Children of Earth: Day 1
Children of Earth: Day One was the first episode of the third series of Torchwood. It marked the beginning of the end for the Torchwood Institute as it had been established over the course of two series by eliminating almost all of its technological resources. It saw two great losses: the destruction of the Torchwood 3 headquarters and the theft of their trademark vehicle. Gwen Cooper also discovered she had recently become pregnant, a discovery which was soon followed by one of Captain Jack Harkness’s most gratuitous deaths to date.
This story featured the second appearance of Peter Capaldi portraying a character within the Doctor Who universe. He previously had the role of Caecilius in the story The Fires of Pompeii, and would later play the Doctor himself – specifically, the Twelfth Doctor.
One night in Scotland, 1965, young children are driven in a school bus to an undisclosed location. When the bus stops, the children exit and walk towards a light. It grows brighter as they draw closer. One hesitates, then flees as the light covers a large area.
Forty-four years later, in Cardiff, September 2009, at 8:40am GMT, Gwen Cooper is withdrawing money from an ATM when she notices two children standing completely still and unresponsive. In fact, all the children all over the United Kingdom freeze. After a minute, the children start moving again, acting as if nothing has happened. Gwen goes to the Hub and begins to investigate the incident.
At a hospital, Dr Rupesh Patanjali fails to save a man’s life. Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones, whom Dr Patanjali believes are the man’s neighbors, ask to see the body alone. Jack uses a laser saw to open the corpse. He extracts an alien organ. Dr Patanjali re-enters, sees the alien organ and asks if the men are Torchwood. Jack quickly denies it. Dr Patanjali tells them the bodies of five ethnic males have vanished over the past two months. Jack tells him it’s a problem for the NHS. Ianto and he drive away. Back at the Hub, Gwen tells them what has happened with the children.
A woman named Lois Habiba begins her first day at work for her new boss, Bridget Spears, assistant to the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, John Frobisher. Frobisher is visited by UNIT Colonel Oduya, who tells him children “stopped” at the exact same time all over the world, as the Torchwood team also discovers. Oduya says UNIT has gone to yellow alert, although they don’t know if the phenomenon is extraterrestrial in origin.
Dr Patanjali wanders in the plaza outside the Hub. Gwen goes to meet him, as the self-appointed “recruitment officer,” since, as Jack says, the team needs a doctor. While they talk, all the children again suddenly stop at 10:30 am. They scream, then chant in unison: “We are coming.” The Torchwood team later discovers that an adult patient in a mental institution in East Grinstead — Timothy White — also stopped and spoke the same words. Every child in the world said the same words.
Mr Dekker, head of MI5’s technology division, who is also in charge of alien monitoring, tells Frobisher the aliens called the 456 have re-established contact for the first time since 1965. Frobisher meets with the Prime Minister, Brian Green, and suggests, “It might be best if certain historical events were taken off the record.” Green agrees, but refuses Frobisher’s request he issue a “blank page”; he doesn’t want his name attached. Green puts Frobisher in charge of the crisis so Green can have deniability if things go wrong.
Lois fields a phone call from Jack Harkness. When she logs it, the computer flags Torchwood as classified. Curious, she logs on as Bridget Spears and finds Torchwood was established to defend the Earth against extraterrestrial threats.
Back at the Hub, Jack and Ianto agree they need to question a child. Jack visits his daughter, Alice Carter, and her son Steven, his grandson. Alice refuses to let Jack use Steven. Ianto visits his sister, Rhiannon Davies. He tries to talk her into letting him take one of her children on an “outing”, but she refuses. She also asks Ianto about his having been seen out to dinner with a man. Ianto admits his feelings for Jack. He explains he doesn’t have an inkling for men, but Jack has affected him differently, so he isn’t broadcasting his sexual choices. Rhiannon promises him that she will not tell anyone about his relationship. However, it becomes evident she gossiped to her husband Johnny when he walks in and thoughtlessly calls Ianto a “gay boy” who, according to his wife, has been “taking it up the arse”. Feeling humiliated, he takes the riffing with a grain of salt and puts up with Johnny to save face.
Suddenly, a car alarm begins wailing. Johnny looks out the window and asks whom the “black car” belongs to. Ianto confirms it as the Torchwood SUV. Ianto ignores Johnny’s warning that his car is a target on their estate. He puts too much faith in the vehicle’s triple deadlock, a costly mistake. Johnny alerts him a few hooligans have broken into the company car with ease. Panicked, Ianto bursts outside to find the SUV nowhere in sight. Johnny says the local thieves always do a victory lap to parade around in their stolen ride and takes the opportunity to pelt them with bricks on the pass around, rather than calling the authorities as Ianto requests. Surely enough, the Torchwood SUV blazes back into view one last time. The joyriding jokers cheer and whoop as they drive off with the car, one of them mooning the group as they pass by. David cheers the joyriders on from his bedroom window, which earns him a scolding from Rhiannon. An exasperated Ianto watches the car disappear around a corner as Johnny chases the thieves with an armload of bricks.
Gwen visits Timothy White. He tells her that when he was a child he was put on a bus and taken away with a group of children; they were told they were going to a new home. He watched the other children approach a bright light, which took them. He escaped; he got scared and ran away. His real name is Clem McDonald. He has an unusually heightened sense of smell. Clem tells Gwen the aliens are coming back, that he has been smelling them for months — and that she is three weeks pregnant. Gwen calls Ianto, now back at the Hub, and tells him to start a search for information about MacDonald, missing children, and Scotland. Ianto’s research triggers an alarm at an unidentified military monitoring station.
At the Home Office, Frobisher orders Bridget Spears to issue a blank page, an order to kill. Four people are on the list. One is Captain Jack Harkness. The others are Colonel Michael Sanders, Ellen Hunt and Captain Andrew Staines. Lois sees Bridget is distressed. She goes into Bridget’s e-mail account and finds the blank page order, recognizing Jack’s name from his earlier phone call.
Jack returns to Cardiff hospital, hoping to question a child in the children’s ward. Dr Patanjali tells him that another ethnic man has died; when Jack goes with him to examine the body, Dr Patanjali shoots him. A young woman named Johnson comes in and waits until Jack revives, proving the rumors about his immortality. She kills Jack again, then orders her men to surgically implant a bomb in his body. Patanjali is a spy, under orders to infiltrate Torchwood. Johnson kills Rupesh to stop Jack from finding him and learning why he was shot. Jack revives again and returns to the Hub.
Gwen uses a scanner at Torchwood. Clement’s claims are true; she is pregnant. Jack arrives and places his hand on hers, inadvertently scanning himself, finding the bomb in his stomach. He tells Gwen and Ianto to get out. He kisses Ianto, watches him rise on the elevator, and tells him, “I’ll come back…I always do.” The Hub blows up in a massive explosion, knocking the running Gwen to the ground.
Meanwhile, all of the children chant, “We are coming, we are coming, we are coming … back”.