Friday, July 10, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 3x04: "Children Of Earth: Day Four"

Written by John Fay
Directed by Euros Lyn

Ianto: “Don’t forget me.”
Captain Jack: “Never could.”

Close to the end of this saga and this is likely going to be the episode in the season’s end run that people are going to be talking about for quite some time. We’ve lost several characters in this whole universe before but this is going to be one loss that viewers are going to feel for a good while.

Ianto Jones. That gorgeous coffee boy with the glint in his eye that told anyone that there was more to him that met the eye. In the space of thirty episodes, we’ve experiences a lot with the man. We’ve seen him willingly betray his team members to save Lisa. We’ve seen that he’s not a man to be crossed.

We’ve also seen in that amount of time his burgeoning relationship with Jack. At first Ianto wanted to infiltrate Torchwood for his own means, even flirting with Jack to achieve that entry but at the same time we also saw Ianto falling in love with Jack, even if he made attempts to stop himself from doing so.

Jack and Ianto’s relationship has been something of a selling point with viewers. Various LGBT sites, magazines and media have all cited the positive elements of the coupling and it also helped that John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd always had such a great rapport with one another.

So, the death of Ianto Jones is something that’s going to hit viewers a little hard. I remember back in 2002 when in the Buffy episode “Seeing Red”, Tara was shot by a stray bullet from Warren the reaction it ignited from certain viewers, myself included.

I’m sure a similar anger might be levelled at the series here (I for one really don’t want Ianto to be dead) but I’m going to laugh at the first person who accuse the writers or the BBC of having homophobic undertones. To me, such an accusation is flimsy at best, ridiculous at worst.

No matter how many times Jack gets killed (twice in this episode), he’s never going to die. That means virtually everyone around him will and that’s a burden both him and The Doctor have had to share. We’ve already seen Owen and Toshiko meet their makers as well as the likes of Suzie and Rupesh exposed as traitors before getting their comeuppances.

Rhys might the only character aside from Jack to suffer actual death and live to tell the tale (even if he’s blissfully ignorant of what Bilis tried to do to him). There could be a possibility that Ianto might be fortuitous by tomorrow night but if Gwen’s doomy message in the preview for the finale is anything to go by, I doubt it.

Like Toshiko and Owen, Ianto did go out in his own way fighting. He was there with Jack when the latter finally wanted to confront the 456. He even shot at the tank with his immortal lover for all the good it actually achieved (aka, none) but it was a deadly airborne virus that saw Ianto meet his maker.

The scenes between him and Jack as Ianto was dying were sad, that’s something that should go without saying. Even if you’re not a particular fan of this couple (which makes you the 3% of the show’s contingent, I’m guessing here), it’s still not hard to be affected by all of this.

The one thing that struck a chord with Ianto’s death scenes was that he was wondering about what kind of an impact he had on Jack. Maybe that could come across as needy but it’s understandable and we’ve seen in both this show and Doctor Who that there have been several people who’s impacted Jack’s life. Ianto is a big one in that regard.

I also felt for Gwen when she had to see Ianto’s body with Jack trying to comfort her. Torchwood really have been through the ringer in the space of four episodes. Their Hub’s been blown to bits, they’ve been made into criminals, Johnson’s tried to kill them at every turn, Jack’s involvement with the 456 is problematic at best and now Ianto’s become a casualty in the alien race’s call to war.

I knew Jack declaring war on the 456 was going to be a bad idea. Time and time again we’ve seen that declaring war on an alien race more advanced than humans always ends in disaster. Though arguably was Jack’s decision any worse than the one that the Prime Minister was going to make?

Sitting down and trying to decide which children were best off being given to the 456 as gifts left a foul stench in the air. It’s one of those times when you can get off your high horse and be PC about who deserves to be kept on Earth or sent to the 456. Lois earned her stripes by telling the whole attendants of the meeting that Torchwood had them over a barrel.

Luck did play a little something into Torchwood temporarily. Rhys and Lois recording every word from that meeting stopped Johnson from putting a bullet into Gwen’s head. Strangely enough, this episode even decided to try and show a softer side to her but I can’t help but thinking, too little, too late really.

The 456 mystery is still sort of treading water here. The confrontations with Jack and Clem had some interesting moments. Namely they involved Clem’s disbelief when realising that he couldn’t kill Jack as well as the implication that due to Clem’s age at the time that he wasn’t an eligible candidate for the 456.

Clem was also another casualty in the episode, which was a shame but I have a feeling that even if Ianto hadn’t died in this one that his death still might not have made all that much of an impact with viewers. Anyone else get the feeling that all the government types – Bridget, Frobisher, the Prime Minister and the US representatives that are there are all next?

In the family segment of the episode, not as much going on here than in previous episode. Alice did get a nice moment where she told Johnson to watch her back in relation to Jack. If Johnson is anywhere near as smart as she likes to believe, then she’ll be extra careful with Jack because if the 456 don’t end up killing her, then Jack could do so.

Rhiannon had only a phone conversation with Ianto and there’s gonna some major heartbreak coming her way tomorrow. Ianto just told her about the existences of aliens, even what the 456 were doing (something I think he was right to do, seeing as he wanted to protect Mischa and David) and now she’s going to have to find out that her brother’s become a casualty.

As for the 456, enough already. Someone smash open that tank and reveal what this lot look like because I’m beginning it’s not that awesome. In the space of these four episodes, some of the personal dynamics, machinations with the characters have been more compelling than the 456 and that might not change in the finale.

Also in “Children Of Earth: Day Four”

I presume from the 1965 Scotland flashback that the people Jack was with were Ellen Hunt, Michael Saunders and Andrew Staines.

Ellen: “Maybe they’re in paradise.”
Captain Jack: “No such thing.”

I should’ve mentioned that a soundtrack for this whole season also comes out the same day as the DVD – July 27th.

Clem (re Captain Jack): “The man who sent me and my friends to die can’t die himself.”

Alice (to Johnson, re Captain Jack): “A man who can’t die has nothing to fear, so you watch it and you keep watching it.”

Steven was asking some pretty sensible questions about Jack in this episode. Johnson even momentarily seemed sympathetic towards the lad.

Gwen: “It’s one of the kids from 1965.”
Captain Jack: “He’s still a child.”
Rhys: “Do you think he knows? Is he conscious?”

Frobisher: “This is unacceptable.”
456: “We do not harm the children. They do not feel pain.”

If it’s true, then it still doesn’t explain why it’s kids that they need and why only ten percent. We did know that Clem’s cusp of puberty saw him rejected.

Captain Jack: “Ianto, tell me what should be done?”
Ianto (re 456): “Stand up to them. The Jack I know would have.”

Denise (to everyone): “I’m gonna say what everyone else is thinking. If this lottery takes place, my kids aren’t in it.”

The role of Rick Yates in this episode was played Dalek voice man, Nicholas Briggs. Nice to have him on board.

Rick: “Just what we need – a revolutionary.”
Lois: “If that’s what you like.”

Gwen (to Johnson): “Take a seat. Maybe you’ll learn something about the people you’ve been working for.”

I’m surprised that Gwen was able to enter the building to get to Jack and Ianto when so many people were unable to get out of it.

Ianto (to 456): “Never mind the philosophy, what he’s saying is you’re not getting a solitary, single child. The deal’s off.”
Captain Jack: “I like the philosophy.”
Ianto: “I gathered.”

Captain Jack: “It’s all my fault.”
Ianto: “No, it’s not.”
Captain Jack: “Don’t speak. Save your breath.”
Ianto: “I love you.”
Captain Jack: “Don’t.”

Chronology: Yeah, just seconds after “Children Of Earth: Day Three” but also someone said it was 2009 as well.

“Children Of Earth: Day Four” certainly is a belter compared to the previous two episodes. The machinations with the 456 are dragging out a little but Ianto’s death is the very thing that will spark so much talk. I’m both looking forward and actively dreading the last episode now.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


Anonymous said...

What surprised me most about this episode was that even though we had no declaration of love from Jack to Ianto, it was abundantly clear that he did love him, and a helluva lot more than I thought he was capable of. To say he was heartbroken at the end is an understatement. The way he came back to life with that quiet little gasp instead of the huge intake of air he usually has. He didn't want to wake up that time.

So although Ianto's death has broken my heart completely (and i'm not sure how interested in a Ianto-less TW i'll be in the future) it was excellent tv and it was nice to finally get confirmation of how Jack felt about Ianto.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Poor Janto. Many a fan was devastated that night.

Some terrific acting from Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman though.

We still don't officially if it's coming back but the ratings were so good it's possible.