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Because apparently I've got a bad case of Can't Let Go.


So I went to the writer's blog & asked...

[...] I still wonder, though, if the message we're supposed to be getting from this episode is that TW's Guantanamo-esque treatment of Beth was somehow acceptable or at least a necessary evil -- or that in the end Beth, willing to sacrifice her life to retain her humanity, to avoid hurting others, was more human than the people who strapped her to a chair and made her scream in pain...


... and got this answer:


None of the former, bit of the latter - Beth volunteered, said she'd do anything to prove she was human, and the mind probe just digs information out without her needing to do anything, so it was the fastest way to prove it or disprove it. Yes, it really hurts, and the team weren't really happy about it, but I would never have had them force it on her.



I swear this is the last time I'm going to post about this episode, and I'll hopefully be a happy squeeful TW fangirl again by this time tomorrow, but I'm not exactly reassured by that explanation.

I've said before that my problems with Beth's treatment start way before they come to the mindprobe, so I'll just skip that.

But: Beth volunteered, said she'd do anything to prove she was human

Beth volunteered?! I guess strictly speaking you could say that, but it's a pretty cynical interpretation of the concept. A woman who was terrified and desperate enough to offer to do anything to prove her innocence/humanity (*), because she was even more afraid of what would happen to her when she couldn't? When the other option she faces is (at best) a cell next to the weevils for an indefinite length of time? Not to mention that she could have had absolutely no idea what she let herself in for; even with the glimpses she got of TW she couldn't have know that they'd come up with alien mind-reading technology. She probably thought she was living in a civilised country and despite her experiences at TW on some level probably still trusted them to treat her accordingly; at least not to harm or hurt her physically. But Jack only told her what they were going to do when she was already strapped into the chair and the machine was seconds away from being switched on, and and no one would have bothered to inform her that it'd be painful (never mind how) if she hadn't asked. And Gwen's claim that it was safe was hardly the full truth either. Would they have stopped if she'd asked them to then? Most likely Gwen would have oh-so-gently explained to her that it was really in her best interest to let them do it.


so it was the fastest way to prove it or disprove it.
And that make it right? So it's not even a necessary evil, just a convenient one? What about, oh wait, finding another way, or at least trying to? (Obviously I can see how this is an appealing solution from an script-writing point of view, but it's hardly an argument as far as the ethics of the situation are concerned.)


I would certainly hope they weren't happy about it.



(*) Obviously he wrote the script, but actually she didn't say quite that. What she said was: 'How can I prove it to you? How can I prove to you that I'm not an alien?'. Interpreting this as a carte blanche to use painful and unsafe alien technology on her without further questions or without allowing her to make an informed decision about the specific risks she was taking is--


Right. And I'm really tired of the subject now. Tired, overall; long day with horse duty & aborted-by-tree-across-track trail ride before work. *yawns*


In conclusion, the whole above, beyond and outside thing is not doing team Torchwood any good. And wasn't Jack supposed to come back happier? Or at least I think I remember reading as much?



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(Deleted comment)
solitary_summer
Jan. 31st, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
ETA
The writer's replay to my objection:

Not at all, I'm glad the ep promotes debate! But yes, sometimes TW go too far. They did have evidence that something other-worldly was afoot, albeit circumstantial - Jack instinctively knew that there was more going on than meets the eye, given all the info at hand, and was proved right. Should they be allowed to just abduct people and lock them up, do what they want? No way. But sometimes they have to do things they're not comfortable with. No, they shouldn't have done it - luckily, this time, it helped prevent a massive loss of life. But like Jack says, when you fear for your life, you'd be surprised what you can do - and for my money, this is the first time he has ever been utterly terrified of the threat, because he knows what they're capable of. It's a horrible situation, and I honestly don't know what I'd do in their shoes, even though I'm against what they actually did.



I'm beginning to suspect that either he didn't really think this through, the chronology of events especially (Jack treated her horribly before he knew what she was, when he had no reason to be that terrified); the episode would have worked better on the presumption that both the viewer and team TW know from the beginning that there's something very wrong and dangerous about Beth, but if they'd done that it would have been impossibly to identify with her so strongly, -- or between him and the rest of the production team they failed to convey some of these ideas. (Did anyone notice that Jack was supposed to be terrified?) That this episode needs so many clarifications and is understood so widely differently certainly suggests that things weren't expressed as clearly as they could have been.

ETA, because that wasn't very clear: The crux of the problem IMO is that the writer of course knows what Beth is, and writes the rest of the characters and plot accordingly, even before they (and the audience) find out.


Which I find oddly comforting, because - and I'm aware this sounds a bit schizophrenic, but it sort of made sense in my head - that makes it not so much the characters' fault, but the writer's.

Edited at 2008-01-31 07:47 pm (UTC)
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