Torchwood: Children of Earth – TV Review
Fans of the British Science Fiction series ‘Torchwood’ have been on a bumpy ride for quite a while. With the deaths of Doctor Owen Harper, played by Burn Gorman, and Toshiko Sato, Naoko Mori, at the conclusion of series two, fans and critics alike speculated about who would be joining the rest of Torchwood Three. After Freema Agyeman’s well-received guest appearances as Doctor Martha Jones in series two, there was talk that she would be joining the cast full time for series three. But Freema was offered the role as Alesha Phillips in ‘Law & Order: UK’, and the actress jumped at the chance.
During a number of interviews, Ianto Jones actor Gareth David-Lloyd stated that he was happy with his characters growth, and even felt assured that he would be sticking around because of his characters relationship with the lead, Captain Jack Harkness. Captain Jack, John Barrowman, however, gave the impression that series three could be his last.
Then came the news that series three would run for five one-hour episodes instead of the usual thirteen episode run. Despite the fact that this new format promised better visual effects and a tighter storyline, most of the fans were trepidatious.
Nonetheless, excitement came again when a number of trailers and behind the scenes photos started appearing on the Internet. The trailers informed the fans that series three would be called Children of Earth, and would involve explosions, running, and children talking in unison.
Torchwood Children of Earth Day One starts off the series with a host of questions and information. At times corresponding to British primary school children, aliens using the frequency 456 hijack all of the children on Earth to send a chilling message: We are coming. While the government panics and attempts to hide some mysterious past event, Torchwood investigates the only adult to be affected, a man named Clement MacDonald who is living in a psychiatric hospital in London. He tells Gwen a chilling story; in 1965, when he was a child, he and a group of other young orphans were bused in the dead of night to a deserted field and told to walk towards an unknown burst of light. Clem was lucky to escape, but he was given a gift; his sense of smell was improved greatly, to the point where he can smell lies and oncoming alien invasions. He is even able to tell Gwen she is pregnant at only three weeks.
Captain Jack surmises that if the team had a child, they would be able to reverse the frequency and contact the entity using the children, and in one of Torchwood’s most heart-warming scenes to date, Ianto visits his sister Rhi and her family. This scene shows that the bond between siblings carries on well into adulthood, as both brother and sister comfort and mock each other at the same time.
The biggest revelation of the episode is that Jack has a daughter, Alice, and a grandson Stephen. Although Jack would like to spend time with his family, his daughter is keeping him away for fear of his dangerous lifestyle rubbing off on them.
Day One ends with a government middleman and parent himself, John Frobisher, leaving the Prime Ministers office a Blank Page, an order to kill a number of people, including Captain Jack Harkness. Lois Habiba, a young woman helping the government change computer systems, sees this order, and she recalls that Jack was trying to help them only hours earlier. While trying to find some children who will be able to help track the aliens down, Jack is shot and killed by a mysterious squadron led by a woman identified only as Johnson, and a bomb is implanted in his stomach.
Just before bed, the children of Earth begin to speak yet again, and as their unanimous voices echo around the world Torchwood is blown up with Jack inside: We are coming… Back.
Day Two and the Hub is gone. Gwen and Rhys, and Ianto are sent on the run this episode; separated and trying to find each other and Jack. Ianto seeks help from Rhi and her husband Johnny, and although they too are targeted by the government, they agree to help him. For a family not trained in espionage, they handle the situation incredibly well, figuring out how to bypass their government security and keeping the noise inside the house loud enough to stop bugs overhearing.
Meanwhile, the aliens from the 456 send information to Frobisher and his team, instructing them to build an air tight containment chamber in Thames House that, when filled with a poisonous gas, will allow the aliens to land on Earth. They then inform the world via the children and Clem that “we are coming tomorrow”.
Johnsons team capture what remains of Jack’s body after the explosion and keep it under surveillance. It is there that Jack’s body is able to piece itself together inside the body bag, and in an outstanding work of prosthetics Jack emerges whole again, but horribly burnt. Accepting her inability to kill Jack, Johnson fills his cell with concrete.
Lois discovers that the bomb was set by the government, from Frobisher in particular, and she organises a meeting with Gwen and Rhys, filling them in on the information that she has and giving them the floor plans to where Jack is being held.
While Gwen and Rhys try for the straight in, guns blazing approach to saving Jack, Ianto once again proves his worth by acquiring a bulldozer, rescuing the entire cell, and then dropping it off of a nearby cliff. Day Two concludes with Jack, naked and not a scratch on him, being reunited with his team.
This episode features the usual Torchwood humour that was somewhat lacking in Day One. When asked by his sister what type of civil servant he is Ianto responds “an under appreciated one”, and Lois shows her PA skills by predicting the condiments for Gwen and Rhys’s meals.
John takes more of a back seat in this episode, leaving Gareth and Eve to take the reigns, and they do so wonderfully. Kai Owen showed that, although he is good at comic relief, Rhys can also be tough and knowledgeable when it counts.
Day Three and Torchwood is on the run. Gwen encourages the team to act as if they are criminals, stealing laptops, credit cards, and even cars to replace their own, a ploy which works to re-equip them with the necessary communications gear, as well as give Jack another jacket.
Johnson and her team find Alice and Stephen, using them as a bargaining tool to make sure Jack does what he is told. Alice is a very sharp character, sensing the signs that someone was watching her and her son, and even taking down a trained soldier before she is out-gunned. Although Johnson seems like the shoot first, ask questions never kind of person, she seemed sincere when she was talking to Alice.
While Gwen convinces Lois to use the Torchwood contact lenses and spy for them at Thames House, Jack makes a startling connection between himself, Clement MacDonald, and the other names on the Blank Page. Jack confronts Frobisher, where he finds out that the 456 are the same creatures who came in 1965, and Jack was ordered to be killed to stop the world from finding out about the previous visit.
Once again the children stop, and they point towards the centre of London. The 456 arrive in a burst of fire and bright light directly into the chamber at Thames House. Through initial talks with Frobisher, the 456 say their reason for coming to Earth is to speak to the world. They deal diplomatically with Frobisher, but one feels this is only because they already have a voice to the world in the form of the children. Frobisher makes the 456 promise not to mention the events of 1965 to anyone. Ambassadors from all over the world, including UNIT, come to Britain to discuss the issue. The Prime Minister elects Frobisher to talk to the 456, stating that Frobisher “is a good man, and better then that, he’s expendable”.
Gwen brings Clem to the new Torchwood hub, an old Torchwood One holding facility, where he comes face to face with Jack, and it is revealed that Jack was a part of the team in 1965 that took twelve children, including Clem, to the 456 as a gift.
And now, the 456 want ten per cent of the worlds children as another gift.
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