"There's one thing I always meant to ask Jack. Back in the old days, I wanted to know about that Doctor of his. The man who appears out of nowhere and saves the world. Except sometimes he doesn't. All those times in history when there was no sign of him, I wanted to know why not. But I don't need to ask any more. I know the answer now. Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame."
IN THIS ONE... Jack sacrifices his grandson so that the 456 don't get their mandibles on a million children.
REVIEW: Russell T Davies has been doing mostly spectacularly with Children of Earth, but his finales in Doctor Who were often rubbish, so... Yes, there is some of that RTD hogwash here, but it's minor, or else it actually works. Like the U.S. general taking over from the British Prime Minister, much like the President tried to do in Last of the Time Lords. That's a cheap shot against imperialist America, and not very believable. It's good that it's then made part of the plot - Green using it as political cover - but it's where Children of Earth's plot goes from intricate to manipulative. Things happening to satisfy the plot regardless of their logic. Thankfully, there's actually little of this. Gwen's recorded message, seen at the top of the episode, is slightly melodramatic and perhaps asks a question the spin-offs should never attract attention to, but it works better than Rose Tyler's misleading voice-over in Doomsday, for being truthful and recorded in the story. I'm also a bit surprised to see Dekker survive the virus in Thames House, especially since there's nothing sinister about his survival (only about the amoral scientist himself); again, he's needed for the plot and that should excuse the slim explanation.
But if you like your Torchwood dark, oh it gets dark. And then darker still. For a while there, it doesn't seem like there's a limit to how dark things can get. Obviously, the 456 seem to have won, and I doubt parents are the only ones who'll find the notion of children being taken away by the army so they can, get this, produce narcotics for aliens, harrowing. The way Green sells out Frobisher's children is a major miscalculation - they could have been used as a photo op to legitimize the "inoculations", but perhaps less aware government employees could have served as the necessary "victims"? - which results in triple murder-suicide, all the more tragic because the world's children are saved at the end and Frobisher need not have killed his entire family to spare them from the 456's attentions. The sequence is intercut with Bridget's visit to Lois' cell (now there's a character rather hung out to dry in her final episode), serving as a eulogy, and yet also as a smokescreen to hide Bridget turning into a second Lois. And if you're still feeling a bit cheery, Jack's only recourse is to use his own grandchild as the central transmitter for a deadly scream (like the one Clem died from) fed back to the 456, killing the boy. Jack continues to pay the price for the original 12, and must stand there, numb, while his daughter, Steven's mother, wails. The sequence is almost unbearable, though they at least don't make the death of a child too gory, but its intensity is heightened by being intercut with Gwen and Rhys running from the army with children in their arms. Well, no wonder Jack needs to leave Earth at the end. Exile is his self-inflicted penance.
It's entirely natural then that at the end of the most nihilistic Torchwood episode yet, the team would be destroyed. Only Gwen is left, and the entire premise has been deconstructed over the span of a mere five days. A new Torchwood built by Gwen Cooper is something I would have been very curious to see, alas, that wasn't in the cards. Instead, the only real hope in the episode is that Gwen kept the baby, her abortion talk just hurtful words spoken in the heat of a bad moment. If Torchwood ended here, then at least, there was a happy ending for Gwen and Rhys. Otherwise, we can look to the political theater where Green's career is destroyed by Bridget, and rightly so, but with opportunistic Denise taking over, a woman who was just as bad as Green in the "final solution" discussions, it's just the same old crap in Whitehall. People are going to start to wax nostalgic about Saxon...
REWATCHABILITY: High - Despite the flaws, Day Five is emotionally intense and takes the stuffing right out of me every time. Gutting.