Torchwood : Children of Earth : The Aftermath
WARNING! This article contains major and detailed spoilers for Children of Earth
by Kirsty Walker In December 2008, John Barrowman announced that the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood would be ‘toned down’ for series three in order to make it more palatable to the American market. This was potentially a decision which would affect the thematic elements of the show as well as the script and storylines, and on our radio show I expressed concerns that this would mean the end of Captain Jack’s relationship with Ianto Jones, and would change the show beyond all recognition. Seems I didn’t have that much to worry about
Children Of Earth was a five part mini series aired on consecutive nights on the BBC. It concerned the invasion of Earth by an alien race known as the 456 who wanted ten percent of the planet’s children in return for their swift departure. Torchwood tried to get involved in the negotiations, and the 456 released a deadly gas into the MI5 building, killing most of the inhabitants, including one of the Torchwood team. There were some genuinely harrowing scenes; a Minister executing his entire family and then turning the gun on himself rather than allow his children to be taken; Jack sacrificing his grandson Steven to stop the 456, and that unexpected character death.
Ianto is dead. He died in Jack’s arms as it was inevitable he would, and the viewers reacted strongly. Writer James Moran was so inundated with messages to his Twitter account that he posted a number of impassioned pleas to tone down the vitriol, and the whole American continent wailed at the spoilers which spilled forth from this side of the Atlantic. Ianto’s was perhaps the most depressing of all the Torchwood character deaths. There was a nastiness to Owen’s end which made the drama more pointed. Tosh’s death was avoidable and bittersweet. Ianto had ties to Jack, and more importantly he had some last words that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on a soap opera. He begged his immortal paramour not to forget about him with his dying breaths, sealed with a kiss which would have not have seen the light of day on an early evening programme.
Although Moran only wrote Day Three of Children of Earth, not the episode in which Ianto died, his presence on Twitter meant that he bore the brunt of the Torchwood fans’ anger. Twitter user AngieAgain was seemingly upset by the way in which Ianto and Jack’s relationship ended. She accused Moran of ‘deliberately egging on the shippers knowing how it would end’. By the time the Ianto death episode aired his back was against the wall. “Am extremely proud of the whole series and I stand by my fellow writers. An injury to one is an injury to all.” He said, following up with “Saying we deliberately hurt people is unfair and wrong. You won’t like everything, but we can’t let that dictate what we do. We don’t want to lose you, we would never want that, but our first and only priority is the story.”
Over on the Torchwood forum’s Facebook page there was a mixed reaction to the episodes. Ruth Kelly (one presumes not the ex-government minister) said “Feel very angry with Russell T. Davis. What will happen to the adults who watch Torchwood, what have we got left?”
Jessica Hill represents a significant number of viewers who have said that they will desert the show altogether. “After what I’ve just watched I don’t care if they ever bring it back. I will never think of Jack in the same way after killing his grandchild. This makes Jack no better than the people who were doing wrong.”
The official line on Torchwood is that it will return, but one has to wonder how they are going to start from ground zero after such disturbing character developments, and whether the viewers will come with them.