Torchwood: Children of Earth
It’s been a little while since the end of season two. The remaining Torchwood members have started to move on and are now looking for new recruits. It is at this time, understaffed and lulled into a sense of security, that two forces confront them; an alien race that targets the children of Earth, and the British government, who seek to silence Jack Harkness and Torchwood to prevent the British government’s true relationship with the aliens, the 456, from being revealed.
The 456 communicate through the children, making them chant in unison ‘We Are Coming’ (the message updates over the course of the series). The adults of Earth are alternately afraid of, and afraid for the children. At the same time the British government begins negotiations with the 456, with a primary concern of self-preservation.
One of the main themes of the mini-series is ‘family,’ as epitomized by the children. Gwen discovers that she is pregnant; which frightens her on several levels. She’s always had an uneasy relationship with Torchwood. She likes the job and knows she is doing good; but at the same time, she recognizes the personal cost to her and her family. Being pregnant at a time when her business involves a threat to all children breeds resentment for Torchwood, while at the same time, she seems to resent having a child get in the way of her work.
Ianto’s family consists of a sister, her husband, and their two kids. They’re a working class family and everything we hear suggests that that was how Ianto was raised as well. This is in direct contrast to the refined persona he presents to the others, everything from the nice suits, to the silent movie theater attendance. There’s a scene in the third episode where Torchwood has relocated to an abandoned warehouse, while being pursued by government assassins. Ianto’s first priority is to buy nice clothes for everyone and make them coffee. It’s a facade of class that he insists on, or perhaps retreats into. In the end, Ianto seems to be much more complicated than we were previously led to believe.
Jack Harkess has a daughter and grand son. Since he doesn’t age, his daughter now looks older than him, and his grandson only knows him as ‘uncle.’ The ironic thing about the relationship is that having a child only serves to show how inhuman Jack is. He doesn’t fit in to human civilization. He’s outside of time, and outside of the life cycle. But more than that, he’s allowed it to change him. Because he take responsibility for everyone around him, he has developed a sense of control over them. Almost like a god-complex, even though he’s a self-pitying god.
The serial format is what Torchwood should have been all along. It revitalizes the story, and without the need to have everything ‘reset’ at the end of the episode, the writers are free to blow everything up. The 456 are a genuinely scary and threatening enemy, and the control of the children is creepy. The side story about the government’s response to the threat is believable, and makes them almost as scary as the aliens themselves.
Torchwood: Children of Earth is brilliant science fiction television, and strong enough to hold up on its own.