I've been puzzling over my inability to find discussion from both critics and fans about the dark political/social (and individual in the case of Jack and Frobisher) morality "logic theme" presented by the 456.
Fans of the series seem crushed by the death of the popular character Ianto and the dark turn taken by Captain Jack Harkness in the unusually dark story line.
For me the crux of the story relates to the belief by an alien species that humans are, in fact and with a great deal of irony, "inhuman" meaning "lacking qualities of sympathy, pity, warmth, compassion, or the like; cruel; brutal" particularly in regard to our own species. The 456 want 10% of the Earth's children. When an objection is raised by Captain Jack, the 456 response is “but you’re letting children die every day; why would you mind this?” They offer statistics we all know but don't seem care about. Over 25,000 children die every day around the world. That is equivalent to:
- 1 child dying every 3.5 seconds
- 17-18 children dying every minute
- Over 9 million children dying every year
- Some 70 million children dying between 2000 and 2007
Our children (the alien assumes "our" because we are a single species) die of hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other poverty related causes. In spite of the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, humanity does nothing to solve a problem that could be solved simply by reallocating half the accumulated wealth from North America, Europe and Japan which would by all human historical standards still leave the people in those three areas incredibly wealthy.
Given this inhuman nature of our species, an alien species that appears to be able to kill us all merely wants 10% of our children. We are presented with a meeting of elected and appointed officials discussing criteria for selecting children based on their desirability, which concluded. as such a meeting would, that most would be chosen from the poor all for the good of society as a whole.
This shouldn't be too disturbing because the Nazi's in fact did hold the Wannsee Conference
to establish criteria for the processes of the "final solution" and in fact most of the foot soldiers in most armies around the world who are sent to kill and die for the good of their nation are mostly the poor.
It would seem so logical to an alien observing humanity over time that we could select 10% of our children to give to aliens for the good of the remainder of humanity. Day in and day out as a species the richest societies buy iPods while far more than 10% of human young die from preventable causes.
In Britain the one frequent fan criticism of the show is that somehow the writers were trying to write a Shakespearean tragedy. Personally, I thought it was more akin to the tragedies of the ancient Greek myths.
Like those myths, it was a modern morality tale with it's flawed hero. But somehow I think it failed to stir the type of discussion one might expect.