When “Children of Earth” originally aired, there was a new episode every night for five nights. It was brilliant because the tension of each episode carried immediately over into the next night. Now that I’m recapping and watching the episodes spaced out, the tension has dissipated a bit and the adrenaline isn’t turned up to eleven. I honestly am not sure how I was able to handle the first viewing (secondhand tension stresses me out). Anyway, like most second episodes of a mini-series, this is less concerned with action and more concerned with setting things up for the action to come later. It’s still a good episode with some bone chilling moments and moments of levity, mostly involving the marriage of Gwen and Rhys.
The Torchwood Hub is completely destroyed. Let us observe a moment of silence for the destruction of a truly great set (and the pet pterodactyl). Gwen made it out, but is disoriented and trying to search for Jack and Ianto. She ends up having to dodge sniper bullets (said snipers apparently can’t hit the broadside of a barn). An ambulance pulls up and the paramedics are dastardly agents who attempt to subdue Gwen, but she kicks their asses like the hero she is. She overpowers them, steals the ambulance and later questions one of the men about who they work for (the government, of course). Ianto survives, pulling himself from the rubble, only to have to dodge bullets shot by incompetent snipers himself. So begins a frantic search for the two of them led by the resident baddie, Johnson, who reports to Frobisher that she’s not sure of the status of one Jack Harkness, who was the intended target all along. It’s believed with the Hub being destroyed, that Jack is finally, truly dead, but they can’t be sure until they find a body or body parts.
Gwen arrives back at her flat and wakes Rhys, telling him they’ve got to go on the run. Gwen gets a call from Ianto and she relays what she’s learned. Both are baffled as to why the government wants them dead, but can’t work out a meeting place as their phones are likely bugged. The two of them have to survive separately. Gwen and Rhys are able to dodge their pursuers, led to their residence by Gwen’s old friend from the police force, Andy, who insists that she’s not a terrorist (you would think evil government agents knew how to look up addresses on the computer).
It’s no matter because Johnson and her crew are able to recover Jack from the wreckage (or parts of him) and move him to a secret storage facility. It seems as if the government’s goal to kill Jack has succeeded until Johnson notices movement from the body bag holding Jack’s remains. It’s not that easy to kill the head of Torchwood, though it apparently is painful to put him back together as Jack wakes up screaming in agony as his flesh repairs itself. Well, since they can’t kill him, they can drown him in concrete. Literally. In a scene that has a direct parallel to the season two finale, “Exit Wounds,” Jack finds himself naked and handcuffed to a table (a scenario I HAVE NOT imagined in a different and entirely consensual context), with Johnson looking down on him from a hole in the roof before a cement truck encases him in concrete Han Solo-style. Seriously, how many times can a guy get buried alive?
Meanwhile, Frobisher receives a report that says the transmission from the 456 has been decoded. It’s blueprints for the construction of a room and specific instructions for what is to be contained within. Frobisher wonders why the 456 are using children when they are capable of sending such detailed instructions. Dekker, the creepy guy from MI5 hypothesizes that it’s an intimidation technique. The day for Frobisher involves debriefing the prime minister and overseeing the construction of the room with his assistant Bridget in tow, along with Lois. For someone who is essentially a temp, she’s getting access to quite a bit of action behind the scenes. She’s also asking questions above her pay grade, which displeases Frobisher.
With the destruction of the Hub, Ianto and Gwen are without access to their normal resources and must make do on their own. After finding out their bank accounts are frozen, Gwen and Rhys decide to hop a ride in the back of a truck carrying potatoes to London. If the government of the U.K. is trying to kill them, why not go to where the powers that be live. During the very uncomfortable ride, Gwen informs Rhys that he’s going to be a father, to which Rhys reacts with joy first and then concern that Gwen puts herself in such danger. I really do love these two and I never thought I would. I love that Rhys is a supportive husband and perfectly okay with his wife kicking ass and taking names while being a smart and capable man in his own way.
For his part, Ianto is able to sneak a message to his sister, whose house is being watched. As her husband and neighborhood kids distract the agents, she’s able to sneak out with a laptop and meet him in a park they used to play in as children. As his sister is grilling him about what the hell is going on, the children freeze once more and deliver the next message from the 456: “We are coming tomorrow.”
Hey, at least they RSVP.
Ianto takes off with the laptop since he can use it to locate Jack. He arrives at the facility where Jack is being held just in time to see his lover being buried in concrete.
Gwen and Rhys arrive in London and Gwen makes a call to Frobisher’s office, hoping to set up a meeting, but gets Lois instead. Gwen asks Lois to have Frobisher meet her and Rhys to discuss how Torchwood can help in this matter, but it’s Lois, not Frobisher who walks into the meeting place. Lois tells Gwen of the kill order on Jack and hands her the rest of the list of those marked for death, though Gwen doesn’t recognize any of the other names. Lois also gives the pair the location where Jack is being held and a way to sneak inside. Seriously, they must pay temps much better in the UK than they do in the US because my response to all of this would be, “I don’t get paid enough for this shit.” Lois’ initiative does lead to a job offer from Gwen, so there are some rewards for initiative I guess.
The couple pose as staff from a funeral home, assigned to collect the body of the turncoat doctor, Rupesh Patanjali. Once in the facility, they locate Jack, but face the problem of him being encased in solid concrete. Plus, they have Johnson and her team closing in on them. That’s where Ianto comes in, having stolen a forklift which he uses to break down the walls and lift the block of cement out of the room. The following scene is a throwback to some of the sillier plot devices of the earlier seasons and while I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate, it was kind of nice to see a bit of the early cheesiness and ridiculous scenarios return. After setting a tanker on fire to cut off their pursuers, Ianto drops the concrete block off the edge of a quarry, busting it open and freeing Jack, who emerges alive, dusty, and naked.
The room at MI5 headquarters has been completed per the 456’s instructions. In the center of the room is a glass enclosure, which is filled with a gas that is poisonous to humans, but makes a suitable environment for the 456, whatever they are. Dekker, who I’ve nicknamed the Oracle of Delphi, observes the room is set up much like an ambassadorial suite…or a throne room. Which begs the question of what does the 456 actually want? Free-trade? Financial aid? Or is this a case of good, old-fashioned conquest?