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Okay, this one has probably been discussed up & down & sideways at the time somewhere else without me ever noticing, because I just wasn't very interested in Jack/Gwen other than not seeing it happen, but from Gwen's comment in Sleeper about Jack's manners in bed, with a hastily added 'Apparently, so I've heard,'did she ever sleep with Jack, or just talk to Ianto a lot while Jack was away? And if it's the former, when would that have happened?

I still find all the sudden Jack/Gwen not-even-subtext in S2 a bit odd, because as I saw it in S1 the sexual tension between them more or less evaporated after Ghost Machine when Jack let the silence stretch for a little too long after Gwen's 'Doesn't it get lonely at night?', and Gwen turned to Owen for comfort a couple of episodes later. But it's undeniably there in S2—and it's not even so much Jack, who may love her in whatever not-quite-platonic way he does, and may not be happy at the prospect of possibly losing her to her non-TW life, but I think has always been always realistic enough to know that he'll never be someone who'll make her happy; it's Gwen who does seem to be waiting for him to say something when she says 'Well, no one else will have me', only once again he doesn't. Or again when they talk about the wedding at the end of Sleeper. And Jack sends her home again—'Keep doing what we do', and in the looks exchanged between them there does seem to be a sort of understanding that it isn't going to happen, although it's definitely seems to be more his decision than hers.

Strange.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
eumelia
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
We can only blame the writers.

However, if we're going on the narrative level - throughout Season 2, Jack and Ianto's relationship also deepened and became more serious.
I don't think it's off-base to assume that Jack was his happiest when he was Menage a Trois-ing it out with Rose and the Doctor... I wouldn't put it past him to try and replicate the triad he was waiting for, for a century (plus).
But seeing as he views Gwen as something precious (and in my opinion, surrogate daughter) and hates himself enough to the point of narcissism, it explains the wacky dynamics that are shown between him and her throughout the second season.

Also, Ianto is both a lying liar and has a vicious streak a mile wide (hello Adam!), so he could have been bad mouthing Jack to Gwen at some point after Jack asked him out on the date - note that the relationship between Gwen and Ianto also developed and became... existent, I suppose. There's friendship between them as well.

Yeah... I've thought about this a lot.
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
But seeing as he views Gwen as something precious (and in my opinion, surrogate daughter) and hates himself enough to the point of narcissism, it explains the wacky dynamics that are shown between him and her throughout the second season.

I agree. And Jack does seem to have made a decision, because whenever she gives him an opening, he ignores it and lust lets the moment pass, and with Jack that just isn't unintentional. And I guess you could explain Gwen's behaviour with her getting cold feet before the wedding and thinking about missed chances...


There's friendship between them as well.

Definitely. There's the two of them walking out of the morgue arm in arm in Sleeper, or Ianto's complete lack of reaction after her comment, other than confirming it, which mostly convinces me that nothing has happened and he knows she's just telling what he told her, because Ianto is rather less unfazed by Captain John before he turns out to be a murdering sociopath, and apparently never stopped worrying about the Doctor. Gwen—nothing. So either he's okay with the possibility of menage a trois-ing, or he really doesn't feel threatened by whatever Jack feels for her.
eumelia
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
And I guess you could explain Gwen's behaviour with her getting cold feet before the wedding and thinking about missed chances...
Very likely, considering her over protective shtick over Rhys throughout Season 2 (which can be explained by his "death" in End of Days).
Also, I'm pretty sure Gwen has never had a man say no to her... so for Jack to be all aloof, I think it also bothers her that Jack treats her like a little girl, so she challenges that through sexuality as well.

Ianto treats Gwen as an equal (I'm pretty sure Ianto and Jack don't consider themselves to be equals), hence him and Jack getting into a fight about how to "handle" her in Adrift (god what a crap episode, Greenhouse Scene notwithstanding).
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
I think it also bothers her that Jack treats her like a little girl, so she challenges that through sexuality as well.

That's an interesting thought, especially considering how she managed to lead the team in Jack's absence quite successfully, or at least without getting anyone killed, and now has to let Jack take over again.


I liked parts of Adrift, but I absolutely hated how unprofessionally Jack handled the situation, the way he brought his and Ianto's relationship into the argument with Gwen, and that's not even touching how the whole drama could have been avoided if he hadn't been too guilt-ridden and scared of losing her to just tell her, instead of letting her fumble around in the dark and inflict more pain than necessary.
eumelia
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah... Jack is not big on sharing information about anything.

The narrative in Adrift was sucky, but I also meant the representation was below par. Putting all the "undesirables" on an island and caring for them in a dark and dank facility was... problematic.
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
That, too, of course. Especially if Gwen is telling the truth about what they're getting paid, one would think they could at least afford a bit nicer accommodations for these people, even if it has to be on that island. But it's really symptomatic of Jack's tendency to shove everathing he doesn't want to think about into some (mental or physical) corner and forget about it...
elisi
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Hmmm.

I'd say it's pretty clear that Gwen never slept with Jack, but that she and Ianto became closer. Have you read any of fodian's meta? Episode reviews here, although for the Gwen/Jack dynamic I'd point to her post on Something Borrowed.

Also, antelope_writes has some wonderful stuff about body language, wherein she talks about Jack/Gwen. (Which I can't find right now, but essentially they never act interested at the same time, except when Gwen's talking to Nostrovite!Jack.)

PS! Thank you for the birthday wishes! :)

Edited at 2009-10-26 04:07 pm (UTC)
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
*bookmarks* - Thanks!

I don't really thinks she did either, because that would have come up at some point; it would have been just too big not to. And it doesn't really fit into canon very well at any given point either. But the possibility of something happening between them is suddenly a lot less subtextual at the beginning of S2 than it ever was before.

But Jack has made a decision about this; he let too many opportunities slide not to...
elisi
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
But Jack has made a decision about this; he let too many opportunities slide not to...
Oh yes, I think so too. And looked at in the light of CoE, it certainly makes a lot of sense.

And I can't remember who wrote it, but I saw somewhere the theory that Jack is very much a symbol of Torchwood for Gwen - that in S2 she's trying to decide which matters to her more, a real life, or her job, and in 'Meat' she comes down on the side of RL, being ready to walk out of TW for good for Rhys' sake. I think that's very important, and something reflected in CoE actually - how Ianto is fully Jack's, and Torchwood's (and pays the price), whereas Gwen, because she chooses Rhys, can escape. (Hope that makes sense, am in a hurry.)
eumelia
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
I think that's very important, and something reflected in CoE actually - how Ianto is fully Jack's, and Torchwood's (and pays the price), whereas Gwen, because she chooses Rhys, can escape. (Hope that makes sense, am in a hurry.)

That's probably the most concice and accurate description of the Trio's dynamic I've ever seen.
Brilliant! Thank you.
elisi
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
*beams*

Thank you! :)

ETA: If you want the longer version, you can find it here. *hides*

Edited at 2009-10-26 06:11 pm (UTC)
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
how Ianto is fully Jack's, and Torchwood's (and pays the price), whereas Gwen, because she chooses Rhys, can escape. (Hope that makes sense, am in a hurry.)

*nods* Now I'll really have to finish my Jack/Ianto post, before I end up posting it in bits & pieces all over the place. ;)
rivier
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
1/2
Hmmm... I suspect this is one of those things everyone is doomed to be hopelessly subjective about, as with so much of Torchwood: it is a kind of beauty about the show, that we're shown enough to make synaptic subtext-supported connections between pretty much all of the characters, and yet seldom ever enough for anyone to say definitively, "my interpretation of X vs Y is unambiguously canonical, because blah blah". I liked the loosely meshed structure myself, lots of wriggle room to speculate around and write in.

So FWIW, my own subjective take is that in no way did Jack and Gwen ever get more physically intimate than during the shooting scene of Ghost Machine, no. In S2 especially, her previous betrayal of Rhys - the sexual relationship with Owen - is whitewashed out of canon, because her relationship with Rhys is being established as the absolute bedrock of her integrity, the tangible sign that Gwen alone is the only person able to work for (aka 'be in love with', if you like) Torchwood, but not be consumed wholly by it, as everyone else is shown to be, Jack included.

What I did see was an intense emotional subtext between them, that had grown throughout S1 ans was symbolised by Gwen being the one who steadfastly refuses to give Jack up for dead after Abbadon. Two-thirds of S2 show that emotional bond between them being tugged on pretty hard, with everything from Jack's capitulation to Gwen's will at the end of Meat (she gets to disobey him outright, because he can't let her get away from him), to Gwen's line in Adam of "I love him, but not in the way I love you".

There's definitely 'something' between them right up to the wedding: they both know it, they both use it, at times, to manipulate each other. And I think it's a perfectly sincere feeling on both sides, a desire that's intensified because the love and respect between Gwen and Rhys is established as such an innocent and positive thing, neither of them is going to harm it by giving in to the desire to reveal the depth of their feeling for each other, which becomes that thing you want but are morally forbidden to have.

I do feel like it's more of an emotional than a sexual craving, though. Maybe more sexual on Gwen's side: for her Jack is this super-sexy, super-unattainable hero, still fundamentally mysterious. I can absolutely see her indulging in gossip with Ianto about what Jack's like to fuck, and quietly both torturing and titillating herself at the same time. But with Jack, it feels to me like a deeper extension of the same kind of fierce possessive love he has for the whole team, a desire to be their lodestar. It's the same emotion that had him cheating Death to keep Owen with him, I think.
rivier
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
2/2

And it also seems to change, on Jack's part, over the course of the season - and I'd say it changes partly because Jack's relationship with Ianto shifts from being almost wholly a mutual sexual attraction, and into something more complex and emotionally intense, something that Ianto is admitting to as far back as Adam, and Jack isn't ever going to admit to, but the change in his behaviour towards Gwen demonstrates it. Over the season, there are little reminders that Ianto is closer to Jack through Torchwood, such as the way that Gwen doesn't know about Tommy. Something Borrowed seems to be a turning point to Jack, when his wedding-dance conversation with Gwen is almost a statement of intent, of Jack recognising that Rhys really can give Gwen an emotional stability or Fidelity that - no matter what he does feel for her - Jack believes he himself cannot or would not.

After that, he makes an explicit point of closing off the emotional vulnerability he's had for Gwen - it's right through Adrift, with Jack's absolute refusal to give in, this time, to Gwen's pleas or to satisfy her need to know and to be humane (the very things he's encouraged her to pursue in the past). It's Ianto who is shown, by then, to be both explicity Jack's physically intimate partner, and the one member of the team who knows about Flat Holm and what's happening, and who tries to negotiate on Gwen's behalf when Jack cuts her down, *and* even gets to do the sensible thing - give Gwen a clue, so she can solve the mystery - which Jack refuses to do, IMO because Jack has set a parameter up between himself and Gwen then, and is too stubborn to be able to flex it even slightly. It isn't that Jack doesn't love or care for Gwen anymore, or even that (at that point) Ianto is as emotionally significant to him as Gwen at her zenith was, just that a change has been happening for both of them, Gwen's wedding cements it, but then Jack also takes steps to affirm that the co-dependent bond between them has been signed off, not just by her marriage, but by his conscious choice to invest emotionally elsewhere too.

Ugh, I have no idea why that all spooled out of my head at once, sorry! The tl:dr version is that I do think Jack has an arc of emotional attraction to Gwen, that builds through the first season and then ebbs and is finally shut off in the second. I don't think, though, that he has the same physical / sexual interest in her, because I can't think of any time post-Ghost Machine when Jack is honestly physically flirtatious with her. And I think Gwen's feelings for Jack are similar, except maybe more erotic: fucking Owen in the first season is a kind of substitute for Jack, and in the second season her fidelity to Rhys precludes any other intimacy, though moments like her little side-glance while kissing Rhys in Meat, her discussing Jack with Martha and being obviously relived that Martha wasn't his lover - and, yes, her comments about Jack's bed manners in Sleeper - suggest to me that Gwen would be more willing than Jack to be seduced, if things were just a little bit different. And the fact that she's all but seduced by Nostrovite-Jack makes me think that even marrying Rhys doesn't make Gwen put aside her attraction to Jack in quite the same way as he does.
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
No, thank you! Also, you're talking about TW again! Er. Apologies.

I don't really think anything happened either, because that would have been something too big not to have come up at one point or the other, but the attraction between then seems to be more openly acknowledged by both of them in S2 than in S1. In hindsight, I wonder—was that part of the original arc where Ianto was supposed to die in S2, and the writers keeping their options open for some kind of future Jack/Gwen/Rhys triangle?

And I agree that it was always more of an emotional bond; there's one thing I thought, (re)watching Gwen and Jack in the first couple of episodes: It never was the kind of intense, instant sexual attraction that was so tangible in Jack's first meeting with Ianto. In Everything Changes it's essentially a cat and mouse game, Jack is a bit condescending and his flirting isn't anything out of the ordinary; it's only in Day One that the connection is really established, especially once Gwen is willing to risk her life for Carys. And maybe in Jack's mind this kind of bond translated into sexual attraction for a moment, but I think he recognised even then that in the long run he wouldn't make her happy or be able to give her what she wanted, especially, although that wasn't canon then, considering how catastrophic the family thing had already turned out for him. Gwen, I think, realises that at the end of Adrift.

I think the relationship with Ianto only worked, because it didn't start as one; they were together for how long, two years, more? is there any official chronology? before Ianto even started discussing the terms of their relationship, and it took this long for Jack to be ready to have this conversation. Gwen would never have gone along with something like that.

Edited at 2009-10-26 07:06 pm (UTC)
elisi
Oct. 26th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
there's one thing I thought, (re)watching Gwen and Jack in the first couple of episodes: It never was the kind of intense, instant sexual attraction that was so tangible in Jack's first meeting with Ianto. In Everything Changes it's essentially a cat and mouse game, Jack is a bit condescending and his flirting isn't anything out of the ordinary; it's only in Day One that the connection is really established, especially once Gwen is willing to risk her life for Carys.
::nods:: I thought the same! (I re-watched those eps not long ago.) I think actually that he gives Gwen her job slightly on a whim - a spur-of-the-moment thing, when he sees how spectacularly wrong things have gone with Suzie - since Gwen is very much the anti-Suzie. I don't think it's until Day One, and her focus on the human side etc, that he decides to keep her on for good.
rivier
Oct. 26th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
Yes - and even without knowing anything of the Fragments backstory, Everything Changes makes it clear that Jack has a sexual or at least flirtatious interest in Ianto, but one that Ianto is parying off quite calmly. As it turns out, of course, Ianto is playing Jack completely at this point, and regardless of whether you think they had any kind of physical relationship before Cyberwoman or not (or if so, how much), it's tempting to read Jack's wild and furious reaction as stemming at least in part from Ianto's betrayal of him for Lisa - Jack's feelings appear to be completely irrelevant to Ianto at that point. He's deceived Jack, AND for someone he's truly in love with.

Whereas Jack with Gwen has a fundamental imbalance from the start - she is quite literally trailing open-mouthed in his wake, while he plays with her. He allows her to see into the secret kingdom, then takes it away from her against her will and only jokes that it's a pity she won't be able to remember him either. Seen from Gwen's perspective, the Jack of those first few eps is both utterly captivating, and capable of casual cruelty.

When I saw Fragments, I commented then on the parallel between Owen and Tosh, who Jack stalks or pursues and pretty much drags back to work for him, regardless of what they want. Ianto and Gwen, on the other hand, pursue Jack / Torchwood, and force Jack to take notice of them. But it's also interesting, I think, that it really is only Ianto who explicitly makes Jack change his mind - as you say, Jack's hiring of Gwen is shown to be almost a casual thing on his part, a whim: she's there, Suzie's job is vacant, he needs the anti-Suzie... At that point, Gwen was merely trying to find out what the mysterious Torchwood was, not to get herself a job. There's an interesting question over whether Jack hired Ianto - the only one of the four who hunted him down and had his own agenda. Was it the way he handled catching Myfanwy? Was it something that impressed Jack in Ianto's ability to keep changing his pitch until he found one that worked (another conman, indeed)? Was it just that coup de foudre moment, lying under him in the warehouse?
elisi
Oct. 26th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
He allows her to see into the secret kingdom, then takes it away from her against her will and only jokes that it's a pity she won't be able to remember him either.
This just made me realise another way in which Gwen and Ianto are opposites (sort of) - Gwen is trying to discover a secret kingdom, something that seems magical and impossible, and - as you say - Jack gives it to her, only to take it back. Ianto on the other hand knows *exactly* what Torchwood is ('That's what Torchwood does - it ruins your life!'), and Jack does the opposite - he refuses to take away Ianto's traumatic experiences, both after Canary Wharf, and again after Cyberwoman. (Not that Ianto exactly asks for retcon, but in Fragments at least, Jack very clearly says 'You're not my problem!')

If I was more awake I might be able to make more of this. I love your thoughts!
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
and Jack does the opposite - he refuses to take away Ianto's traumatic experiences, both after Canary Wharf, and again after Cyberwoman. (Not that Ianto exactly asks for retcon, but in Fragments at least, Jack very clearly says 'You're not my problem!')

I may be mistaken, but I think that after Cyberwoman he would have, if Ianto had wanted it and had left, but I also think he was impressed when Ianto chose to live with the memories, the pain and the consequences.
elisi
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
Re: 2/2
I think Ianto probably *expected* him to (like Owen - there's no walking away), so they might have been caught between Ianto's expectations of Jack just doing it, and Jack waiting for Ianto to ask... Which is where we enter fic territory. :)

But as you say, I think Jack was impressed - both with Ianto's choice, and also with the fact that he'd managed to fool Jack so completely. Conning a conman is quite the feat!
solitary_summer
Oct. 26th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
Re: 2/2
Was it just that coup de foudre moment, lying under him in the warehouse?

Don't know what elisi will say, but for me it was mostly, although not entirely, that. Jack still wouldn't have hired him if Ianto had proven himself totally incompetent and unsuitable, but he was fascinated from the start, and it only took a moment where he didn't have time to think any further than that he didn't want Ianto to walk away, in fact didn't think a lot at all, at least not with his brain, to overcome his objections to Ianto's Torchwood past.

But it's also interesting, I think, that it really is only Ianto who explicitly makes Jack change his mind

And managed to drive him into an utter rage, and then continued to surprise and challenge him in all kinds of ways, right until the end. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think part of what Jack fascinated about Ianto was that even with all the support and love he gave Jack, he was always a bit outside his control.

elisi
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:36 am (UTC)
Re: 2/2
it's tempting to read Jack's wild and furious reaction as stemming at least in part from Ianto's betrayal of him for Lisa - Jack's feelings appear to be completely irrelevant to Ianto at that point. He's deceived Jack, AND for someone he's truly in love with.
::nods:: I don't think Jack's feelings are irrelevant to Ianto, but when he has to make a choice he chooses Lisa. (Oh it's all so DELIGHTFULLY complicated and messed up and I love it to bits!!!)

There's an interesting question over whether Jack hired Ianto - the only one of the four who hunted him down and had his own agenda. Was it the way he handled catching Myfanwy? Was it something that impressed Jack in Ianto's ability to keep changing his pitch until he found one that worked (another conman, indeed)? Was it just that coup de foudre moment, lying under him in the warehouse?
Hmm. I don't think it was the last one. It might have contributed, but I think Jack was certainly interested right from the start and yet perfectly happy to walk away. I think it was partly persistence, and partly that Ianto showed himself to have brains, initiative and self-reliance (not sure that's the right word, but you probably know what I mean). The suit was part of it, as was the dissing of TW3's lack of equipment (Ianto had a rift-activity locator!), the fact that he'd caught the pteradon by himself, and had worked out what it liked to eat. It's miles away from turning up with a cup of coffee begging for a job. (Maybe being up for more than just work was just an added perk, I think.) And Ianto is also a mystery, something he of course plays on to his advantage.

Anyway, I must run. This is fascinating! :)
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