Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Three

They are here.

After two episodes of being teased about the 456, they are finally front and center in this episode. Except in a brilliant twist, they are contained in a gas-filled tank so the characters, as well as the audience, still never get a clear view of the alien. Keeping the aliens shrouded and hidden makes for a scarier type of first contact with us trying to figure out their intentions. We then hang on to every word, every nightmarish noise, every glimpse through the glass. It's like a train wreck you can't bare to look away from. It's horrific, but something that demands your every attention.

The person in the center of all of this is Mr. John Frobisher. A nobody in the grand political scheme of everything, but he is the one chosen to be the spokesperson for the entire human race and it is he who gets to talk to the 456 to figure out why they are here. The Prime Minister is sitting in his high chair and smug knowing full well that if things go wrong, it will be put on Frobisher's shoulders. Frobisher, after all, is a good man, but better still, an expendable man. Every question Frobisher asks, every comment he makes, will determine the fate of Earth. That's a lot of pressure put on some guy. My favorite scene with him in this episode is when he broke down outside the room right after his first encounter with the 456.

And where's Torchwood? Well they are regrouping. Ianto leads them to an old Torchwood holding facility i.e. a big honking warehouse. In such a serious episode, Torchwood provides some much needed levity. The montage of the team resorting to basic criminal activity to get the money and supplies they need to get Torchwood up and running is hysterical culminating with Ianto getting them all new clothes such as Jack's iconic coat. Another point of funny came from the texts that Gwen would send Lois via the cool contact lenses that act as a camera. Smiley faces and typos. Perfect. And how fantastic would it be if those contact lenses actually existed in real life? Then again according to various Torchwood members, it seems as if they would be "fun" too, wink wink.

It's the balance of silliness and seriousness that really makes "Children of Earth" wonderful. There is Ianto expressing to Jack his real fears of dying and Jack moving on without him only to undercut it with a request for a booty call. Too bad the beans were almost ready. Bloody beans, indeed. It's moments like these that make it bearable for the audience to accept the REALLY serious moments like every children pointing in one direction or Alice and Stephen getting captured by the soldiers, or the 456 demanding 10% of all the Earth's children, or Jack giving the 456 12 children 40 years earlier as a "gift" whatever that means.

No matter what I have a feeling we won't like the explanation very much.

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