At the end of their road, Torchwood has to realize that stopping the Three Families and saving the world comes at a high price.
The US broadcast of Torchwood on STARZ wrapped up last week, but the BBC airs the finale on Thursday night, with the cable channel’s naughty bits cut and replaced with longer character bits.
Is that true? Was it ever true?
And with that, Torchwood fades into the night, tying up loose ends as best as it can, given that even the writers don’t know what they were writing about.
Yes, we really don’t get any explanations other than there’s this giant vagina that runs through the middle of the earth, regulating how long the average human lifespan is. The bad guys, who aren’t ever addressed by name, fed it Jack’s immortal blood, even though all along there’s been nothing special about his blood (he was a fixed point in time, or something like that, thanks to Rose Tyler), and that blood reset the Morphic Field of human lifespan to Immortal. Except for Jack who became mortal.
Who the hell knows. There’s no reason behind any of this. The Families responsible for everything? Nothing special about them. They’re not aliens or using advanced technology or anything. They’re just three families with a nifty handshake who, for no reason whatsoever, are able to influence the entire world, playing some sort of long game that is never explained beyond the fact that they need to tear down the world to rebuild it.
Somehow, even though they already control and manipulate world governments, world economies, and world media, it’s only after turning everyone immortal and causing all this chaos, that they can really take control and manipulate us all. Their ultimate goal is to rule us. Which they already basically do.
But don’t worry. Once everyone’s mortal again everything goes back to normal in the fucking coda of the show. Well, almost normal. There are a lot of funerals to catch up on.
And we, the audience, don’t even get the common courtesy of a rough but earnest reach-around of techno-babble or a real bad guy while the writers mount us like simpleton whores. This series was all about not respecting the fans at all and collecting that fat American dollar while maintaining the Torchwood brand for marketing purposes.
And why? What did they gain by this waste of ten weeks?
I guess Davies showed the BBC that he can viably take his baby elsewhere and still find people willing to watch. Some are people who love these characters and have developed an emotional stake in seeing their lives and adventures play out on TV. Some are willing to overlook the fact that this entire project was just a cynical excuse to make some cash and move on.
If STARZ is willing to finance another season, and Espenson and Davies left it wide open to start a franchise and do just that by, joy of joys, carrying on with the Families and Jilly as future baddies, while making the worst character in the show, Rex, immortal just like Jack. That way Jack can go on to Doctor Who and Torchwood can have a new guy who can’t die.
Because it seems Davies doesn’t give a shit about you or these characters. He’s just maintaining a brand. He’s giving the performers work, which is nice, but he’s doing it at the cost of the entire show’s creative integrity.
Are there nice moments in this final episode?
I suppose. But they’re all either cliché (Gwen’s opening speech literally made my skin crawl it was so horrible) or totally unearned character growth (aw, Rex is a bastard with a heart of gold – Danes is willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone), repositioning for the possibility of Torchwood: Las Vegas or whatever.
The really annoying part of it all is that Danes served absolutely no purpose whatsoever, other than being a warm body necessary for the plot contrivance of being a human bomb. And Jilly turned full-on evil because she stared at the Earth Vagina and saw her true self (???).
Really. That’s a character arc on the new Torchwood. Flit around until you’re needed to give a half-assed speech or die.
And they killed Esther. The only new character with a life, a family and integrity. The only good person to make it through to the finale. But in the end, she’s only there to be murdered. And not even heroically, validating her character growth. But shot like a sucker by a nameless bad guy. Just murdered for no reason. Exactly like Dr. Juarez before her.
It’s no fucking wonder Barrowman wants to get brought back into the Doctor Who fold. Over there the story matters. They may play fast and loose with logic at times, but at least the creators love what they’re doing, have real affection for the characters, and take the time to work the goddamn story out. Doctor Who is fun and epic and tragic and crazy all at once.
It’s a whirlwind of creative energy and there’s no cynicism.
Torchwood is now nothing but cynicism. Soul-sucking cynicism and contempt for the audience.
And so long as people keep eating it up because you think Barrowman is cute, or Jack’s coat is awesome, or whatever it is you tell yourselves to keep you coming back for more, then Davies will continue to shit in your mouths and tell you it’s cake.
Me, I’m going to pretend this debacle never happened.
I’m going to pretend that those first two seasons of Torchwood were what they were: Uneven, but entertaining bits of pseudo-science fiction that always showed more potential than they lived up to.
I’m going to pretend that Torchwood: Children of Earth was the culmination of an amazing creative synchronicity where the concept, the writing, the directing, and the performances all came together not by accident, but by design.
I’m going to pretend that when Ianto died and Jack left earth, that was it. He didn’t come back. And if he shows up on Doctor Who, we’ll just glance at each other, clear our throats, and move on with whatever awesomeness Moffat has in store for us.
For me, Torchwood ended a while ago.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. He currently has little spare time, but in what there is he continues to work on his first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.