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Copy, paste, editeditandmoreediting and post, or it'll never happen! Between my holiday and Russian class and belly-dancing class, and having been invited to see Riverdance with my aunt this evening and two episodes to review endlessly ramble about instead of just one I'm already hopelessly behind.

2.05: Adam

Hm. After having rewatched I still love this episode a lot, but there are bits that I'm either too stupid to understand or don't really make sense.

'You take that pill and you'll lose everything I've given you. Wipe me out now and you will lose all your memories of your father. He will cease to have existed for you.'

Is Adam lying to manipulate Jack into letting him live? Because if he isn't, then I really don't understand why Jack would lose all memories. Adam himself said that Jack would retain the bad ones (which did also include his father), because they've always been his. What makes this so different? Why would it erase all memories, instead of just the one Adam tampered with?

In fact I don't even understand why Jack would have to lose that happy memory, unless of course Adam created the whole of it, instead of just bringing it up and manipulating it. (Is this what he meant by 'I made it happen'? That the whole thing was never real to begin with?) Adam changed everyone's memories, but in the end they lose only two days, not the three years Adam supposedly worked with them; if Toshiko lost every changed memory of the year she supposedly was in a relationship with Adam, seeing him in and out of work, there'd hardly be anything left. Even Gwen's memories didn't disappear entirely, she slowly got them back. Jack might forget having remembered, but why would that touch the memory itself -- wouldn't that be still there, to be uncovered again?

Or was what he did with Jack something different; actually (and never mind how) ripping the memory form his head and sticking it into that box? Is it actually the dust of his memories sifting through Jack's fingers?

What about Adam? Did he really 'die', or just return to some incorporeal state? Is the darkness and void he mentioned the same Suzie spoke of when she returned from the dead?

And will Gwen's memories still remain erased and she'll have to rebuild her relationship with Rhys? Or will they return to normal after Adam's death? And what about Rhys - what does he remember?

But technicalities aside, I loved the emotional aspects of this episode so much, it's hard to find the right words writing about it.

* The awful and really heartbreaking thing (well -- one among several) is that when Jack finally gets to share his memories, the really important ones, it's with someone who only wants to hear them because he feeds on them. No emotional connection, no intimacy, no sympathy. But maybe that's the only way Jack could have told it at all. Of course from a story-telling point of view it makes a lot of sense; it perpetuates his isolation even within the team, even in an episode that shows so clearly his love for them all, his anger at Adam for setting them at each other's throats ('This is what you've done to us!').

And that scene when he helps them to find their defining their memories, I can't even begin to say how much I love the TW writing/production team for coming up with such moments, and JB for actually being able to carry that off, a mixture of genuine deep affection with a small touch of messianic, without making it either cheesy or unbelievable or, worse, borderline-creepy. Jack is... maybe this happens when you've lived for 200+ years, maybe it's because we know so little about these years, but he's not an easy character to grasp. So many different aspects that so far haven't really added up to a whole, it feels like there is some crucial part still missing that might hold everything together and make the pieces fit. But scenes like this I always feel that this is as close to the real Jack, the core of the character, as we get, beneath the hardness and occasional cruelty of the soldier, beneath the flippancy and flirting, despite whatever went wrong in his life, which apparently were quite a few things before he met the Doctor and more afterwards, there's still a man capable of caring.

* As for the team's memories -- unsurprisingly it's Gwen and Ianto who define themselves through their relationships, through the people they love(d), and who both, in their own way end up confessing their love for Jack, and Toshiko and Owen who need reassurance, recognition, security; and perhaps not surprisingly either, Owen more than Toshiko.

* Interesting in view of the Jack/Ianto/Gwen situation is that while in ep. 04 Jack had been much more open and demonstrative about his feelings for Gwen, here there's barely any reaction or acknowledgment to what she says, either verbally or physically; in fact he touches her maybe the briefest of any of them. Ianto is the only one he doesn't say anything to (*), but gets a kiss; and it's not only that, the whole body language is a lot more intimate; with the others he just passes behind them, handing out the pills, touch on the shoulder, a hand along the back of Toshiko's neck, briefly stroking Gwen's cheek. With Ianto he leans in for the kiss and stays close, almost protectively, hand on Ianto's neck, while he puts the pill on the table.

* Judging from what JB wrote in his autobiography (early episode and OMG how can it be mid-season already?, Ianto having a melt-down in the Hub) I assume the kiss-where-no-one-said-'cut' was supposed to be in this episode... I can't believe that I'm saying this, but if it was, and if it was cut, I think that was the right decision, because it wouldn't really have fit. The emotional state Ianto was in wasn't one where a kiss would have improved anything and it'd have distracted from the more subtle relationship building that is going on instead. Maybe it isn't saying a whole lot that it was Ianto's behaviour that made Jack notice something was wrong rather than Gwen's, because not noticing was hardly an option in this case, but I really liked his reaction, the absolute conviction that there's no way Ianto did what he claims to have done, evidence of the best lie detector on the planet be damned; recalling Gwen's refusal to believe that Rhys would have anything to do with the alien meat.

And when Toshiko aims the gun at Jack it's a mixture of the confrontation in GBG and the scene in EoD, when the whole team turned on him; of course it's not quite that extreme, but it's again Jack as an outsider with the rest of them still believing what Adam made them believe; but this time Ianto is on his side, too, disarming Toshiko.

* The only thing I didn't like about this episode is that they've done it to Toshiko again. And that she finally gets Owen to bring her flowers and sandwiches and tell her he loves her, when she neither wants to hear it, or will remember when she would (and even then it would hardly matter, since it wasn't the 'real' Owen), is another of this episode's heartbreak-moments. I really hope for her sake that Owen doesn't stay dead permanently, because she's bound to get some kind of complex, with the people she loves alternatively turning out to be evil aliens or winding up dead. Gah.

And from an outside point of view - I never really followed the racism debate about DW at the time because I was waiting for S3 to come out on DVD and I didn't want to spoil myself, but I must admit I never saw much racism in Martha's arc (not saying it wasn't there; just that it didn't particularly stick out for me), except those bits where IMO racism was supposed to be seen as racism (Martha in Human Nature/The Family of Blood, the way the Master treats Martha's family), but with Toshiko... I can definitely see why people would complain. Even from a gender point of view the sandwich bringing thing started making me cringe.

(*) The problem, of course is what they're asking for in the last round of memories. Gwen, I think, doesn't really want anything from Jack; she tells him she loves him, but I'm not sure at all if he actually wants him to do something about it, not after the earlier episode. And even if she did, it's a dilemma she has to resolve for herself; he can't decide it for her. Toshiko wants someone to acknowledge and respect her instead of just taking her for granted, Owen wants someone to save him, and Jack can give them that. What Ianto is asking for, even if it isn't put as a question, in the way he turns to Jack and says 'You', with more apprehensiveness and fear than happiness in his voice, and a lot of surrender to the inevitable, is love; if Jack could really love him. (Interesting question. I wonder, too.) A question he doesn't dare to ask in so many words, and that Jack can't, or won't, answer in words at all. I'm kind of superstitiously afraid to jinx things by saying the answer is 'yes', but right now (although that might (have) change(d) with the next episode) I think, could be.

2.06: Reset

Martha of course was being her very awesome self, Jack and Martha were wonderful together, great chemistry in a non-shippy way, and then there was the shock of Owen getting shot, but otherwise a pretty average episode IMO. Solid, but predictable; infiltrating medical or mental institutions always goes horribly wrong in exactly this way; people should just stop trying to do it.

What I liked is Jack actually willing/wanting to talk about the thing with Ianto. It's easier with someone who's a friend but not part of the team, and Jack is smoother about it than others would have been, but this isn't about uniforms and kinks, this is about wanting to tell someone and hear how it sounds out loud. Making it more real, too maybe.

And I think Ianto's surprise is more due to the fact that Jack did tell Martha anything at all, than the specific request. I don't even think he's embarrassed as much as pleased; maybe that Jack told; certainly that he can finally tell someone, because finally someone asks. (It's Ianto. If he hadn't wanted to tell her, he'd have found a polite way to block/evade her question.) And of course it's easier to talk about the sex part; that's so much clearer than the emotional muddle, even when it's become very clear in the last episode, if not before that, that for Ianto it goes way deeper that Jack's sexual skills, however innovative. But what is he supposed to say to Martha when he can't even say it to Jack?

What I didn't like about this episode can be summarised with one picture. I know I've been going over this at probably way too long lengths after Sleeper, no one wants to hear me speechify again, and I guess I'll just have to resign to the fact that Torchwood is playing outside the rules and isn't big on civil, or human rights and all that pesky stuff, but seriously, people. What. The. Fuck. Couldn't they at least find a way for team Torchwood to threaten/torture information out of their suspects that isn't immediately reminiscent of the ugliest torture scandal in recent years? I'm trying to see them as the flawed, but essentially good guys, and the image of Jack going over the Abu Ghraib pictures and thinking, 'Hm, interesting. Might work even better with a weevil.' is not one I want in my head, thank you very much.

ETA: And what is wrong with my internet connection? Flickering on and off (mostly off) and generally being slower than a hibernating snail?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Not ignoring you, but I'll reply tomorrow if you don't mind; my brain has already fallen asleep, and the rest of me isn't far behind... :)
Feb. 22nd, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
Makes sense... Initially I though Jack would have remembered at least most of it even before Adam, since John knew about Grey, and the way he delivered his news about having found him as a parting shot suggested to me that he believed it'd have an impact on Jack. Possibly enough for Jack to come running after him. But rewatching that bit, it really does look like that Jack has no idea what John is talking about.

And I must admit I totally forgot about the 'I buried the memory over 150 years ago' part; only noticed that now, rewatching. Counting back, that would have been more than 10 years before he met the Doctor, presumably during the time he worked for the Time Agency, which would explain John knowing. Which begs the question, what happened then that was so bad then that Jack made himself forget when he'd lived with the memories before? Why did he suddenly think he couldn't afford to remember?

I have to admit that I don't go for the idea of the Void - this after/pre-life state where everything is dark and terrible.

I'm not terribly fond of that bit either, and for the same reasons. I have no problem with making the most of this life and things ending after death, but being thrust into some unpleasant darkness with as yet undefined evil beings lurking there for company, and without (as far as we've learned) a chance for improvement or an alternative fate? Not a pleasant thought, and a bit too Hamlet-esque. It would have been enough, IMO, to deal with the fear of death as life ending too early, too fast, with too many things undone, parting, all that, without making death (being dead, not dying itself) something actively unpleasant. On some level I actually do like how TW tackles those existentialist themes, but I never really realised how very bleak S1 was in this respect until I watched the whole of it with un_crayon_rouge, who's a much more positive person than I am, last summer.

I personally found the memories a bit bland and something of a let-down, too (although never having seen StarWars - I know, I know, unbelievable - I didn't have that specific association), and the boy not quite what I'd have imagined kid!Jack to be, but JB played it so that I absolutely bought the impact those memories had on Jack. *facepalm* I'm sorry, I'm ridiculously, embarrassingly fangirlish about JB and he can take Jack just about anywhere and I'll believe it.

(Love that moment where he was obviously thinking how good it would feel to strangle Jack!)

Oh, wow. I hadn't thought of that.
Feb. 21st, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Habs nur überflogen, will come back. Man, I cannot WAIT to watch this!!! And at the same time, the waiting is kind of sweet...
Feb. 21st, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'll just watch the new episode and then I'll give you a more detailed recap! :)
Feb. 21st, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
Oder doch vielleicht erst morgen... Ich glaub ich muss jetzt wirklich ins Bett, das waren vier ziemlich lange Tage. :)
Feb. 22nd, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
now with a bit more context... :)
It's about an alien (Adam), who feeds on the power of memories and makes the Torchwood team believe he's part of them by changing their memories, and as a result to a greater or lesser extent changing even their personalities. Ianto eventually finds out there's something wrong when he checks his diary about an alien artifact and finds no trace of Adam there. When he confronts Adam with that, to isolate/intimidate/distract him Adam makes Ianto remember having killed three girls. Enter Jack (all this is happening sometime at night in the Hub), and a very distraught Ianto insisting he wants to be locked up in the vaults to protect the team from him; Jack is understandably baffled, grabs him and tries to comfort him with a hug, which doesn't help much, since Ianto is convinced that he's a monster (and tells Jack as much). Then, very pragmatically, sits Ianto down in front of some supposedly infallible alien lie detector.

Ianto describes the first murder, how good it felt, the light stays green.

Ianto, desperate, near tears: 'It reads as true!'

Jack, determined: 'I don't believe it.' 'Okay, tell me about the second girl.'

Ianto tells, concluding with '...pleading. And I... I didn't care. Something in me wants to kill'. The light still stays green.

Jack, angry, with absolute conviction: 'No.' 'This is not you'. [slamming down the microphone part of the lie detector, jumping up, walking around the table, fast, past the chair Ianto is sitting in, hand on Ianto's shoulder] 'Something's changed you. You're not a murderer. I'm certain of it.'

Jack then checks the CCTV footage and finds out what Adam did to Ianto, Adam gets locked up and Jack tries to restore his team to their former memories & personalities. The four of them are sitting around a table, there's this hypnotic blue light on the tv screen, they're supposed to think of memories that define them, starting pre-Torchwood, and then get an amnesia pill to erase the past 48 hours, and I know how that sounds, but it really does work better if you see it. And ideally Adam will disappear when no one remembers him.

Ianto's first memory is 'Meeting Lisa. Falling in Love. Never felt so alive.', then 'Losing Lisa. Like a world that ended.' The third memory brings each of them up to the present, their feelings and fears. Jack walking around the table behind them, passing out the pills, along with a touch, reassurance.

Ianto: 'Coming here. It gave me meaning again.' [turning his head and looking up at Jack standing behind him] 'You.'

Jack: [strokes his hair, kisses him on the forehead, and, still leaning in close, hand on his hair, then slipping down to the back of his neck, puts the pill on the table in front of him]

And, unless JB is making things up, somewhere out there there's two minutes of footage of Jack and Ianto kissing, because they were, and no one said 'cut'. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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