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May. 31st, 2008

Quite embarrassingly long and rambling, and probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense.




# Ep. 10-13, really: There were episodes in S2 when I remember scoffing at the repeated claim that Jack was happier now, but it's actually mostly true, at least before it all goes to hell in the last episode. There's this capacity to be happy and love life in Jack that nothing can quite kill, but S1 Jack is on some level consistently and deeply unhappy with his life, and his connection with Torchwood and the world around him is is extremely tenuous. Toshiko's angry 'I have a life there!' emphasises how much Jack ('There's no one.') doesn't, or doesn't think he has.

In EoD he rushes towards his death and the destiny that he finally thought he'd found (again) with as little of a backward glance or good-bye as he'll run after the TARDIS a few days later. The cut scene with Gwen ('What if everything has been leading to this moment? Maybe the reason I couldn't die before this was so I could make this sacrifice.) only makes this clearer insofar as it establishes that Jack expects and hopes to die, rather than just risking it.

There's this deleted scene from ep.1 where Jack tells Gwen about drinking only water because he's got to be hydrated since he might have to travel at any moment, and there's a bit of a discussion in the CJH commentary about how they fought to keep that, but in this case I think cutting that was the right choice, because it'd be hard indeed to make the viewer care about the relationships developing between Jack and the team members or build an emotional connection with a character when it's established without doubt from the start just how eager he is to leave at the drop of the right hat.


# The CJH commentary was actually very interesting and insightful (as opposed to the completely useless EoD commentary, that is, since these two are the only ones I've listened to from start to finish so far.).

'You have to be careful playing it that it's not a total..., hm, you know, love at first sight kind of thing, cause it isn't, it's act--, it's more than that. It's, it's, I mean even in the poster when you see it you see it at the beginning of the episode, KIss The Boys Night kind of thing, and... it's more of... it's a quick romance, it's a self-discovery, it's, you know, it's not-- A lot of people thought it was this big love thing between them, but it wasn't that. Does that make any sense at all?' (John Barrowman, who seems to be a bit at odds here with just about everyone else I've heard talking about that episode, where it mostly is referred to as this big love kind of thing.)

There's more talk from either Richard Stokes or Ashley Way, I forget who, about the relationship developing and that it should feel real, and then, once again from JB: 'Cause each are discovering about themselves.'

Admittedly I'm not entirely sure where JB is going with this talk about self-discovery: For the original Captain Jack it probably was about sexuality and being attracted to another man, but for Jack? I suspect much of what he'd been trying to do there ended up on the cutting room floor with the two scenes that refer to Jack's immortality, and while it was probably right to cut the 'So it's true you can't die' scene with Toshiko, because if she'd known or suspected that, others might have too, and it would have lessened the shock of Owen shooting Jack, the part of the conversation with the original Captain Jack I think should have been kept, since it changes the mood and the relationship between the characters quite a bit, and would have indeed shifted the episode's focus further away from the whole 'big love thing'.

CJ: Do you regret signing up?
J: No. It's just not knowing when it's all gonna end.
CJ: As long as it ends in victory.
J: Hey. [they click glasses]
J: Do you have any regrets?
CJ: Hell, no. Okay, I could croak up there, but without death in the balance, there'd be no valour, no honour. All I can pray is I make it through this and die an old war hero.
J: You are a hero. To me.

In a way I can see why they cut it, because it's a rather ambivalent passage when they're trying to keep Jack a hero in the traditional sense, but it should have been left in (and I'm glad they brought this up again in Dead Man Walking), because it changes one's perception of Jack quite a bit, to see him recognise that this man is in a way more heroic than he is. ('In a way', because although when Jack is isn't dead at this point it apparently hasn't been for lack of trying, facing the prospect of immortality without going completely crazy or falling even more into despair is a pretty brave thing in and of itself.)

For Jack the episode is a journey into his past, back to the moment where his life did change fundamentally, and it slowly peels away the layers of lies and half-lies he's surrounded himself with as he goes from completely deflecting Toshiko's question about his name to the (half-)lie about having taken the name because of his undercover job (half-lie because the undercover part might be true for the time when he lived through WW2 in the employ of TW) to finally telling her the whole not so heroic truth.

If it's self-discovery for Jack, it's probably about his responsibility and duty to Toshiko, to Torchwood, to this world, even if he only got stranded there, and this interpretation would make a lot more sense after Fragments and in view of Jack's Torchwood history. The recognition that he's really doing something useful and necessary and that this isn't just a chore he's been saddled with and mostly keeps doing because there isn't much else to do and he's got to kill time somehow. It makes him even more ready to rush into another chance at a heroic, self-sacrificial last stand in EoD, but when he's denied that again, I think ultimately this also might be where his decision to come back rather than go on travelling with the Doctor when he's offered the chance is rooted. 'It's my duty.' That mightn't sound very glamorous, but for someone like Jack who'd started out with rather shaky ethics and has essentially been drifting for more than a century it's an important step, I think.


# There's also something in the commentary from JB as well as the others about Jack being selfless in a way, pushing the original Jack towards his girlfriend, and not just going after what he wanted even if 'he fancied the pants off him' (JB), which I noticed before, but is still slightly significant both in regard to Jack and Gwen as well as Jack and Ianto. Jack may have intimacy issues, relationship issues, immortality issues and all kinds of other issues, and he may be a bit superficial occasionally, but he never struck me as someone who'd use his partners or actually harass someone, and I really don't know where that idea comes from since this IMO is one of the few aspects of the Jack/Ianto relationship that TPTB actually handled well and paid attention to. In fact I'm pretty sure that they were aware that things could be seen that way, which is why we almost always see Ianto taking the initiative in S1 as well as S2. The only scene that is maybe a bit problematic might be the one in Adrift, but Jack treats Gwen even shittier there, and his attempt at dominance is immediately undercut by Ianto giving Gwen the GPS.)


# There's another very interesting bit in the CJH commentary from JB about how it's the actors rather than the writers or directors who keep control of their characters' continuity, the small details, what they would and wouldn't do or how they'd do it; how (e.g.) they spent quite a while discussing the team turning on Jack in EoD, because they all had problems imagining how and why that would happen. (Good job, btw.)

So the impression I got after all of this is even if there went very little thought into the whole Jack/Ianto thing from TPTB beyond hey!, novelty! let's try hero gets the boy for a change!, JB (and probably GDL) would have had some thoughts about what was going on between them, why they did the kiss in EoD as they did it and not differently, that kind of thing. I can only assume that there's been a decision that the Jack/Ianto thing wasn't to be talked about in the commentaries, because this is about the only explanation I can imagine for the same team of commentators who were perfectly happy to discuss all aspects of the Jack/Jack relationship to remain so conspicuously silent when the show's main character kisses another main, if somewhat minor, character with intent, fondness and a certain amount of relationship history. Or the lack of commentary on any of the Jack/Ianto moments.


# One of the deleted scenes that I also think they should have absolutely kept was the one between Jack and Ianto discussing the possibility of opening the rift. I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense that this possibility should have been foreseen by the creators of TW, and I think this might be why the scene was cut in the end, but if opening the rift was indeed an 'official' last resort desperate solution and if Ianto knew about that, it would make his going along with Gwen and Owen even after Owen shot Jack a lot more understandable, or why he didn't help Jack when Owen pointed the gun at him, even when he's rather obviously in two minds about what to do. Less selfish and more driven by the willingness to sacrifice himself, which he clearly shows in that scene with Jack. It would give Ianto quite a different motivation than any of the others, and it'd have made more sense IMO, because while Gwen was in shock and Owen has been tethering on the edge since he lost Diane, there's a clear indication in CJH that at least on a rational level Ianto had realised that he'd lost Lisa long before Jack and the others shot what remained of her. ('I thought she was still Lisa. I loved her.'; 'You have to let Diane go. Like I did with Lisa.')

The results would of course have been equally disastrous, but the reasons would have been the right ones, and if Jack believed that was why Ianto had done it, this would explain that even while he's angry/hurt at Ianto siding with the others (although he also still seems to believe he might be able get him on his side again), that's still not the kind of anger one would expect for what would otherwise have been Ianto's second, and as far as Jack is concerned completely unexpected ('Make sure you stop him.') betrayal, effectively blowing the second chance he got after CW without any good excuse. Or why Ianto just gets a kiss, without any mention of forgiveness, unlike Owen or even Gwen (cut scene).


# The two kisses in CJH and EoD: At a first glance it almost look as if they were trying to make the Jack/inato kiss in the end... not exactly anti-climatic, but it's certainly rather less dramatic than the kiss in CJH, and it does seem a bit of an odd choice putting these episodes one after the other.

And to be honest none of the following even occurred to me until i listened to the commentary on CJH, which changed me view about that episode a bit, and this is once again one of these cases where I'm pretty sure I'm wildly over-interpreting, but it's actually interesting to consider the differences between the kisses. In CJH it's a parting kiss more or less in the face of death, and it's all there's ever going to be. The kiss in EoD is much more relationshipy; it's, in a sense, coming home, coming back to life, and as the first real on-screen 'public' kiss between them (not counting the CW 'kiss' for that purpose when even people who ship J/I aren't sure whether or not that was supposed to be a kiss) it's the start of something, rather than the end. Of course Jack will be chasing after the TARDIS almost immediately after, but that doesn't entirely invalidate this interpretation, because he couldn't have known that after all this time this would be the moment when the Doctor would turn up again.

Maybe it wasn't just Jack's decision to come back to Torchwood in LotTl that goes back to CJH/EoD, maybe it was also the decision to turn the thing with Ianto into somethig more serious. Maybe Jack realised that if he was that alone ('There is no one') it was by his choice, because he could have someone, at least for a while, if he only let himself. Not that it did stop him from running after the TARDIS, but once he realised that his immortality problem couldn't be fixed he took a good look at Martha ('You too, huh?') and maybe also realised that he'd spent enough time waiting for someone who'd always remain essentially untouchable.


#












In this case I can't really remember my original reaction, so this may be at least a bit coloured by the fact that they did have a [and it does say something that I'm still hesitant whether or not to write 'relationship'...] in S2 and my occasional frustration about how this was treated.

There's this Israeli film Yossi and Jagger about two (male) soldiers falling in love with each other. I channel-surfed into it once about a third into it and of course it ends tragically when one of them gets killed, but what most stuck in my mind was the final scene (or at least I think that's how it ended; it's been years and the memory is a bit fuzzy) after the funeral, when the people from their unit meet the family of the boy who got killed. And the problem of course is that he'd never come out to any them. So there's this girl who'd served with them and who had a crush on him and the mother immediately assumes she'd been his girlfriend (I don't think she actually pretended she was, but once again, vague memories), and she and the mother cry and share memories over the family photo album, while the boyfriend can't even really show his grief, much less share it, because no one knew about them and of course you can't tell a grieving family that their dead son was gay.

And that (or at least echoes of it) is what I'm seeing when Gwen is holding a wake while Ianto pushes papers around on Jack's desk and snuggles Jack's coat and probably never even got a private moment to say good-bye.

Which is when you can all tell me that I'm totally overreacting, and if I give myself another half hour I could probably rationalise that feeling away again (wholly different situation, not a relationship, &tc., & so on, & so forth, blablabla) like I've rationalised away quite a few moments in S2, but as a gut reaction, this is what it was for me. Granted, it wasn't true love forever or anything, not in S2 and certainly not at this point, but judging from Ianto's grief and the kiss, it wasn't nothing, and it makes that scene a bit painful to watch.


# This said? I wasn't always particularly happy about how the Jack/Ianto vs. Jack/Gwen was handled in S2, and it shouldn't take as much rewatching, interpreting and metaing to argue oneself out of one's emotional reactions, but while I'm already at it... the whole 'love' vs. 'just sex' thing isn't as simply and clear cut as all that, IMO. Not the least because if these two ever had to think or talk about their relationship, they'd never have got to the point of shagging or anything else. I honestly doubt that if Jack thought Ianto was in love with him, or vice versa, he'd ever have started something in the first place, and he'd probably never let him as close as he obviously did. When more emotions do come in, or are finally acknowledged, Ianto's already become a habit that Jack found he didn't want to quit. It's possible that Ianto might want more than he's getting from Jack, but I think he does recognise that what he has is in many ways pretty solid and real, and not threatened by whatever feelings Jack might have for Gwen who's getting married to someone else anyway. Which is why Ianto is worried about the Doctor, who can offer Jack things Ianto can't, or Jack's lack of 'belonging', but relatively unfazed about about Gwen; not only because he really seems to like her, but because he can afford to be.


# Owen. Father issues galore; seriously. And unsurprisingly there's a notable absence of a father in Owen's memories in Adam... Granted, Owen isn't in the best frame of mind to begin with after losing Diane, but his reactions in CJH and EoD aren't exactly mature. Bitching at Jack for disregarding his deathwish in one episode and completely freaking out at the thought of losing him like Diane the next, when Ianto, who has at least as much to lose manages to remain much more calm and rational. And when he doesn't get the praise and gratitude he thought he'd get throwing a fit at the first indication that Jack can't immediately solve the problem that Owen had caused. Firing him was a bit of a risky decision considering the group dynamic, but less risky than keeping someone that volatile around in a crisis; only Jack should have remembered to change the locks/codes. Although Owen's reaction is a bit more understandable if you consider that he was only 27 at the time of his death; somehow I'd always thought he was closer to Burn Gorman's real age.


# Obligatory picture spam, because there hasn't exactly been an overabundance of touching over the series.













(Jack does, I think, consider both Owen and Ianto before he choses Gwen to drive him; I wonder if the decision was ultimately influenced by who of them would be least likely to do something impetuous and stupid and wind up dead along with him.)


# Minor points:

- What is Jack's real name? It never came up in S2 either...

- More coloured shirts for Ianto please. The violet one in CJH isn't quite as gorgeous as the deep red on in FootR, but these colours really suit him.

- 'You people love any story that denies the randomness of existence.' Says the man who then totally embraces the idea that he's been saved for a purpose.

- Gwen and Jack/John and Eve are really fantastic in the scenes after Rhys gets killed. In fact I liked the whole episode a lot better than I remember liking it...




Plus a couple of questions...

- How much time elapsed between Jack's disappearance and his return? Weeks? Months? Is there any canon evidence that I missed? Fanon theories?

- Unless it occurred to Jack to disable the internal cameras and the CCTV outside between grabbing his coat and running after the TARDIS, there'd at least have been footage of Jack packing the jar with the hand and rushing outside, possibly even of the TARDIS, wouldn't there? They could trace Gwen's movements in the first episode after all, and the TARDIS landed right in front of the Millennium Centre.

- TW novels. ::sigh:: I've kind of given up on Another Life because it simply bored me. All the pieces are there, I could even see how that might work on screen, but in book form it never really comes alive in my head. So I'm just going to be shallow (more shallow, considering we're already talking tv tie-ins) and ask if there are worthwhile Jack/Ianto moments in any of the later ones that might persuade me to buy one or two of them... :)

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
flowright
Jun. 1st, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
So far I read Twilight streets, Something in the water and I'm six chapters in Another life.

Well there's no Jack/Ianto interaction in Something in the water. That book is a waste of time... picture a boring episode with a very straight forward plot and no characterization.

Twilight streets is a fanfic in bizarro world.
There's again no apparent Jack /Ianto big scene but the message is clear : Jack falls (hard) for the Ianto kind, physically (tall, brunette and with cheekbones you can see from the moon) and mentally (the lost young boy searching for a meaning in life and/or a father figure).
Ianto is a bit bitchy with Jack's last crush (Mayor's assistant whom you can see in boomtown and was meant to be played by Gareth David-Lloyd) but nothing happened. There's also a glimps of Greg, Jack's boyfriend and link to WWII Torchwood.
And then there's a AU future that you could label "everything went very wrong, and it's a really bad bad bad future that's going to happen if you don't move your ass and change the course of events like NOW" without spoiling everything the janto ship saves that AU from going worse than already really bad.

My favorite part comes from Gwen dubbed "little miss sensitive" by Ianto asking him if his mum knows he's dating men. In bookverse Ianto told her mum he's bi when he was 14.

Another life is interesting because the character voice is very first season. Gwen feels too much and come across as blunt and too naive. Jack waits the doctor (funny enough why he drinks water is mentioned in the book), Toshiko is geek chic and a bit wary of Gwen, Owen is rude but good and efficient Torchwood employe and Ianto is (sadly) in the background plotting with his girlfriend and trading innuendo with Jack.

The general impression the books gave me was that the authors got the right to mention Jack/Ianto but not in clear terms. "Don't define anything that could go againts tv canon" seems to be the motto.

What is Jack's real name? It never came up in S2 either...
In Twilight streets, Bilis implied that Jack think himself as Jack Harkness now, and may have forget his real name.
solitary_summer
Jun. 1st, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'll probably end up buying a few of them between now and the start of S3... :)


flowright
Jun. 1st, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
The consensus are on Twilight streets and Trace memory for the second set.
I enjoyed reading the novels and can't wait to read the third set (the words on the street are on naked Ianto in the gender swap one !)
annaonthemoon
Jun. 1st, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Hello, I found your LJ via a Google blog alert for Burn Gorman...

Although Owen's reaction is a bit more understandable if you consider that he was only 27 at the time of his death; somehow I'd always thought he was closer to Burn Gorman's real age.

There's been quite a fair bit of confusion and speculation over Owen's actual age. Originally the BBC website information listed Owen as being born in 1974, the same year as Burn Gorman was. Then later, when Martha said he was born in 1980 they quickly fixed the online information and published in the magazine the 1980 birthdate. So, you're right in that sense that Owen should have been closer to Burn's actual age and was at one point :).

~Anna, admin http://www.burn-gorman.com
solitary_summer
Jun. 1st, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for clearing that up! Most of the BBC site isn't accessible from where I live, so I never really thought of looking there...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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