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I've no idea how the TW writing process works, with all those different writers especially, so this might be entirely coincidental, but IMO it was a good follow up episode after Sleeper, starting with yet another situation where TW uses someone as a tool with a (at least at first) total disregard for him as a person and human being, but then proceeding to bring in enough human emotion, enough acknowledgment of a horrible moral dilemma that nevertheless cannot be resolved in any other way, to make me like them all again.

And this kind of acknowledgment and awareness is all I'd have asked from Sleeper. I'm still not really sold on Jack treating Beth like he did because he was so utterly terrified, because - issues of sequence and chronology aside - I never saw that, but in this episode it seems pretty obvious that Jack (who even before it was revealed what exactly they needed Tommy for would have known his historic fate and could have made an educated guess that whatever TW wanted from him, the ending was unlikely to be a happy one) tried to suppress the sympathy that, judging from his behaviour in the hospital ('It's like walking into hell - believe me, I was there.') as well as the Captain Jack Harkness episode would have been his first instinctive reaction. It looks like Jack is consciously distancing himself; he doesn't talk to, or interact with Tommy at all until he has to tell him what he needs to do, and even then, with Tommy sitting right across the table, he talks about him in the third person, and only when asked something, addresses him directly. In the scene with Toshiko Jack's anger and grief about the treatment of the shell-shocked soldiers is tangible, and he probably hated what they were going to do at least every bit as much as she did, even if he didn't (and couldn't, as the team leader) allow himself to show it, because there was no other option.

It was a good touch that in the end it was Tommy's decision, since Toshiko's projection could only persuade, not force him. Whatever happened to him afterwards, he was really a hero, not only someone manipulated and sacrificed by Torchwood.

(Although... I know I said I wouldn't bring up Sleepers again, but the contrast grates a bit. The only time Beth ever really regains control over her life and fate is when she makes them kill her; so men get to be heroes, women get to die to remain human? It would grate more if Toshiko weren't such a strong character in this episode.)

And Toshiko is really wonderful here. She's always been strong (and I liked that Jack acknowledges this by trusting her to do what needs to be done every time she asks), but what I really liked is that she takes the initiative and makes the decisions. An important moment is, I think, when she and Tommy talk about the things she never gets around to do, and he says, 'You talk about your life like you've got no control over it. [...] It's your choice, right?'. He may refer only to her work, but I think he really makes her start to consciously consider what she wants from her life, work, relationships. Despite the pain, she comes out of the episode stronger and more self-aware than she was at the beginning.

I loved her 'He can come home with me.' and everyone's head turning fast enough to risk whiplash! Sweet and generally pretty awesome. I think she's doing it for herself, too, and not only Tommy, but she knew losing him was going to hurt more, so it's an emotionally generous and brave decision that I think even impressed Jack a bit, especially considering his history with doomed officers from the past.

I'd just wish that they'd give her a relationship that doesn't disappear at the end of the episode, because she'd so deserve it, and somehow I also wish that it wouldn't be with Owen; even reformed S2 Owen, but given how difficult it is to have a relationship with someone outside Torchwood that is probably going to be unlikely. But at least she's sure enough of herself now that she knows what she wants and what she isn't prepared to do to get him. ('I can be myself with him - don't have to pretend.')

What about Ianto's fatalistic and slightly ominous 'Nothing changes.'? - hopefully this is about Torchwood 1 and Lisa and not him expecting to die that young, too? OTOH, it's a good thing then that he's got a boyfriend who cannot die; one thing less to worry about...

'I... know you get lonely'

Hm, so that's how it all started back in S1?

The familiarity, Jack not even looking up, just hearing Ianto's footsteps and starting to talk; suggesting quite a few midnights with only the two of them haunting the Hub. And a general openness and honesty; Jack initially trying to brush off Ianto's question with a half-hearted attempt at flippancy, but the direct answer he gets brings on one of the rare moments where Jack is, within the confines of what he is willing to tell, as little evasive, and as honest, as possible.

Ianto still being vulnerable and uncertain about what exactly is between him and Jack, date-offers notwithstanding; In the first episode the important question was whether Jack was staying at all, now it's whether he's staying because he wants to. It's clearly a genuine question (and a brave one; but it's understandable that he needs to know), and Ianto is nearly as prepared for a 'yes' as he was then. Even when Jack goes on saying, 'Being here, I've seen things I never dreamt I'd see, loved people I never would have known if I'd just stayed where I was.', I think Ianto does not yet assume that might include him; it's only when Jack looks him straight in the eyes and adds, 'And I wouldn't change that for the world.' that he realises what Jack is telling him.

On a personal and a bit self-satisfied note, judging from Ianto's observation about Jack's loneliness (stated as a fact, not a question), I wasn't too far off with a couple of things I wrote after S1:

And it's worth noting that Ianto's offer seems to be a reaction to Jack's sadness and vulnerability after the Suzie disaster (take two), which might make one think that this wasn't the first time this happened like that - a distraction, an offer of comfort. Which might also suggest that Ianto had seen - been allowed to see - more of the vulnerable, darker side of Jack than any of the others.

[...] The scene at the beginning of
Small Worlds - [...] there's a lot of intimacy in that moment, despite the slight awkwardness and tension. It's, I think, the only time we see Jack wholly out of 'uniform', not dressed formally, and that already removes a layer from his persona. Combined with the night-time setting, the fact that Jack had just got out of bed and his uneasiness about the dream it echoes the intimacy that Gwen had evoked asking, 'Doesn't it get lonely at night?'.

[...] What I find interesting, though, is Ianto's reply - 'I'm much more than that. Jack needs me.' -, because Ianto doesn't strike me as someone who would make such a claim, even under provocation, if it were totally unfounded, even if admittedly it's a bit hard to tell what Ianto would or wouldn't do, because for the most part of the series we see him either in extreme situations, or not at all/being very formal.

[...] There's nothing in the body-language of either to even hint at anything until End of Days, when Jack is leaning on Ianto and they're holding onto each other after having escaped from the Hub. (Interestingly enough there's yet another moment when Jack is - physically, this time - vulnerable and Ianto is supporting him.)

Sorry. But I kind of love being right; especially after last episode where apparently I was not so much not on the same page as the writer as in a totally different book.

I guess once you've not so much crossed as smashed to pieces so many social relationship boundaries as Jack and Ianto did in Cyberwoman, once the masks come off so completely, when you don't end up killing each other but still care enough to chose to work together afterwards, it's probably impossible (and maybe not really desirable, either) to completely rebuild the walls, and there's always the knowledge of what's beneath the surface.

Overall, as an episode, I liked this better than the more flashy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Toshiko, heart-breaking ending, oblique declarations of love and all, and did I mention the 'ghosts'? Shiver down my spine even on the second viewing, and absolutely scared the first time when the man with the crutches starts to move towards Gwen. So well done.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this! I love reading your Torchwood posts, especially since I'm unlikely to see Season 2 until it comes out on DVD--Channel 10, in its infinite lack of wisdom, will probably show the new season on its HD channel so that only those few people with painfully expensive set-top boxes can see it...

And just when it's started to get good, too!
Feb. 6th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
You're very welcome! :)

Although... if you've got no ethical issues with the fact that the episodes (avi.; I use QuckTime player) are downloaded and would trust me with your personal details, I could burn and mail you a CD or DVD, if you want; my email is solitary_summer@chello.at.

Feb. 7th, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for the offer, but I'm still a bit wary of the whole downloading thing...I guess I'll just wait for the DVDs.
Feb. 7th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
I totally understand, I've never done it before either. :)

Only in this case yay, instant gratification! my curiosity got the better of me, and I just didn't want to either ignore part of my friendslist for months, ot risk being thoroughly spoiled...

(And if you should change your mind, let me know...)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


solitary summer

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