Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Review of Torchwood's 3x05: "Children Of Earth: Day Five"

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Euros Lyn

Gwen (to the camera): “Sometimes The Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame.”

At the time of writing, I am unsure as to whether I’m reviewing another season finale or in fact a series finale. The episode itself feels so much like the latter but until an official announcement from the BBC, it could go either way.

The death of Ianto in some ways would be the kind of moment to make things stop if it wasn’t for the severity of the storyline. For those of you hoping for a reset button, then forget it. Ianto is still dead and there’s not even so much as a ghostly appearance or obligatory hallucination.

In fact, there’s no time for closure on Ianto’s death. Jack himself is too busy getting Gwen back to Cardiff so she can tell Rhiannon of Ianto’s death in person and Jack is also thrown into a cell for his efforts.

Rhiannon’s reaction to her brother’s death is a little muted, even if she angrily accused Gwen of knowing nothing about Ianto. Of course, the other reason why Gwen was specifically sent to Rhiannon was to help save Mischa and David as well.

The inoculation fib that the Prime Minister announced went into effect with soldiers out in force trying to snare as many of the children as they possibly could to appease the 456. I have to admit that I became more and more uncomfortable watching the pursuit of these children and the fate that awaited them.

Even Frobisher realised that he wasn’t going to be exempt when the Prime Minister told him quite coldly that his children would be among the ten percent offered to the 456. I thought Frobisher might try and get his wife and children as far away as he possibly could. I didn’t expect him to shoot them along with himself in cold blood.

The grittiness in the episode certainly felt like too much at times. Frobisher’s mass murder of his own family, the understandable panic that erupted when the parents realised what was happening to their children, not to mention the reveal as to what the 456 wanted the kids for.

It seems that kids are a recreational drug for the 456, which makes the carnage they’ve caused even than before. Watching the Prime Minister just sit coolly as the children were being collected sickened me to the core. Even though he got his comeuppance in the end, I still wanted Bridget to blow his brains.

Bridget seemed to almost go thrown some kind of a redemption arc of sorts in this episode as well. I knew her conversation with Lois had more to do with getting her own back on the Prime Minister than just waxing lyrical about Frobisher being a good man.

Lois in some ways got to help Torchwood again, even if the ending of this series seems to widely suggest that she won’t be signing up anytime soon. All the government types in this episode weren’t exactly at their best. Even General Pierce wasn’t much good in the situation.

Getting rid of the 456 was always going to be a hard thing to pull off. They had such ease in killing people with gas and really could’ve just snatched the kids themselves without having to involve any military or governmental bodies but in the end, they had to die.

Another wavelength, a new one transmitted through a child was going to be the solution. I could tell with Alice and Steven around when Decker taunted both Jack and Johnson about the solution what was going to happen next. Like Jack, I was also hoping for there to be another way.

Losing Ianto is one thing but being directly responsible for the death of your own grandson is another. Arguably even for a show that succeeded with being ballsy for this season it’s a step too far. As much as I knew that Jack didn’t want to put Steven in harm’s way, all I could think of was Alice’s reaction.

Some absolutely heartbreaking moments from Lucy Cohu and John Barrowman, who both churned in the kind of performances worthy of BAFTA nods. Even Johnson, who was more willing for Steven to be sacrificed had a hard time watching the boy die in order to kill the 456 and she’s pretty contributed to the mess of this saga.

Alice’s relationship with Jack was fragile beforehand but now, it’s irrevocable. How could you forgive something like that? How can Jack even forgive himself? That kind of guilt has got to unbearable.

It also tied in nicely with the final scenes of this episode. Jack may have saved the day but Torchwood is effectively no more. Travelling around the Earth isn’t going to bring him out of his funk and something tells me that even travelling in space might not cure his ails either.

Gwen went through the ringer in this episode. She believed the world was going to end, she believed that Torchwood ruined lives, she even considered having an abortion. Thankfully though, she didn’t go through with the last one. The look on poor Rhys’s face when she said it though.

However even though she tried to get Jack to go easy on himself, she still couldn’t stop him from leaving. It’s really going to be interesting to see what exactly will happen next with this show. This episode had all the hallmarks of a series finale, just like the way Robin Hood ended two weeks ago and look what happened there. Until the BBC actually decide what’s going to happen next, I guess we’ll have to wait and see but I’ll be surprised if this comes back for a fourth year.

Also in “Children Of Earth: Day Five”

Gareth David-Lloyd’s name was removed from the credits with this episode. Ianto made no last minute appearance.

Augustus: “You managed to survive.”
Decker: “I just stood back sir, strategy that’s worked all my life.”

Predictably enough in light of Ianto’s death, there’s a fair amount of Facebook groups being set up. Even AfterElton have discussed the character’s passing.

Captain Jack (to Gwen, re Frobisher): “He’s right. Look what happened. Phone Rhys, tell him we’ve lost.”

Frobisher: “If you put me on camera, I will tell the truth.”
Prime Minister: “Then your daughters will know where they’re going.”

I noticed that Alice seemed to be wearing a very similar coat to her father in the last two episodes.

Andy (to Gwen): “Don’t you bloody hate people who don’t finish their sentences?”

Bridget (to Lois, re Frobisher): “He asked for me. I didn’t think he knew my name. We made quite a team.”

Did anyone get the feeling that within the season that Bridget and Frobisher might have had a thing? She definitely seemed to have feelings for him.

Gwen (to Rhiannon): “They’re gonna come and take your kids. You’ll never see them again. Never.”

Johnson (re Alice): “What do you think, Captain? She told me you were good. Was she right?”
Captain Jack: “Let’s get to work.”

We never did learn Johnson’s first name, though Alice did ask for it. Johnson did blather on about believing in her work though.

Rhys (re baby): “You didn’t mean it, about getting rid of it?”
Gwen: “Course I didn’t.”

Denise: “You don’t have to be here.”
Bridget (re Frobisher): “It’s what he would’ve wanted.”
Denise: “You think so? I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to be in that bloody room.”

Isn’t it a little disappointing that The Doctor didn’t make a surprise appearance in this after all? Maybe they would’ve had to alter some of the plots to accommodate an appearance from him.

Bridget (to the Prime Minister): “Your first thought now is to save your own skin.”

Gwen: “You fuss over me one more time.”
Rhys: “I’m just saying.”
Gwen: “Don’t.”

The ratings for these episode have been spectacular. Days 1 and 3 pulled in 5.9 million, Day 2 ranked 5.6 million and Day 4 pulled in 6.2 million while Day 5 pulled in 5.8 million viewers. Excellent.

Gwen: “Are you ever going to come back?”
Captain Jack: “What for?”
Gwen: “Me.”

Captain Jack (to Gwen/Rhys): “I have had so many lives. It’s time to find another.”

Chronology: I’m assuming late 2009/early 2010, given the six month jump at the end of the episode.

“Children Of Earth: Day Five” really does end things on a downbeat, somewhat nihilistic note. For me, while I’ve always made some Torchwood/Angel comparisons, I was hoping that the show wouldn’t end the same way as the latter series. If this is really the end, then it’s been one hell of an adventure, just too bad it wasn’t a positive note. I guess you can’t have everything.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


Paul Kelly said...

After the ratings figures (all pretty steady around the 6 million mark), I can't see them not green lighting a fourth season. It's gone from BBC3... to BBC2... to BBC1. So it's popularity is clearly on the up. If they do cancel it, I'm not sure what a show needs to do to warrant another season. I just hope it doesn't fall foul of the dreaded recession... like so many genre shows have recently.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I really would like to see a somewhat lighter if Ianto-less fourth season.

The ratings were phenomenal and let's face it, Torchwood's been a success for BBC3, then BBC2 and now BBC1 and especially in the summer as well with a complex story shown over the span of five days.

If it does come back though, I have a feeling it'll be the same format. I think the days of Torchwood having 13 episodes to play are gone.

Still there's always Being Human and Ashes To Ashes next year as well Matt Smith/Karen Gillan's debut year on New Who.

Anonymous said...

RE the date: the newspaper Ianto's looking at in "Day Two" says 'September 2009'...

shawnlunn2002 said...

Thanks for that. Wonder how that ties in with Doctor Who and Sarah Jane, chronology wise.