Bloody hell, I love this show.
My love for Torchwood isn’t new. I loved the series from the start; it was dark, it was bleak, there was an undercurrent of nihilism that really appealed to me. (Nihilism; it’s the same reason I love Alien3.)
I thought the second season lost its way. Sort of. There was more consistency to the second season. The first season could veer wildly in tone. The second season was more level, more uniform. There was a lighter touch. Yes, the second season was still dark (witness Owen), and it was emotionally manipulative (witness “Exit Wounds”), but there was more of a sense of fun to Torchwood.
Surprisingly, this made me unhappy. I like Jack Harkness when he’s morose as all get out. The happy-go-lucky Jack feels like a betrayal. (Interestingly, I was just reading today the article on Euros Lyn in Doctor Who Magazine #409, where Lyn talks about the different approach to directing John Barrowman’s performance as Jack between Torchwood and Who. That’s actually a deliberate choice; Who wears its emotions on its sleeve, while Torchwood carries more subtext.)
Which, in a roundabout way, brings us to Day Two, the second part of the third season Torchwood event.
I don’t want to say a lot about Children of Earth, because BBC America won’t be showing it for a few weeks yet. Spoilers and all that.
The shit is hitting the fan.
The final act felt a lot too convenient; Ianto just happened to be there, exactly when he needed to be. I can forgive that. Because the journey in getting there was harrowing. Jack’s torments, Gwen and Rhys’ journey, Ianto’s levelheadedness. It all adds up to something. And there’s very clearly going to be a reckoning.
There’s a very Alan Moore-esque vibe underlying Children of Earth. There’s a police state in place in Britain, at least the trappings and mechanisms of one, and there are parties in power that want to retain their power. I’m reminded greatly of V For Vendetta, though perhaps more the film than the graphic novel. I’m reminded of Inspector Finch’s question — “If our own government was responsible for the deaths of a hundred thousand people, would you really want to know?”
Monsters. Doctor Who travels out into space to battle monsters. But the real monsters are inside the human heart, and they prey upon human frailties. I don’t know if there will be alien monsters in Children of Earth or not — I’m trying to stay spoiler-free — but there are definite human monsters at play here.
I really expect a government to be toppled when all is said and done. If only the Doctor hadn’t toppled Harriet Jones’ government prematurely…
I don’t know where Children of Earth is going. So far, it’s had an impressive scope, fantastic production values, and a compelling story. These are harrowing days — for Torchwood, for Earth — and when all is said and done, I imagine it’s going to be explosive.
Now I genuinely wonder if David Tennant’s swansong on Doctor Who six months hence will be half as gripping.