Asta 2

Torchwood: Children of Earth

If nothing else, this got me to dust off the cobwebs and write some meta again.



First of all, on a personal note, I need to make an apology to beccatoria. I am sincerely sorry for having convinced you, in any way, to watch 'Children of Earth'. Honestly, I thought we might be pleasantly surprised by how good it was or at least be able mock the parts we didn't care for. In the future, if there is anything you think I need to give a chance, no matter what reservations I may have, I will watch it/listen to it/read it. I owe you.

Part of me debated even posting about the finale. I was sickened and angry at the end, but did I have a right to rant along with the die hard fans who adore the show? Especially when I haven't even seen every episode. But then I read simplystars excellent post and she commented that the fans who felt gutted were already drawing criticism from the people who loved it. Putting aside I started having BSG finale flashbacks, I thought perhaps the opinion of someone who wasn't overly invested in the show might be appreciated.

Let me begin with my issues with the plot before we get into the character debacles. I'm not sure CoE is great writing, but it is better than what has come before on the series. To have the government do what it did, to be willing to sacrifice 10% of their children, forces us to look at the kind of people we are and want to be. Is humanity worthy of survival if we are willing to sacrifice our children and our consciences? It's a topic that played out over four seasons of Battlestar Galactica and being condensed into five hours perhaps even makes the subject more powerful.

However, I don't see the plan to accept the alien's terms succeeding. As soon as Ianto made that phone call, the information would have spread. People would have fought back. If by some chance the plan did succeed, the world would have gone to war with itself and society would have collapsed. Likely it would have collapsed anyway, regardless of the outcome, once the people learned of the betrayal of their trust.

I don't have a rosy picture of my government, any government. And I do believe that our leaders do despicable things, lie to us, and worry about their political survival at the expense of others. Yet, I think it's overkill to depict the prime minister as one of the most bastardly people to ever walk the face of the earth. And how much more powerful would have his decision been had he been shown to be torn or regretful. Over 350,000 of Britain's children were to be taken and made to live a hellish existences and he was pretty much worried about how he'd do in a poll the next morning.

I also have to say I'm rather shocked RTD made his government look that bad. Couldn't at least one of the cabinet have stood up and refused to participate?

There were also plot holes galore. How in 1965 did the 456 know the children could be used as a drug? Why wait forty years to come back for more? Why was Clem rejected by them in 1965? Why did he have a connection to them that no other adult had? Why did he die? Whatever the chemical was in the children that made the 456 'high' couldn't it have been synthesized? They waited forty years, they couldn't wait a few days for tests?

But I can deal with the plot holes, it's the character stuff that really gutted me. I've been critical of the show throughout it's run. I hated Owen. Gwen I've gone back and forth on. Jack, I have issues with. But there was always one aspect of the show I felt was successful and that was Jack and Ianto's relationship. Here were two men in a romantic/sexual relationship that felt real and natural. They were comfortable with who they were and what they meant to each other. That they were a couple was never seen as a big deal to the people around them and, therefore, it was never seen as a big deal to us. As it should be. And I was really enjoying the relationship development in CoE. I was looking forward to the scene we'd get where Ianto introduces Jack to his sister and, God help him, his brother-in-law. It would be funny and would serve as a relief after what I was sure would be some very serious moments before the world was saved. Because that's what the show does, it mixes the heavy moments with the light moments and, yeah, I think it succeeded in doing that more often than not. But the last hour of CoE was unrelentingly bleak.

For a moment I felt odd thinking that CoE had gone too far, that it was too dark. I watched Battlestar Galactica after all. The key differnce is BSG started with an apocolypse. Twelve colonies irradiated, billions of people murdered, a handful of survivors were left to float in space on decaying ships chased by a race that wanted to see them dead as well. I knew what I was getting myself into and that the series would be grim. And even though there were moments that were hard to watch, I never really felt completely gutted. This was their life, it was terrible, and it wouldn't get better for a long, long time, if ever.

But as I mentioned, Torchwood always had humor and much of the time Jack and the team saved the day without anyone knowing or without the world being thrown into chaos. Perhaps Jack would have a moment to reflect on how he could have done better. But how does Jack and the audience come back from this?

Ianto is dead. Pointlessly. Seriously, what was the point? Was it to make Jack a carbon copy of the The Doctor? Did RTD think we were too stupid to draw comparisons between them before? Now were pounded over the head with how both men lose everyone they care about, how it's all their fault, and, oh, how they are incapable of saying, "I love you". Accept The Doctor hasn't left the body count behind that Jack has. I should have realized that Ianto's words to Jack about Jack watching him grow old and die and making the most of the time they have was a big honking clue as to what was going to happen. RTD might as well have put Ianto in a red shirt and have Jack ask if it's new.

Worse than Ianto's death, because at least Ianto chose to be at Jack's side, was Jack's murder of his grandson. Again, I was looking forward to the possibility of Jack interacting with his family. It would have added a new facet to his character. But, no, Jack must always be alone. Even if it means the audience must endure the brutal, torturous killing of a child (this while we are still reeling from Frobinger murdering his two children and wife). Again, for what purpose? The reversing the frequency and using a child as a conduit was pulled out of thin air.

To make matters worse (if that;s possible), not only are we unable to ever look at Jack the same way again (seriously, how can we deal with fun loving, flirty, quipy Jack in a fourth series?), we're left to wonder how his daughter deals with her guilt. To her mind, at least, she's culpable in her son's death since she begged anyone who would listen to her to bring Jack into this to save the day.

Though there were many big, glaring WTFs, it was a small moment that drove home to me RTD's cluelessness. Frobisher has just murdered his family and committed suicide. We cut to Gwen, Rhys, and Andy walking up to Ianto's sister's home to inform her her brother is dead. And Andy asks if she knew Ianto was gay, which was then made light of. Not only was it a shockingly callous moment, the sudden shift in tone was inconceivable to me.

This turned out to be a much longer write up than I anticipated. Imagine if I was a fan! If there is another series, no, I'm not watching. Well, unless I need to invoke the Jamie Bamber rule - he guest stars in anything, I'm watching. Or if RTD pulls his head out of his ass and does a massive reset. Maybe the Doctor can fix this mess. Sorry, Gwen, I have to disagree with you when it comes to the Doctor. He would have been there. He has faith in us, even at our worst. More faith in us than than your creator does.
Tags:
*sigh*

It's nice to know that there's someone on my flist who a) doesn't think I'm batshit insane for hating what CoE became, 2) refrains from suggesting (in a disgustingly patronizing and condescending manner) that I'm "overly invested" in Jack/Ianto to the extent I can't think logically, or something and iii) recognized the same things that caused me to WTF all over the place, too.

Thanks for posting this.
You're welcome. :)

I think Ianto's death in any circumstance would lead to disappointment, for a variety of reasons. Jack and Ianto were one of the few gay couples on TV depicted and they were shown in a happy, healthy, positive light. On top of that, they were just getting serious. I think it's the way in which Ianto died is the cause for much of the anger. For instance, had he been able to step in at the last minute to replace Stephen and save the grandson of the man he loves as well as all the children of the world, that's a damn heroic death *and* pivotal to the plot. But dying because he followed Jack on a badly planned mission? That sucks.
Not only does it suck, it was a major misdirection/deception from the writing team that promised growth in the relationship between Jack & Ianto that we would really like, and "hot man-on-man action."

I kid you not. So that means I must've blinked and missed it, or else they need to learn that The Internet is for Porn and do some research. :-/
It's okay, there's no need to apologise, I'm a big girl and for all my whining, I did make the decision to watch it for myself because I thought it looked interesting and the first three episodes were.

Once again, I think we are on slightly different sides of a divisive finale, but...that said, no I didn't like this either and I didn't realise how much I didn't like the BSG finale for like...a week. So we'll see how I end up feeling about this one.

I just posted a more detailed write-up on my LJ, and I don't go into as many of the specifics as you (although I do agree with many that you mention here. Despite thinking much of this season was TW's best stuff, I also do not like the show and thinks it suffers from RTD's lack of coherent tone, plot holes and weird characterisation choices). But I do basically agree that the tone of CoE is inconsistant with the tone of previous seasons.

Basically it's as if CoE was written as a logical conclusion to the mess of an outfit TW was shown to be in S1 and S2. Which, okay, great but then...the logical reading of TW S1 and S2 was a) completely fucking dire and surreal and not really very likable/enjoyable/interesting for protagonists and b) quite clearly not what they were going for at the time or what a good chunk of their audience was expecting.

Now, I'm not actually against tone-shifts in shows, especially not if it makes them - in my opinion - better shows. But I do have a great deal of empathy for people who DIDN'T want or sign on for that tone change.

Essentially I think I would have liked it if I didn't know anything about S1 and S2 and those hadn't burned out my goodwill to the characters/show, didn't make things that happen here (like Ianto's death) even more pointless in context.

If it had been a complete standalone and we'd never met Torchwood before.

Which is why I really love your observation that BSG started with an apocalypse. Because I then realised why I was so frustrated with the fact that it seems the world pretty much carries on and six months later things seem pretty stable. (I mean, I know we don't see specifically but you'd think that someone would have mentioned if the government got overthrown or something). I wanted more fallout.

I wanted it to be a) a standalone mini series and b) the START not the end of a story.

As it stands, as part of Torchwood as a series, I don't even know how I feel about it. Disappointed, I suppose, sums it up. Not exactly because it was so dark, but because I think their past mistakes screwed up their chance to do dark well? And while if that was the story they were going for, I respect that they followed through to a certain extent (Stephen, the Frobishers), they essentially STILL pulled a "it's all back to normal now!" Which if they hadn't, might have made me feel the whole thing was more justified?

I also think that I will just COMPLETELY RETROSPECTIVELY HATE IT FOREVER if Captain Jack comes back in...nearly any capacity.
I also do not like the show and thinks it suffers from RTD's lack of coherent tone, plot holes and weird characterisation choices).

The weird characterizations have been there from day one. They stink, are even infuriating ( ::pokes stick at Owen's rotting corpse:: ), but I'm use to them. Plot holes? That's a problem with so many series. And the tone shifts either I just got used to them or they started to work. I was use to OMG THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END in mixed in with Jack's flirting and and lame jokes. And the first three parts tried to strike a balance between the dire circumstances and lighter character moments and, overall, I think it worked. But in Part 4 there was a seismic shift to the dark side and Part 5 was a bottomless hole of bleakness. If they had mae CoE dark in tone from the beginning, maybe I could have dealt better with horrific choices that took place in a span of fifty some minutes?

Basically it's as if CoE was written as a logical conclusion to the mess of an outfit TW was shown to be in S1 and S2.

Which would be fine, but they were depicted as being Big Damn Heroes for two series, even the bloody rapist, and now were supposed to view them as frak ups?

If it had been a complete standalone and we'd never met Torchwood before.

I've seen several posts discuss how CoE can be viewed as an awesome mini series in and of itself. But it's when taken in context with the two TW series that came before that trouble arises. We've talked about the Jack we first met on 'Who' and how he was far from heroic, yet was shown to be horrified when lives were at stake, particularly as a result of his actions. And he's man a who traveled with the Doctor, a man did his damndest to save every human life. I can't see the Doctor or Jack sacrificing a child, Jack's own grandson, even if it was for the greater good. The Jack we see in CoE? Ok, maybe. But not the Jack we know.

I wanted it to be a) a standalone mini series and b) the START not the end of a story.

I'm not sure I want to sit through another series set in a post apocalyptic society, but, yes, I could maybe accept this better if it was a set up for Gwen and Rhys and a new group of characters (Lois included maybe?) trying to help rebuild society after the world's government's betrayal and not the end of TW2 with the door open for Jack to return. And who didn't think the only reason he left was to set up him running into the Doctor?
I suppose Torchwood has been consistently depressing throughout, I'll give them that. And yes, it was written better this time, but still not well.

*consigns Torchwood to dustbin of television history. Waits for next SJA series in autumn*

There's depressing and then there is a need for anti-depressants after viewing and this fell into the latter category. I saw someone comment that RTD destroyed everything and then salted the earth. I couldn't imagine this being any bleaker. Oh, wait, Gwen's baby could have died. :/
And Rhys. Thank heavens he didn't have the army shoot Rhys in all that rubbishy 'hiding the little kiddies' sequence.
I obviously missed this post when you first wrote it, and I'm kinda loathe to dip in... Please just tell me to to go away if you're fed up of the topic.

Just to point out where I'm coming from, then Ianto's death gutted me more than *any* other TV death ever. And I really mean that. Personally I'm devastated.

However - I think it was good TV, I think RTD had every right to go there, and I can see why he did. You want to break your hero, you take *everything* away from him/her - especially the love interest, that's quite simply how it works.

And as for Steven's death? I'm still stunned that they actually went there. This was The Gift, but without a last-minute easy way out that the hero could live with. Of course, Jack isn't Buffy. Jack is Frobisher's mirror, the man who goes along with things, and then has to face what he put others through. ('Sins of the father' could have been the tagline for CoE.) Yes it is bleak and dark as hell, but I admire the story for following through.

Accept The Doctor hasn't left the body count behind that Jack has.
Um... the Doctor murdered his entire species, including his own children and grandchildren. And the Daleks of course (thrice, if we count Doomsday and JE), the Rachnoss, the Krillitane, the Family of Blood (fate worse than death) and so on... Jack's got a long, LONG way to go before he's anywhere *near* the Doctor. (You've seen Handlebars, right?) Of course Doctor Who skirts around a lot of the issues, that's the nature of the show. Torchwood was always *supposed* to be the adult version, it just didn't get there properly until now. I'm glad that it fulfilled its potential, even though it meant destroying the show. (I very much consider it dead. Jack left. If it comes back, it'll be a new thing.)

More faith in us than than your creator does.
Hmm. I think CoE showcased one of RTD's central themes - the dual nature of humanity. On one hand capable of unspeakable monstrosities, and on the other able to be more brave, more heroic than anyone could imagine. S3 of DW in particular explores this. Oh and 'Midnight' of course. (I don't like 'Midnight', but the *issues* it tackles are v. spot-on.) The Doctor loves humanity, but he has no illusions. ("I gave them the wrong warning. I should've told them to run - as fast as they can, run and hide because the monsters are coming: the human race." The Christmas Invasion) Btw I think the 456 probably stopped any attempt at communication. Or maybe it was a fixed point in time so he couldn't intervene. I hope they'll address that.

OK, I waffled. I'm sorry. Please ignore me if you want. I just thought it was good, even though it BROKE MY HEART AND MY SHOW AND MY SHIP. *goes off to read more Janto porn*