10 July 2009

Torchwood co-blog: part V, in which there are no jokes or smutty remarks

FYI, this has been a collaborative blogging effort bought to you by @Captain_Doug and @gingerbreadlady (me).

Part I (by me)
Part II (by Doug)
Part III (by me)
Part IV (by Doug)


If there are witty remarks to be made about this episode, I'm sure I don't know what they are. Words that spring immediately to mind are: dark, harrowing, bleak, depressing...

To recap, at the end of Episode III, planet Earth was ordered to surrender 10% of its children to an alien race. (Or all would perish.) We didn't know what, exactly, they were intending to do to them, but we knew it wasn't going to be all candy bars and dominoes. Today, we learn that the kids are to be kept alive to produce chemicals that make the aliens "feel good" - drugs.

So, to cut a long story short, the Government caves in and agrees to do the aliens' bidding, covering up the whole miserable affair with a rubbish and unforgivable lie about the kids being taken to have inoculations that will stop them doing the evil, scary chanting thing.

There's about three seconds when we think (hope) everything's going to fine and dandy - ten minutes from the end, when Captain Jack rips off his coat and proclaims, "Let's get to work." Then everything gets much, much darker.

Whether Jack's twisted plan makes any scientific sense, I've no idea, but I've stopped paying any attention to the physics by this point. The Captain channels a "constructive wave" (a genuine scientific term, by the seem of it, but who cares?) through his grandson, cycling the aliens' death wavelength back at them and killing his own flesh and blood in the process.

It's an extremely hard-to-watch finale, particularly as we know Jack is fully aware of what will happen. Even Mr Hayley, who never flinches at this sort of thing, is fidgety throughout.

Well, it does the trick alright - the aliens beat a hasty retreat - but we're left with a bitter taste in our mouths. And worst of all, the hateful Prime Minister seems to think it's all been a bit of a lark. He feels "lucky", apparently.

I have to say, it did make me wonder (seriously) what the Government would actually do if we were invaded by child-chemical dependent aliens... blimey, must be good storytelling.

I suppose I should take back everything I said before about predictable endings, particularly with regard to Jack's redemption. In the final scene, with only one member of the Torchwood team left alive to see him on his way, he exits Earth for a "cold fusion carrier" somewhere out in space and we're left wondering: is this the end for Torchwood? Surely not...


Captain Doug said...


So much for a Doctor Who feel good wavy hand type ending. All my hope for a "Reroute the this, though that, and feedback the Alien signal in an inverse what-ya-ma-jigger" was completely crushed.

Any of that, standing up to them, stuff is gone.

We got a seriously down ending to the series.

I really am having to cheer myself up with a "it's only a tv series" thing - which you are right, works much better when there's someone else around for that.

The tiny glimmer of hope that my eternal optimist is hanging on to, is that if you think of this as a TV series, they do sometimes leave on a depressing note... before bringing Jack back at the start of next series.

Please do that.

I wonder if my Television Licence fee is worth a happy start to next series?

I'm getting Spooks flashbacks, where things went similarly badly, before they killed off/betrayed/deported most of the characters.


Poor old everyone :(

gothick said...

I was so, so glad that Mr. Davies didn't got for any of the possible cop-out endings that were available. Yes, it was harrowing and sad, but it would have been a bloody awful story if it hadn't been...

Hayley said...

@gothick True, true. I did at one point think Jack's grandson was going to have somehow (very unscientifically) inherited his inability to die. But this also would have been a very bad cop-out ending.

Peter Rowlett said...

@gothick Agreed, I was expecting a shoehorned plot device - "It's all hopeless. Oh, but that guy over there has something that will solve everything" but instead it felt properly worked through. I guess this is the advantage of having 5 hours to explore one story. And it was delightfully dark. It was good to see it make the most of the post-watershed sci-fi niche by saying something that couldn't have been done on, say, Doctor Who.

I presume the end was a deliberate homage to the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. What do you think? I posted on Twitter: "Well," said Captain Jack, "the Thumb's an electronic sub-etha signalling device and the roundabout's at Barnard's Star..." which is a 140 character paraphrase of this bit of dialogue from the great Douglas Adams:

"We hitched a lift," said Ford.
"Excuse me?" said Arthur. "Are you trying to tell me that we just stuck out our thumbs and some green bug-eyed monster stuck his head out and said, Hi fellas, hop right in. I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout?"
"Well," said Ford, "the Thumb's an electronic sub-etha signalling device, the roundabout's at Barnard's Star six light years away, but otherwise, that's more or less right."
"And the bug-eyed monster?"
"Is green, yes."