*** Spoiler Warning ***
What follows is a review of Torchwood: Children of Earth Day Five. It contains spoilers about the Day Five episode so only proceed if you want to know what happened.
Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day Five
By Kevin Bachelder
Since the Torchwood team’s plan failed so horribly at the end of day four we start out this episode by seeing the government types working out their plan to give the 456 all the children they requested. They’ve got a plan to pull children out of certain lower performing schools. The spin they are giving the public is that they are being taken for inoculations that will help prevent the ‘stopping’ and ‘chanting in unison’ problems. We also see politicians trying to protect their families as well as trying to find a way not to be blamed once the children disappear. A good part of this episode is spent watching this story line play out. While it’s a necessary part of the overall story it’s too bad that it had to take screen time away from the characters we’ve come to care more about.
A big reveal early on in the episode is when Colonel Oduya of UNIT goes to talk to the 456 and asks them why they want the children. The response is chilling. The 456 says it’s for ‘The hit…they create chemicals…the chemicals are good…we feel good’. You mean to tell me this has all been one big drug deal! After feeling a little numb from the loss of Ianto this information snapped my head back into things. Shortly after this we are treated to a very well done scene as we see Jack and Gwen meeting with Mr. Frobisher. Gwen still wants to keep pushing things by threatening to release the video recordings but Jack tells her “Phone Rhys…tell him we lost”. Gwen’s call to Rhys is really touching. He asks if he should release the recordings but she tells him “It’s too late sweetheart…they’ve killed him…not just Clem…they…they killed Ianto”. You can feel the real emotion in this scene. I enjoyed the way that Rhys has become a part of the team in this mini-series after being so much in the background in the past.
Another big development is when Mr. Frobisher is called to see the Prime Minister in private. Mr. Frobisher has naturally been seen as one of the bad guys throughout the story but we also realize that he’s been used by the Prime Minister as his pawn. Prime Minister Green tells him that his children will be taken for inoculations as a way to show the public at large that everything is OK. After all Mr. Frobisher has done on behalf of the Prime Minister this is how he is repaid. He tries to protest but being the life long civil servant he can’t bring himself to blow the whistle but as we find out later he also can’t allow his daughters to be given to the 456. His solution is to have his secretary Bridget fill out a ‘requisition 31’. Even though she initially protests she eventually does this for him. It turns out to be a box. Later when he goes home to see his family we find out that there’s a hand gun in that box. He uses that gun to kill his wife and two daughters before killing himself. I found this to be consistent with whom this character was. As awful as this was to do I believe he saw it as his only option since he had been trained for so many years to serve the public. He couldn’t go against that by trying to run away or by drawing attention to himself by telling the public the real truth.
Gwen and Rhys were allowed to go see Ianto’s sister Rhiannon and they try to save several children by hiding them from the military that have been sent to their neighborhood to round up children. The best part of this story line was when Gwen, Rhys and Rhiannon were with the children in an old building trying to quiet so they could hide from the military. Rhys has a camcorder and Gwen is recording the segment that was used in many of the promos we saw and heard leading up to the series premiere. We see Gwen talking about how she always meant to ask Jack about ‘That Doctor of his’. She says “All those times in history when there was no sign of him I wanted to know why not…I don’t need to ask anymore…sometimes the doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame.” That really does sum up nicely how things might look if you were on the outside looking in on how the politicians were handling this situation.
Back at the military compound Jack’s daughter Alice and her son Steven have been waiting with Johnson and some of her troops. Johnson starts to talk with Alice about protecting the state and Alice takes this opportunity to tell Johnson “If you’re duty is to protect the state above and beyond any other authority then the one person you need right now is Jack Harkness”. This talk leads to Johnson sending in troops to get Jack out of jail as well as to kidnap Mr. Dekker. She has both of them brought to the military compound. She offers up their systems to the two of them to see if they can find a way to stop the 456 since the children are on the verge of being taken away forever. After some brainstorming the two of them latch on that odd sound wave they heard when the 456 remotely killed Clem. They think they can possibly use that sound wave against the 456 by copying it but Jack says they have no way of transmitting it. Dekker says “Of course you have”. To which Jack says “Shut up”. For a moment I didn’t understand why he said that. Then Dekker explains “Same way as them…the 456 use children…we need a child”. They need a child as the center of the resonance to reach the other children. However, as Dekker puts it “that child is going to fry”. Since the only child that’s available for miles around is Jack’s grandson Steven we understand why he wanted to find another way. But, alas, there is no time so Jack is put on the spot and must sacrifice his own grandson to save millions of other children. Jack’s daughter Alice is naturally devastated once she realizes what’s going to happen. She tells Jack “No…Dad…No” but he simply ignores her pleas as Johnson’s military crew restrains her. It’s difficult to watch what happens to Steven as Dekker and Jack execute their plan. He is asked to stand at the center of all their equipment and as they start the process he shakes violently and then he starts to bleed just like Clem did before he died. The bottom line is that the plan works and the 456 are forced to go back to wherever they came from.
Later on we see Jack sitting in a hallway at the military compound when Alice comes through a doorway at one end of the hallway. Not a word is spoken as she just looks at Jack and he looks at her. After a brief period of time she simply turns around and goes back out the way she came in so that she doesn’t have to walk by him. Since the characters of Alice and Steven were introduced in this mini-series the emotional impact of this wasn’t quite what it might have been if we were given more time to get to know both of them.
We then get a “six months later” prompt on the screen. With this we see a very pregnant Gwen getting out of a car with Rhys out in a clearing at night. Jack is waiting for them nearby. Gwen asks “Did it work?” Jack says “I’ve travelled all sorts of places…this planet is too small…haven’t travelled far enough yet”. Gwen asks if he is ever coming back. He says “What for?” Gwen responds “Me”. Jack thinks it was all his fault. He appears to be a broken man. He says he wants to make a new life for himself. Gwen is breaking down in tears as she tells him he can’t run away but he says “Oh yes I can…just watch me” and with that he teleports away.
Much like at the end of day four we’re left with an empty feeling in our stomach at this point. As viewers we like it when shows go out on a high note and we want to be reassured that everything will be OK with the characters we care for. However, we don’t get any of that here. Instead we’re left to wonder where do we go from here? I’m good with that. I love a happy ending as much as the next person but this mini-series punched us in the gut and made sure we realized just how dangerous things are when you’re associated with Torchwood. The series was very well done and got me emotionally engaged and as a viewer that doesn’t always happen to me so I’ll have to be happy with that for the time being.
Be sure to check out our Torchwood bonus discussion podcasts being released each night after the Torchwood: Children of Earth episode airs on BBC America. You can find our Day Five discussion here.