Monday, March 01, 2010

Torchwood: (Suffer the) Children of Earth

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 13:21
Coincidence? 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 teogo├ża "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:

Thousands raped in Ireland's Christian Brothers schools

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?


  1. Torchwood is my favorite program, absolutely. That last season "Children of Earth" was fantastic, just fantastic.

    Great post.

  2. I was wondering if the actual numbers have any significance?

    Thinking about Jake Kotze's work I find it interesting that a 'Jack' is the one to bring down the Demiurge. Jack resonates with the trickster.

    Also, some synch-heads have talked about Wolf backwards is Flow. And through the first season of Doctor Who the name 'Badwolf' followed Rose and The Doctor. It was later revealed to be a goddess-like entity from the Tardis that synched 'BadWolf' with their destinations to save the Universe.
    Wolf or Flow of consciouness similar to the True Spirit gnostics knew of.

    I'm always wondering if Russel T. Davis and such know what their doing...or is it the Flow?

  3. i was watching a kids programme last week with my kids,we do not watch tv as a rule ,only films,,but when the film finished the tv popped on and they wanted to watch..the prog was called horrible histories and features comedy sketches interruptyed by a rat who states..."this is a fact!" anyway i spent most of the show saying ,"that is not a fact!" HA.

    anyway the point being ,there was a sketch regarding roman soldiers disobeying commands and being ,as you put it, decimated.
    but the soldiers in the sketch decided to turn on their leader and kill him instead of every tenth man.

    just a wee sync i suppose.

  4. You've been making some brilliant connections lately Chris.

    This ufo /AAT thing's been heating up quite a bit too. Yet again, a highly respected, mainstream media outlet (NatGeo) is taking a serious approach to the ufo / paranormal phenomenon. Check this out if you haven't already:

    Couple that with the flying objects being scientifically researched in Hessdalen Norway:

    And on an amateur level, you should check out YouTube user "seeingUFOsPA" if you find the time:

    I think we're seeing a consistent phenomenon here. Basically intelligent orbs. In the case of 'seeingUFOs...', she is filming these orbs morphing into decoy airplanes. Crazy stuff. She also lists other YT users from around the worlds seeing the same things.

  5. I haven't watched any of the Torchwood series, but I will now (again the video clips you display are under BBC Worldwide copyright) track down the 3rd series.
    As you mention, the story appears to parallel the real life institutional abuse story/s, and it's very creepy that the 456rs need the kids for 'recreational pleasure'. What do the writers know?

    Ah, so much to watch, and so little time.

  6. Very disturbing! I haven't seen Torchwood for a long time but will definitely check it out. Looking at the detail on the back of the priests robe on the Tridentine Mass image, it looks like the Broken Cross...

    Also for some 10% simitry, in the doctrines of 5% Nation of Gods and Earths, a group started in New York in the 60's, "the 10% are the Blood Suckers of the Poor". The 10% control the existence of the 85% of the "Uncivilized, Deaf, Dumb and Blind", and the 5% are "the Poor Righteous Teachers".

    Excellent as always!

  7. Glad you posted this article, as I went thru the full Torchwood series this past week. Sunday was time for Children of The Earth, and as you said man....that movie is real heavily loaded with so much stuff

    I have to say that i enjoyed watching also the first 2 seasons. There's a good mixture of everything that makes the serie more realistic, in my books, than other american produced series with lots of special effects: Torchwood is embarassing and uncomfortable in places, affascinating and mindblowing in others, and i think it's realistic, mainly due to being a low budget series placed in Cardiff played by some blokes with a keen for (bi)sexual flirtations that get so hilarious sometimes.......And Harkness character seems so much came out of a comicbook..

    I really liked these series overall, and i really think that being something from BBC on a limited budget has played for the best. It's a thousands time more realistic Torchwood than any other american scifi series.

    I'm really glad that you mentioned in the past this serie here on the blog, so i could check it out. Thanks!

    Keep it up maestro ;)

  8. re Grey's comments about Bad Wolf . I took it one stage further -in crosswords flow = stream = anagram of Master .Thinking how clever I was, I fully expected the Master to show up but he never did . Damn !

    Chris- re Amy Bishop and Braintree, a few days before the incident I had driven through Braintree, Essex in England a couple of days before to see my brother who lives 5 miles way .After reading your blog I googled Braintree Essex and came across this video made by a US serviceman who had been posted to RAF Weathersfield near Braintree in the Cold War .. The synch that interested me is that this station was in the same group as the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident.Braintree is about 30 mins drive from Rendlesham Forest . Not sure what it has got to do with Amy Bishop but it caught my attention .
    On the side of the video there is another titled Braintree High Class of 1987 high School Reunion . Don't know whether it's your era - Frank .

  9. I can't believe i missed Torchwood, now i shall check it out. The U.K. is rife with the 'abuse' of children. When world crackdowns on child porn started a wave of arrests it is old news that almost no one -with any government or stonecutter ties was charged at all. There are plenty of researchers that seem to tie in dark rites with child abuse,and not just linked organized religion. Wealthy elites seem to have always prayed on the weak and innocent.

  10. Hi Chris,

    Although that three-headed 456 creature is spooky, I couldn't help but giggle as it reminded me of my childhood fave, Ghidra! You know the flying three headed thing Godzilla smacked down. I wonder how the guy in that suit operated the three heads?

    That you noticed the religious mass ritual connections to the three headed 456 was brilliant! Now, don't laugh at me, Chris, but do you remember the religious ritual that was associated with the old Godzilla movies?

    There were those twin island miniature girls who sang a prayer and led that ritual dance to release Mothra and I seem to remember something ritualistic about conjuring up Gamera. I think kids had to pray or "contact" Gamera because he was a "monster" who helped kids in trouble.

    Just waxing nostalgic but apparently religious ritual for monsters (aliens) in sci-fi was around before Torchwood and Caprica.


  11. It was one of the best and most difficult shows I have ever watched. Jacks's ultimate decision/choice is as startling and ugly as anything by the 456. I highly recommend it to everyone.

  12. Regan- Cheers! Glad you dug it. It's not easy entertainment, but rewarding. I wasn't prepared for how heavy it is.

    Grey- Well Jack Harkness is not a good guy as the series shows. He's very much a "gray hat". The way he defeats the 456 is extremely disturbing.

    Baab- You got a link?

    Anony400 Very cool links. Thanks. Something seems to be picking up in speed, doesn't it?

    Flossy- I think one of the writers was getting payback with this one. Davies? Could be. It was too dark and intense not to be personal.

    Kool- Interesting- thanks for the data!

    Nick- Like I said- this seems to be so radical a shift from the tone of the first two seasons I can't help but wonder what is being exorcised here. Davies got the name Harkness from Agatha Harkness, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee!

    Merovee- Yes- I studied Braintree, Essex in the past. Thanks for the info on the RAF bases though- very interesting indeed.

    Anony1118- Power protects power. And the powerful never have to follow the same rules we do.

    Soapie- Interesting connection! Worshipping what we fear, the sociopath's favorite human weakness. Funny how Gojira became God-zilla. I'll tell you though, you won't be laughing at Children of Earth. The last episode in particular has some of the most shocking scenes in a TV show that I've ever seen.


    the bbc are selective with their iplayer stuff so last weeks episode does not seem to be available at the moment,but this homepage will give you a rough idea.

  14. Fox is developing an American version of Torchwood helmed by Russell T. Davies himself.

  15. I watched the series and also found it disturbing and probably not so hard to believe that people would act that way "on our behalf".

    Yes, Chris, since I believe in the Bible, I know there will be a reckoning!! When I read of the abuses performed by those who have been entrusted with precious souls, I think of how it reflects on ALL Christians, etc. Leads me to think of the quote, "If there weren't so many Christians, there would be more Christians."

  16. This sounds like an even more sinister version of Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End."

  17. Am I crazy, I hope not,
    Chris I give you LadyYada, after all that Amy Bishop talk, at least this engineer doesn't hide her work and actually enjoys being geeky and kinda scary,
    the tree of life as a menu of her website is a direct give away of her beliefs

  18. RT Davies was the head writer for this season of Torchwood, and he wrote episodes 1, 3, and 5 of Children of Earth.

    Almost all of RT Davies' work borrows heavily from mythology - not just Christian mythology, even though that's the most common source of his material. He doesn't do much to hide it.

    Davies' work also tends to be misogynistic, the last season of Doctor Who particularly so. He's blatant and unapologetic about it.

    I don't go out of my way to see his work. I'll never pay to see it. That said, I've read that the Torchwood series will be remade in the US. So look forward to seeing what Fox will do to water it down!

  19. This looks to be interesting, I will certainly have to check out "Children of Earth", and I can already see how this would strike such a nerve, especially for any parent.

    The theme of aliens telepathically communicating with children isn't really new, I remember as early as the 50s, there was a film, I think called "Space Children", where Earth children were being communicated with aliens to stop further development of nuclear weapons, but this takes things to another level.

    It's always amazing to see how religions have been used as a repressive conditioning tool by certain powers.

  20. A warning for everyone: Researching ritualistic child abuse and sacrifice can be deeply disturbing and you should take this into careful consideration before you dig too deep. I'm very serious. There are dark truths in human history and myth that can't be unlearned, they can be very scarring.

  21. The end of the first clip with the kids reminds me of Pink Floyd's "The Wall"...

  22. I found it interesting how the BBC showed those Torchwood episodes on 5 consecutive nights on prime time BBC1 (used to be shown on the BBC3digital channel), like it was an event, rather than unfolding weekly like a regular season, usually that only happens on BBC1for major sporting events. Maybe they thought it was a stronger piece of tv compared to the previous seasons?

    Also just wanted to thank anony for posting this link
    ive been seeing these orbs fairly regularly for about 8 months, and its so good to see this lady has been documenting the phenomenon so thoroughly. Thanks anon!

  23. Guys, I'll get to these comments tomorrow- I'm wiped out. Thanks though to everyone for contributing!

  24. Really good and thought provoking post. I never have seen Torchwood, but it jogged my memory to this film:

    "Give me what I want and I'll go away".
    I watched this entire film with my family and the answer that you would give at the end, I think, tells a lot about yourself and others. I, for good or bad, was more like the sheriff in the story, fight, somehow and do not give in. Most everyone, even my family, shocked me with their answers of better one be sacrificed than all.
    Again, really thought provoking post.

  25. I remember watching a number of Japanese science fiction films during the weekends of my youth. The three-headed 456 immediately brought to mind Ghidrah, who was referred to in at least one movie as the demon from space. In his premier outing, I remember that a princess (possessed by some otherwordly spirit) mentioned that Ghidrah had destroyed Martian civilization 3,000 years earlier. This was also the first film to bring together the three major monsters of Toho (Gojira, Rodan, and Mothra), who eventually allied to battle Ghidrah. Great stuff!


  26. CDH - I have to agree with you. Very thought provoking post. And the thing that really struck me after watching 'Day 5' was the same old mantra:

    "It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh...
    "...the needs of the few...
    "...Or the one."

    feeling programmed anyone?

  27. I really hope Torchwood ends with this mini-series. It left me breathless and sick-of-heart. Fear probably emits a chemical, and that's what the 456 were eating--the pure terror of the children. I saw the series when it was first shown in the U.S., and I haven't been able to watch it again. The image of the children-as-heroin haunts me to this day.

  28. Baab- Thanks for the link.

    Yaca- Yep- I'm hoping for the best on that one. Jack's an American already, so I guess that was always the plan, at least unconsciously.

    Gibby- Well, I'm thinking that state of affairs is not an accident.

    Daniel- Very strange and wonderful work. Thank you for the link.

    Lynn- I don't really see any misogyny in Torchwood. Quite the opposite.

    Matt- Interesting- never heard of that film. Have to check that out.

    Nick- Agreed. It's also important not to get sidetracked with the disinfo put out there to intentionally muddy the waters.

    Panda- I'd say it's a hell of a lot stronger than the previous seasons, certainly.

    CDH- Interesting- didn't pay much attention to that film. Cheers.

    Jason- Yep- Soapie beat you to the Ghidrah shout-out!

    Oyin- And intentionally so. Like I said- someone was settling a score with this story is my thinking.

  29. Oh, I know. The original disinformation. The history of blood libels would be the example.

    Human sacrifice, in general, is not a subject to play with, it has to be taken seriously. It's a deep, collective wound in the human race, and the root of much conflict.

    It's also the core theme in most mythologies and religions. You have to ask yourself: Why would an all powerful god require a blood sacrifice? It's just as important as asking why an all powerful god needs a spaceship.