Having returned from Comicon, I finally took the time to watch the last three days of the Children of Earth miniseries.
Was it a brilliant piece of story telling? Yes.
Was it a brutal gut punch for the realism of how an actual alien invasion could likely go down? Absolutely.
Was it too brutal for television? No.
Was it too brutal for Torchwood? Yes.
And this is why...
When I watch Torchwood, I expect a certain darkness but there is also that touch of camp, that bit of sci fi goodness that lets me know this is all fun and games. I'm not watching a show meant to be authentic or that prides itself on realism. If I had been watching BSG, I wouldn't have been the least bit taken aback by what happened in this miniseries. I expected to see that type of despair on that show but Torchwood always had that fantastical aspect that somehow made it seem a little less dreary. There was always enough fun and hope that I felt safe coming back the following week to see what happens next. After watching this series, I don't want to know what other horrors are in that world.
And I'm not even talking about the deaths of the key players. Yes, Ianto's death was heartbreaking and I hate Russell T. Davies for doing that. Partially because it came so close on the heels of the death's of Tosh and Owen. But with them, as sad as it was (and I cried and cried during that ep) the deaths seemed appropriate and somehow fitting. Seriously, how long could Owen have gone on in his living dead state? His final demise seemed rather inevitable. And to have Tosh die with him had a very bittersweet sort of Romeo and Juliet feel to it. Ianto's death, on the other hand, seemed to be thrown in there just for the despair factor with no real purpose for the story arc and seemed to be in there just to break Jack a little more. In fact, the conversations between Ianto and Jack in the series made it obvious that Ianto was being set up for death. When he talked about dying of old age with Jack, you could practically see the bullseye forming on his forehead. I'm surprised Jack didn't start calling him Goose.
But for me, the most brutal parts involved the death's of Froebisher's family and Stephen. I actually cried more with them than with Ianto because it was something ,as a parent, I could feel in my bones. I remember watching a tv movie as a kid about the Orson Well's War of the Worlds radio hoax and how so many people had thought it was real. The scene I remember most vividly ,and that has stuck with me all these years, was a man taking his family into a tunnel, covering his kid's heads with a handkerchief and getting ready to shoot them in the head to save them from being taken by the aliens. Fortunately, in that movie, the police arrived in time to stop him before he could carry through with his plan. The same can't be said for Froebisher. Again, was it realistic? Yes. Was it an agonizing choice to have to make as a parent? Yes. Was it a choice, as a parent, I could very likely make given the knowledge of what was in store for his children if the 456 got them? Yes. Is that something I want to see on a show that has featured humanoid blowfish in the past? No, it is not. If I wanted that, I'd watch Sophie's Choice.
And then there was Stephen, or actually the most heartwrenching part, Alice watching Stephen die, banging on the window and then begging for help when she finally was able to hold her son again even though she knew it was too late. I think that was when I decided I wished I had never watched the show. If Russell T. Davies had wanted to tell this story (and I really do think it was an amazingly fascinating and realistic story), I wish he had chosen a different world to tell it in. The Torchwood verse shouldn't be that dark and agonizing to watch. I think I felt like I was lured in under false pretenses. Maybe I shouldn't have been that surprised given the deaths at the end of the last season, but I won't be surprised like that again if there is a 4th series. Mainly because, after what I watched tonight, I also seriously doubt I'll be tuning in if there is. I watch sci fi to escape from the pressures of the real world and have a little fun. At the end of this, I felt like Jack and just wanted to escape the world of Torchwood forever and never look back.