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I finally watched the last two episodes of MD, and although it took a while, I have to say that the third episode really sold the show and the characters to me. During ep.2 I still wasn't sure at all about the whole British/American thing, which IMO continued to feel a bit awkward and just didn't come together naturally, and at one point it even crossed my mind that I might have preferred to see this story with completely new characters and no connection to old school TW at all (except of course this particular story wouldn't exist, or work on any level, without Jack and his immortality...), but with the third episode I think they finally hit their stride.

I've said it before, but I'm absolutely in love with the premise, and I can't wait to see how this will play out. Perhaps at times if feels almost a bit too... academic, too abstractly planned (or maybe that's because I've looked at the death motif too closely for too long?), but at other times, especially in ep 3 with the 'soulless' and their masks and candles, with every new detail we learn about the implication of the 'miracle', cut off arms still moving and still ageing, you can genuinely feel the nightmarish quality of the situation; they still think they can maybe control it, adapt to it, but the momentum is already gathering, and if CoE's Day Five is anything to go by, the finale will be stunning. End of Days briefly touched upon this sort of religiously tinged apocalyptic mood, and the feeling is rather similar here, although the build-up and pacing are different — a sort of modern day apocalypse with the signs reversed, because the horror, the threat of it, isn't death, it's life. I can't put my finger on it, but despite the modern setting I find the entire atmosphere, the sheer nightmare potential of the scenario, somehow reminiscent of paintings of Bosch, or maybe Bruegel's Triumph of Death... that sort of thing. The reversal of the natural order of things, the mixture of gruesome details and rising religious hysteria, the potential for social upheaval, the unpredictability and effect the events have on the human psyche... I wish I could explain it better.


The episode also offers a lot of insight into Jack's character, and holy shit, he's still a complete mess. Which of course should already have been obvious when Gwen asked him whether all the travelling had helped, and he couldn't even bring himself to give her an answer, because that's something he can't joke and won't lie about. I have to admit I was at least a little anxious that MD would simply more or less reset Jack, if not to his DW persona, than at least to his S2, pre-CoE self, because it'd have been so easy, especially considering they had to sell the character to a new audience, to focus on the less dark, less broken sides. I never actually expected we'd get to see that much CoE fallout.

So Rex accuses Jack of getting his staff killed, and practically the next thing Jack does is suddenly discover his 'mortal needs' and go out and fuck the next best person, only to call Gwen in the middle of the night, that man who is not Ianto snoring right there beside him, because he needs to hear that he's at least got her and that they don't need anyone else, except it's not like that at all, because there's her husband and her daughter waiting for her on the phone, and Jack is forgotten. And then he picks himself up again, shoves that desperation back inside, and in the morning the... it's not really a mask though, is it? the other Jack is back in place again. That whole sequence is a quite fantastic piece of characterisation IMO, and completely, utterly heartbreaking. Come to think of it, the mere fact that Jack is actually calling Gwen because, essentially, he needs to talk, he needs her, needs someone, something, as well as the fact that he'll more or less admit that need upfront, unprompted, speaks volumes about his state of mind.

The confrontation with Oswald Danes was also haunting, although I wonder if it makes a lot of sense without the knowledge of the events of CoE. So Jack was maybe not so much searching for death, since he already knew full well that was pointless, but at least on some level wanted, however futilely, death as punishment for what he'd done, or maybe just as a release... It makes one wonder whether he has fully realised yet that death is within reach now, and what he's going to do with that knowledge. Or has he already decided that his punishment is to go on living, forgiveness forever out of his reach?

More when I've had time to rewatch; and I'll try to catch up with everyone's posts too...

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
topaz_eyes
Jul. 29th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
I was wondering what you would think of TW: MD! :-D

a sort of modern day apocalypse with the signs reversed, because the horror, the threat of it, isn't death, it's life.

I don't know if the horror and threat is life, as it is endless suffering. Charlie Jane Anders compared the kind of immortality in MD to the world becoming a massive hospice. It's an interesting spin on the Big Pharma Is In Cahoots With The Baddies theme. And I adore the idea of the Soulless: does the concept of souls make sense only in the context of death?

I was (and still am!) pleasantly surprised that RTD et al are addressing the CoE fallout in such detail. That's tough to do; every scene has to work on 2 levels, each for different audiences. I think the scene between Jack and Oswald works on both levels. New viewers could interpret that Jack's confrontation is based on guilt over Ianto's death; old viewers know it's much more than that.

New episode is on tonight!
solitary_summer
Jul. 29th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
I think the story has the potential to be interesting on so many levels; I just really, really hope RTD has thought the end through. Just for once he surely should have had enough time? (Then again, apparently Day Five wasn't planned, and that worked out well enough...)

I was (and still am!) pleasantly surprised that RTD et al are addressing the CoE fallout in such detail.

Couldn't agree more. I thought at best there'd be some sort of pro forma nod to CoE, a couple of lines, a brief scene, and mostly we'd just have to assume that Jack worked out his issues somewhat over the hiatus. I'm extremely grateful they chose to do it like that, especially since, like you said, it isn't easy at all. Not just having to write for two different audiences; also bringing this kind of emotional baggage into a new story. Of course it's also an opportunity, because it gives Jack depth and a tragic perspective from the beginning, but it's also one hell of a backstory to deal with. I wonder if they're going to address more explicitly what happened to Stephen?
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