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As of today I'm officially the complete loser sister of a Frau Doktor with boyfriend and daughter. Strangly enough though I'm not even particualrly bothered, and I haven't quite been able to decide whether that's a good thing or not...



And now without further ado, onto the Torchwood rewatchage. *g*


1.01 Everything Changes

# PC Cooper-Gwen in her uniform and police hat and rain dripping from her hair is absolutely adorable. I remember when I started watching TW it was she who drew me into it, before Jack, and for the first few episodes I had a bit of a fangirl-crush on her until for some reason I still can't pinpoint it vanished again all of a sudden.

# "Still, at least I won't get pregnant. Never doing that again." ::cough::The Long Game::cough:: Never say never, Jack. :)

# I've read so often now that S2 was so much better, but the first episode is pretty perfect, IMO (and so are a few others, unless I'm very much misremembering); the visuals, the blood diluting in the pouring rain, Jack's barely concealed desperation to discover something after death, something that could explain what he is and what happened to him... Or again, the scene with the weevil in the hospital, Gwen and the porter's reaction. Suzie digging in her handbag for the gun.

# Gwen and Rhys: there's apparently a history of him being worried about her and she lying about the risks she takes at work that predates Torchwood.

# Toshiko's reaction to seeing Gwen and Carys snog; she's even slower than Jack (but OTOH faster than Owen) to rescue Gwen. I wish they'd given her a real girlfriend instead of all the unrequited love for Owen.

# Suzie, Owen and Toshiko, all within not even two years. None of them survived for more than five years. Realistically, how long will Jack be able to do this? People being killed left and right in all kinds of unpleasant ways when they weren't his people and he only a semi-willing associate probably got bad enough over the decades, but now that they're his responsibility and every death weighs on his conscience? I can't imagine.

# “When you’ve lived as long as I have, you don’t make anymore up.”

It's psychologically really interesting how Jack who is so secretive about his past has developed this... one could almost call it a game, where he flat-out tells people the truth and just relies on it that they won't believe it anyway, even if (I think) he wants them to believe it. He's as good as telling Gwen about the TARDIS having stood in the spot of the invisible lift, not that she understands a word of what he's saying. He's practically begging them to ask, but when they do, he blocks the questions.

I think the thing with Jack is that for all the sex he's desperately lonely; he, or at least part of him, wants to be close to someone, he wants someone to know him, but at the same time it's become so deeply ingrained that he can't allow this to happen (and I'm still pretty sure there's something about his wife and that he married her before he knew for certain about his immortality), because people don't understand at all, and/or someone is bound to get hurt in the end. He lets Gwen in a bit, but only so far, and even when it's pretty obvious that he does love her (KKBB), he still can't talk to her or straight-forwardly answer the simplest question.

And I think maybe that's how Ianto managed to slip under Jack's radar and ended up knowing more about him than any of the others, by listening when Jack wants to talk, not the least because understanding Jack and knowing as much about him as possible was initially absolutely crucial to the success of his plan, and doing it so inconspicuously that Jack never really noticed just how much he was telling. Owen still doesn't believe half of what Jack's saying in S2; I doubt that is a mistake Ianto would have made. He'd have very carefully paid attention to everything Jack let slip, and with his TW1 past sooner or later would have started to put together the pieces. I doubt Suzie, Toshiko, Owen or Gwen who were all recruited into Jack's new and improved Torchwood were told about the Doctor, but if Gwen ever asked Ianto what Jack meant by his mysterious 'the right Doctor' remarks, if Jack ever said that in front of Ianto, he'd immediately have made the connection. I'm pretty sure (or at least would like to believe) from the way he asks "Are you going back to him" that he knows exactly with whom Jack had left, and in FootR it seems pretty clear that Ianto has played this game of how much he can get Jack to tell for a while. Unlike Gwen he doesn't get angry, he may ask once, if Jack really gives him an opening, but doesn't insist when Jack stops talking, just quietly files away another bit of information.

It would be interesting to check if Jack ever lies about anything. He omits, he obfuscates, he uses the stories, anecdotes and innuendo to deflect, but outright lie? "Going home wouldn't fix that" is absolutely the truth, but at the same time a rather enormous understatement.




1.02 Day One

# "Might want to stop saying 'you' and start saying 'we'." So, how long did that take you, Jack?

#


Jack is really happy to get his coffee. (Oops, did someone see that?) (Also, he totally gets it first: Ianto walks right past Gwen, Tosh and Owen, hands Jack his coffee and only them returns to them.)

It's not just the smile, it's that smile almost immediately after the discussion about whether or not they have partners, where Ianto is absent and Jack conspicuously silent. If the whole girlfriend in the basement tragedy hadn't come out two episodes later, I think one could have made a pretty good case that there is something going on between them even on the evidence of the first two episodes.

Someone should really ask that when-did-it-start question at a convention sometime.







And Ianto at this point definitely has at least a bit of a crush on Jack. For one thing, Jack makes him laugh.

And, "And I don't care"? It's probably reading too much into a single line, but that's still a very ambiguous smack-down from someone who turned out to care quite a lot. It's not as if there's any need need to divert the conversation, unless he's protecting himself, or it makes him uncomfortable; no one one will start flinging around homophobic slurs, and Jack's virtue and reputation definitely don't need protecting.

Watching this scene, though... I've no idea how Ianto does it. It's of course entirely possible that we simply were not to get even the smallest hint of Ianto's secret until it comes out, but from an in-character perspective I can't even begin to imagine how Ianto handled that psychologically. When Gwen says "What are we doing having Chinese while a girl fights for her life?" the camera moves to Ianto, and only him, which in hindsight is significant, but his face gives away nothing beyond what can be explained by situation. I've written at some point that he must have been a consummate actor to carry that off all that, which I still think is mostly true, but what may have become even more problematic for him is that part of him is probably genuinely happy to be there, to be laughing with those people, to belong somewhere. In ties into what he says in Adam -- "Coming here gave me meaning again".

And of course the other person within the team who has perfected this kind of compartimentalisation of emotions is Jack, who laughs and flirts and shags and enjoys all that, and holds a dead man's hand in a car filled with carbon monoxide; who tries to do something useful with Torchwood, but at the same time can't wait to leave this planet and everyone on it behind.


#

It's interesting how this captures the relationships over two seasons: Owen looking at Gwen, Ianto beside Jack, wholly focusing on him, Jack and Gwen focused on each other, but with the whole length of the table between them. Toshiko, self-contained, sitting beside Owen, who is turned away from her.



# "You've been hidden down here too long. Spending so much time with the alien stuff, you've lost what it means to be human." More true than Gwen could ever have known.

I've said that before too, but the full extent of what Gwen meant to Jack really only becomes clear with the knowledge of that whole dreary century spent in TW.

Because until this point he doesn't take her very seriously at all. He probably rather liked her, her curiosity, her persistence; someone he could impress and show all his alien toys to, pun not intended, and she isn't exactly hard on the eyes either, but his "we could do more to help" at the end of ep.1 shows that while Jack has been trying to do something useful with Torchwood, there's still precious little enthusiasm and genuine feeling behind it; it's more of a duty, an obligation to Alex, to the Doctor, humanity, his conscience, in the absence of anything else he could do.

"So remind us," and that's almost mocking, what does this girl know; then, suddenly becoming more serious and focused, switching from plural to singular: "Tell me what it means to be human in the 21st century." There's a world of weariness in that sentence. He's challenging her, but he doesn't believe that she might have an answer that could satisfy him, or show him something he hasn't seen before.

When she remains absolutely undaunted by his cynicism, and actually shows him that it's possible to look at things differently, that's where his relationship with Gwen really starts to change. And of course when she's willing to sacrifice herself for Carys. Maybe she reminded him of his first day in TW. Maybe of himself making an equally stupid mistake with a not-so-harmless piece of space junk and having to face the consequences.

I think she rekindled an idealism within him that the Doctor had brought out once, but that had been buried for a long time since.

And that's when he starts telling her not to let the job consume her, and he's absolutely serious about that, because he knows that she needs that outside life to keep those qualities alive, because he knows what happened to him, what happened to Suzie, what had happened to everyone who let himself consumed by Torchwood.

And when she asks him who he is, his answer is:

"Eat lasagna, kiss your boyfriend, be normal. For me."

Withdrawing, pushing her away, putting a distance between them again. And that's just extremely sad (not to mention a tad patronising and more than a bit fucked-up, because she's a human being and not some kind of talisman) and creates this whole schizophrenic situation starts where Jack wants Gwen and starts falling in love with her, but thinks he can't have her without ruining what makes her so special in his eyes. Which is understandable from his perspective and true to some extent, because it would have changed her, but also all kinds of wrong and sexist, because she never asked to be coddled like that or have these decisions made for her. I think there might have been a good chance she'd have chosen Jack if he had laid the cards on the table from the start; he fucked that up all by himself.



Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
rivier
Apr. 24th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Here to wave my hands around and agree with you pretty much all over the place.

I'm going to settle down and start rewatching myself next month: I still remember how utterly thrilled I was when I walked out of the advance screening of Everything Changes, it hit the mark over and over for me, it's an excellent show premiere, full of ambition and charisma. It's interesting that RTD, pre-season Two, pointedly referred to his scripting of EC as having included the sense of humour and playfulness which kind of got lost over the rest of the first season, through time pressure and also the fact that it's simply easier, in dramatic terms, to generate emotion and tension by focusing on the depressing, harsh, dreadful things. I think he's right - it's bizarre little moments such as the one you mention, Suzie fishing around in her handbag at the crucial moment, which I think are a Trochwood asset: the show isn't afraid of juxtaposing extreme contrasts, which is appealing and persuasive since life doesn't tend to compartmentalise neatly either.

One of the things that struck me first time around - and I'll need to think about when re-watching - is that Jack came across as repeatedly cruel, in small petty ways which I thought at the time were evidence of his boredom (with immortality) and frustration (at not knowing what had happened to him or why, or when he'd meet the Doctor again). That rather deliberate pleasure he takes in luring Gwen in, letting her see his little hidden kingdom - after all, they could have simply had her deliver the pizzas to Ianto and walk off oblivious - only to Retcon her and laugh at the fact that she's about to go right back to that state of ignorance and exclusion. Knowing now that this is Jack after a century of being toughened and made cynical, maybe, by Torchwood, it doesn't seem at all surprising that he could be so cavalier, or that as you say, Gwen manages to appeal to the inherent compassionate humanity that the Doctor had also recognised in the first place. The thing that makes Jack so critically different from John Hart, indeed.

I'm pretty sure Gareth answered the "when did they first become lovers" question at some point in the last year (at a con, but not to me!) and that his view of it was, not until some time around TKKS, either just before or directly because of Ianto's proposal. That's always been my take on it, simply because Ianto seems to have a very singular intense focus in love, and I just don't think he could have handled a sexual relationship with Jack while Lisa was alive and literally right under them at the time. It would have been supremely treacherous to both of them - as you say, it's clear that Ianto already finds Jack alluring at some level, even while Lisa is still alive. And I don't really think Jack's so rapacious that he wouldn't have been content to settle with just agreeable flirting on his part, and Ianto's mild but still clear signals not to let it get out of hand.

When we see Ianto in Fragments, he's utterly desperate and utterly winging it. He'd probably have known enough from Torchwood files and backchat to gamble that Jack would be interested in hiring someone who looked attractive and up for it - without necessarily thinking through what that might mean when he was safely inside the Hub. I imagine that he could have used the recent 'loss' of Lisa as enough of an excuse to explain why he wasn't taking Jack up on any more serious offers for the time being, even assuming Jack ever tried to take things further at that early stage, which I also doubt, because Jack seems to be big on flirty talk and light on action, in spite of what Tosh says in Day One.

I also think it doesn't add up for me that Jack could have been shagging Ianto by night, working with him by day, but still essentially with so little interest in him as a person that Ianto's outburst in Cyberwoman about Jack's lack of interest in him would so clearly have hit a raw spot. Not to mention that, if there really had been any kind of intimacy between them before the discovery of Lisa, I think both of them were so irate with each other that one or both of them would have brought it up during the general yelling and punching and gunpoint business.

Uhm... rambling now, whoops!
solitary_summer
Apr. 24th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
the show isn't afraid of juxtaposing extreme contrasts, which is appealing and persuasive since life doesn't tend to compartmentalise neatly either.

Exactly.

only to Retcon her and laugh at the fact that she's about to go right back to that state of ignorance and exclusion.

It's really only a step away from what Suzie does, retconning that support group. Cruel, but I think it comes from the same place of isolation and desperation.


without necessarily thinking through what that might mean when he was safely inside the Hub.

I'd be more inclined to believe that if had picked a different persona for the first meeting. He certainly wasn't planning on having a relationship, but sex, at least a couple of times until Jack lost interest, was something he was willing to do, I think, if that was what it took, because too much depended on it.

I'm not saying they had a relationship or anything, or even a very regular thing, because Ianto certainly couldn't allow it to become that; but attraction mixed with loneliness... I could see Ianto justifying sleeping with Jack by telling himself that he was doing this to protect Lisa, and justify betraying Jack (and I think he saw it less of a betrayal, because he was so absolutely convinced that he was doing the right thing) by believing, rightly or wrongly, that he didn't mean anything to Jack.


I also think it doesn't add up for me that Jack could have been shagging Ianto by night, working with him by day, but still essentially with so little interest in him as a person that Ianto's outburst in Cyberwoman about Jack's lack of interest in him would so clearly have hit a raw spot.

It did hit a raw spot, but I think for once that says more about Jack than about what actually happened. I think Ianto might have begun to want, mostly probably on a subconscious level, more from Jack than he was getting, but of course couldn't allow himself to ask for anything more (whether ot not Jack would have been willing to give that) or even admit to himself that - or how much - he wanted it, because that would mean betraying Lisa, and to keep that balance intact started to focus his anger on Jack, blaming him for not knowing, not asking, not helping him, more than the situation justified, because I think this is the first time Jack would have got an indication that Ianto might have wanted something more than absolutely casual.


I think both of them were so irate with each other that one or both of them would have brought it up during the general yelling and punching and gunpoint business.

I think I've might have said that before once, so please ignore me if I'm repeating myself, but what I find interesting is what's not being said, and how Jack, even when he's supremely pissed off on a personal level, because sex or no sex, it was he who'd been completely taken in by Ianto, sticks to 'us' and 'we' and 'the team'. But then again, maybe coincidence.

Edited at 2008-04-24 11:24 pm (UTC)
solitary_summer
Apr. 25th, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
I guess continuity-wise I just have less of a problem with this version and seeing the stopwatch comment as a sort of 'I forgive you' than imagining Ianto moving from *glare* (Countrycide) and *painpainpain* (GBG) to that kind of assured, easy come-on on the basis of nothing more than a barely-admitted attraction in the next episode. Then again, I'm aware that this might be moving into the territory where things are happening more in my head than in actual show canon...
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