Torchwood: Children of Earth is one of the most intense, jarring, unsettling and flat-out gutpunching television productions in recent memory. It's also one of the most important works of science fiction of our time. If you haven't watched it yet, you really should.
Like, right away.
If you were previously skeptical of the Torchwood series- don't worry. This bears only a slight cosmetic resemblance to the first two seasons. The same characters (more or less) are on hand but they're no longer running around in some madcap, Welsh Men in Black knockoff- they're facing your absolute worst paranoid fears come-true (especially if you live in Britain). But the symbols seem to tell us this isn't exactly about space aliens, per se.
The plot is basically this- an alien race called the 456 comes to Earth after a series of events in which all of the Earth's children are remote controlled to chant phrases like "we are coming," and other enigmatic warnings. The gov't then chooses a flack-catcher named Frobisher to deal with the alien emissary:
On the third day, the 456s arrive on a column of fire over the Thames House before appearing in the isolation tank. Frobisher and his staff...hold confidential meetings with the 456s to understand why they have returned. The 456s demand that 10% of the world's population of children be handed over to them, or else they will destroy the human race.
But while watching this gripping series the second time around, I began to notice little details that got me to wondering if there were another agenda at work here- if the 456 were merely stand-ins for something- or someone- else. As Synchronicity would have it, I stumbled across a passage from the Old Testament that seemed to resonate with Children of Earth. It's one of the many passages that paint quite a different picture of Jehovah than the one I was taught in Sunday School:
"When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. Then Solomon said, "The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever." - 1 Kings 8:10-13
The arrival of the 456 in a column of fire further synched with other passages that describe Jehovah as traveling in a pillar of fire:
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. - Exodus 13:21Coincidence? Or is there a deeper meaning to this story? I wonder. The "ten-percent" also caught my attention, since it harkened back to my study of Roman history:
Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."
"Ten-percent" was also familiar to me from my church days:
A tithe (from Old English teogoþa "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a religious organization.
The 456 are three-headed, resembling a trident. Frobisher faces the containment chamber in which the emissary resides in his poisonous cloud and speaks to them exclusively while the other dignitaries sit behind and watch. This also caught my attention since that arrangement reminded me of the old Latin Mass....
...also known as the Tridentine Mass. Apparently, the Vatican is loosening up the rules and allowing this mass to be practiced again. This is from a site teaching the Mass:
The most important thing is that the priest must face the altar (the back wall) so he must be able to stand in the front of the altar.I might mention here that the actor who portrays Frobisher, Peter Capaldi, previously appeared in a Doctor Who serial playing a Roman.
The reason the 456 want the children is incredibly disturbing, as is the response of the governments to the request (believe me when I tell you the fifth episode of this series is incredibly hard to watch):
...the governments of the world silently make plans to deliver the children as promised. Prime Minister Brian Green, along with his Cabinet and one member from both the US military and UNIT, decide to cover up the United Kingdom's actions as inoculation shots given at schools. The 456 reveal they need the children as their bodies emit a chemical that acts as a recreational drug to them.
The 456 reassure the negotiators that the children will "live forever," but they keep the children in a perpetual state of wakefulness (and youth), aware of where they are and what is being done to them.
I don't know if it's coincidental but shortly before this series aired the story of systematic abuse at Irish orphanages over a period of several decades broke in the news:
A fiercely debated, nine-year investigation into Ireland's Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorised thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades — and government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.Read that headline again- thousands raped. It boggles the mind. But it's really just another link in the chain of systematic abuse committed in the name of religion, especially abuse of children. Not just sexual, but violence, starvation, death by denial of medical care, murder (often under the rubric of "exorcism"), you name it. It's an ecumenical phenomenon- Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and on and on. It's still very much with us, and will always be with its victims. Just like those kids imprisoned by the 456.
So, so much to answer for. Will there ever be a reckoning?