Torchwood: Children of Earth, Day Three
This was definitely the most plotty of the three episodes we’ve seen this week so far, and while I think it leveled out tension-wise compared to Day Two, I also think that was probably inevitable. Once the aliens arrived (and especially because they’re confined in their tank) that piece of suspense came to an end. I think the writers and directors have done a decent job keeping us wound up with what they still have in their pockets: the silence and tension during the communication with the 4-5-6, the inability to properly see the alien and understand visually what we’re dealing with, and the drawing out of Jack’s involvement with the 4-5-6’s previous visit.
Having said that, I’m not sure I understand the need for the 4-5-6’s random (because they currently feel a bit random to me) vomit and flail spasms. I think it’s been added to give the 4-5-6 the extra scare-factor, but honestly I think it hurts the creepiness without adding a compensating fright. The strength of this storyline for me so far has been in the creep-factor, which is aided by the control of the children, the silence of the 4-5-6, and the inability to make out more than a passing glimpse of its physical appearance (which I also think they’ve dropped the ball on by giving us too clear a picture of the lobster-like arm things). I think what they’re going for is the silence/noise contrast in the vomit/flaily bits, but it just seems flat to me. I much prefer the contrast in the pauses before the 4-5-6 answers.
Lois is growing on me very, very slowly, but I confess there’s something about her that still feels a bit plot-devicy to me. I do like that she’s visibly distasteful of her own methods of getting into the room with Frobisher. The read I get from her is she’s genuinely put off by the way it’s representing her character, but that she felt it was her only/best shot at doing what Gwen needed her to. We’ve seen other females use this tactic to gain entry or information before, but I think this is the first time I’ve also bought the shame and hesitancy that comes with it. I like how it reads as a knowing sacrifice of female reputation instead of just another woman using her sexuality and brushing it off.
I’m really starting to enjoy Frobisher’s character. He’s really been thrown under the bus here by superiors looking for a fall-man, and I sympathize with the poor guy. He’s making the best decisions he can given the circumstances and who he has to answer to, and you really feel he’s being swept up. He’s a man trying to hold onto a shred of control and dignity in a situation where he really has none. Props to the actor for giving us the right number of cracks in the right places.
Lots of meta being generated by Clem’s "the queer" comment to Ianto. I will remain quiet on the subject except to say that the comment — homophobic and all — read appropriate for Clem’s character, as Ianto’s reaction to it read appropriate for his. Smarter people than me talk about the exchange here and here.
Jack went a whole day without dying. That must have been nice, given the last 48 hours. I really love that Torchwood embraces the brutality of Jack’s immortality so completely by refusing to pretty it up or make it easy on him. He experiences every death and every resurrection, painfully. He came back from being blown up in excruciating slowness (it seemed to me he was experiencing being burned alive in reverse), and by never allowing him to just fade to black. For all the ways other sources work to make us feel the weight of living beyond loved ones, Torchwood is the first time I’ve seen the extreme sensory side of immortality explored.
Cockblocked by beans is the best thing ever. Second to that are discussions on the sexual merits of high-tec contact lenses. The best part about the contact lens scene to me is that these people are not only having this conversation, but none of them are ashamed to have it, and if nothing else I commend this show on that. Sexuality — and perhaps more importantly, talking about sexuality — on Torchwood is almost never portrayed as something to be embarrassed about. It’s embraced and shared between friends in ways that aren’t gratuitous or explicit. These characters delight in their friends’ pleasure without prejudice, but also without pressure. I like it.
Gwen is growing on me at an alarming rate in CoE, which is pretty cool. I’m hoping the trend continues, because there were times in the other two seasons of Torchwood where the only thing I really wanted was for Gwen to STFU. She’s resonating in CoE in way she never has before for me.