*SPOILERS THROUGH CHILDREN OF EARTH, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED*
It's a weird expeirence I had this time around with Day Five because at episode start I was in a very good mood. I had had a spectacular day and I was so happy that the episode really couldn't get me down. I know from my past experiences with this episode I am usually slightly less depressed than the previous episode after watching. I don't want to just go on about the faults of COE, but I do want to look back and think about the good points and the bad points about it as a whole.
How about we make a list? You can read the previous blogs for my detailed praises and critiques but let's do bullet points, shall we?
(in no particular order, seriously, this is just the order it's coming to me and this is only a handful)
The whole Davies family. Rhiannon, Johnny, Mica and David. I love Ianto's family. They are without a doubt the best thing to come out of Children of Earth in my opinion. I wish we could see more of these characters in the future. I love each individually (well maybe not David, he was a bit dull) and I simply adore Ianto and Rhi's relationship.
Ianto and Jack, the good bits. I assure you Ianto and Jack's moments in COE, and there were many, fall equally on the side of Pro and Con for lots of reasons. One of the best parts was that they really gave the relationship a good amount of screen time. Lovely to see more of their development as a couple. I also liked that they made them more real in a way. Instead of just seeing little scenes here and there we saw a full arch of their relationship and we saw a struggle that is not uncommon in real couples. Their story felt authentic in that way and if it were an isolated story it would have been rather well done. Stay tuned for the cons for why it didn't work out quite right. Also, points for Janto kisses. Never a bad thing.
Lois Habiba. What a great, brave character played by the wonderful Cush Jumbo. She was a bright spot in all the depression. I know I'm not the only one that was hoping she'd join the team after COE was over.
Jack the family man. I am being very careful not to put Alice and Steven specifically because Steven was neither here nor there and Alice upset me a bit. I did however like seeing Jack have that familial connection. I loved that it really took me by surprise and it was very moving seeing him so vulnerable. And of course the events of Day Five were soul crushing but I really thought Jack's impossible choice at the end was a positive highlight of the whole series. Of course I didn't want that to happen, but it was a really well forced decision with heartbreaking consequences no matter what. Whether Jack did the right thing or not is a whole blog in itself but it sure was compelling story and so effective in devastating the fans.
Related to that is the softer side of Jack. We saw Jack fall apart. He lashed out and he was vulnerable and he cried more than once. Of course we never want to see our Captain suffer, but there were some touching moments and seeing the conflict in Jack throughout was really phenomenal. Of course John Barrowman brought so much to that and his man crying was spot on. If I had to name a Most Valuable Actor for the whole series I might have to give it to John.
I might also have to give it to Gareth. I refuse to actually choose. The acting in this by our main cast as well as the new additions was amazing. Particularly John, Gareth, Eve and Kai, just flawless. I believed every minute. The true test of an actor is if they can make you forget they're acting, if you believe they really are Jack, Ianto, Gwen and Rhys. I find myself often lost in the episodes and so invested in the characters. If we didn't buy into their performances we wouldn't care nearly as much. We end up caring about characters as if they were actual people. See the Ianto wall if you doubt that.
They killed Ianto!! Whether you agree it was good story telling or not, or if the death was plausible (again, a whole blog topic in itself) at the end of the day, we're down a suit wearing, coffee brewing, quick witted, Jack loving Welshman. No matter what you think of anything else, not having Ianto anymore is FIRMLY in the con category. Complaint number one with a bullet.
#CaptainAssHat. While I am all for believable conflict I am not for forcing a story on characters. I'm not saying any conversation that happened during COE with Jack and Ianto couldn't have come up in their relationship, what I am saying is it felt forced. Like my issue with their relationship as a whole we keep seeming to miss things. Defining moments, game changing relationship steps are happening off screen. I don't see a smooth transition from Jack and Ianto series 2 to Jack and Ianto in COE. It doesn't make sense and everyone was sort of blind-sided I think. It was just a very drastic change rather suddenly and it made it seem out of character because we didn't see the progression.
The 456. This might be a debatable issue but it is an issue I had. The 456 as a threat were interesting, I liked the ties to the past, I liked the suspense and I liked that it wasn't so out there that it was a joke. What I didn't like, which is why it's in the cons overall was the actual 456. When Frobisher was negotiating with them, I was..so...bored. Just me? I think those scenes maybe needed to be shorter because 456 speech puts me to sleep. On a related note all the government debates, too much talking in a dull way. I don't know how to criticize this properly. I think everything they said was interesting and we needed to know it, but watching the scenes themselves they dragged.
The all around negative vibes. Whether or not you can pick out individual moments or character traits that upset you in Children of Earth it's generally agreed that it's upsetting. For me the majority makes me angry and depressed. I acknowledge that strong fan reactions are to some extent a sign of good story telling. If we're that upset we must be that invested.I went over this in one of the earlier blogs, but in a nutshell, if these episodes are so upsetting that at the end of them we're more annoyed or sad than entertained, something isn't right. The fact that I had people watching every episode with me for the re-watch and almost all stepped away during COE, the fact that fans consider it hard to watch and don't want to, THAT IS A FLAW. If you ask me that is the biggest flaw. They did a great job of telling a sad story that really resonated but left us with a bad taste at the end. Which brings us to my final con...
The ending. The fact that they though this could be the end of Torchwood forever makes the miserable ending of this series all the worse. What a shitty way to go down! I am glad that the deaths of Ianto and Steven affected Jack but this was too much. If this was the end of a series and it was coming back, a cliffhanger, something to fix it would be fine. The fact is, they scripted this episode thinking it might well be the end. They were prepared to end Jack's story having him, give up and Torchwood die. I have been through some pretty unsatisfying endings with shows I have loved, more than one courtesy of Russell T Davies and each time it irks me so. Shows that I have invested series after series of viewing on that wrap up in a terrible way. I cannot tell you how glad I am that Miracle Day is a reality. I don't need a perfectly happy ending, that's not very Torchwood either, but I'm hoping when it really is the end, it's a satisfying story closer. I'm also hoping it's not for another 7 series.
I was really hoping that at the end of Children of Earth I could step back and say definitively, "I liked it" or "I hated it" and explain why. It's not black and white though. There are good points and there are bad. If I had the choice to erase it, so that neither good nor bad happened, I don't know if I would. I mean, I probably would, because at the end of the day I'd get Ianto back. That seems to be my bottom line. All other pros and cons aside. Children of Earth killed Ianto and I wish it hadn't. I think all this reflection had done is confused my feelings more, but I hope it was interesting enough to read. I realize my Day Five blog turned into Day One - Day Five but it made more sense to talk about it overall. Tomorrow is the last blog in my 100 day countdown to Miracle Day, I'm not sure exactly what that will be like yet but I'll try to make it a suitable finish. I hope you enjoyed the re-watch portion of these blogs, I know I really got a lot out of watching everything again with you. I'll be back tomorrow, until then what did you think of Children of Earth? Of Torchwood as a whole? Any thoughts at the end of the re-watch? xx
All "Countdown" Blogs