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Mar. 22nd, 2008

There really are no words how much I'm love & awe with this episode.

All the while we're waiting for Jack to acknowledge poor, neglected, hopelessly in love with him Ianto, and what do they do? They change Ianto's whole history -- not much, but enough to throw an entirely different light on his relationship with Jack. That's pretty damn genius, and I never saw that coming at all. What's even more amazing is that this fits so perfectly with Cyberwoman and all the Jack/Ianto moments in S1, when apparently they hadn't even been sure at first whether Ianto would survive S1. The high level of emotion in Cyberwoman becomes a lot more understandable when it's not just Jack finding himself blindsided by an employee, but discovering that someone he's attracted to, maybe even sort of cares for, possibly has even been sleeping with, has manipulated and used him since the first time they've met, and Ianto feeling himself betrayed by someone he's attracted to and has all kinds of conflicted and guilty feelings about.

With the prequel scenes in Fragments the whole power balance changes; Starting with the set-up first meeting and Ianto rescuing Jack from the weevil -- and that takes a certain cold-bloodedness, stalking Jack, waiting, watching, until he is at a clear disadvantage, and then stepping in to save him -- Ianto is the one on the offensive, in command of the situation. I'm not sure if Ianto is standing on higher ground or if it's the camera angle making it look as if he's looking down on Jack; or maybe it's something in the body language of both of them, like Ianto reaching out to Jack, ostensibly to check the bleeding, and Jack stepping away from the touch. 'I've got it under control.' -- 'You think so?' And Jack is definitely intrigued. There's more than his usual off-hand, meaningless flirting here; a seriousness and genuine interest and warmth in the way his voice softens a bit when he asks 'And you are?'.

Between subtle flirtation, giving his full name and dropping the hint with the weevil, Ianto made sure Jack would remember and find out who he was, and he only miscalculated because he couldn't have known that Jack would react that badly to him having been part of Torchwood London. If not for that, I think he'd have had a really easy game, because Jack was already more than a little attracted.

And he might be getting a bit desperate for a moment there, but he never gives up until he's lying on top of Jack and the laughter dies and the mood shifts, and then leaves Jack breathless on the concrete floor, wanting to keep him around, or just wanting him enough to overcome his reservations and give him a job. And Jack must have suspected that even the first meeting hadn't been coincidental, but he took the risk nevertheless.

And that's the only time the facade cracks, when Ianto is walking away after Jack said he'd hire him, and Jack can't see his face. It's all there then, the pain, the dilemma, his unhappiness about what he's doing, smiling at Jack's 'Like the suit, by the way' through tears. He's won, but it's a bitter victory already.

It's still hard to say what exactly Jack has been & is feeling for Ianto, but if I had to judge only from this episode's scenes who is more attracted by the end, I'd say, Jack. And it must have been something, if he was not only willing to forgive Ianto after the full extent of his manipulation and betrayal came to light, but was still interested in him, because other than in EoD, where everyone acted impulsively and highly emotionally, that was coldly planned and perfectly executed. That the plan kind of backfired, Lisa being killed, and Ianto ending up falling in love with Jack, doesn't change any of that. The only other thing working in Ianto's favour would have been that he did it, cheesy as this may sound, for love, because Jack picked people who had the capacity to care - Toshiko had been blackmailed with her mother's life, Owen was desperate about his finacee.

It's interesting that Ianto is the only one whom Jack didn't chose, but who, for reasons of his own, chose Jack.

And on the whole this rather confirms my suspicion that Ianto has a master plan how to win & keep Jack, which is why he isn't worried about Gwen at all.

In non-TW related news, my niece is walking since yesterday, although she still likes to cling to a finger (or lead people around by the finger...) and she's super cute. And the last few times she seemed really happy to see me, so I must have been doing something right, aunt-wise... :)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely! The Jack/Gwen unrequited love is suddenly looking rather pale & bland compared to this!
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 23rd, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
I never really saw Ianto as weak either (although it was hard to get a real grasp of his character in S1 with the coffee-making, suits, 'Sir's & formality) but the level of planning and manipulation involved in getting himself into TW Cardiff and that he was rather blatantly using sex to get Jack to employ him, still surprised me. I guess I never gave it much thought and mostly kind of assumed that Ianto got reassigned (or at best, got himself reassigned) to Cardiff after TW London was destroyed. But you're right, we should have known.

But more than Ianto, it's Jack and his part in their relationship that this episodes throws a different light on for me. When I wrote about Jack/Ianto after S1, I cautiously and almost guiltily suggested that maybe they'd been (albeit rather casually) sleeping together before Cyberwoman, because the whole episode made a lot more sense to me with that assumption, so I'm really pleased to learn that there was at least a pretty strong mutual attraction. (I assume Chris Chibnall already had the full backstory in mind back then, and told John and Gareth to play it accordingly...) And then I went on to write a couple of long-winded paragraphs about why, when they chose to start/continue any kind of sexual relationship after that melt-down, it couldn't be just a casual thing... And except for the fact that Jack was at the time still waiting for the Doctor to reappear, this episode confirms for me that he had been quite possibly more than just casually attracted from the beginning. I wouldn't go as far as love at the first sight, but it's the same shyer, more hesitant Jack we've seen in S1/CJH with someone he was really attracted to, which is quite different from the usual way he flirts with just about everyone.

When he finally decided to hire Ianto, I doubt it was because of his fabulous pterodactyl fighting skills, not the way the scene is played - with them ending up in full body contact, an inch away from a kiss, a kiss Jack expects to be coming the way he tilts his head a bit, just before Ianto says 'I should go', lifting himself off Jack and walking away, leaving him there on the floor, panting and aroused and wondering if Ianto had become shy all of a sudden, or if that was part of his game. I don't think that at this point Ianto's reaction was calculated, he most likely was genuinely shocked at being caught up in the sudden sexual tension, but he couldn't have done it better if he had planned it like that. With Ianto walking away from him, Jack impulsively decided, perhaps partly in an effort to regain some control over the situation, to push aside his reservations about someone from TW London and accept the challenge, because he was not going to let him disappear like that.

And for me this does indeed change my view of their relationship quite a bit, especially all the S2 episodes where it seemed that Ianto was in love with Jack and insecure about their relationship, but where Jack's level of emotional involvement, whether he was interested in more than just sex, wasn't very clear at all. It's probably a fault that I tend to see relationships in terms of power balance, but this was always the part that made me feel a bit uncomfortable about Jack/Ianto, and for me this episode really resolved that problem.

Edited at 2008-03-23 05:18 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 24th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Did it strike you as Ianto using sex to get Jack to employ him?

As I see it, yes -- not too explicitly, not cheaply, but in the first meeting where he rescued Jack from the weevil- it's there. Ianto knew he had one chance, and one chance only, and must have planned this pretty thoroughly, he knew how much depended on him getting into TW; If he stalked Jack for long enough to set up this 'accidental' meeting, he'd have known that with Jack being pretty would definitely be an asset, if he played it right. And judging from his relatively minor position in TW London, he had no special skills to offer, so he played every card he could play - Jack's gratitude to be rescued from death nr. 1000something, the sexual angle (I can't pinpoint it, it's not the 'love the coat', it's the whole atmosphere, the way he looks at Jack, reaches out to touch him, and the way Jack reacts to him), then mentioning the weevil, leaving enough hints that Jack would know where to look for him. The only problem was that he'd thought that having been part of TW London would help him, when in fact it almost ruined the entire plan. It's more subdued after that, because he rather loses his composure when Jack refuses to employ him, but the moment Jack gives him an opening the flirting is back, and considering the desperate situation he's in I doubt this comes entirely natural. And admittedly that's my dirty mind running away with me, but the first time I watched the episode I thought that after offering dry-cleaning and butlering, if the pterodactyl hadn't interfered Ianto would have found a way to tastefully imply that he gives really good blow-jobs, too.

I've no idea how far he was prepared to go with it beyond flirting, but I guess this must be what Gareth meant by 'bisexual for his own purposes', because it can hardly refer to what happened in S2.

but he doesn't appear to be particularly happy with that outcome.

I think that's because he is profoundly unhappy. I'm pretty sure everything he said and did until Jack landed on top of him was more or less an act, certainly the first meeting; When Jack agrees to hire him the strain suddenly lets up and the misery of the whole situation which he'd been hiding so well shines through for a moment. He was going to do whatever it took to help Lisa, but I don't think he liked manipulating people like that, and being attracted to the man he was going to have to lie to and deceive for the foreseeable future was going to complicate things even further. He got in, but it's only the beginning. I don't even want to know what it must have taken to keep up the act day after day. (One thing I noticed in CW, though - almost until the end Ianto thought that Jack could help Lisa, if only he would, which says a lot about about the kind of trust, hero-worship, whatever you want to call it, he put into him by then.)

I have to hope that Jack doesn't recruit every pretty young thing he's attracted to, and therefore that there's something more there, other than mere physical lust - but I don't think it's particularly obvious.

Well, it was a very fast, spur of the moment decision, to stop Ianto from walking out, with simply no time to (re)weigh the pros and cons, and while I doubt Jack is generally lead by his prick so easily, in this situation it wasn't the brain (or at least not the rational part of it, and the main objection to hiring Ianto was a rational one, him coming from TW London) that did most of the thinking. Lust, and probably something more, adrenaline rush, and if necessary, as an afterthought, he's going to be the receptionist, how much harm can he do?

(And I'm sorry for rambling along like this, but your comments always make me think a bit further, and that tends to get lengthy... :) Sorry, but thanks for the inspiration!)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Well, I admit that I'm about as clueless as Owen when it comes to flirting.

*g* In real life I only notice that someone is flirting with me/hitting on me is when people point it out to me afterwards.

I've read someone's review that described the weevil hunting scene as 'with the jeans and the cruising and everything' and that's pretty much exactly the impression I had the first time I saw it. I couldn't rationally argue it, but for me it was there, in the atmosphere and the tension between them.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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