Jack is forced to confess how he helped broker a deal in 1965 when the 456 aliens offered an antidote against a deadly universal flu virus in exchange for twelve children who would ‘live forever.’ Clem and the team watch via Lois’s laptop as the aliens tell Frobisher they will ‘wipe out the human species’ if their request is not met, and a camera reveals the apparently zombic Scots victims, said by the aliens to be unharmed. Frobisher rejects Jack’s offer of help in return for Alice and her son’s release. He attends a Cabinet meeting which agrees that the Cabinet’s children will be spared and that lower-class kids should be sacrificed instead.This is recorded by Lois and sent to safety with Rhys,giving Ianto and Jack leverage to talk to the aliens but the latter’s’ response is to unleash a virus which kills dozens, including Clem and,seemingly, Ianto. The government feels forced to capitulate.
Now we get to the very heart of the Children of Earth story. I want to say that Jack’s admission to this unspeakable act was on some level understandable and yet not forgivable. Yes, the small sacrifice of the 12 children in exchange of an antidote to the flu virus might have sound great on paper when you think about the numbers 12 versus millions saved. Even the government in this episodes even refers to the term Unit instead of using the word children. This leads them to believe that by devaluing the human term that we could all live with acceptable losses. This type of justification sickens me and to some point Ianto’s feelings does turn as he is conflicted over Jack. The image of the child with some type alien breathing apparatus was truly horrific as me being a parent. Jack is a good man but committed the wrong action but what else has he done as Ianto pointed out just barely scratching the surface.
Moving forward, Jack has to make amends and the confrontation he has with the 456 is brilliant. We have Torchwood back in action and leading a counter-force against the alien threat. Jack spouts his philosophy about how an injury to one is an injury to all. Ianto counters with enough of the philosophy that the 456 will not get a single child. Jack quietly comments to Ianto how much he likes the philosophy. This little bit of humor really brightens up the moment even when death is on the line. However, I was just hoping against all hope that Ianto and everyone else in the Thames House would have survived the killing from the 456.
Just when things could not get any bleaker, there is still another episode that will you an emotional wreck. What has surprised me more about this series is how its driven by the characters in reaction to this story. This series has the monster of the week but does not rely heavily on the creature to drive the conflict. 456 is the catalyst but the real conflict is between the government officials, the Torchwood team and everyone involved. For a short lived 5 show story arc, this is a seriously condensed full season which delivers more bang for the buck rather than a dragged out season which have 18-24 shows. This series has marked themselves in my book as one of the must see scifi series before we all die. Not to be morbid but you get the point.