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Childhood's End - Night Three: The Children - Review: "The End"

Childhood's End Miniseries Episode Guide
1.01 - Night One - Overlords - Review
1.02 - Night Two - The Deceivers - Review
1.03 - Night Three - The Children - Review

1.03: Night Three: The Children
Directed by Nick Hurran & Written by Matthew Graham

And here we have the concluding chapter to Childhood's End, The Children, that wraps everything up and ends on a massive downer ending for humanity as we're effectively wiped out by Karellen. And it's not just extinction that we have to deal with at the end of the Night, but the entirety of planet Earth is gone as well, leaving the universe with nothing left in its wake to resemble Earth. All the planet's history, all its culture, all its discovery and leaps of scientific advancement, gone in an instant. Save for one thing. Classical Music. It's an interesting note to end the series on that readers of the book probably saw coming, but it worked quite well for those who weren't familiar with the conclusion, or at least, that's what I thought. Anyway, how did we get to the destruction of the planet Earth? Well, it starts with another four year timejump, following on from the ending that The Deceivers had left us with, where Peretta had attacked Karellen and Tom had chosen to save his life.

I got distinct Torchwood: Children of the Earth vibes about Night Three and the series as a whole and that's partly due to not only the mini-series format but also the utilisation of the children, even though I fully understand that Torchwood wasn't the first show to use children like this for a creepy effect, and neither was it the last, with ABC's The Whispers earlier this year adopting this approach as well. The creepy start to Night Three though looked at the children all uniting under Jennifer, who was old enough now to do slightly unsettling things as we followed The Greggsons through the Night again as they were set up with a new home from a Mayor named Jerry, but nothing much really worked with Jerry here as the last thing that this show needed was the introduction of yet more characters when it is already struggling to get the audience to care about those that have been around for longer. This did give us an insight into New Athens and what life looked like outside of the Overlord's control however, as we learnt that culture and science, and with it disease and illness, also still existed here unlike anywhere else in the world, making it unique. If Jerry had been maybe introduced earlier we might have cared about him a bit more, but here, in The Children at least, his introduction feels like it was lost in the shuffle.

Meanwhile, Ricky, who is still affected by the aliens' infenction that was revealed to him in the previous Night, is still clinging to life as his story is yet to be resolved. His character does get a resolution, rejecting the offer from Karellen of eternity in a hotel room with his first wife in favour of time with Ellie, but again, the whole thing felt like a wasted opportunity with Ricky, and maybe a few minor characters could have been left out or had their roles decreased to allow more time to improve the ones who have actual relevance to the story, which would as a result gut us to actually care about them more, as I didn't feel like we'd lost a great character with Ricky's death, merely a forgettable one.

On the other hand, Milo is the highlight of the series and a character that actually works. Yes, Rachel became his love interest in this Night but unlike what we saw with Ricky this served a cause for the plot rather than being another item on the TV cliché check-list, as she helped him stowaway on board the alien ship on a journey that he believed would save the world. Milo however learned more about the Overlords than anyone got a chance to once he arrived on their planet, discovering that they are in fact controlled by an Overmind that wants all of humanity's children for itself. This naturally has a devastating impact on Earth as they are taken into the consciousness of the being, and on Milo, who returns to find himself as the last human alive as the planet crumbles around him. Taking pity on Milo for being the last of his species, the Overlords give him the chance to travel with Milo and learn everything there is to know about the universe. However, Milo, like Ricky, rejects their offer, choosing to die on Earth as it disintegrates around him, leaving classical music as a last reminder of Earth's existence in the Universe.

So it's safe to say it was a pretty grim and depressing ending for the characters and humanity as a whole with its extinction. Despite a few problems namely concerning Ricky's character arc I still very much liked this mini-series and if we are going to see a three night mini-series once a year at it's end from SyFy in the future going forward on the back of Childhood's End and Ascension then I hope that we will see that are as good as this show is. And may I suggest if anyone from SyFy is reading this then they look at adapting Emily St. John Mandel's wonderful Station Eleven or Paolo Bacigalupi's excellent The Water Knife for next year's series? That'd be great, even if unlikely. I can dream. Anyway. That's pretty much my review done, so as always, It'd be great if you could let me know what you thought of the mini-series in the comments section below. If you did read the original novel by Arthur C. Clarke, how closely did it stick to the ending of the book? Were you satisfied? I look forward to reading your reactions and thank you for joining me on this three night journey through SyFy's latest mini-series.

Overall Episode Verdict: B+
+Charles Dance bringing star power to the role as Karellen.
+The ending pulled off superbly.
+Creepy, unnerving use of the children.
-Introducing new characters without making us care much about the ones we already know.
-Still hard to invest in Ricky's character.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Childhoods End, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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