Torchwood: Children of Earth: Day 4 Review

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In brief: Flashback! Government! Offence! Death!

In depth:

Ok then!

Day 4 spends its first 10 minutes picking up on that dangled plot thread and sort of answering the question as to why Jack handed over 12 children in 1965. I was particularly fond of the “”¦we need a man who doesn’t care”¦” exchange. This is a bitter Jack, a man who can’t die and who doesn’t yet understand his purpose in this world, and we’re left to come to our own determinations. If you’re disgusted by Jack’s actions though, Clem’s reaction to it will probably still throw you off track.

Did with me. But it was perfectly in character for Clem; that’s why it worked so well.

The reveal of exactly what the 456 did with the children is quite odd. Invited inside the gas tank to see what fate awaits the children, a cameraman boldly goes. What follows is a scene of tension as he makes his way through the gas, there are glimpses of what I presume are 456 heads, but no full body shots, and then finally the reveal of a child. It’s an unsettling visual. But it still doesn’t answer the question of what the child is before used for”¦ I await Day 5″¦

Probably one of the highlights in this episode though is when the British government, now faced with having to hand over 10% of the world’s child population, sits down to talk about it. It’s perhaps too scarily close to how such a discussion would go: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, focus on the greater societal needs than the immediate social ones”¦ Literally this scene is 12 people sat around a table, just talking, and only 4 or 5 of them even have lines, and you are gripped by it. The cold pressing logic of their discussion. Who to give up? Why are they being given up? Is there a good spin on this?

It’s bloody terrifying.

And seeing characters turn is astounding. There’s one particular government official in the room, Denise is her name I think”¦ She starts off quite hesitant and concerned about their seriously considering the 456’s “request” and you warm to her”¦ and yet by the end of the discussion, I was disgusted! She’s the one who has led them to their conclusion of sending the ones least likely to contribute. She’s the one who kicks off the discussion about ensuring that their own children, the ones sat around this particular table, are not going to be picked.

Like I said, terrifying. Brutal. Cold. Honest.

How would our government react to this crisis?

It’s interesting to see Frobisher’s character turn in the unfolding events around him. Watch Capaldi’s expressions. He’s clearly uncomfortable being involved in these discussions, scared for the children, anxious for the situation to be over.

I also liked the exchange between Frobisher and the 456 as he goes back to “haggle” with the 456 for reduced units (it’s what the government call the children. Awful). When Frobisher states that the requested amount is unacceptable, the 456 respond by playing back Frobisher’s’ own words about a request for privacy on the previous arrangement. Clever. It puts the British government in a rather uncomfortable position with their foreign allies to say the least! Prime Ministers certainly don’t seem to last long in their positions in the Whoniverse”¦

And what about Torchwood I hear you ask? The gang are most certainly back in the saddle”¦

With the new revelations about Jack’s past actions before them, the team force themselves to focus on the problem. Confronted with himself, Jack agonizes. Who he was then, who is he now, the things he’s seen and done”¦ Time to make things right. To stick it to them.

Loved the quiet scene where Ianto queries Jack about the past. And Jack’s flippant. Ianto barges through it. It’s really sweet to see how much he cares, how much he pours into this man he loves. And how telling it is that Jack is terrified to reveal too much back.

The moment where he tells Ianto about his daughter and grandson”¦ it’s quick and delivered in a spitfire manner. But it’s telling that he’s telling Ianto about it.

More telling is the scene where Alice and Steven are escorted by Johnson into a cell. Johnson is acerbic with her. And Alice just reminds her that she’s spent her whole life running away from her father. The man who can’t die. Why would she do that? It’s food for thought for the assassin and it’s a nicely underplayed scene.

Please don’t kill Jack’s family. Thanks.

And when the team really goes to work, pulling Lois into doing one momentously heart-stopping favour, it’s sheer genius. I love Lois’ character. Brave. Smart. Endearing. Hopeful.

“Let them do their job.”

The final 15 minutes are a curious concoction. Torchwood takes the fight to the 456 by blackmailing the government with their recordings of their off the record dealings. Jack and Ianto stand side by side and refuse to meet the 456’s demands. Jack was there before. He’s here this time, and they are saying no. The human race is saying no. The 456 response is chilling:

“You yielded before.”

Jack is resolute. They would rather war.

So be it.

The episode ends on an emotional punch. Jack is hit particularly hard by the ensuing events as Torchwood moved in to lay down the terms and they are left without hope, without option, without weapons by episodes end.

The government prepares to use it’s own horrific solution for the situation; compliance.

Jack is left broken.

It’s another solid episode bolstered by some incredible performances and good writing. I’d like to single out Paul Copley once again for his representation of a man of fear, innocence, shame and devastation. For Gareth David-Lloyd for his asides, one liners, and bringing to life of a character who wasn’t neither showman or a leader but a man trying to do his best in the light. And for Capaldi for showing how an ordinary man squirms in the dark.

It’s not quite as explosive or introductory as Day 1, it’s not quite as fast as Day 2, and it’s not quite as setting and building upon what came before as Day 3. This is an episode that runs with it’s own internal ideas, follows through nicely from what came before, and hurtles us towards a conclusion by raising us up as Torchwood begin to turn the tide, and then dragging us back down with their fall”¦

The question is, with Torchwood once more down and out, where will they go from here?

3 and a half tears rolling down camera lenses hidden inside contact lenses out of five.

Bring on Day 5.

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