Terrible. Absolutely terrible. Fortunately that's not a description of Torchwood's
resoundingly brilliant final hour, but the reaction to some of the heartbreaking decisions made by Captain Jack and John Frobisher during 'Day Five'. It was agonising to witness the loss of innocent young lives, particularly Jack's grandson Stephen, at the hands of men trying to do the right thing. This reaction underlines why 'Children Of Earth' is one of the most powerful, compelling dramas on television in recent times.
Kicking off with a painfully bleak video message from Gwen, the episode twisted and turned in unexpected directions that maximised the tension and tested the tear ducts of the audience. Unlike many sci-fi shows, the climax didn't result in a stale physical battle between good and evil, or simply pressing a 'reset' button. Given Gwen's mention of The Doctor in her message, perhaps he might unexpectedly turn up and save the day? He thankfully didn't. Instead, the resolution revolved around an agonising choice to sacrifice one life to save millions.
The pain was etched on Captain Jack's face, with Stephen's piercing screams provoking happiness at the defeat of the 456 and immense sadness at the cost. For a moment, we hoped that despite the streams of blood filtering out of the young boy's face he'd somehow be alright. But Torchwood
, to its credit, didn't have an 'everybody lives' moment. The emotions were expertly drawn out by director Euros Lyn and John Barrowman's brilliant portrayal of a man destined to be tortured for eternity.
Similarly, the end of John Frobisher's family was an artistic tour de force. Throughout the week, Peter Capaldi gave us an excellent character study of a 'good man' put in an increasingly distressing and conflicting situation. When his children were chosen for 'inoculation' it was the final straw. As Frobisher walked up the stairs in his house, brandishing a gun, the unimaginable prospect of a father killing his own family became very real.
The moment was shocking - and brilliantly conveyed without us seeing a drop of blood. We listened in agony, from behind the closed bedroom door, as the first gunshot rang out. Then the second. And the third. There was a slight pause as Frobisher presumably surveyed the horrific scene. The trigger was then pulled for the final time. Lumps must have suddenly materialised in throats across the country. This is powerful human drama, reliant not on special effects but incredible acting, direction and writing.
Although 'Children Of Earth' experienced the occasional lull during its five days, the decision to screen the series over consecutive nights was a masterstroke. Seen in isolation, some episodes were stronger than others, but as a whole this latest incarnation of Torchwood
has been a massive success. Excellent supporting turns by the likes of Capaldi, Paul Copley (Timothy/Clem), Cush Jumbo (Lois) and Liz May Brice (Johnson) squeezed every bit of depth out of their characters, while Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd (RIP Ianto!) and Kai Owen guided us through the adventure with panache and verve.
At the core lies some magnificent writing. The concept of the 456 wanting to use the world's children to get their latest narcotic hit is genius and terrifying to contemplate. Director Euros Lyn was consistently brilliant as he dealt with five of the most compelling hours of British science fiction since the similarly themed Quatermass
. Actually, referring to the show as 'science fiction' almost does it a disservice, as if it's being dumped into some niche category. It's simply great television. Fact.> What do you think of Day Five? Share your views> Click here for our reviews of Days One to Four of 'Children Of Earth'