Spoilers. Who would have thought, after reading the headline?
I liked the show. Still do. Though I think I haven’t blogged in detail about the decisions I didn’t like.
The writers remembering that Jack is – or has become – a Doctor Who monster, is something I definitely liked. What I didn’t like is the “oops, btw – Jack’s a father let’s meet the family” – at least I’m not happy about how this revelation is used. (It could also be me once again being overly nitpicky about RTD’s resolution to a big-ass storyline. )
But let’s start with the family thing. You usually introduce family members to make decisions more personal and the hero more human.
If the goal was to show both, Jack-the-monster and Jack-the-man, the execution is sloppy. What we get isn’t a Jack-the-family-man who cares about his daughter and grandchild – possibly enough to keep them out of his life – , but a man who “needs a child” (that line is used repeatedly by the villains as well, so you can assume it’s there’s on purpose and suggests all the child abuse a paranoid mind can come up with).
So if Stephen isn’t there to generate conflict, but merely to highlight Jack’s ruthlessness, he shouldn’t be there at all. The problem is that the audience cares about Stephen as much as Jack does: he could be any kid, he’s expendable, he doesn’t add a new layer.
What makes things even worse, is that there’s a workable alternative in plain sight. It’s so obvious, I’m wondering if that was actually the solution in another draft, and it just got nixed to stick visually closer to the “children” theme:
The old man – the child from the 1960s. He still has the trait that allows the childlike communication.
He’s an adult, Jack actually could ask for his compliance – or force it if it’s denied. This would bring the 1960s storyline to an end and it’s a character whose backstory the audience knows by the end of the show: He could be the ultimat double-victim to Jack. He also could bring closure to the children’s theme, having Jack sacrificing him again, leaving Jack face-to-face with the victim who has lived and will die due to Jack’s decision. More than Stephen that man shows the audience that whatever Jack does, has impact on lives outside Torchwood.
So, why Stephen? Why the daughter? It yells “we tinkered with the storyline” to me. (Also – is there any reason given why the old man has to be in the room for the showdown? He’s there, isn’t he? I’ll have to check and edit this paragraph accordingly.)
What does Jack need a family for? Further Storylines? Like: “Jack’s other son and the Doctor’s daughter?”. (Just don’t.) Is there anything that can be done only with a family, but not with Jack’s family of choice – his team?
For in Children of Earth, Jack’s family was so poorly used, it was basically a waste of time.