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Jan. 27th, 2011

Day 29: Best Torchwood on Doctor Who Moment


I'm not sure if that really counts as a Torchwood moment, and it isn't even a single moment, rather a conjunction of moments, but I'll go with it anyway, because I love it so completely:

The fact that Jack's story already has an ending on Doctor Who.

Because if you really think about it, Utopia/LotTL is terrible for Jack, especially after all the immortality angst he already went through over the last century. And he knows it, too. Standing there, a hundred trillion years in the future, looking down into the abandoned conglomeration, the Doctor telling them that this isn't just night, but an ever-lasting darkness at the very end of the universe, Jack already does realise what that means for him, unless the Doctor can fix him. It's very understandable that he thinks it's fantastic that humanity made it so far and is still surviving, because this way at least he won't be all alone. And if this prospect weren't already terrifying enough, LotTL makes it so much worse: Utopia is just that, a place that doesn't exist, the sky isn't made of diamonds, there are no promises, only darkness and despair, and 'You may be out there somewhere.'

The implications of this aren't really addressed after Utopia, but it's the kind of thing that... lingers. And then, right at the end, we learn that it won't be like that, after all. That Jack's story already has an ending, no matter what might happen to him in the meantime. And it's a good one. It's the heroic ending Jack wanted for so long. Jack, in the end, is at peace. He even has the Doctor there, begging him not to die.

Maybe it was a completely impromptu last minute retcon; I don't care. it's a stroke of genius. It changes the dynamic between Jack and the Doctor, it fixes the lingering uneasiness about Jack's eventual fate and gives his character a new gravitas; it fits just perfectly in every way and intentionally or unintentionally adds layers of meaning and depth to the story. There's something Jack says at the very beginning of TW, in Ghost Machine, 'The problem with seeing the future is you can't just sit and look at it. You got to try and change things. Make it happen differently', and when I'm watching Gridlock now, I keep thinking, he's still trying. Of course he also knows he can't really stop things from happening and probably shouldn't, but wrapped in all this deliberate mysteriousness he still gives Ten the key phrase that might have changed so much for him if only he'd been willing and able to read it differently, instead of insisting that only another Time Lord would make him less alone.


Day 01: Favourite Torchwood Member
Day 02: Least Favourite Torchwood Member
Day 03: Favourite Series
Day 04: Favourite Episode
Day 05: Least Favourite Episode
Day 06: Something You Liked That Most People Didn't
Day 07: Favourite Alien/Villain
Day 08: Favourite Minor Character
Day 09: A Scene That Made You Cry
Day 10: A Scene That Made You Smile
Day 11: A Scene That Made You Angry
Day 12: Favourite Quote
Day 13: Favourite Promo Picture
Day 14: Favourite Couple
Day 15: Favourite Couple Scene
Day 16: Favourite Piece of Music
Day 17: Something You’d Like To Re-write
Day 18: Character You Relate To The Most
Day 19: Favourite Outfit
Day 20: Favourite Gwen Moment
Day 21: Favourite Ianto Moment
Day 22: Favourite Jack Moment
Day 23: Favourite Owen Moment
Day 24: Favourite Toshiko Moment
Day 25: Shag/Cliff/Marry?
Day 26: A Torchwood Geek Moment You’ve Had
Day 27: Favourite Location Or Set
Day 28: Where You Think The Series Should Continue To
Day 29: Best Torchwood on Doctor Who Moment
Day 30: Why You Love Torchwood

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
rm
Jan. 27th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
I am so with you on this. I love the FoB thing so much. The WHoniverse completely sets up sacrifice of one's life for others as heroism: we get it with Harriet Jones, with Adelaide, with a million one episode characters. And the two people who are the ostensible heroes of the shows -- the Doctor and Jack -- are, by definition, barred from the type of heroism the show endorses. That we find out Jack gets it in the end and that we should have had faith in that all along, because the information was already there, is just stunning.
solitary_summer
Jan. 27th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
I see Jack and the Doctor more like two sides of a coin; in DW heroism is sacrificing oneself, as you say. Ten's death is a sacrifice for him, absolutely, which is why the 'I don't want to go', that so many people seem to hate so much is so essential. It's crucial that the sacrifice that redeems him doesn't come across as some kind of glorified suicide attempt, like so many of Jack's deaths.

I think it's a bit different in TW though; here the real heroism is surviving without giving in to despair, not sacrificing oneself. Jack's story is essentially Buffy's 'The hardest thing in this world is to live in it', so the end for me feels almost like a reward he more than earned after all this time.
caz963
Jan. 27th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
he still gives Ten the key phrase that might have changed so much for him if only he'd been willing and able to read it differently, instead of insisting that only another Time Lord would make him less alone.

OMG, yes.
solitary_summer
Jan. 27th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
And in the end Ten finally understands it, although it's too late by then for this incarnation, because the message he gives Jack in TEoT is essentially the same, if rather less abstract and enigmatic.

Obviously I have absolutely no idea if this is intentional; but the parallel is there regardless.
topaz_eyes
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
The "You are not alone" message was necessarily vague, but I do believe it was entirely intentional on all levels. It was the lesson Ten's incarnation had to learn, in order to move on.
neifile7
Jan. 27th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
I detested the FoB endgame when I first watched LotTL, but I've come around to it -- partly for all the reasons you cite here, partly because my own favorite TW-in-Who moment (my favorite scene in the Whoniverse, period) is the confrontation between Jack and the Doctor in Utopia. Which, of course, immediately precedes the "YANA" revelation. I've always thought it the most genuinely tragic passage in DW -- the futility of Jack's wait, the Doctor's inability not only to fix him but even to offer sympathy, all the more wounding because their dilemmas are in many ways so similar and because of the history they share. And yet there's Jack's touch of hope, which the FoB reveal in the next ep will magnify into something far more powerful.

BTW, I've been enjoying your insights on each of these "days," even if I haven't always commented -- your perceptiveness about both character and story mechanics is a daily pleasure. :)
solitary_summer
Jan. 27th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *blush*

because my own favorite TW-in-Who moment (my favorite scene in the Whoniverse, period) is the confrontation between Jack and the Doctor in Utopia.

Oh yes, that scene is brilliant.

Maybe their dilemmas are too similar. Time Lord gut reaction aside, IMO Ten projects a lot of his own issues and self-hatred on Jack without realising that Jack may share the burden of (quasi-)immortality, but doesn't share Ten's fundamental power/control issues. (It's the same with Harriet Jones in The Christmas Invasion, I think. He looks at her, and doesn't see a woman who went through a terrifying experience and made a maybe questionable, but certainly not indefensible decision based on that, but the potential for destruction and corruption on a much bigger scale that he saw in the Time Lords, and fights against in himself.)
neifile7
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
Time Lord gut reaction aside, IMO Ten projects a lot of his own issues and self-hatred on Jack without realising that Jack may share the burden of (quasi-)immortality, but doesn't share Ten's fundamental power/control issues.

Bingo. Also why, at bottom, he has so little tolerance for Jack's flirting, although envy may also play a role there. Human connection is always high on Jack's agenda, even when it's transitory or superficial, and he can take it on its own terms, up to a point; the Doctor has to be the boss and set the boundaries in all his relationships, and expects the exceptional in turn.
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 10:45 am (UTC)
I've never thought about it like that, but you're absolutely right. In Utopia it's almost as if he's offended that Jack still can do this. He not just tries to set the boundaries for his relationships, but for Jack's too. Because his experience is the only possible one.
neifile7
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Yes! And the Doctor's appropriation goes even farther in that scene -- it's supposed to be about Jack's immortality, an explanation that he's owed (and implicitly, something fundamental he's lost), and the Doctor derails it into his own grief over losing Rose, which he expects Jack to understand and share. It's Jack, not the Doctor, who says "sorry" this time.

(The fact that Martha and Professor Yana overhear this entire exchange just makes it reverberate through all the rest of the story lines; something fundamental about the Doctor is being exposed, and it's not pretty. IMO, this, and not the Master's year of torture, that is the real breaking point for both Martha and Jack -- the point after which they will never want to be Companions again in the same way.)
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
IMO, this, and not the Master's year of torture, that is the real breaking point for both Martha and Jack -- the point after which they will never want to be Companions again in the same way.

I always thought it was Ten's readiness to forgive and his reaction to the Master's death that really did it. There's the 'I forgive you' and all that semi-religious saviour imagery, but at the heart of it it's a monumental ego-trip. Even or especially the 'I forgive you'. Even or especially all the grief. It's sort of understandable, but it's also so utterly self-indulgent and completely ignores what Jack, Martha and her family, the whole world, really, went through during that year. In fact Ten leaves them behind first, when he decides that the Master is his responsibility now and he's going to take him on board of the Tardis. And the worst thing is, he doesn't even realise it. Or care.
elisi
Jan. 27th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
The fact that Jack's story already has an ending on Doctor Who.
Yes. Very very much so.
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
It's really necessary, IMO. With an ordinary human character you don't need to see their death because you already know it'll happen eventually; that the story will end. In Jack's case I think the story would be left too open, terrifyingly open, without an ending.
snakeling
Jan. 27th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
So much yes. One of the thing that turned me off religion was the quest for eternal life, which is one of the things that terrify me. I'm not afraid of death, I'm afraid of eternal life. So I found Jack's fate horrifying.

His death, even after billions of years, means that he can finally come to an end, finally rest. I wrote my favourite fic in reference to that, actually.
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. That is perfect. So Jack.

It almost made me cry, actually. But in a good way.
topaz_eyes
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
RTD continues to astound me. Half the time I think he just pulls things out of thin air, but they always seem to work.
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
*nods* He has a really good instinct for that kind of thing.
(Deleted comment)
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC)
Link away! :)
coldwater1010
Jan. 28th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
The thing about the FOB reveal is that it's never actually stated that Jack is 'that' FOB. If anything the whole reveal makes it seem more like a misdirection than an actual reveal of Jack's fate. I get why people latch on to it though. The idea of living for eternity seems pretty horrific, especially if there's no out, and Jack seems more and more like a character who seems to get so little actual joy out of living so the combination just makes it seem like his life is a kind of hell on earth.
solitary_summer
Jan. 28th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
While I don't think we'll get any further confirmation, I have a hard time believing it's supposed to be a deliberate misdirection. Admittedly I'm biased because I very much want it to be true, but why even bring it up then? What would be the point?
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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