Fourth day of Children Of Earth continues to intrugue. Now, aside from the bombastic explosion at [[Torchwood (TV Series)|Torchwood HQ]], there hasn’t been much in the way of blow-out special effects in this series. The emotional drama is taking precedence, and that’s a good thing.
Tonight’s episode balances the inner workings of Davies’ fictional government with the sinister machinations of the 456, who are looking for a nice round 10% of the child population of Earth. Hence the clever title of the series.
As per my other reviews for this series of Torchwood, this post is heavily spoilered.
Right-o, when last we left [[Captain Jack Harkness|Jack]], he was looking very much like the bad guy, handing over 12 innocent children to the 456 in 1965. Too many numbers there. Anyway, before he has a chance to explain, Clement shoots him in the chest. But since when was a bullet sufficient to shut Jack up? He explains anyway – the 456 gave them prior warning of an epidemic that would kill 25 million people worldwide. Sacrificing 12 children would save all those lives. Collateral damage. You’d have done the same, so Jack’s still a hero, alright?
Well…until they discover that the 456 seem to have merged those children with their oversized-insect bodies to create something truly hideous. Yuck.
A significant portion of Day 4 was given over to the cabinet discussion about how to meet the aliens’ demand for children. You have to appreciate their problem – they’re up against an enemy that they can’t defeat, so they capitulate. But they’re faced with how to give in to those demands without losing face.
As a result of this, we get intelligent debate about how to choose which children to sacrifice – they eventully decide that the underachievers of tomorrow much be given over. “Or else what are the league tables for?” So they’re going to choose by school. We found ourselves nodding along in agreement with those arguments – preserve the people who will contribute to society in the future, not the ones who’ll sponge and drain resources.
Davies managed to even squeeze in another point about overpopulation on the planet with a suggestion that losing a large number of children might have a positive spin for the environment. This is an issue which I’m surprised doesn’t come up more – I suppose because of the inevitable suggestions as to how to slow down the population growth. People don’t generally like to be told how many children they can have…but it sounds ruthless as government lackeys try to spin the loss of children as a positive thing!
The only point which was completely glossed over was the fact that the aliens would come back again looking for more. If they started with 12 children and moved on to 35,000,000, how many will they demand the next time they make contact?
Gwen is still impressive as she outsmarts Agent Johnson and her team, backed up by Lois Habiba, who tells the cabinet meeting that Torchwood have recorded all their slimy discussions about how best to sell the voters out. And so they insist on letting Jack and [[Ianto Jones|Ianto]] negotiate with the 456.
For about 5 minutes, it looks like Jack is on top of things despite the 456’s warnings that they’ll wipe out humankind if they don’t get their takeaway order of children. The aliens turn the tables by locking down Thames House and releasing a poison inside the building. Everybody in the building who’s not Jack Harkness dies…including Ianto. That’s right…Ianto Jones is dead. Holy shit…will he come back to life? It doesn’t look good – even in death, Jack has a healthy glow, but Ianto was a palid corpse-y gray shade. Now it’s personal. I fully expect Jack to roll up his sleeves and wipe out this alien menace. But how?
In the meantime, the government press ahead with their plan to get rid of future benefits claimants and Jeremy Kyle show guests by bussing the kids to the pickup points. But pretending that the aliens are solely responsible. Assholes.
What I don’t understand: if the aliens are capable of wiping out humanity, and they already have remote control of all the children, why are they messing about with diplomatic meetings? Surely they could just programme the right number of children to go to the right places and just abduct them en masse? The only thing I can think of is that it’s not in their best interests to kill humanity – especially if they need to harvest children for their weird hybrid creatures.
To be honest though, the quality of this mini-series has been so high, I’m not even in a mood to nitpick. The finale is tomorrow though, so we’re looking forward to bing things. Will we see the return of the massive special effects, or will the drama take precedence right to the end?
Final point: if this vastly improved series is a direct result of Russell T Davies stepping down from Doctor Who, then I’m happy. The shorter series and the new direction that Torchwood has taken seem to suggest that Davies wants the series to stand on its own rather than be viewed as an inferior spin-off from Doctor Who.