Mark Watches ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’: Day Four

In the fourth episode of the Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries, we learn exactly what happened in 1965, which inspires Torchwood to finally intervene in the negotiations with the 456. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Torchwood.



Holy god, saying I was unprepared for this is a crime. Is there a worse state than being unprepared? I feel like I just got hit by a bus, stood up, dusted myself off, and then got ran over by a trillion steamrollers. Then Russell T Davies and John Fay punched me in the face.

Ok, I’m being ridiculous, but there are so many things this brilliant story does that are uncomfortable, upsetting, and completely unheard of, especially for this show. Again, it’s not just a matter of being unprepared; it’s how I was completely convinced that I knew where this episode would head towards, and then being reminded that sometimes, things do not go the way of the good times, and that sometimes, when you take a heroic risk, you are left with nothing but tragedy.

Jack’s own risk is explained here as we flashback to the events of 1965. I’m glad we aren’t given every piece of information about the first appearance of the 456, but the major gaps are filled in: the 456 arrived in order to present the world with a vaccine for a flu that would decimate the earth’s population, but only in exchange for twelve children. It’s also shown that Clem escaped from them at the last minute, but there’s still a lot left that doesn’t make sense to me. Why is Clem still connected to the 456, even though he wasn’t taken? How did the 456 know that a deadly flu was going to ravage the earth? WHY DO I FEEL LIKE THERE’S A HUGE SECRET JUST WAITING TO PUSH ME OFF A CLIFF HERE? Oh god, “Day Five” is going to destroy me, isn’t it?

There is still a part of me that would have just enjoyed turning half of this review into a repetitive bolding of Peter Capaldi’s name in all-caps, but I have a little bit more taste than that. I cannot deny that this miniseries has placed him front and center and it has made it all so much better than I could have possibly imagined. To be completely fair, though, “Day Four” is full of so many brief moments of character growth and interaction that the story we’re ultimately given is a lot more rich and detailed than if we were just shown the main plot. WHICH IS STILL SPECTACULAR! But think about it: How much better is this episode when you consider Rhys and Gwen’s kiss before he heads off with the laptop to hide? How much better is it with Ianto’s shock and disappointment at Jack for being involved with the initial swap? How much better is it with Mrs. Frobisher’s silent sobbing when she realizes her husband has finally gotten involved with something that may be his undoing? Would this episode be the same without Clem’s “fatal” attack on Jack and having to face the man who gave him over to aliens?

The way that “Day Four” is written, every small interaction and moment is absolutely necessary to the story. It’s about how the various stories and plot lines will all come together and converge on what’s been building since the first episode: the intervention of Torchwood. In a sense, they’ve all been completely out of their element. Normally, they always have access and they’re always on the front lines, but they’ve been pushed to the fringes. If it wasn’t for Lois’s actions, they’d know nothing about what was going on. (Bless Lois and her brilliance, which I’ll get to in a bit.)

But before Torchwood do finally come into play, we’re treated to yet another FUCKED UP sequence of unbearable tension: The 456 invite a camera inside of their chamber with them. Just….WHO KNEW. HOW COULD I HAVE EVER GUESSED THIS? I initially pegged the pour soul who was chosen to enter the tank to be the first to die in the mini-series, but that would have been easy to stomach. The 456 are such a confusing species and this scene essentially sent the message that there was nothing they wouldn’t do.

My god, that child. WHAT DID THEY DO TO THAT CHILD??? And WHY??? Oh my god, there are few things in science fiction that will torment me like this will. That smoky image of that child’s eyes blinking…NO. NO THANK YOU. NOT EVER AGAIN.

Even though I brought it up in yesterday’s review, it bears repeating: This mini-series deals with political maneuvering in a believable, genuine way. The fact that I am able to state this scares me, though, because “Day Four” shows us how a government will act in a moment of crisis to protect their own interests over those of the people they represent. It’s a different type of horror than the rest of the episode. The 456 are undeniably frightening to me. They’re mysterious. They’re violent. They are absolutely in control of the situation. But when faced with the reality that the 456 are deeply serious about their request for children, the leaders of the world fall back onto some terrifying conclusions about their own citizens. Their own desire to keep the press out of the situation inspires a solution that will gain the least amount of attention: using those seeking asylum in Great Britain. It’s even more disturbing how quickly everyone in the Cobra meeting so quickly adopts the term “units” to talk about children. Anything they can do to disassociate with reality, right?

Basically, though, the 456’s response to this amounts to trolling, as far as I’m concerned. You reject our demands? Then we’ll control all your children and make them recite the exact number we require from each country. HAHAHA, WHO’S IN CONTROL NOW, WORLD?

I jest because holy shit this is so terrifying. It was quickly becoming obvious to me that this wasn’t going to be solved with any sort of easy answer. Still, I wasn’t truly ready to listen to the words that came out of Denise Riley’s mouth. If I felt uncomfortable before, now I was completely repulsed:

“Now look: on the one hand, we’ve got the good schools and I don’t just mean those producing graduates. I mean the people who will go on to staff our hospitals, our offices, our factories; the work force of the future. We need them. Accepted, yes? So: set against that, you’ve got the failing schools, full of the less able, the less socially useful, those destined to spend a lifetime on benefits occupying places on the dole queue and, frankly, the prisons. Now look, should we treat them equally? God knows we’ve tried and we failed, and now the time has come to choose. And if we can’t identify the lowest achieving ten percent of this country’s children, then what are the school league tables for?”

It doesn’t scare me because it’s offensive. It scares me because I believe my government would do the exact same thing if presented with this option. It disturbed me in a way that no alien (or alien child) could because it felt so real. I believed that politicians would do this and exempt their own children from any sort of lottery.

It’s why I felt I knew where this episode was headed when Torchwood finally decided to jump into the action. This story needed someone to expose the horrific actions the British government were going to take, and the government needed Torchwood to finally intervene. In short, I started pining for equilibrium: I wanted the good guys to finally waltz in and correct the wrongs we were witnessing. I wanted all of the people in that Cobra meeting to be held accountable for their deplorable actions, and I wanted someone who had experience dealing with the 456 to have a conversation with them. And I thought I was getting that as the group split up to take their places for the greatest act of blackmail I’d seen on television. Bringing together Johnson, Gwen, and Clem while Jack and Ianto infiltrated the Thames House, the real performance of the entire hour was Lois Habiba’s nervous (and then thunderous) confrontation of the cabinet. She’s been such a fascinating character throughout Children of Earth, torn between her civic duty and her desire to be moral. She has just witnessed the impossible ON HER FOURTH DAY OF WORK HOLY GOD and has never been more afraid for her future. Yet she decides to go ahead and reveal Torchwood’s trick to them all. God, it is the FIRST moment I felt truly good about the events on the screen. There’s been so much shock and fear and disbelief on my end, and, knowing this story is approaching its end, I genuinely believed we would see the Torchwood team become their normally-badass selves to save the day.

As Jack and Ianto arrive in the room housing the 456, I was curious to see how they’d change the tide of the diplomatic stand-off. Unsurprisingly, all three members of Torchwood are their usual selves: Jack is brazen and confrontational, Ianto is sharp and determined, and Gwen Cooper does it all with a gorgeous smirk on her face, knowing she’s much more clever than the foe she is facing. It’s even more fascinating to watch how quickly Johnson goes from a ruthless bounty hunter of sorts to completely horrified by the people she works for, tears brimming in her eyes as she realizes the work she’s done has been to punish people who actually would support her in the end.

It is at this moment of pure hope, when I eagerly awaited the moment I could throw my fist in the air victoriously as Torchwood gained control of the situation, that everything falls apart.

I suppose you could say that Jack and Ianto got called on their bluff. You could say that they underestimated the 456. Either way, I watched in dejected horror as the 456 not only rejected Torchwood’s demands, but released a deadly virus into the Thames House building. As Jack scrambles to save lives, he forgets that the man who came with him is not immortal like he is. Amidst scenes of chaos, Jack tries to negotiate, but there’s no time for diplomacy. The 456 use a specific term–“The Remnant”–and tell Jack that “the Remnant” will be disconnected and everything goes from Pretty Bad to This Is Terrible Bad. Clem begins to scream, bleeding out of his mouth and ears, and dies in Gwen’s arms, a horrified Johnson looking on.

I wanted some deus ex machina to save Ianto Jones. I didn’t care how illogical it was or how out-of-character it may have seemed. I did not want that man to die. But this is a story about all hope being lost, of risks being taken and the ramifications that come with them. I can’t imagine a more depressing way to die than begging the man you love to not forget you. That’s what Ianto died thinking about.

As if watching two characters (AND ONE OF THE MAIN ONES!!!!) die onscreen isn’t enough to have to deal with, Gwen’s goodbye to Ianto seems so much worst than everything else. It’s the final line of the episode that really gets to me: “There’s nothing we can do.” The truth is that the Torchwood team has made a mistake that cost the lives of hundreds of people, including their own friend Ianto, and there is absolutely nothing they can do to bring him back, to stop the 456, or to prevent the British government from giving away the most disadvantaged children to a group of aliens.

This is fucked up.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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118 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’: Day Four

  1. LucyGoosey says:

    Gotta say I'm a bit impressed. Torchwood, in less than a normal length season, killed off 3/5 of its main cast.

  2. CuriousApe says:

    Just reading about Ianto again made me tear up 🙁

  3. clodia_risa says:

    Nothing is beautiful and everything hurts.

    That scene with the politicians determining how to select the “units” is one of the most powerful scenes I have ever witnessed on the small or large screen. I was torn between nodding in approval (of the portrayal of the politicians, not their actions) and turning the show off and walking away. I couldn’t. It was too entrancing.

    Ianto. Honestly, his death made me mad. Especially after the death of Tosh and Owen, it felt like too much too fast. It wasn’t needful. The stakes were high enough. I didn’t need him to die in order to get invested. And poor Ianto. I just don’t see the point in his death except to up the angst. I am angsty enough! This show is angsty enough! Oh, Ianto.

  4. RJM says:

    I'm kind of 'eh' about Torchwood usually, but Children Of Earth is actually really good! It makes me sad that the fandom hates it because of Ianto's death.

    • psycicflower says:

      Parts of fandom disliked it for various reasons, not just Ianto's death (although that was some explosion within fandom). Obviously I can't talk too much since there's still Day Five to go but I for one amn't a big fan because it didn't feel like Torchwood, and if I remember correctly from the time a lot of people who disliked it felt the same. Yes, CoE is this big, great television event and there are some great things going on but for people who loved Torchwood for what it had been in s1 and s2 it's just too different and was a completely unexpected change.

  5. Viridescence says:

    ….Ianto…. TT_TT

    I've been waiting and hoping for this review ever since I watched Children of Earth. (Which was only, like, early June.) But seriously.

    And I'm only commenting now because THIS. I actually stopped the DVD and went back to chatting with my friend. I did not want to watch a Torchwood without Ianto.

    RIP, Ianto Jones. You were the best. The BEST.

  6. enigmaticagentscully says:

    That's the awful thing, isn't it? They would. I absolutely believe they would.

    • tehrevel says:

      The government? Yeah probably but I doubt you'd be able to get the army/police as a whole to do what they're doing in this without some heavy and long indoctrination going on. Also the British government could not organise a pissup in a brewery with a month of planning let alone a clandestine nationwide childnapping initiative in a day.

  7. carma_bee says:

    After this originally aired, a lot of fandom was pretty much a disaster zone, there were so many heartbroken fans who hated RTD for killing Ianto. \even though Own and Tosh had died in series 2, I think Ianto dying still surprised a lot of people, including me. People dye in Torchwood and Doctor Who all the time, but ANOTHER member of the team? Too much. 🙁

    When I went to Cardiff in June with my parents, we walked around Cardiff Bay where the hub was supposed to be, and we got to the spot where the main door was and found this chain link fence thing covering the wall with tons of things left by fans of Ianto saying how much they loved him. One girl who my dad came across before we got there called it a shrine. It’s a bit weird, but it shows how much people loved him.

    (don’t mind my dad, he was happy about being there, really)
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Bit of a close-up
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    They also have this on the window behind the chain-link. It’s cool that it’s still there, I like it. 🙂
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    • Karen says:



      OMG. I found it hilarious.

      The thing is, Ianto was the fandom ~darling~, so his death pissed off a lot of fans. They went on John Fay's blog and harassed him. It was not a good look for fandom. A lot of people swore of the show which is totally their prerogative. But I think that Ianto's death really upped the ante for Torchwood. It showed Jack that he couldn't rely on his swagger or threats. The 456 were so unimpressed by him and Torchwood, and they can kill so easily.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        THOSE PHOTOS <333333

        • constantmotion says:

          It's the "happy birthday" that I can't help but fall in love with. Fans can be pretty great.

          Equally, can be fearsome – see also, James Moran's brilliant blog, which they abused the hell out of, and he disabled comments on forthwith – but at its best, oh it's gorgeous, isn't it?

      • maccyAkaMatthew says:

        It wasn't John Fay's blog, he doesn't have one, it was James Moran's. Yes they harrassed a Torchwood writer, on his blog and via Twitter, who DIDN'T EVEN WRITE THE EPISODE, because he was there and friendly.

        It was when they started going on about Ianto dying being homophobic that I really got angry. It all kicks off in comments here:

        and continues (SPOILERS FOR DAY 5) over here:

        I commented as "Matthew McIntyre" over there.

        Anyway, it's in the past – and it really was smallish but very vocal group of fans.

        • Karen says:

          Ah. There we go. Tbh, I didn't watch CoE live (I didn't get around to watching it until a few months after it aired) because I didn't really care for s1 and s2 of Torchwood, so I mostly followed the drama from people on my flist freaking out. Having an outsiders perspective (because I wasn't watching CoE nor was I super involved in the fandom), it just all seemed completely ridiculous.

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            It was ridiculous but often in a way I can really respect – since a ludicrous attachment to a character to the point where you mourn him and make a shrine (for example) has a joyous quality to me. A lot of the anger came from the same place as well and was flailing for a bit in response to some powerful drama.

            It was when it crossed the line into abuse and accusations of homophobia that I got annoyed – but that wasn't everyone, by a long stretch.

      • constantmotion says:

        Agreed. Really didn't like how fandom decided it was invalid. I loved Ianto, fantastic character, but it was such bold, brave, drop dead BRILLIANT storytelling that I honestly think that the people who were begging for his resurrection couldn't see the wood for the trees.

        And I'm not gonna apologise for my phrasing, partway through that. :p

    • breesquared says:

      Is that last photo… the Slitheen woman?

      • carma_bee says:

        It is, it's the newspaper from Boom Town

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          I remember when I first watched the first episode of Torchwood, I noticed that that newspaper was on the door into the Torchwood office.

    • Mustikas says:

      I LOVE THIS WALL. It's so ridiculous and entertaining.

      I loved watching people from above while they stood in front of the wall trying to figure out what it was.

      Also, the fact that the harbour authority had to put up a sign stating that, no, this is not a real person that died, still makes me laugh a year later.

      • vermillioncity says:

        That makes me laugh too! Imagine someone who didn't know coming across the wall: 'Who WAS this man who died… he had a pet pterodactyl and he saved the world? Why wasn't he on the news?!?'

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Oh, God, I think I'd want to do that. And part of me would probably want to troll them. "Oh, yes, Ianto Jones, he's sort of Cardiff's mascot. Brave man. Revolutionised law enforcement. Died in the field of duty."

        "What about the dinosaur."

        "That's not actually a dinosaur, that's a flying lizard. You see, he had to bust down an genetic engineering scandal…"

    • Katie says:

      This is actually really lovely. I'm not really in the fandom so I had no idea people loved Ianto so much 🙁

    • vermillioncity says:

      Here's the wall just a few days ago. There are new additions, too – a really sweet one is 'Two Years On, Still Missed, Always Loved'.

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I had a friend who's parents (who are fans of DW and TW) say there was an Ianto Wall in Cardiff. Didn't really understand until now.

  8. Karen says:

    This episode is absolutely brilliant.

    For me, the most terrifying stories are where humans are the real monsters (such as in "Midnight"), and in this episode, that is definitely what it feels like. Sure, the 456 are obviously still baddies with the way they want to use the children. But the cold and detached way that the government representatives dealt with the 456's demands was more disturbing than anything else. And the reason it is so terrifying is because it is not hard to believe that it could actually happen like that in real life. The scariest sci fi is the sci fi that could be real, and that's what this is.

    The way I understood the virus in 1965 thing was that the 456 were going to release that into the world if they didn't get the children, much like they released the virus in Thames House in the present day.

    • Noybusiness says:

      No, it was a virus already present that they could predict would mutate.

      • LittleCaity says:

        That was the impression I got as well.

        Still, it has to be said that Ianto's death is one of THE most heart-wrenching, painful, unbearable moments I've ever had to sit through in any fandom I'm part of.

  9. sabra_n says:




    There we go. 🙂

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I APPROVE.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      There's not nearly enough bold caps Peter Capaldis to do the man justice, so here's some more:







  10. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh, Ianto… :'((((

    On another note, o hai thar, Nick "voice of Daleks and Cybermen" Briggs! 😀

  11. ThreeBooks says:

    Today's rec post, I guess.

    Sam Storyteller writes fantastic Torchwood fic. A whole lot of it is Ianto fic. I think that the Lo 'verse deserves a special mention. Basically, Ianto goes to the 51st century and becomes a librarian at Quantico Academy.

  12. who_cares86 says:

    The politicians deciding which kids to pick is the creepiest thing ever because you just know that's exactly what they'd do.

    The weird thing about Children of Earth is that it's not science fiction. It's a political drama that happens to have a science-fiction twist, but here's the fun part, how many people would just instinctively refuse to watch it if you told them that beforehand.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Great point!

    • LittleCaity says:

      Oooooooooo. That is definitely the best definition of CoE. And it's so, so true.

      I was not once even mildly surprised by the political maneuverings going on in this series, and that's far more terrifying than the 456 could ever be.

  13. Inseriousity. says:

    I was waiting for the "league tables" conversation to come up but didn't want to mention it cos i havent rewatched it so didn't know where it was in the series. Now I know it's definitely this episode, I can talk about it. That is so chilling because it is so realistic. No-one in government would have any trouble with that because all their kids would be at the top end of the league tables. Even more dangerous when you realise that league tables are completely bogus anyway.

    • Tilja says:

      That sounds pretty familiar and very close to home here as well. Schools aren't just a place to educate, they're a control system for the population. No one seems to have considered the population that doesn't attend to school since they can't keep track of that faction of the lowest social status of society, even if they'd be ideal for the purpose. That gives you a new perspective of school systems as something not as harmless as you thought they were.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      That's already what league tables do – they tell the middle class pushy parents which schools are "best" so they can concentrate their resources there and leave the working class kids isolated in the "failing" schools without opportunity. The idea of putting schools in league tables then becomes self-fulfilling because you've aligned them so closely with the class system.

      It's an attempt to manage a system that throws a proportion of the population onto the scrapheap rather than try and change it so that nobody ends up there.

  14. breesquared says:

    The scene where the government officials are discussing how to select the children is probably my favorite scene of the episode, because of how believable it is. Everything they did made sense for how people in that position might react. Like you said, it's scary to know the government really would try to save their own asses.
    As cold as the politicians were, they tried to negotiate and limit the amount (using gross manuevering), but in the end they had no choice. And it really makes you wonder, that as horrible as their decision was, and the prejudices behind it… if you were in that position, HOW would you decide? Randomly? By a certain criterion? Which criterion? REALLY WHAT WOULD YOU DO, if it was choose or have everyone die. It's terrifying to even think about.

    Obligatory OHGOD IANTO. I watched CoE before any other Torchwood episode so when Ianto died I was like, "aw his final thoughts are sad, boo." But having watched the rest of the series now OH GOD WHYYYYYYY IANTO JONES.

  15. Fallstar says:

    I loved the scenes around the table, when the politicians were discussing how to deal with the problem. Very realistic, especially when you consider it's not a million miles away from how the Nazi's discussed killing the Jews.

    • Have you seen the movie Conspiracy? It's pretty much exactly that: high-ranking members of the Nazi apparatus, sitting around a table in a nice house, arguing about what to do with the Jews. Kenneth Branagh has never been scarier. 🙁

  16. jackiep says:

    They actually shied away from explicitly suggesting schools specialising in children with special educational needs, as these schools don't appear on the league tables. We could take that as read, but they could have added to the horror here.

    The problem is, it's not just politicians who would have done that, I think that almost any group of human beings picked at random to make such a horrible decision would have tried to come up with a plausible formula which would save their own nearest and dearest. A group of people from those sink estates would have managed to come up with a form of words which ended up with the contents of Eton being the most logical kids to send. Especially as they knew that they couldn't pretend that there's a happy ever after for the kids!

    Ianto's death was terrible and worse, futile, but the saddest thing is that he knew that one day it would have happened anyway. He would die and Jack would go on and the best he could hope for was that Jack would remember him out of dozens / hundreds / thousands of loves over his impossibly long life. From Jack's perspective, a few more decades would still look as short. That's genuine tragedy.

    • Karen says:

      it's not just politicians who would have done that, I think that almost any group of human beings picked at random to make such a horrible decision would have tried to come up with a plausible formula which would save their own nearest and dearest.

      YEP. That why this whole thing reads to me as humanity being the real monsters. I really don't think that it's just politicians that would do that. I think that most humans would try to save their own at the expense of others.

  17. Kaci says:

    I'm one of those people who swore off of Torchwood after CoE and you've just started to hit why. I find it problematic to end one of the (if not the only?) representations of a m/m relationship between two hero characters. On what other show does a character like Jack exist? On what other sci-fi show is the badass hero in a relationship with his male teammate? And I find it problematic to end that by falling back on the, "Kill the queer character, milk the tragedy out of it because ALL QUEER RELATIONSHIPS END BADLY," trope. It doesn't matter if that was RTD's intention or not–intention isn't magic and that's what comes across here. And it doesn't help that RTD was a complete and total jerk to the fans at Comic Con right after CoE came out–two of my closest friends were there, one who was a Janto shipper and one who basically only watched Torchwood because I enjoyed it and it gave us something in common to talk about, and both were genuinely offended by the way he treated the fans.

    Which isn't to say that I support some of the more radical things that fandom did after this episode aired–I absolutely do not support attacking someone's blog or posting rude things about them online. I didn't do either of those things. I simply watched the finale episode, to see if it could redeem itself in my eyes, and when it didn't, I quietly decided to stop watching the show.

    -Kaci, offering the perspective of someone who DOES find this episode problematic, but who DIDN'T act like a butthurt fan about it (unless no longer watching the show makes me a butt hurt fan in and of itself, but I don't see how since it was a personal decision and I've never encouraged others to do the same)

    P.S. HI, MARK. Have you heard from Andrew in the HPA yet? If not, let me know. He's at SDCC right now but I will totally be all over nudging him gently until contact is established once he gets back. 🙂

    • breesquared says:

      I think the implications of killing half the m/m relationship is a valid complaint, but at the same time when you said "a character like Jack" it reminds me both of his omnosexuality AND his immortality. Really, if Jack weren't immortal, this particular relationship would've been broken up long ago not because of the angst but because this Torchwood job is REALLY DANGEROUS. Hardly anyone seems to survive it. And I think they did the relationship justice in how they treated the dying scene; Jack insisted to Ianto that this relationship was more than a blip in his life, that it was meaningful and memorable and it changed him. The writers treated it with dignity.
      It REALLY wasn't necessary for the plot, it has implications, but I think there's arguments for and against whether they fubar'd this choice.
      & ugh, RTD was REALLY JERKISH about the fan complaints. If your story is problematic /at least apologize/ you don't have to change it if it already happened.

      • Kaci says:

        I can agree that due care was given to the death scene, certainly, but I found it unnecessary to the plot and deeply sad that the only (again, only with a question mark, as I'm not sure…and even if there were others, Jack and Ianto were certainly the most prominent) male/male couple between two hero characters in sci-fi had ended in a way that smacked quite distinctly of the trope.

        But then, I wasn't watching Torchwood in a bubble, and had already had issues with RTD's writing before this, and this just sort of sealed the deal.

    • echinodermata says:

      I'm in a similar boat. Didn't like what happened here, and was disappointed that Torchwood, a show that was originally one where I could hope and trust the show to give decent portrayals of queer characters, killed off a major character in a same-sex relationship. After already killing off 2 major characters. Leaving only two characters left, neither of which are my favorites (those were Tosh and Ianto).

      And then RTD was a wanker towards fans who didn't like CoE. Very dismissive, and there's a comment from this interview (potential spoilers at the link) that particularly irks:

      From this interview: "Editor's note: I subsequently had a chance to speak with Davies again at the Television Critics Association tour in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening. Curious if his appearance at Comic-Con, as well as the passage of a little time had softened his point of view about the fan reaction, I asked Davies if he stood by all of his previous statements. He did so emphatically saying he believed the "controversy" over Ianto's death was bascially "nine hysterical women."

      (Also in the interview is the notion that one shouldn't criticize media portrayals of minority groups as problematic because worse things are happening elsewhere.)

      So I'm not watching the new season of Torchwood. And I was never particularly fannish in the first place, nor was I much of a shipper, so as you say, this is me backing off from a show that disappointed me. Not me being zomg so bitter must start wank.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I can see your point, but I don't really read it as "break up the m/m couple just because." I mean, I'm not aware of anything outside the show itself, so I don't know what RTD said or what fans said or anything like that. But early in the series they say flat-out that everyone who works for Torchwood dies. And they die young. It's pretty much a warning to Gwen when she joins up: "this job will ruin your life, and probably kill you within five years."

      Given that they have only two team members left and something of this magnitude shows up… somebody had to die. It seems like this miniseries is pretty much calculated to break Jack emotionally, so Ianto's death fits with that. I don't know. It doesn't bother me, but while I enjoy the characters, I'm not deeply attached to any of them. Ianto dying was awful, but no more awful for me than the rest of the show, which is just incredibly painful across the board.

    • Karen says:

      I don't think intent is magical, but I don't think the author is dead either. What I mean is that I don't think that RTD killing off Ianto was a statement against queer relationships. If a lot of people think that it is, then obviously something got lost in translation. But from a practical perspective, if RTD wanted to kill off a familiar character to show the power of the 456 while up-ing the emotional ante, it kind of had to be Ianto. Jack CAN'T die, and Gwen is the female lead. Well, RTD COULD have killed off the female lead, but that's an even riskier move, imo. It wasn't about a queer relationship ending badly. It was a reminder of how dangerous the Torchwood job is, and how powerless Torchwood was in that situation.

      And I think that throughout the previous episodes RTD did a good job of giving Jack and Ianto's relationship some real problems as well as some real warmth and affection. He treated their relationship like he would treat any other heterosexual relationship and it ended with a lot of dignity.

      And yeah, RTD (as much as I adore hi as a writer) comes off as the kind of person who writes what he writes and fuck the people who don't like it. It's not that he doesn't like fans or appreciate them, he just doesn't feel the need to cater to them. So with the over the top fan reaction to Ianto's death, it seems in character to me that he would react to a bad fan reactions by basically saying "fuck you".

      • FlameRaven says:

        He could have killed off the female lead— but not when the female lead is pregnant. There are some places TV just doesn't like to go, and that's one of them.

        • LittleCaity says:

          This. Exactly. You will almost never see a pregnant woman die outside of shows like Law and Order, specifically because it hits some very big buttons in pretty much every member of humanity. It's just the way it is.

      • Kaci says:

        I can agree that if one of the three had to die, Ianto was virtually the only candidate, given Jack's immortality and Gwen being the pregnant female lead, but I found it unnecessary to the plot and deeply sad that the only (again, only with a question mark, as I'm not sure…and even if there were others, Jack and Ianto were certainly the most prominent) male/male couple between two hero characters in sci-fi had ended in a way that smacked quite distinctly of the trope.

        But then, I wasn't watching Torchwood in a bubble, and had already had issues with RTD's writing before this, and this just sort of sealed the deal. I've tried my best to be respectful about it, though, because I absolutely do not agree with the way some fans behaved afterwards. And for whatever it may be worth, up until this episode, CoE was one of the best seasons of sci-fi I had ever seen anywhere, period, so I certainly don't mean to impugne the story or, even, most of the writing of it.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      I'm not going to get into an argument about this, so probably won't go beyond this post (but feel free to debate it) but this is what I wrote at the time and what I'll stick with, although maybe not so forcefully expressed:

      "Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is he? But if you could choose, Doctor, if you decide who lives and who dies that would make you a monster." – Mr Copper, Voyage of the Damned.

      Captain Jack is neither evil nor dead. Ianto is not dead because he was in a gay relationship. The universe does not sit in moral judgement of people, bad things happen to good people and vice versa. If Captain Jack had had a girlfriend she would have died in the same way as Ianto did. There was a storytelling reason for doing it – you may not like it, but that's the only reason.

      Also, to simply make a character simply evil is bad drama – regardless of their sexuality. Bad drama in the service of homophobia is even worse, but that doesn't mean that LGBT characters can't have moral complexity or failings. Making a character simply good is equally bad drama, regardless of a the worthiness of the cause it is apparently supporting. Moving away from dramatic truth and towards propaganda always damages the cause you're trying to advance.

      If, as some of the more conspiracy-oriented postings here and elsewhere have suggested, the idea was to "de-gay" the show for BBC1, then Ianto would have been written out on Day One (or even before), not placed in the emotional centre of the story. Just look at Russell T Davies' history in mainstream TV (which includes introducing Captain Jack on BBC1 in a family slot) to see what arrant nonsense this is.

      As has already been said, drama tends to be about crisis, so happy relationships and people are few and far between regardless of sexuality. Also people tend to die, especially in thrillers (see also Spooks).

      Off the top of my head, though, here are three happy, not-dead, not-evil, not-hetrosexual couples: the Cassini "sisters" in Gridlock, the private detectives in Jekyll and Maxxie and James in Skins. Also, I'd say that Ian Gallagher is one of the more well-adjusted (and non-evil, non-dead) characters in Shameless – not currently in a relationship, but he is only twenty.

      Last of all, the success of Doctor Who and Torchwood has brought a number of happy, successful gay men (and their stable relationships) into the spotlght: including John Barrowman, Russell T Davies and Mark Gatiss.

      This whole dead/evil gay thing is overly simplistic and only applies (if at all) to bad, propagandist drama which is mainly, thankfully, in the past (I'd accept that The Celluloid Closet has some valid points about this). You can't just trot out the trope every time an LGBT character dies, that's just a lazy knee-jerk reaction. If you're trying to make a point about the portrayal of LGBT characters in drama you need a much more thoughtful anaylsis, not just "thou shalt not kill the gays".

      You also have to be honest about your personal attachments to a character and your feelings about their death and what extent they may be leading you to an erroneous conclusion about the cultural impact of that death. I think some comments are confusing this and, in the emotion of the moment, are unwittingly accusing the writers reinforcing homophobia – not understanding how offensive such a simplistic conclusion is.

      None of this is to belittle how hurt some people are feeling at the moment. I just think you should be a bit more thoughtful in your critical analysis – and maybe the best way to start would be to give it some time so that you can detach the analysis from your emotional response. Especially if you're planning to comment here, on the blog of someone who is closely involved and who cannot help but take ill-thought out remarks personally.

      Some of that's probably more specific to what people are saying at the time and I don't want to tell people what they can and can't feel – I just think it's extremely problematic to move towards a more objective criticism on the basis of pattern matching a "trope".

      However, "I have a problem with stories in which m/m relationships end in tragedy" or even "I'd like to see some stories where that didn't happen". What James Moran took great offence at, at the time, was people accusing his friends and co-writers of being homophobic.

      Anyway feel free to rip into the above, I probably won't respond further – it's just a perspective.

      • Karen says:

        Bringing out the Mr. Cooper quote! Nice! lol. I do love that quote. And I agree with this comment.

      • DFM Marlink says:

        I've been silently applauding all your comments. Well said! I'm headdesking over all this fanrage over Ianto dying because most of those "fans" are honestly being totally unrealistic about the whole thing (using the term "fan" loosely, as this Torchwood fan doesn't want to be associated with rabid haters). Over and over, the ones being unrealistic keep claiming that Torchwood is spitting on the LGBT community because of this single loss of a gay character on the show. Mind you, not the creepy alien-lady who took human form and seduced Tosh (which also ended badly, but no seems to care about it because it wasn't Ianto and Jack). No, they're all raging that because *Ianto* died, Torchwood hates LGBT community.

        Listen, you guys–the end of Ianto doesn't mean that the writers hate you. It doesn't mean there's an anti-gay conspiracy floating around this television show. And–what needs to said loudest in this conversation's context–it doesn't even mean the end of gay relationships in Torchwood! As long as Torchwood keeps bringing in new and interesting characters, there will always be opportunities for new relationships to arise–of ALL sexualities.

        Apologies if this message sounds overly abrasive or doesn't make sense–I got a (good) text in the midst of typing that disrupted my concentration and also means I have to go away right now! 🙂

      • maccyAkaMatthew says:

        Some important words missing from above:

        However, "I have a problem with stories in which m/m relationships end in tragedy" or even "I'd like to see some stories where that didn't happen". What James Moran took great offence at, at the time, was people accusing his friends and co-writers of being homophobic.

        Should read:

        However, "I have a problem with stories in which m/m relationships end in tragedy" or even "I'd like to see some stories where that didn't happen" is absolutely fine. What James Moran took great offence at, at the time, was people accusing his friends and co-writers of being homophobic.

        The problem when trying some kind of critical analysis is that you can end up telling people how to react to something – hopefully that now makes it clear that that wasn't my aim.

      • Kaci says:

        I'm kind of offended at how much this assumes about me, as the OP of the comment. You state that you are re-posting something you wrote before, so I'm willing to make the leap of faith that not all of this was directed at me, however, for all I know, it was. So for the record, I wasn't in the Torchwood fandom at the time and never have been–I did like Jack and Ianto together, but I didn't ship them in the classic sense of reading/writing fanfiction or participating in meta discussions. It just bothered me that one of the only positive representations of a m/m couple in sci-fi (which is typically the straight boys' paradise and where it is still difficult to find positive representations of non-heterosexual characters in their relationships–Doctor Who, particularly in RTD's era has done quite a bit to change this, for which I give him and his team all the credit in the world–ended in a way that again, smacks of the trope. I do believe I even stated in my original comment that while I realize they may not have intended to participate in that trope, intent isn't magical. Do I believe that RTD and his team are homophobic? Absolutely not. And I certainly didn't speak out against the writers for it. As I've said, I've gone out of my way to not discuss my feelings on the matter publicly until now, because I disagree with the way some of the more radical fans behaved in the aftermath of this episode's airing. But intent is not magical and we are not yet in an era where there is enough positive representation of LGBTQ characters in their relationships–and particularly in sci-fi–that something like this can happen and exist in a bubble. Regardless of intent, it does reinforce that stereotype, in my opinion.

        (Also, where the hell did I say or imply that I thought it was an attempt to "de-gay" the show? For all that I have issues with RTD, I trust him enough to know that he would raise hell if the network attempted to do that and certainly wouldn't write it like this. That's not what I felt happened at all.)

        But once again, I absolutely do not agree with people going to the writer's blogs, or approaching them at conventions and tearing them down and making rude remarks to them. I was disappointed in what happened, so I simply stopped watching.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          Sorry, it maybe wasn't as clear as I thought it was that I was posting some more general thoughts that overlapped with what you said rather than a specific response – I thought the fact that I posted them two years ago would make that clear.

          I suppose, essentially, I don't buy this whole trope business, I think its lazy analysis – this thing is a bit like some other things so lets say its bad. I also have great difficulty with the idea that tragedy is moral reflection of people it happens to. So, no I don't think it reinforces a stereotype and I don't think writers should consider the sexuality of their characters when it comes to decisions about whether or not to kill them. If there are problems with representation then they'll lie elsewhere.

          Now, I fully respect your decision to not like stories where this happens and to stop watching (that was in the final paragraph with some words missing, so I did a reply to put them back) what I'm wary about is the leap to the effect of this kind of storyline on the culture and attitudes in general – on the basis of nothing much, as far as I can see.

          I'll also accept that this is the kind of privilege denying bullshit that people trot out when they're trying to win an argument – asking for evidence can just be a tactic to repress a marginalised view. And I'd certainly be given pause if I saw gay or bisexual men saying that this made them feel bad about the way their sexuality was portrayed – but I'm really not seeing that.

          However, I'll agree that in general it would be nice to see stories where LGBTQ characters get a happy ending – but that's not a requirement of every specific drama, and especially not what is esssentially a tragedy.

          I suppose fundamentally, what I'm trying to say is that dying in tragic circumstances trying to save the world is not a negative portrayal of a character.

          • arctic_hare says:

            I'll also accept that this is the kind of privilege denying bullshit that people trot out when they're trying to win an argument

            Yes, it is. This is a very very privileged comment and you need to check your privilege. Do some research about the very real trend in fiction of queer characters being treated in certain very poor ways.

            • maccyAkaMatthew says:

              This is sort of why I was in two minds about raising this in the first place and massive apologies if its coming across as trying to marginalise people's concerns. I'm fumbling around with ideas here rather than trying to prove anything – and I'm happy to be challenged and called out over it. Also, I'll accept if this isn't really the place to have these kinds of discussions – I probably don't have much more to say anyway.

              I'm only adding this because I felt that I didn't express myself properly above. I wasn't trying to say that LGBTQ characters have never been treated badly in fiction or that the trope is based on nothing at all. Or indeed that that killing the characters off isn't a part of that trend.

              What I was trying to get at was the idea that killing a character isn't the defining characteristic of bad representation. In this particular case I think we have a tragic story that doesn't stigmatize or marginalise anyone involved on the basis of their sexuality. In the "fridging" trope the death part is the final insult to a character that is marginalised and only exists for reasons of expediency – I really don't think that's the case here.

              I worry that maybe the good analysis that went into identifying the trope in the first place can sometimes be replaced by a rather superficial reading based on a few similarities, particularly around the idea that fiction attaches a moral value to what happens to characters. I'm sure some fiction does, but I don't think Torchwood ever has.

              Anyway, now that I'm reasonably sure that I've made myself clear, I'll leave it at that. I'm happy to accept that people may have different readings – I just wanted to float the idea that there's some complexity to the representation in this particular story.

  18. diane says:

    One of the reasons the scene of the politicians at the table works so well is that they themselves are fully conscious of the horror they are committing. After the decision is made, they all (or most) have an expression of OMFG WHAT HAVE WE DONE.

    As I couldn't say on Day One, part of what makes this series work so well is that RTD finds ways to raise the stakes and increase the tension, continually. You think it can't get worse, and then it does, over and over. Beautifully and horrifyingly done.

    Mark, you are still so frightfully unprepared.

  19. Tilja says:

    Did you know of the Facebook group to bring Ianto back? The moment he died, fans opened it and it even hit me, all across the other side of the world where nothing at all from that ever reaches. This is how I came to know about Torchwood and Doctor Who. The Ianto fans are so powerful they let themselves be heard all over the unknowing world.

  20. psycicflower says:

    This episode is equal parts
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    with all those politicians deciding what children to give up. (And honestly I can't talk about it without getting really angry)
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    for Ianto's death, along with Clem's and all those people desperately trying to get out of the building they're trapped in.

    (Fandom kind of exploded on Day 4. Because companies like pre-ordered DVDs to arrive on release day they post them before hand. The problem in this case was that the DVDs arrived for some people on Thursday, before the final two episodes aired. Cue spoilers all over the place and a lot of confused people in fandom either not knowing what was going on or refusing to believe the spoilers were true. Roll around Thursday night when Day 4 aired and the shit hit the fan. It was not a good time for fandom.)

    • hassibah says:

      It makes me way too happy that the panda has this kind of notoriety.

    • LittleCaity says:

      I remember the Day 4 chaos here when the ABC (Australian one) showed Day 4. People were freaking out all over the place. I had a friend who watched it beforehand and he told me "I'm coming to watch this episode with you". I'm really glad he did, because ohgod.

      The next day, though, holy smeg. There was screaming and texting and RAWR-ing all over the place, it was sheer madness. Even a friend who is normally not remotely affected by these things called me and had a bit of a freakout. I can't even imagine how insane it must have been in the UK when it aired.

  21. vermillioncity says:

    I was in Cardiff a couple of days ago and went to the Bay, where the Torchwood Hub is located, and our minds were blown when we saw the Ianto shrine. So, so heartbreaking.

    But! the other thing I want to say is; all the writers got a LOT of abuse over Ianto's death – and I mean a LOT. The fandom got very ugly on day four. Personally, although it's horrible, and feels so unnecessary, I think from a dramatic, story-writing perspective, it's flawless. YES, it's unnecessary: death IS unnecessary! Death doesn't discrimate! It IS unfair, and it's not always heroic and dramatic!

    One quote (directed at the writers by a fan) that I saved:
    In real life, people die in small rooms before the fight has even begun. Yes, even the nice, popular lover of the dashing hero. Because real life doesn't discriminate between supporting characters and leads. Real life doesn't always let the nice guys live to see the final stand and watch the evil being defeated. So what you guys did, was sacrifice even the most standard, established conventions of popular television for the sake of keeping the story unwaveringly, unflinchingly real.

  22. Katie says:

    I haven't watched this episode for about a year and I still teared up just reading about Ianto here :___:
    Also Peter Capaldi is absolutely FLAWLESSS. I literally cannot think of a single thing I do not love about this man.

    I know everyone's always going on about how unprepared you are, but I cannot, repeat CANNOT, wait for you to watch the next episode. It's just so, so, so, I don't even know. You just have to watch it. You are going to die of feelings.

  23. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    I love that you've followed the shape and dynamic of the story so well.

    There's a lot of wailing a gnashing of teeth about Ianto in some quarters (and it was intense two years ago) which has gradually been rationalised by some into talk of "unnecessary death for the sake of drama" and "contrivance" and "plot holes".

    What they seem to miss (probably because they wanted this series of Torchwood to keep their Ianto fantasises alive) is that the shape of the story is exactly the same, initially, as in many other adventures stories, including previous Torchwood ones. The heroes are inspired to an act of heroism, to stand up for the oppressed, to even make amends for something they didn't do before and, in the conventional narrative, they are rewarded with good fortune and triumph. That's the nice affirming journey that we all go on.

    The only thing that is different in this story is that they don't lucky and so everything falls apart. And that's horrible and uncomfortable and brilliant because it takes us on a journey that confronts our faith in heroes and declarations of heroism and quick fixes (see Libya, now, for example). You wouldn't want every story to do that, but it's salutory to see the other side of the coin now and again.

    Now I completely get why people might not want to watch that type of story – but to call it bad writing is just a nonsense.

    It's still the scene where they come up with the criteria for the "units" that is the most chilling, though. Simply, as everyone has said, because you can believe that it would happen that way.

    There's a hint of all this in Turn Left but RTD has the full range to explore it here, with a brilliant team to help him do it (all three writers and the director storylined this in advance before dividing up the workload between them). Russell has said that what inspired him was his perception that we think of things like the Rwandan genocide as being remote things that could never happen to us – and he wanted to confront us with our own potential for horror.

    • Karen says:

      Now I completely get why people might not want to watch that type of story – but to call it bad writing is just a nonsense.
      Yeah, I get why people who loved the lighter tone of series 1 and 2 would be put off by CoE, but I do think that it IS excellent writing.

  24. be_themoon says:

    A lot of the time, when I say I hate Children of Earth, people say it must be because I'm mad over Ianto's death. And that's true, I am furious over it.

    But not for the reasons people assume. He was one of my favorite characters, I loved his character arc, and I was thrilled when he got more screentime. But despite that, I would have been all right with (upset and sad, but all right with) his death if it had been done in any sort of even SORT of reasonable way. But it wasn't. There was literally no reason for him to die if anybody in Torchwood had stopped and considered their actions. It was a death manufactured for cheap emotional yanking, and that makes me angry because it isn't good storytelling.

    Ugh. Children of Earth, with all its good (if totally terrifying bits), was the thing that turned me off to RTD as a writer. I knew I had problems with him before it, but now I just can't watch his stuff anymore because he'll assassinate characters, have them make stupid mistakes that anyone with a brain would avoid, and create giant plotholes all for the sake of making the audience feel something. And I say screw that. If you can't make me feel something without pulling all that crap, then you're doing it wrong.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      You're absolutely wrong. There are no plotholes or manufactured things here – it's exactly the same as any other story except that their bluff is called and luck is not on their side. That's the entire point of the story – what happens when things go badly wrong. There is no less planning or thinking than in previous Torchwood stories (Countrycide to pick one at random) it's just that in this case they didn't get away with it. That's what makes it, on a purely technical level, brilliant storytelling.

      Now because you hate that type of story and what it did to one of your favourite characters you brand it bad writing – that's a major failure of analysis. You don't have to like the story, but you're talking rubbish about its qualities.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Yeah, I'm with Matthew on this one. This was all about failure and having a bluff called. There's so much precedence and sense to it happening that it's even worse to me, because I should have seen it coming.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          It's not a bug it's a feature!

          People who hate it are completely correct in saying that it's different type of story than they'd been given up to that point – so in terms of their expectations it was understandably a massive disappointment. But as someone who flounders around trying to write things and who takes the craft of that really seriously I get disproportionately passionate when people confuse "I didn't like it" with "it was bad writing".

          The power of hope is so strong in me that I really believed that they were going to pull it off, even though I'd heard the rumour that Ianto was going to die. When Gwen joined them in the morgue, I was sure he'd come back to life. I certainly wouldn't want every drama to be like this – but I appreciated being taken on that journey.

          • mal612 says:

            Just so you know, I've pretty much upvoted every single one of your comments. Not only do I agree with you, but your opinions and arguments are succinct, intelligent, and well-thought out.
            claps for you, my friend!

        • @liliaeth says:

          That scene where the aliens call Jack's bluff just so reminds me of that scene in 'the Silence in the library' (God, hope I have that title right), where the Doctor bluffs those shadow creatures into letting him and the others go, and allowing him to save all those people from the computers.

          Here Jack tries to pull off the same kind of bluff, only, it doesn't work. Jack doesn't have the rep that the Doctor has, the aliens don't buy it… And what happens then…

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            It's also sort of not a bluff, he's gambling on the idea that a planet of billions of people putting up a fight will be too much for the 456 to cope with. That's the underlying strategy of the "Arab spring". Unfortunately the 456 are more like Syria or Lybia than Egypt.

            The other problem is that he's blackmailed his way into a position of authority and he isn't actually representing the world. If the world really was united around the idea of "an injury to one is an injury to all" then they'd take the loss of Thames House and keep fighting. As it is, it looks as if the only thing taking them in the direction of resistance was Jack's conviction – and that's been robbed by his personal devastation, his will to fight seems to have gone.

            Her also didn't expect that the 456 would be able to retaliate in the way they did – the way that would hit him so personally. Perhaps, with the hubris of a general, he imagined the casualties would be somewhere else?

      • be_themoon says:

        Except – okay, so you know these aliens have a deadly virus thing, right? And you've got an immortal guy and a building that can shut down for biological attack? So… why do you send the guy who can die in with the immortal guy? Why don't you first evacuate the building and lock it down? Then the guy who can't die can negotiate with the aliens and their deadly virus and bluff the heck out of them.

        The plotholes comment is mostly in regards to other stories of his. The only plothole that I have a big issue with in Children of Earth is the one where they sent, for no good reason at all, a mortal guy into a building to bluff with aliens who've got a deadly virus when they had an immortal guy right there who, by the way, was the person in charge of the bluffing. There wasn't any reason for him to be in there. There really, really wasn't. Jack was the only person who needed to be there. His entire purpose was to be there and die horribly. And there were just – so many other ways to kill him off that would have made SO much more sense.

        I think it's possible that I'm being more critical of it because Ianto died and I liked him, yeah, but there is a huge lack of logic to him even being there, and I'm actually pretty good at mourning the death of characters I love and moving on. If there had been a good reason for Ianto to be there, or if he'd died in some other way that made any sense to me, I could have been like, "Well that sucks and I'm really sad," and then kept going.

        On the other hand, it probably is colored by my deep disappointment with RTD and his writing style and plot logic choices, so there is that, but. Eh.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          I was under the impression that they didn't know about the virus, though? I mean, yeah it's dumb to send a mortal person into an unsecured location with a known enemy, but if I remember correctly, the only sources of information they have about the 456 are the things Jack and Clem remember about them from 1965, and whatever information Lois has been feeding them via the contact-lens camera.

          It's possible that the government people who were in charge of constructing the room could've predicted such a thing happening (as presumably they're the ones who inadvertently made it possible for the 456 to do it), but the Torchwood people didn't know anything about that; Jack and Ianto even took fire at the enclosure, possibly assuming that there was no way the government would be dumb enough to make it bulletproof. It seems to me that as far as they're concerned, the main threat the 456 poses is either to the children (well, ten percent of, at least) or to every single person on the planet; at that point they have no reason to think that the 456 can attack in a more localized manner.

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            Yes, a lot of this "it doesn't make sense" analysis is based on hindsight.

            Certainly they took a huge risk by doing what they did and acted impulsively – but that's what Torchwood do. They've made similar gambles in the stories leading up to this one, but they've paid off – this time they lost, that's the difference.

            And even if Jack and Ianto had managed to kill the 456 on Earth, its made clear in the COBRA meeting that they have no idea where their main power (somewhere in orbit) is – there's nothing to attack.

            Which is why Jack's gambit was essentially to try a prove that the 456 couldn't bully the human race.

        • whatsername says:

          And you've got an immortal guy and a building that can shut down for biological attack? So… why do you send the guy who can die in with the immortal guy? Why don't you first evacuate the building and lock it down?

          Because Jack is often really fucking reckless with the lives of the people around him.

          He's immortal, and even though he's tortured by that fact, and the fact that he's constantly leaving people behind while he goes on and on and on, he also forgets that while he's indestructible, those around him aren't.

          He's taken chances with their lives all the time (and so does The Doctor, who I partly blame for instilling this in Jack though clearly he was like this beforehand at least somewhat) in the past and you know what? It usually works out. That's how he's lived his life. Waking up in bed with your executioners and staying in touch afterwards, right?

          That's Jack.

          And we love that about him.

          But sometimes? It's not always going to work out. In the "real world" that kind of behavior is going to get you killed (like it got him killed on Satellite Five) and if not you, then those around you.

          That's why I don't hate RTD after this episode, I hate Jack. I still love him too, but there's nothing contrived about that same reckless streak we've seen over and over again getting Ianto killed one day.

          • whatsername says:

            (But for the record I'd be ok if the writers threw logic out the window and resurrected Ianto somehow) (But I guess that's what fanfic is for….)

        • Always Amy says:

          I agree with you so strongly here.
          Putting Ianto in that room was a pure example of handing him the stupid stick.
          The 456 was threatening a germ warfare attack. To go in totally unprepared…. STUPID NEWBIE.
          It came off as angst for the sake of more angst. If they wanted to off Ianto, and I believe torchwood members die often
          I'd rather they had run him over with a car for not checking both ways when chasing aliens across the street. It would be just as shockingly random but so much less stupid.

          I can't say much else, it's late and I should be sleeping.

  25. NopeJustMe says:

    It made it so much worse when the child was revealed. (If it can even be called that anymore). If the aliens were just killing the children, that would be better. Because then the parents could mourn and move on. (That sounds harsh but, yeah…) Instead they’re being given a fate worse than death. They live for an extended time. It doesn’t matter if they ‘don’t feel pain’ they’re probably screaming inside. And whoever lost a child would know that THIS is what’s happening to their child.

    Am I the only one who tried to match up the thing in the tank with one of the children in the beginning flashback?

  26. FlameRaven says:

    First off, this is why I love Children of Earth– because the aliens aren't the monsters in this story. We are. The entire story is terrifyingly real, as you said, because if this situation happened those politicians WOULD make that decision. It's an impossible situation and any choice is wrong, so they go with the "least wrong" choice– which still sacrifices millions of children.

    Second, it occurs to me that this is almost like Torchwood's version of "Midnight." In "Midnight," we have the Doctor barge in doing everything he usually does, saying all the same things… except it doesn't work, because the people he's with are terrified and upset and end up acting out of their strongest emotions– which are also the simplest ones. The Doctor very nearly got himself killed there by doing exactly the same thing he's always done. If it hadn't been for the heroic sacrifice of the stewardess, they would have thrown him out and killed him.

    It's the same situation here– Torchwood gets information and tries to do what they do. They run in and take control of the situation and try to end it. But Torchwood has even fewer resources than the Doctor and there are no happy miracles for them. So when their plan fails, hundreds of people and their own team die. It's awful, but mistakes happen– and there's not always a happy ending. :/

  27. Elexus Calcearius says:

    There's an old phrase that applies to comedy; "Its funny because its true." If you take something that's real, and exaggerate or understate it, its funny. The same applies to the horror presented in Day Four, but without the exaggeration or understatement. This is true. We might not have aliens trying to steal our children. We might never have that happen, at least not in our lifetimes. But if this scenario were to happen, this is how it would play out.

    And in a way….it makes a terrifying sense. If you have to get rid of certain children, get rid of the ones who will be a drain on society. Is it classist to say "well, the poor ones will do that"? Yes. Incredibly. Children from underprivileged backgrounds did not ask for their situation. You can't blame them. But when it comes to the crunch, the government won't have time to think of that.

    Of course, I can't fault the government's logic. 10% of the unperforming schools, they said. Not the students. In a school that isn't performing, you're probably still going to have a few students that are brilliant; and in an amazing school, you're still going to have loafers that just don't give a shit. If they really wanted to be logical, they wouldn't go by the school route. (OH, GOD, this makes me sound like some idiot who thinks that the only important thing is intelligence…..) Still, I guess when you have so little time, you can't really work out all these little detail.

    The great thing about CoE is that it makes us think about it. Does it suck? Yes? Its certainly making me confront a part of my self that I'm none-too-pleased about. But in a way, that's what art's meant to do; to make us reflect, so maybe we'll make better choices in the real world.

    • @liliaeth says:

      ah, but look at it from a practical pov. It's easier to load up a bunch of kids from a couple of schools, than it would be to go from school to school and pick up all those kids who perform the worst.

  28. Coughdrop01 says:

    I was late to watching this for whatever reason and my friend told me it was amazing and I had to watch it. I wrote on my friends facebook wall the following notes after I finished this 'day'. I have XXXed out her name to protect the innocent.


    i will call you when i finish the last one. I know i will. But AUUUUGGGGGHHH

    3rd post: I am so depressed.

    I feel like this sums up everything fairly well.

  29. feminerdist says:

    I love episode four. It's so fucking heartwrenching.

    I like to look at it from an actor's perspective. If I was cast in this and got that script, ESPECIALLY the scene when they're discussing which kids to send, I'd have pissed myself. That is some terrifying, hard, exciting, gut-wrenching dialogue to have to say, and I must say all of those actors killed it. Especially Denise Riley. Fuck. I cannot stress how much I love that scene because of how horrible and powerful it is.

    Secondly, this Lois exchange still makes me want to get up and cheer:
    "You and whose army?"

  30. Ezile says:

    I can recall the first time I watch Torchwood Children of Earth. I watched it relatively recently, getting ready to watch the new season Torchwood Miracle Day, so I'd read the spoilers and KNEW what was going to happen before it did. And I was still unprepared. It was awful. The way the goverment decided to give away the the children based on their school's performance. The way Ianto died. The most terrifying thing of all, was how real it was. I kept thinking, the whole time, where's the Doctor? He could fix all this and everything would be all right. But of course he didn't come. And awful things happened and it was painfully, painfully real.

  31. Minish says:

    Oh Children of Earth: Days 1-4 (didn't know what to say the first few days! Read the reviews but never spoke up)

    The fuckfest that preceded you in no way could have prepared me for this. No matter how silly, pretentious, irritating, and just plain bad the first two series were, with a basis of only 4 episodes, I will defend to my death that Children of Earth is some of the greatest bit of television I, or anyone, could ever witness. It finally gave us an "adult Doctor Who" in way that wasn't TRYING to be an adult Doctor Who. It was finally just Torchwood. And it was brilliant.

    In four short but very substantial episodes, Children of Earth was exciting. Children of Earth was frightening. Children of Earth was harrowing. It's television that actually makes me feel emotions and shit. In every possible way, Children of Earth was perfect.

    And there's still one more episode to go.

    • Karen says:

      It finally gave us an "adult Doctor Who" in way that wasn't TRYING to be an adult Doctor Who. It was finally just Torchwood. And it was brilliant.

      THIS. The first series of Torchwood tried to make it Doctor Who for grownups by throwing in a lot of relationship drama. The second series got better. But it wasn't until CoE where we get these dark, serious and scary themes that it really fulfilled its potential as sci fi for adults.

  32. Othellia says:

    And this episode is why I – and many others – will never forgive the Doctor for taking out Harriet Jones. At least she wouldn't have keeled over like this British PM did.

  33. dearbossman says:

    "This is fucked up."

    Right there. That's the best summation for the series up to this point. I remember watching this when it first aired, and that scene where the COBRA was talking about how to identify the kids to send to the 456, and I sat on the couch, gripping my husbands arm, and then when Ianto died… oh lord…

    So many things were so fucked up. But you're right, the GOVERNMENT was what was more horrifying, IMHO. The 456 – they were creepy, and icky, and god WTF are they doing…??? But the COBRA behaving the way they did just hurt, because… yeah… that so could happen.

  34. whatsername says:

    Yes. This episode, with all it's "THIS IS FUCKED UP" -ness is why I love this season so very much. And you responded to everything exactly as I did so I'll just leave it at that. Same page? We are on it.

    Seriously though, one of the biggest emotional crashes ever, from joyous fist pumping "yeah Torchwood is going to make it better, FUCK YOU GUYS" to "omfg well that's what we call shit hitting a fan I'm going to crawl into a corner and cry for a while now." Watched the series a few times now and it still gets me.

    Poor Ianto. (Btw you've GOT to listen to the radio play "The Dead Line," it makes me feel just slightly better about this whole thing, maybe it would for you too).

    • bearshorty says:

      There is a new radio play called "House of the Dead" as part of "Torchwood: Lost Files" which should be listened to right after Day 5. Breaks your heart all over again but brings some closure too.

      • whatsername says:

        Ooooooh thanks for the info!

      • whatsername says:

        I had heard they were doing more, but I thought they would be with this new cast. Now that I've looked this up and seen NO! IANTO IS IN THEM! I am so so excited! fun fun fun fun!

  35. MsPrufrock says:

    Congratulations, Torchwood. You have destroyed my tear ducts. You might as well take what's left of them; I have no more tears left because ALL MY CREYS FOR IANTO.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  36. Kaze says:

    And you know one of the worst bits about this whole thing?
    Way back in Series 1 of Doctor Who when the 9th Doctor meets Harriet Jones for the first time, he said that she would be the one to lead Britain into a golden age. And then Ten goes and deposes her for doing her job to keep the peace (moral quandory aside).
    With her leaving office, "Harold Saxon" was able to run and bring about The Year That Never Was, thereby also leading to The End of Time. And then he got followed up by this bunch of bureaocrats.

    Essentially Ten just screwed over the world with a throw-away comment.
    He's kind of a bitch sometimes. :/

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