Torchwood: “Children of Earth, Day Two”
Posted by therebelprince on July 22, 2009
“That’s what the frontline’s for. The first to fall.” – Mr. Dekker
The second hour of “Children of Earth” picks up where the first one left off, with Gwen (Eve Myles) and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) escaping from the devestated Torchwood hub. Both are pursued by henchmen of Johnson (Liz May Brice), who busies herself coldly watching over the search through the rubble, and the discovery of several parts of Captain Jack (John Barrowman).
While Jack’s remains are taken to be studied, Ianto and Gwen separately reach out to their families and begin an investigation into those who are hunting them down. It’s a solid, action-packed installment which picks up on the intrigue from yesterday and doubles it. At the same time, the strong character-related plots continue to shine. Jack’s daughter (Lucy Cohu) waits anxiously to get in touch with him, Ianto’s sister (Katie Wix) and brother-in-law assist him in evading his pursuers, and even Frobisher (Peter Capaldi) faces the fears as his own two daughters are acting as strangely as the rest of the world’s children.
Frobisher is the middle man in a construction project orchestrated by the mysterious “456”. It is clear that Dekker (Ian Gelder, below), the man at the top, has prior experience with these aliens but his motives remain unclear. However, it is clearly linked to the other people on the “order to kill” list, none of whose names are familiar to Gwen, but who clearly are as important as Jack is to the overall project.
It’s disturbing to see Jack’s remains, and Davies reasonably answers the question about what it means to be blown up when immortal: Jack’s body parts appear to regrow like a skink. By the time Ianto, Gwen and Rhys (Kai Owen, above) arrive to save him, Jack is physically back to his old self with John Barrowman getting his patented nude scene out of the way here.
Gwen and Rhys make a great team, and it’s good to see them take the lead in this episode. Rhys shows his green-ness when he almost outs them to a security guard at Dekker’s complex, but he works well with Gwen on a professional and an emotional level. Eve Myles has said that she prefers the serialised episodes of Torchwood and I have to agree. We’ve been able to take on so much more about the characters within this larger mystery structure. I’m still not sure if Russell T. Davies can pull off an aptly intelligent conclusion to this, but I’m willing to remain optimistic after two successful installments.
Once the Torchwood team are reunited, they speed off with further clues provided to them by the turncoat Lois Habiba (Cush Jumbo). By this point, Lois is back by her boss’ side as he and his EA, Ms. Spears (Susan Brown) enter the room with the completed construction project: a biosphere designed for habitation by the 456, or so it seems. The children are chanting that the aliens will arrive tomorrow, and everyone is on edge. The episode ends with the same question we got last time, this time voiced by the mysterious Dekker pointedly at Frobisher: why are they focussing on England? And why the children?
All in all, this episode does very well with what is essentially 60 minutes of non-stop action, and successfully carries the intrigue straight on through. Surprisingly, John Barrowman’s absence from the majority of the proceedings is barely felt: instead Jack’s disappearance pushes the strengths of his colleagues to the fore, and shows us that while Jack is a charismatic figurehead, this show has long since surpassed Doctor Who’s need to centre its uneven-in-quality storylines with a dynamic leading man. Eve Myles, Kai Owen and Gareth David-Lloyd are all at their best here, and hopefully what we’ll take away from this season is a more even use of all the characters in the future.
I’ve got no idea where this is all going, or how this invasion will end up being different from the many that Torchwood and its sister series Doctor Who have thrown at us, but I’ll be eager to see where tomorrow takes us – when the 456 finally arrive.
* It’s good to see PC Andy (Tom Price) in a cameo, providing a little bit of humour and nice touch of continuity.
* Torchwood, much like the aliens themselves, is becoming a household word all over the city. If there’s a season 4, I suspect this will be a primary storyline.
* There was a mention yesterday that Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) is on vacation and therefore not available. In reality Agyeman – as well as Noel Clarke, as Mickey Smith – were busy elsewhere with their careers. I suspect that the character of Lois is a rejigging of what would have been Martha’s storyline with UNIT for this series.
* And I’m not sure why Frobisher’s wife (Hilary MacLean) is so concerned that he wants his family to have their phones on during this crisis. I know she’s growing suspicious about his career, but it seems a little bit telegraphed for my liking.