The BBC issued its press packet for Torchwood's third season, the five-part "Children of Earth," and the Doctor Who spin-off is bigger, crazier and more political than ever. It's easy to see why Russell T. Davies is sticking around. Spoilers!
The packet includes a much more detailed plot summary for "Children Of Earth" than we've seen before.
An ordinary day becomes a world of terror, as every single child in the world stops. A message is sent to all the governments of Earth: "We are coming".
But as a trap closes around Captain Jack, sins of the past are returning, as long-forgotten events from 1965 threaten to reveal an awful truth.
Torchwood are forced underground, as the government takes swift and brutal action. With members of the team being hunted down, Britain risks becoming a rogue state, with the mysterious and powerful 456 drawing ever closer.
Captain Jack (John Barrowman), Gwen (Eve Myles) and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) are helpless, as events escalate until humankind faces the end of civilisation itself.
Apart from the part about creepy children, it all sounds fantastic. And I think raising the stakes dramatically for Captain Jack and the crew would be a huge plus. As long as Torchwood was just a show about the team capturing escaped monsters, or dealing with Captain Jack's brother and Captain Jack's ex-boyfriend, it always felt a bit trivial — like if Captain Jack just up and left, most of the problems he was fighting against would disappear as well. But now, at last, there's a real threat to the Earth. Contrast that with Davies' Doctor Who, which hasn't really got anyplace else to go after his constant upping of the ante.
Oh, and the political part? Well, there's the idea of Britain becoming a "rogue state" as it crumbles under the weight of whatever those secrets from 1965 are. But there's also this, from Davies:
But underneath the sci-fi and the aliens there's something very relevant to the world, I hope, the way we sit in the West and watch footage of atrocities in different countries and imagine it's all so far away, and so impossible here – which is a nice, comfy lie we tell ourselves. That was the heart of it.
I wanted to tell a story in which civilisation snaps, in which we turn on ourselves, in which nothing is safe. Plenty of people live like that on this planet. In this story, it's Britain's turn!
Davies also talks up the episode's guest stars, including Cush Jumbo as Lois, the innocent secretary who discovers government secrets on her computer, and Peter Capaldi as Frobisher, who's "heartbreaking" at the end. And Susan Brown is a "slow burner" as Bridget Spears. Nicholas Farrell is the most clever and manipulative British prime minister you could imagine. (And I wonder if they'll refer to what happened to the last PM, and the fact that Jack was there.) And then Lucy Cohu plays Alice... Captain Jack's daughter.
Davies also promises that the huge threat of the aliens, the 456, breaks down Torchwood and forces them to rebuild, so we see a new side of them and witness their humanity. And in episode three, we actually get to watch the British government engaging in diplomatic relations with an alien race, and it's just the way you'd imagine.
Most importantly, though, Davies hints that the relationship between Captain Jack and his very private secretary, Ianto, has "developed."
Torchwood's "Children Of Earth" airs July 20 through July 24 on both BBC One in the U.K. and BBC America in the U.S.