by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Torchwood, Season Three: "Children of Earth" Day Three

Posted 22 January 2010 in by Catriona

So, I’ve been called into this by Nick shouting “It’s starting!” while I was on the verandah with Michelle, so there’s some connubial irritation right now.

[Note: is “connubial” even the word I meant? I really need to rethink my “not live-blogging Torchwood sober” rule. And also my new “not commenting on my live-blogging of Torchwood sober” rule.]

Also, Heather has just updated both my Facebook page and my Twitter, so there is that.

Actually, the episode is starting, so I should talk about that now.

We start with the explosion from the week before last, then Lois in the cafe with Rhys and Gwen, and then Decker emphasising that they’re coming for Britain.


Aerial shot over London. Heather bemoans the lack of parking garages, Nick bemoans the lack of weevils.

But Ianto cuts the lock into a warehouse, which will be the new Torchwood.

The news networks are going nuts, because now is “tomorrow,” when the 456 said that they’d be coming.

In the garage, there’s a sofa and a drum full of fire. Jack is mostly worried about the fact that he’s wearing tracksuit bottoms, while Gwen is worried that they have no resources.

Jack indicates that he knew that Gwen was pregnant before Rhys knew, which pisses Rhys off, though Gwen says “He just happened to be there.”

PRIME MINISTER: In light of what is happening, we’ve temporarily closed all the schools.
HEATHER: And shot all the children.

The Prime Minister makes a public statement.

ME: What did I miss?
MICHELLE: Oh, the girl. In government. With the gorgeous lips?
ME: Yes?
MICHELLE: Oh, she just looked at someone. I was looking at her lips. I didn’t really see.

Ianto’s sister is running a daycare, since the schools are closed, and Jack’s daughter still can’t get through to his mobile phone.

In the Torchwood Warehouse, they don’t have enough equipment. But Gwen says that she trained with the police, and she knows all the tricks. So they just steal whatever they need, including cars, briefcases, and computers.

Alice, Jack’s daughter, runs across the road to borrow someone’s mobile phone. We have a brief but complicated discussion about whether her pants are too tight. (The consensus, if you’re interested, is that too tight around the bottom is fine.)

Her call is traced, because of the key term “Jack Harkness.” This is her, not the woman whose phone she borrowed. And so they know that her parents are “placeholder names,” people who never actually existed.

Ianto comes back into the Warehouse, with food and clothes for everyone including “army surplus” clothes for Jack, who strolls in saying, “I’m back” to overwhelming support.

Gosh, he’s pretty.

Clem, in a pub, has another meltdown and a flashback to the other children walking into the light. Police come into the pub and try to grab him—we know, thanks to our subtle Wikipedia searching last week, that police are under the control of the Home Secretary.

That’s lucky, because Gwen now approaches Lois, who works for the Home Secretary.

Lois is reluctant to help, because she says that this is treason. (Sorry, got distracted by a conversation about whether Gwen’s hair colour is natural or not.) But Gwen is convincing Lois to wear contact lenses that will, basically, allow Torchwood to see through Lois’s eyes.

Lois says that this will put her right in the front line and, she adds, she can’t get onto floor 13 (where they’re building the cage for the 456) even if she does get into Thames House.

Jack, looking on the computer, says that Frobisher (John Forbisher, Permanent Secretary to the something that passed too quickly for me to read) is the key, but he’s a nobody. Then Ianto distracts him (firstly) by asking about whether Jack felt the explosion and then (secondly) whether Jack will just watch Ianto age and die, and just move on.

The distraction is Ianto finding out that Clem has been arrested. He sends Gwen off—“You’re a policewoman”—to get him out.

Meanwhile, Jack has what Heather has called a “lightbulb moment,” realising that he knows the three other people who were killed the day he was blown up.

In the Black Ops Secret Computer Room, the Woman in Black has found out that Alice Carter is Jack’s daughter. She calls Frobisher, who says to “bring her in.” Frobisher tells Bridget that they’re transferring to Thames House, and Lois, in desperation, says that Frobisher asked her to come to Thames House.

BRIDGET: What for? Why on Earth would he need you?
LOIS: It was a . . . private conversation.
BRIDGET: You’re not the first, you know. Don’t go thinking you’re the first.

We debate whether Bridget is in love with her boss (me) or just jaded about politics in general (Nick).

Gwen rings Andy, and has him, basically, lie to Camden Police to have Clem released. Clem cries when she arrives, and we all feel sorry for him.

Alice, meanwhile, is not stupid, and realises that someone has come for her. She grabs her son, and a gun, and legs it. (We have another brief discussion about how unflattering her pants are.) But she’s trapped by the Woman in Black, who talks Alice into putting down her gun by pondering whether Alice or her son are as immortal as Alice’s father.

But while Alice puts down her gun and the kitchen knife she stashed in her (unflattering) waistband, she realises the her son, Steven, is pointing at something in the sky. The Woman in Black turns to see what.

But all the children are pointing.

As is Clem.

NEWSREADER: Once again, all the children have stopped. Every child in the world.
MICHELLE: You don’t know that!
HEATHER: Yeah, there are probably some children in a cave somewhere.
MICHELLE: What about children without arms?

The news reader points out that everyone is pointing to London, and children in London are pointing to the centre.

MICHELLE: Where are children in the centre of London pointing?

They’re pointing, as it turns out, to a fiery spike of energy (which Michelle describes as “an Icy Pole of light, but not icy. You know, fiery”), which shoots from the sky and down into the cage in Thames House.

The children intone, “We are here.”

In Thames House, Frobisher tries to speak to the alien, but there’s just a lot of screaming, thrashing around, and what looks like vomiting.

(HEATHER: Space travel. Upsets my tummy.)

We might not quote Heather much in the rest of the episode, as she has a real talent for making the upsetting seem funny. Case in point: Frobisher asks what the 456 want, and Heather responds, “No more vomiting,” to which Michelle adds “And maybe something with electrolytes.”

What the 456 actually want is the chance to speak to the whole world. Frobisher points out that it doesn’t work like that, and in fact they’d only be speaking to elected representatives.

The 456 agree to that, which is a relief to Heather, because, as she says, what would they have done if the 456 didn’t agree?

The 456 do agree, and they further agree to keep the “previous encounter” with Earth (namely, with Great Britain) be kept secret, for the sake of future agreements with humanity.

Frobisher leaves the room, and slides down the far wall as though his legs are rubber.

The PM, meanwhile, is being reamed by an American general, who accuses them of establishing “the sovereign court of Great Britain” and hosting an “alien ambassador” on British soul. Apparently, the American President is quite furious about this.

The PM offers to step back, and let the civil service take charge.

I call for another glass of wine.

The American general says the civil service are still British, but the PM says they’re not elected, so there’s no accountability. Plus, he says, Frobisher is expendable.

Frobisher knows that that means, and rings his wife. His wife says she’ll be fine, and drops her phone—whereupon Jack sneaks in, picks it up, and leaves.

The media are calling it “the so-called pillar of fire,” and Michelle says that that’s what she meant, a “pillar of fire” not an “Icy pole.” I say it’s too late: “Icy pole” is on the blog.

Jack rings Frobisher on his wife’s phone, and Jack says this is 1965 all over again. He asks Frobisher if they’ve “come back” and Frobisher says “yes.”

Jack says that he can blow this sky high (his words: the cliche is not mine), but Frobisher says that they have Alice and Steven, so Jack will do what they say.

I ask Nick if there’s a possum rummaging in our rubbish bin. There isn’t.

Jack threatens to grab Frobisher’s wife, but Frobisher says that Jack is a better man than he (Frobisher) is.

Back in the warehouse, Clem is drinking tea and eating heartily.

He points his tea mug at Ianto, and tells Gwen that Ianto’s queer: he can smell it. Slightly problematic, perhaps, but he could smell pregnancy.

In Thames House, Frobisher is counting down, and Lois excuses herself to put the contact lenses in after all. (Rhys and Gwen reveal that they took the lenses home “for a bit of fun”—Rhys says that it took him a while to get used to it—and Ianto says, “Yeah. Well. We’ve all done that.”)

In the elevator, Bridget points out that history will says that, whatever happens here, the PM was not at fault. Frobisher already knows this.

(Matt? Stop tweeting! It’s distracting!)

Through Lois’s lenses, they can see the tank.

(No one is feeding me Wagon Wheels this week. That’s disappointing. Technically, no one fed me Wagon Wheels last week, but there was the promise of Wagon-Wheel feeding, and that was sufficient.)

Lois angles herself around so that she can see Frobisher’s lips—as he offers greetings from various countries—because the software Torchwood are using for voice recognition isn’t so good in profile.

Apparently, Australia sent greetings.

For shame.

The 456 respond with more apparent vomiting, which, really, is kind of foul. Frobisher holds himself upright. He says “I’m sorry, but I can’t help being concerned. Is there a problem?” They mimic his words back at him, so he simply asks if they should continue.

His main point is that they ask the 456 not to use their children for communication. Everyone is hanging on the answer to this, but the 456 simply say “Yes.”

The American general, in the PM’s office, tells them to ask why they came to the U.K. The PM says that probably isn’t important, but the general says, “Ask them.”

HEATHER: And the U.S. steps in!

Frobisher asks the question, though he isn’t happy about it. But the 456, in line with their previous agreement, says that the U.K. has no significance: “You are middlemen.”

Sure, but have you seen The Middleman? Because that was awesome!

The 456 ask for a gift.

Of course, says Frobisher. What would they like?

Your children, says the 456.

HEATHER: Yeah, see, well, probably best to find that out first.

Clem, of course, freaks out at this. He says they’re coming back, just as they did before. And he loops: “He’s coming. He’s coming. He’s coming.”

He means Jack.

Frobisher, in shock, asks what they mean by “children.”

“Your descendants,” say the 456.

How many? asks Frobisher.

“10%,” say the 456.

ME: They’re going to decimate them!
HEATHER: Decimate!

Back in the warehouse, Gwen disputes Clem’s response, saying that Jack fights aliens.

“Isn’t that right?” she asks Jack.

“No,” says Jack.

And he says that in 1965, he gave them twelve children.

“Why?” Gwen asks.

And Jack says, “As a gift.”


Share your thoughts [10]


Matt wrote at Jan 23, 01:51 am

Sorry I wasn’t present in the moment during the episode. I haven’t been watching Children of Earth because I’ve already seen it and it made me want to cry. Although it is pretty darn good and I might watch in about a year. Anyway, what I was tweeting about was this bunch stories about super heroes called Union Dues which is great already but might be made into a Tv show which would be cool and also how I’m planning my birthday three months in advance and putting together a book wish list so if you have suggestion send them to me on Twitter. Kthxbai


Catriona wrote at Jan 23, 02:35 am

Matt, you rock.

We also weren’t sure about rewatching “Children of Earth,” because it did make me cry. But I thought, “Hey, I’m committed to this whole live-blogging lark,” so I made my rule about not watching it entirely sober, and now I have a headache.

I can’t help feeling that my live-blogging of this is a little frivolous, as it’s bound to be in a room full of slightly tipsy people with weird senses of humour.

I should say outright that “Children of Earth” blew my mind, and I think it’s incredible. That’s just not necessarily coming across in the blogging.


Deb wrote at Jan 24, 02:00 am

Speaking of Torchwood, have you seen this?:

I weep softly onto my keyboard with fear, fear and despair, fear, despair and an almost fanatical devotion to the Jack. SRSLY DON’T DO IT !


Matthew Smith wrote at Jan 24, 04:49 am

Frivolous live blogging is great and I enjoy that you’ve got the guest commenters on board. I hope Heather and Michelle are going to be sticking around for the finale (and Nick obviously).


Catriona wrote at Jan 24, 05:10 am

I had seen the news about the projected new version of Torchwood, Deb, and shuddered quietly to myself. I’m not keen and I don’t see why it’s necessary: American audiences are quite happy to watch foreign imports (case in point: Torchwood), so why are American TV execs obsessed with making foreign texts American? It makes no sense to me.

And, yes, Matt: Michelle and Heather are planning to come along to the next two episodes. They can’t back out now! It’s a serious commitment, keeping me sane during this.


Heather wrote at Jan 27, 11:16 pm


And WTF about a US Version of Torchwood?? As an American I am here to tell you that there is NO reason in the world to re-make it for the US. That is JUST DUMB! Like when Rosanne was going to remake AB FAB for the US. NO! NO! NO! (Stamps foot) NO!

Plus there are all those wonderful remarks about Cardiff and the only place that would be even remotely similar is San Fran and LORD KNOWS we don’t need another Queer show about San Fran.


Catriona wrote at Jan 28, 12:20 am

Ah, but, you see, Heather, the Television Without Pity pros and cons list that Deb posted above—I’ll put a direct link here if that’s easier—specifically mentions that the U. S. show will be more global.

I quote:

“One of the things that always kind of bugged me about both Doctor Who and Torchwood was that all of the alien encounters seemed to center around the UK and, in the case of the latter, Cardiff (likely for budgetary reasons). Kinda like how Buffy’s Sunnydale was the center for all evil.”

See, to me that’s just stupid. The show’s focus on Cardiff isn’t at all analogous to the fact that Sunnydale was the centre for all evil: this is the Cardiff branch of Torchwood. That’s why they focus on Cardiff.

I think this reviewer is missing the fact that Torchwood is really more like the police (admittedly, police with incredibly liberal search-and-seizure powers) than it is like the Justice League of America.

Hey! That’s an idea! Why not just make a live-action Justice League of America show?

(Plus, I find this kind of thinking terribly offensive by proxy. No American I’ve ever met is as insular and parochial as the networks make them sound.)


heather wrote at Jan 29, 07:34 am

Oh my god!

That reviewer must be an American and can’t understand why the aliens in Dr Who and Torchwood are landing in the UK and not AMERICA where the aliens ALWAYS land! Or maybe he is used to Americans ALWAYS ‘fixing’ the problem—like that scene in Independence Day in the Desert where the Aussie troops are just sitting around doing nothing about the aliens and their giant ship hovering over them, and then the radio officer runs up, points to his headphones and says “It’s the Americans!” and the Commander says, in all seriousness “Great! What do they want us to do?!?” because LORD KNOWS that other countries just don’t know what to do about Aliens and they all just sit around waiting for the US to ‘take charge’!


Also, I agree with you that the reviewer is totally missing the point that the show is following a branch of Torchwood and that this branch happens to be located in Cardiff.

The reviewer’s analogy to Sunnydale doesn’t sit right with me because Cardiff (unlike Sunnydale) is a place in the real world and that Cardiff (and Wales in general) has a reputation of being really odd. And that this reputation is woven into the fictional worlds of Dr Who and Torchwood and that the weirdness is ‘explained’ (in part anyway) by the existence of the rift. I think it’s hilarious…but maybe its because I’m an American who knows that Cardiff has this reputation? I dunno.

I know I have sentence structure issues all over this post…but I am totally venting!

So there.

Now are we on for tonight or what? :)


Catriona wrote at Jan 29, 08:16 am

Yep, Television Without Pity is exclusively written by Americans (or, perhaps more accurately, from within the U.S.), as far as I know.

That doesn’t bother me, of course.

But the site’s Amero-centric attitude does sometimes bother me: as when they cancelled the (highly popular) Doctor Who recaps with the comment “If you want to know about Bit Torrent, ask a Doctor Who fan,” and, when asked to clarify, added, “Y’all have seen it already before it airs.”

Well, yes. Because it’s not an American show. So many of your readers have seen it because they live in countries that air it before the U. S. does. Why care, if they’re reading the recaps anyway?

I felt that was a poor attitude to take, given they were writing for a website and not for a geographically specific publication (if any publications above community newsletters even exist exclusively in hard copy any more). It certainly put me off the site.

I’m glad you mentioned the Rift, because I left that out of my analysis above. But I still think the main analysis and the comparison to the police are both valid.


Wendy wrote at Jan 31, 02:16 am

Hey Nick…Catriona asked for some backup re Frobisher and Bridget…I’m just helping out :)

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