie and more. He realized that this world is too small for him and that it was time for him to find another life to live. And with that he was gone leaving Gwen in tears.

And in tears is how we end this gripping miniseries that dared cross some lines that very few television series cross. With the blockbuster ratings this show received in Britain as well as rave reviews from critics in both side of the pond, this show has a bright future and actually it was recently confirmed that the fourth season has been given a green light. All that is left to ask is HOW will the show return? Gwen is pregnant, Ianto is dead, and Jack has left Earth. Clearly Torchwood as an organization is able to withstand a few losses here and there as that's pretty much the norm anyways. I can see Gwen coming back after pregnancy along with Lois Habiba and perhaps Johnson or even Bridget. Rhys and Andy have shown some potential as well. But as a show, Torchwood would feel quite very different without at least Captain Jack Harness as the leader.

I have a feeling that somehow the Doctor will have something to do with bringing Jack back. I can't really think of anything else unless they also involve Alice somehow. But neither here nor there. There are plenty of months ahead to speculate, theorize, and ask questions. Let's all just acknowledge the great accomplishment of everyone involved in bring this story together. Just quite splendid from the first scene to the last.

Read my thoughts on the first four episodes:
Day One - Day Two - Day Three - Day Four

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