Five years ago this week, the five-part miniseries that would break every ‘Torchwood’ fan’s heart aired. Today, specifically, the episode that broke everyone’s heart aired. So in honor of the 5th anniversary of Ianto Jones’ death, ScienceFiction.com will take a look back on the infamous third series of ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’.
Now for some, celebrating the series that blew up the Hub, killed everyone’s favorite character, and ushered in the much maligned fourth season of ‘Miracle Day’, this may not be much cause to celebrate.
For me, though, it is. This series, for all it broke my heart and made me so nervous I think there are still nail marks in my sofa, was amazing science fiction. It was everything ‘Torchwood’ should have been, and the only shame is that it ended right there. Is was dark and gritty without being campy, and it was campy and funny without sacrificing the emotional tension.
Welcome to the world where there is no right answer and the Doctor isn’t there to save the day (unless he’s actually John Frobisher and shooting his wife and children and then himself, but I somehow doubt that even if Peter Capaldi plays both roles).
Here’s the simple truth about ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’:
Torchwood was always supposed to be the adult version of ‘Doctor Who’. For the first season, that meant dick jokes and orgasm aliens. For the second season, it meant introducing a zombie character. For the third? It meant actually looking at an alien invasion and understanding that sometimes you are powerless.
That’s the real power and beauty of ‘Children of Earth’; something we got a taste of in the last episode of the second series. There they said, “We had fun and brought people back to life! How about they die now?”
‘Children of Earth’ is about the consequences of Jack’s actions in the 1960s in appeasing an alien species called the 456 by giving them children in order to have them leave the planet alone. In 2009, they return, and they are demanding more children. Jack and Torchwood were a part of the cover up, so the government decides to remove the organization to protect their worldwide image and ensure that no one will blame them for the 456’s appearance. Trying to the save the world from an alien threat, and run away from corrupt government, ‘Children of Earth’ is an action-packed drama that keeps you sick to your stomach from the first moments of children screaming “We are coming” in unison, until the final solution.
The real adult ‘Doctor Who’ is not about how many things Jack has sex with (though, that is fun), and it’s not having tragic love affairs without dealing the consequences later. The real adult version of ‘Doctor Who’ is where there are no right answers, there are no wrong people, and there are only hard solutions, all of which have consequences.
And the consequences were there as starkly as the moments of humor (the ultra-high-tech and mega-secure Torchwood SUV getting car jacked, for example).
So, while I may have been depressed for months after the series ended, I still want to celebrate one of my favorite series of science Fiction to ever hit television.
‘Torchwood’, we miss you, but boy, did you try to go out with a bang. Too bad ‘Miracle Day’ had to go and ruin it.