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Aug. 10th, 2009

Okay. I give up. I don't get it. I've rewatched the first two and a half episodes now, and I still don't understand where all that clingy!abused!Ianto and asshole!Jack and tragic!unrequited!love is coming from. I didn't see any of that the first time - in fact I had a lot less issues in this respect with CoE than I had with S2 -, but after everything I've read since I thought (was afraid, to be more precise) it'd be pretty much unavoidable. I'm still not seeing it.

And what's really ironic is that I always thought I was unhealthily obsessive about power imbalances in (fictional) relationships. (Real life relationships too, at that.) My favourite long-time OTP are Delenn and Sheridan from B5 and you don't get more carefully power-balanced and partnershipy in every way than these two. I do have the tendency to get interested in relationships that are a bit fucked up, the kind that survive a lot and still remain intact (Buffy and Spike, Angel and Wesley) but I always believed that unequal relationships were the ultimate no-no for me. Like the later X-Files seasons and the resolution of the Mulder/Scully arc in the finale, when Scully doesn't even get asked any longer what she wants to do, just dragged along on Mulder's quest for the Truth that is Out There, which still makes me angry after all this time, and I'm saying this as someone who was quite fond of the pairing for a while. Buffy/Angel? Yikes. Not romantic.

Or Brian and Michael in QaF:US - I could barely even watch them, because I found Michael's puppy dog adoration and jealousy and how it fucks up his relationships so completely embarrassing, not to mention the way Brian uses him, knowing this (and, to once again qualify, I mostly really do like Brian otherwise). To me that wasn't even friendship, much less love. (Which is why I was a bit surprised when I was finally watching the British version and found myself cheering for Stuart and Vince...)

So I've really been wondering if I do have issues that I wasn't aware of on top of all the issues that I am aware of, or... actually I don't know what the alternative would be.

What I'm seeing is two people working out the terms of a very complicated relationship.

Take Day Three, the 'We better make the most of it' scene.

Jack clearly isn't happy to discuss his dying and coming back again, most likely because very probably every single discussion he's ever had about that with people he loved has been painful and doomed from the start, and even addressing the subject is a reminder of every person he lost over it, one way or the other. So when Ianto wants to discuss this now, after Jack's most recent and most dramatic death that took the Hub and the remainder of Torchwood with it, I think Jack more or less excepts Ianto to be finally unable to deal with it. He can't change it, he can't (and won't) lie about it, there's no point in sugar-coating the truth, so it may sound a bit brusque, but I think that's also because he's essentially preparing himself for Ianto to break off whatever relationship they've had so far. Especially when Ianto brings up the point about aging that bothered Alice so much she wanted Jack out of her life, just like her mother. Most recently a bare couple of days before. And Alice's other point, that Jack was dangerous to the people around him... well, the explosion already proved that, just in case Ianto (or Jack) needed another reminder.

And then it's a bit like the end of They Keep Killing Suzie all over again, with Ianto actually surprising Jack, pretty much declaring this a relationship - 'We better make the most of it then'. Because the thing is, Jack couldn't ask then, not after the whole Lisa disaster, and I don't think he believes he really has the right to offer a relationship that is fraught with so many issues and bound to be both painful and dangerous to the person he loved, so once again it has to be Ianto.

But looking at Jack's smile, I think it's pretty clear he's mostly happy about it. It's a bit bittersweet, not the usual brilliant movie star smile, because he can't ignore the knowledge that at one point this is going to hurt like hell, certainly him, more likely both of them, but it's genuine.

And considering all the 'love' vs. 'just sex' debates during S2, it's maybe worth pointing out that it's made very clear that Jack's reaction has nothing to do with kinky stopwatch sex this time ('the world is ending').

And at this point at the very latest? It's no longer unrequited.


Aug. 11th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
that didn't make him weak, or the show suddenly homophobic.

That? No. The jury's still out on the show beating us over the head that Ianto is now 'queer' or the fact that it's the gay lover of The Hero who gets bumped off while the hetero couple are largely untouched, however.

Edited at 2009-08-11 12:25 pm (UTC)
Aug. 11th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you read my post here - I simply don't feel qualified to judge.

I do see how it could look this way. OTOH... I think there's simply no way RTD wasn't aware how this could be seen. But since he clearly still wanted this specific story about Jack's sins from the past catching up with him, I think he also did his best to make it matter as much as possible, as tragic as possible, as heroic as possible, and as emotional as possible. I could of course be wrong. I honestly don't know.


solitary summer

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