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...