Thursday, 22 August 2013

Review: Torchwood 3.5: Day Five
*slits wrists*
Torchwood - Children of Earth, Day Five
Written 15/5/13

RTD's melodrama is in full force, and in this final RTD review I aim to look at the end of Children of Earth and how this miniseries hid its faults behind a fascade of seriousness. Day Five is by far the bleakest hour in the miniseries, and pushes the series to its logical conclusions in a way which is shocking and dark in a quite non-constructive way. The aim seems to be to fuck up as much as possible about the series and then see what fits into place after the fact. Which is a great way to do things.
     As Gwen and Jack mourn Ianto, the Government prepares to put the 456's plans into place, dragging children away from primary schools. Gwen and Rhys are airlifted to Cardiff to inform Ianto's sister of what happened. When Frobisher's children are chosen for the program to make the government look like the victims, he acquires a gun and takes his family out Columbine style. Bridget Spears visits Lois Habiba and learns how to use the Torchwood contact lenses. Jack is lifted from prison by Agent Johnson, who also kidnaps Dekker, bringing them both together to work on a solution. Through some technobabble, Jack works out that he can send the wave they used to kill Clem back at them, but he needs a child to focus on if the signal is ever going to be strong enough. They use Jack's grandson Steven and save the day at the cost of his life. As the dust settles, Bridget wipes the smug smile off the Prime Minister's face as she reveals that she has recordings of everything he's said and plans to ruin his career with them.
     The expenditure of Jack's grandson was at the time shocking and painful, but despite how inhuman it may seem of me, I can see why Jack did it. He's over 2000 years old, and his daughter has been restricting access to his grandson to the extent that they hardly know each other. Is it that much of a surprise that when it comes to a utilitarian choice between a kid he hardly knows and the 10% statistic, Jack chooses the 10%? Much more shocking was the death of John Frobisher and co, with RTD's script taking a decidedly more anti-suicide turn than his Osterhagen Key rubbish in Journey's End.     The episode had an overall sense of bleak desperation, one that seemed entirely melancholic without anything to back it up. Torchwood in the past was about dragging humanity from the inhumane, about Gwen's measures to maintain her compassion in the face of a group of people who had lost touch with the rest of the world. If you rob the show of that dynamic, if you make it as bleak as you can possibly make it, then it creates a real disconnect with the audience that I find hard to reconcile. Children of Earth had some okay moments in it, but it forgot what Torchwood was, and thus I can't like it as much as I do the first two series.


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