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No, I don't have a life (obviously). Yes, the pseudo-artistic reverse numbering is intentional. I don't really know any longer if it works, or if the whole thing is good, complete crap, or anywhere in between. The only thing I do know is that I don't want to re-, re- & re-write and -edit it until & beyond Christmas. Wonky tenses will just have to remain wonky. Not that I was even planning on writing anything this long again after the last CoE post. Maybe a few bullet points and screencaps for the Jack/Ianto stuff that didn't fit in there. Maybe. But then I stupidly thought, if this was—barring a flash-back/time travel episode in a potential fourth season—the last time I was going to use the jack/ianto tag I might as well try to write something slightly less slapdash. *buries face in hands*

Jack and Ianto, S1-3. Massively tl;dr. Managed to draw the line at footnotes. And there are pictures.

[ETA: An exploration of the time and mortality/immortality motifs in their relationship can be found here: The World Is Always Ending: Time in Torchwood's Jack/Ianto Arc.]




VII. 'I love you.' — 'Don't.'




To begin at the end, I have to say this—the first time I watched CoE it struck me as one of the saddest moments of the whole story that of all things one could say in return, in this situation, 'Don't,' is the best (and only) answer Jack could find. And it's not off-hand either, it's perhaps the most thought through, deliberate thing Jack says in the entire scene. So it was interesting to hear how that apparently was changed, and (a couple of months later and with a bit of an emotional distance) I think it it was the right decision, because at this point there isn't any doubt about Jack's feelings anyway. Everything from 'Then I take it back, all right? I take it all back. But not him!' (and this from Jack, who rarely allows himself to dwell on regrets and whom we've never seen go back on a decision like this before) to 'Don't go. Don't leave me, please. Please don't,' makes actually saying 'I love you' out loud almost redundant. 'Don't,'—that's all of Jack's issues right there, everything that held him back; the lingering guilt and self-hatred simmering beneath the charm and the efforts at heroism; what Alice said, that he's dangerous to the people he loves. In Lost Souls he already blamed himself for Tosh and Owen's deaths because he recruited them and in the end couldn't save them—how much more for Ianto, whom he didn't so much hire for his skills, but mostly because he fancied him? It also to an extent explains Jack's hesitancy so far, since this is hardly something that would have come out at a moment like that if the thought hadn't crossed his mind before in one form or the other. Especially after Tosh and Owen I think it's unlikely that Jack didn't occasionally look at Ianto and wonder when he'd have to bury him, and then push the thought away again. 'Don't,' is Jack realising all the ways he helped bring about this situation and judging himself.


VI. 'It's all my fault.'— 'No it's not.'




Which makes it interesting to compare the end of Day Four to the S2 finale, where Jack practically begged for Gray's forgiveness, but Gray was much too profoundly damaged and couldn't, wouldn't, give it to him, despite, or rather because of how badly Jack wanted and needed it. Ianto at least tries, and perhaps after a while this will make a difference to Jack, that for Ianto there was no bitterness in the end, no resentment or blame.

And maybe that—in addition to the mutual attraction that was undeniably there from the start and a certain amount of mostly unacknowledged emotions, without which the situation would never have escalated quite as badly in Cyberwoman—was what it was about at the beginning: forgiveness. Even if it's never addressed or even acknowledged, I think Jack, who can be cold and dangerous and even downright cruel, but never before or after in TW canon loses his composure so completely, was fully aware that he'd crossed a few lines there in the end, turning this into a personal battle of wills, and very likely did believe that he should have noticed something was wrong earlier. That Ianto, who called him a monster (and Jack, I think, would be one to consider the deeper truth of that, even if it's debatable whether the accusation was really justified in this particular situation), who promised he'd watch Jack suffer and die, would understand and forgive—even then that must have meant something to Jack, who both in Torchwood and before has done plenty of things that he now prefers not to think about ('I've lived a long time, I've done a lot of things'; 'He's a reminder of my past. I want him gone'), and has been living with the childhood trauma of losing his brother all his adult life. Ianto of course didn't know any of that at the time, but he was willing to forgive what had happened that night—by staying when it wasn't for Lisa's sake anymore, and in the end by coming back into Jack's bed without ulterior motives. In hindsight, maybe that was at least part of the reason why Jack made staying or leaving Ianto's decision—because he wanted to know what Ianto would do, and just how much of the Ianto he'd thought he'd known had been a lie; because part of him (consciously or unconsciously) wanted Ianto's forgiveness. And maybe that's why Jack was so ready to forgive Owen in End of Days, or Gray in Exit Wounds; Jack is perfectly aware he needs a lot of forgiveness himself, often from people who, like the children he handed over to the 456, aren't any longer in a position to grant it.

Ianto, on the other hand, had two dead bodies on his conscience, one of whom he was on first name basis with while she was alive, whose relatives he couldn't have apologised to even if he wanted to because of Torchwood's secretiveness, and Lisa was dead three time over and couldn't any longer forgive what he'd allowed her to become, even if it was out of love and with the best intentions, or what happened to her. There was only Jack who could still forgive him the deception, manipulation and betrayal, the near-disaster and the deaths; by allowing him to stay, by trusting him again, by accepting Ianto's comfort when it's offered, by still wanting him.

Which may not be a very healthy basis for a relationship, but they were both hurt, lonely people at this point who were trying to find whatever comfort and meaning they could, even if it was in unlikely places. And, like Gwen also had to find out, Torchwood, generally speaking, wasn't a healthy place to have any kind of relationship in.


V. 'The Jack I know would have stood up to them.'




But for better or worse Torchwood is also what shaped both their lives in profound ways. Jack had a long and twisted relationship with the institution ever since he was mostly (but not entirely) coerced into joining. Ianto worked for Torchwood London for two years, and if he didn't notice the moral ambiguities at the time, or didn't give them any thought, he had a brutal awakening when the catastrophic consequences of Torchwood's hubris all but cost the life of the woman he loved. Neither of them exactly chose the place, but in the end they both found some sort of purpose there at a time when they were lost and broken and floundering. This is probably how Jack justified being part of an organisation that specialised in killing aliens to himself whenever he needed to (or cared enough)—that at least part of the time they were actually doing good and helping to defend humanity. It certainly seemed to play a part in his decision to take over Torchwood Cardiff and turn it into something the Doctor would approve of: 'What do you do?' — 'Protect people. At least that's what I'm aiming for.'

As for Ianto, Canary Wharf probably already haunted him; the events of Cyberwoman certainly did, at least once he could see beyond his own pain. IMO the memories Adam gave Ianto didn't so much hint at an inner darkness or hidden serial killer potential, but drew upon his fear to cause the deaths of even more innocent people, especially those whose lives he'd already endangered once, and even enjoying it, as a source for maximum pain and guilt; that the first thing he does is tell Jack, demanding to be locked up so that he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone else, which is clearly not the reaction Adam was aiming for, I think proves that. But there's something that doesn't change: the part of Ianto's personality that made him fight nail and tooth for Lisa, against reason, against hope, against better knowledge, never completely disappeared after Cyberwoman, even if he did recognise after a while that she'd already been a lost cause. On some very basic level I think Ianto always refused to accept that there were things even Torchwood couldn't fix, people they couldn't save. Crying over the one boy they could bring back to life in From out of the Rain, so shaken that at the end of the episode he just hands Jack the flask instead of putting it away himself, and abruptly heads out of Jack's office, unwilling to even consider the possibility of a repetition of what just happened. In Adrift, when he gives Gwen the GPS, very likely in the hope that she would be able to make Jack do something, find a better solution. Siding with Gwen in Asylum, determined to find a way for Frieda to keep both her freedom and her memories, and calling Jack on his hypocrisy. That it's he who almost immediately arrives at the conclusion that Frieda might have been sent to them as a warning and reminder certainly suggests that Ianto is at this point very aware of Torchwood's continuing ethical problems that Jack never even considered. And of course in CoE, where Ianto has no doubts whatsoever about what they ought to do, and doesn't hesitate to cut straight through Jack's philosophical speech when he thinks that it might not be clear enough.

Ianto, who hates things getting out of control, isn't in Torchwood for the adrenaline, that much becomes obvious in Coutrycide, and there is no indication this ever really changes, even if he's perfectly capable of handling himself in dangerous situations; the only time we see a slightly more violent side of him is when someone threatens Jack or the rest of the team (Meat, Exit Wounds). He never shows Gwen or Tosh's enthusiasm for the alien stuff they're working with either; he's the one who locks it away and keeps it safe. Ianto's love, if anything, is for history, and it's Owen who maybe is closest to him in that he's there trying to help people because he couldn't save the one person he needed most to save, and Torchwood was something that offered a sort of purpose at the time, or at least a distraction. But Owen—or any of Jack's new recruits, even Suzie, who was already more than a bit unbalanced to begin with, but also completely loved the job—never had the deeply ambivalent relationship with Torchwood that Jack and Ianto share. Ianto is maybe the one who most personifies Torchwood, even more than Jack; who keeps it running and prides himself on knowing more about the place than anyone (Sleeper), but at the same time is perfectly aware that it has always been a death-trap (To the Last Man) and not healthy for the people who work there (Countrycide), and that his chances of getting out alive are very slim (The Dead Line).

The two of them running into each other in the Hub late at night in Small Worlds is rather characteristic: 'You shouldn't be here.' — 'Neither should you,' and it's quite fascinating how lines acquire a sinister meaning in hindsight; in fact it makes one wonder if it was really only about odd work hours even then, especially Ianto's reply, because of course Jack as the boss can be there whenever he wants, and in any case one way or the other Ianto would have known that he pretty much lived there. It wasn't a good place for either of them, but neither had anywhere else to go, anywhere else he belonged. 'This is us. This is Torchwood. This is home.'

Jack, for all his professed disapproval of the old Torchwood and his efforts to distance himself from it, still found people there he liked, who made his life a little brighter, a little less intolerable; a sort of family, as well as lovers—at a guess Eleanor, Alice's mother, and Ianto won't have been the only ones in over a century—, which, if nothing else, at least had the practical advantage of sparing him uncomfortable explanations about his immortality. The downside of course is that Torchwood's mortality rate makes falling in love even more painful for someone with Jack's tendency towards survivor's guilt, because in the end it's always impossible to protect them: 'You can never really beat death, never escape it—it's always in the shadows, waiting.' But of course for Jack that is true in any case. Unlike Gwen, who had to fight Torchwood (and in the end, Jack) for her relationship with Rhys every step of the way, when Jack came back after Last of the Time Lords, it was for Ianto, for his team, even for Torchwood as the potentially good and useful institution it could be; maybe even for what he saw as some general sense of duty helping to protect Earth, and stayed for all of that in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, when offered another chance to leave the planet behind for a life free of obligations and responsibilities (although also free of meaning and purpose), despite being ever so slightly tempted, especially since the offer came from someone who genuinely wanted him, rather than someone who didn't mind him tagging along.

As for Ianto, his 'Coming here gave me meaning again—You,' in Adam, but especially CoE and the events of Day Four show that for him his relationship with Jack has always been deeply entangled with his work in Torchwood; even to the point that when it comes right down to it, the latter takes precedence. Whatever their personal disagreements, whatever his feelings about Jack's past actions, there is never even the slightest uncertainty for Ianto about what is the right thing to do; his and Jack's duty. And it wouldn't have been the first time, considering how in Captain Jack Harkness it was Owen who tried to open the rift to get Jack back, not Ianto, who must have had at least as strong feelings about this, if the tearful coat snuggling an episode later is anything to go by. And while Bilis manipulated Gwen with Rhys's death and Owen with the vision of Diane begging him to bring her back, he never even tried to tempt Ianto with the possibility of getting Lisa back, even if he used her image—rather with the threat that thousands of people would die if he didn't open the rift, much like he did with Jack. And even if deleted scenes don't actually count as canon, it's worth noting that originally Ianto was apparently arguing with Jack to open the rift even if it killed them all, since that was some sort of official last resort measure: 'I'd make the sacrifice. Wouldn't you?'


IV. 'Why didn't you tell me. I could have helped.'




The irony of course is that without Torchwood, without the messy start, the lying and manipulation and Ianto offering no-strings-attached sex for his own reasons, if Jack had been forced to think about this in terms of a relationship before Ianto had become a reality in his life in all kinds of ways, Jack would very likely have kept him at a distance just like Gwen, whom he certainly was both attracted to and cared for, but pushed away when it became obvious that the attraction was mutual in Ghost Machine, most likely because he knew that he couldn't offer her anything that in the long run would make her happier than her normal, mortal, boyfriend. It took a pterodactyl, a rush of adrenaline, quite a bit of full body contact, Ianto's (un)timely freak-out, and all of this boiling to a moment where Jack simply didn't have the time to think any further than that this was someone he didn't want to walk out of his life, for him to even overcome his reservations against Ianto's Torchwood past, no matter how obviously and immediately he was attracted to him when they first met. But somehow, even with this unorthodox start and without really intending to they managed to build a foundation that was strong enough that several months and one huge melt-down later Ianto still wasn't someone Jack wanted to let go, and was probably rather impressed when Ianto didn't taking the opportunity to run and forget, but chose to live with the consequences, the memories and the pain.

With this kind of shared history they always were on more equal ground, which made things easier at least in certain respects, whereas Jack and Gwen's relationship was from the beginning influenced and complicated by the fact that most of the time Jack saw her as some kind of ideal, trying to preserve what she represented to him when she first stepped into Torchwood—humanity, emotions, a still unshaken and untested belief in some basic human goodness, all the normal life he couldn't have—, and never completely stopped protecting her from everything that might destroy these qualities, even if that was himself, because of course Jack pretty much personifies the gun he hoped she would never have to use when he taught her to shoot. Inevitably that never really worked out, and Torchwood did change her, but I think it's only at the end of Adrift that Jack, who with his obsession about erasing his past and out of a (as it turned out, not entirely unjustified) fear of losing her let her walk into this, never volunteering information beyond what she'd already found out, finally realised that it's possible to cause even more pain by trying to shield someone from the truth, just like Gwen had to accept that sometimes the truth can be more painful than not knowing.

With Ianto things were rather more complicated. Ianto started out as someone whom love made completely blind to the threat he risked to unleash on the world even after it was spelled out to him, willing to throw away everything to save the person he loved, and ended up in a very different place, risking and losing his life trying to save others, dying for something he believed in, more at peace with himself. Both Jack and Ianto made mistakes, and they were both trying to make up for it, a sentiment that might have been echoed in Dead Man Walking, if Ianto had died there as was originally planned, and Owen's 'People died because you brought me back. We owe them, you and me,' had been Ianto's line, just as Jack's misguided attempt at resurrection and its fatal consequences would have mirrored Ianto's actions in Cyberwoman (or Gwen's in End of Days), because even after so many years and with so much experience he couldn't deal with the prospect of losing someone he loved any better than Ianto had been able to then. That parallel is taken up again in CoE where at least for a moment Jack is willing to throw away everything they fought for just to get Ianto back, and maybe it's a good thing that it wasn't his choice to make. And of course trying to protect someone becomes something of a moot point once you've pointed a gun at them and threatened to shoot them yourself.

They've both been hurt in ways Gwen hasn't, and they were both lonely people stuck in a place that actively discouraged outside relationships. Jack left what remained of his family behind in time and space long ago, and Ianto's rocky relationship with his father caused him to withdraw even from his sister. Any friends he might have had in Cardiff he left behind when he joined Torchwood London (or at least are never mentioned in TW canon), and whatever friends he might have made there are very likely dead. There was no one Jack could have sent Ianto home to, to eat lasagna and have a normal live with, even if that was what Jack wanted for him, which I think he might have, at least sometimes. Because Jack, who knew even better than Ianto that their work killed people at a frightening rate, and at some point must have started to suspect that it wasn't just a sense of responsibility and duty that kept Ianto there, but also a more personal attachment, was probably at least occasionally wondering if he was being selfish. But like Ianto remarked in To the Last Man, Jack is also a very lonely man.

Especially in hindsight Jack's 'There's no one,' in Captain Jack Harkness was a fundamental acknowledgement that went far beyond whatever may or may not have been going on between him and Ianto at the time; of a loneliness that no one can ever completely take away, because it will always be waiting at the end of every relationship, forever. But maybe putting it into words like that, confronting his solitude in a situation that was all about making the most of the moment before death strikes, it first occurred to Jack that he could have someone at least for a while, and that it might be worth the try, even knowing there'd be no happy ending for them.

This is a side of Jack's personality that I think Ianto, who needed to understand Jack in order to be able to manipulate him and keep him from looking where he wasn't supposed to look, was more aware of than any of the others, and he probably saw more of Jack's vulnerability and weakness than they did; not the full extent, but enough; enough to notice and do something like take Suzie's corpse off Jack's hands and offer whatever comfort and distraction Jack would accept, or to step in and ask for Owen's gun and security pass when Jack's discomfort with the whole situation became too obvious. And I think Jack, who was neither used to nor very happy with the responsibility he shouldered when he took over Torchwood Cardiff, started to rely on that quite a bit; he certainly appreciated it. On the other hand, if Ianto's conflict with his father was about expectations, if 'he always pushed too hard' wasn't just about swings and broken legs, it's understandable how Ianto would fall for Jack who, whatever else his faults might be, did give him the kind of strong, undemanding support and the absolute confidence in the face of proof and logic he shows in Adam, even after Ianto had lied and fucked up rather spectacularly.

For two people whose relationship not only survived, but in some ways only really started facing each other over a pointed gun, exchanging death threats, there was always a surprising amount of unquestioned trust between them; and even when Ianto (at least to an extent and once again with the best intentions) broke that trust again in End of Days, this apparently wasn't even worth talking about. Whether Ianto's insecurity was due to knowing that he'd kind of blown his second chance, or because he was unsure about the status of their non-relationship, Jack brushed all this aside and just pulled him into a hug and kissed him. And when in CoE Clem shoots Jack, it's Ianto (who a bit later will have no problems telling Jack just how much he disagrees with what he'd done back then) who's cradling Jack's body, fiercely protective, until Jack wakes up, clinging to him. Questions and discussions can wait.


III. 'We better make the most of it then.'




But having to talk about it, actually putting into words what is happening between them, is also where things start to get complicated. For Ianto it might on the whole have been easier if it had been the other way round, men, generally speaking, instead of 'just' someone as impossible as Jack. When it comes to his family the fact that he's in a relationship with a man is clearly a bit of an issue, but (if The Dead Line is anything to go by) in his own mind he's struggling more with Jack's immortality and what it means to them and their relationship, especially since Jack's habit of not-talking gave him a rather skewed perception of what he was actually dealing with ('You've already live a thousand lifetimes'). And even if that aspect is never addressed at all in canon, except maybe in the emotional tangle in Cyberwoman where Ianto was genuinely hurt that Jack didn't care more about him even while he never for a moment stopped defying him for Lisa's sake, I do wonder if the fact that he was not just sleeping with the man who killed his girlfriend (never mind there was no other option left at this point; never mind that after a while he recognised that he'd lost her long before that), but in love with him, might not have continued to trouble him at least for some time, if only on a subconscious level. It can't have been that smooth and clean a transition.

Regardless, during S2 he certainly started to want a more conventional relationship, and I think Gwen's wedding was some sort of pivotal moment: Ianto was the only one among the four of them with an unselfconsciously happy smile on his face when she said her vows, the only one for whom melancholy thoughts and associations of loss weren't in the foreground at this moment, not any longer, just like he clearly didn't consider himself sad and single in Meat; and unlike Owen he had no patience with Jack's complaining about weddings in the middle of nowhere and what it said about people's inner conflicts. Even while he was probably telling himself quite sternly that he wouldn't get and shouldn't expect that level of commitment from Jack, it was enough for him to make a far more public claim on Jack that he ever had before, when only at the beginning of the episode he'd rapidly changed the subject when Owen walked into Jack's office. At the same time I also think the uncertainty expressed talking to his sister—'And I don't even know what it is, really,' which is reminiscent of his overwhelmed, 'You,' in Adam, when Gwen had no problem saying she loved Jack, or 'It's not like that. Me and Jack,' to Owen in A Day in the Death—is genuine. Ianto probably spent a good part of S2 coming to terms with his feeling for Jack, and then with the fact that even if Jack returned these feelings, he'd never have him as completely as he wanted to.

IMO the turning point for Ianto was being forced to leave Jack behind at the end of Day One. The whole scenario is so reminiscent of the escape from the Hub in Cyberwoman (the shut down, the red light, Jack forcing Ianto onto the lift, towards safety, Ianto screaming 'There'll be nothing left of you,' in a tone of voice we haven't often heard from him since then) that I think it's supposed to be a reminder— of the past, of where they started, and of how much has changed since then. They've come full circle; Ianto, who clearly has doubts whether Jack would actually survive this, could have had his revenge there if Jack's death still were what he wanted.

Faced with the real possibility of Jack dying after all, some things probably became clearer in Ianto's mind; between planning and executing Jack's rescue I think he also decided that if he managed to get Jack back, there'd be no more doubts and hesitation, because time was too precious to waste. Ianto's entire behaviour changes after that. In the conversation in the warehouse there is no longer any of the roundabout trying to find out what Jack might think, and no careful, diplomatic agreeing with Jack's relationship issues. This time Ianto has made up his mind and knows what he wants; he commands the conversation from start to finish, and manages to get a straight answer, no lies, no obfuscations, barely any attempts at evasion, to every question, even the crucial one about Jack's immortality that Jack probably tried to avoid the most.

There's also another aspect to it, I think. It's very likely that at first Ianto saw Jack's immortality essentially as a bonus. Finally someone who wouldn't die on him. Of course as he wanted more from the relationship he realised that it also meant that this was someone who would move on to the next person after him, and the next, and the next, literally ad infinitum, and not even remember him after a while, but like Suzie, Owen, Eleanor, or everyone else in Jack's life (except, significantly, Jack's nihilistic dark mirror image, Captain Hart) he still saw that as a gift, something to envy. Seeing Jack come back from a clean gun-shot wound or a supernatural death like in End of Days or Dead Man Walking is one thing, but Jack literally being torn apart by the bomb and watching the body parts taken away from the ruins of the Hub, Jack's screams while he was being suffocated and buried in concrete—I think the physical aspect of that at least drove it home that not being able to die wasn't a picnic, or necessarily something desirable. At the very least something that came with a very steep price.

And this, IMO, is why Ianto needed to know whether Jack felt his death; he still doesn't fully grasp the psychological aspect, that much is obvious from his question 'Do you ever think that one day your luck will run out?' when Jack apparently has made quite an effort over time to get rid of that particular piece of 'luck', most recently in End of Days, if we count the deleted scene where he talks about being kept alive in order to be able to make this sacrifice as canon(ish); Jack's face really says it all. But I think he's finally starting to see this also from Jack's perspective; that for Jack life isn't easier or better or any less complicated because he can come back to life even after being blown to bits. It's just complicated and painful in different ways, and for Jack the prospect of having to watch Ianto die is as hard to face as it is for Ianto that Jack will just go on, and in Ianto's mind that probably levelled the playing field a bit, and made him realise that it might not flatter his ego that Jack would eventually not even remember him, but since that couldn't be changed there was no point forever dwelling on it and ruining whatever time they might have. With Jack shoving him onto the lift, away from the danger he represented, Ianto might also have realised where Jack's hesitation came from, and it wasn't that he didn't care for him. Considering that like his offer in They Keep Killing Suzie Ianto doesn't even phrase it as a question, he seems reasonably certain that he wouldn't get a negative answer any more than he did then.

With Jack things are a bit more difficult, because at least on the surface Jack doesn't come across as someone who harbours a lot of insecurities, but it's worth recalling that Jack wasn't so sure about himself and Ianto's reaction in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang either: 'By the way... Was that a yes?' Even Jack needs to hear it once in a while. And I think it's no coincidence that the conversation in the warehouse echoes very closely the one Jack had with Alice in her kitchen in Day One: 'I just can't stand it, Dad. I look older than you do and it's never gonna stop. I get older and older and you stay the same. One day you're gonna be standing at my funeral, looking just like you did when you were standing at Mum's. No wonder she was so furious. You make us feel old.' And then, talking about Steven: 'But one day, he's gonna realise.' — 'And that's another good reason for you to stay away.' — 'I suppose. I could make the most of it while he's still young.'

And never mind the somewhat twisted situation where wanting to spend time with his family serves as a pretext for the fact that they needed a child to help them figuring out what was happening, which in turn very likely was a welcome excuse to visit, when Alice didn't want him to, which Jack apparently as a rule respected; the feeling is absolutely genuine, the pain is genuine. Jack is already an expert in making the most whatever he can get, except that much too often it's still not enough.

That Jack doesn't lie or derail, but gives Ianto the full truth to base his decision on, I think already shows how serious he is about this. And when Ianto starts 'So one day you'll see me die of old age and just keep going,' I think we're meant to see this as a moment where Jack is bracing himself for the rejection that he already got too often; like Alice's mother ran, like Alice herself couldn't tolerate to have him in her life. I think that at this point he expects Ianto to finally say no, which heavily implies that this expectation at least to an extent also coloured their earlier relationship discussions, all of which can easily be read in a way that Jack is just as unsure about what Ianto wants as the other way round; and Jack's surprise and happiness that Ianto is still willing to try show that he was far from taking anything for granted, even if it's still a bittersweet moment for him, because for Jack there is no question how this will end; only when.

More generally speaking, starting with his apology to Clem ('I'm sorry. I'm really sorry,' which isn't the only time in TW canon Jack says sorry, but, with the exception of Gray, the only time it sounds like a heart-felt, genuine apology rather than a vague, regretful comment about the state of the world and the inevitability of things) and his straightforward confession '1965, I gave them twelve children,' which also is very unlike him, Jack is more... visibly and genuinely uncertain in CoE than we've ever seen him so far. Not counting Exit Wounds, because it's impossible to blame Jack for a tragic consequences caused by the mistake of the scared child he'd been, even if he's blaming himself, I think the first time we actually hear Jack say out loud that he'd maybe have done something different is in Golden Age to Eleanor. Is it in Asylum, with the messenger future Torchwood sent him, that he's really starting to question if he's doing the right thing, even if he is still very reluctant to concede that Gwen and Ianto might have a point? But faced with the disastrous consequences of their actions in 1965 I think Jack is starting to genuinely doubt himself and his past decisions on a very fundamental level, and that is part of the reason why he breaks down so completely after Ianto's death. The cracks are already starting to show at beginning of Day Four. When Gwen runs after Clem, Jack walks over to Ianto for... support? reassurance? and his 'They didn't speak through kids back then. I didn't recognise the signs at first,' to Ianto's 'Can't believe you didn't mention this before,' is already full of weariness and regret and guilt and probably not even deliberately misunderstanding. Ianto's quite final 'That's not what I meant,'—Jack looks a bit like the floor has suddenly disappeared from under his feet, and I think that's the second time he thinks he might be losing Ianto.

The 'We had no choice,' Gwen gets is again more typically Jack, the defences mostly in place again, but when Ianto brings it up again, Jack's 'So, tell me, what should I have done?' is at least to an extent a honest question, even if there's also defensiveness and hurt, and Jack thinking that Ianto has never actually been in such a position or had to make such a decision, which of course is true; although probably not a question Jack expects getting an answer to, much less such a certain one. But knowing Ianto it shouldn't have come as a surprise. In Exit Wounds Ianto tells Captain Hart that 'there's always a choice,' and clearly he isn't prepared to take that excuse from Jack any more than he was then.

From Jack's side of course things are once again a bit more complicated. Not that what he'd done was right, or even justifiable, which in fact is the whole point of the story. But for all the things he and Ianto do have in common, Jack is still Jack, and he hasn't been twenty-six in a very long time; or, strictly speaking, human. His immortality isn't just the handy ability to bounce back from death, it's something that at this point has profoundly influenced his whole personality and outlook. 'I know, I was there.' 'It was like walking into hell. Believe me. I was there.' Having lived through the slaughterhouse that was the first half of the 20th century one can, sort of, see how he'd arrive at a state of mind where 'just' twelve sounds like a good deal, even if he lost any hopes or illusions that something not deadly might happen to these children long ago: 'Maybe the gods were kind. Maybe they are in paradise.' — 'No such thing.' The main difference between Jack and the Doctor is that whereas for the Doctor life is a choice with every regeneration, this choice has been taken from Jack seemingly forever. In the middle of the Second World War Albert Camus wrote that there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. But what if that option is denied to you? Like Jack says in Out of Time: 'It's just bearable. It has to be.' No longer having any power over something as fundamental as this, as well as too much experience with the darker side of humanity I think also influenced Jack's inclination towards fatalism in a lot of other respects.

It's not the same situation as in Adrift—the other episode where we see Jack shift from brusque and aggressive to defensive and apologetic in a somewhat similar way—, because in CoE things need to be fixed and in the end can, although at a to Jack horrific cost, and not before once again demonstrating that sometimes there is no good answer and it's easier to say (especially in hindsight) what one shouldn't have done than what one should have done. Jack's cold, pragmatic weighing of lives was morally wrong and didn't even bring the desired result; Ianto wins this argument, but his idealism and heroism also lead to a disastrous outcome. This choice, too, comes with a price.


II. 'Speak to me, Jack.'




It's the fact that they're actually having arguments of a sort that is the most marked change from S1 and 2, where, if anything, there was a very careful avoidance of every real disagreement after the huge explosion of emotions in Cyberwoman. Ianto didn't always agree with Jack's Torchwood related decisions, but this never went beyond half-mocking, ironic remarks, except in End of Days, or giving Gwen the GPS in Adrift, where he nevertheless somehow managed to maintain a carefully neutral position, on the surface barely even acknowledging the dispute between Jack and Gwen, even while he was having steamy greenhouse sex with him and was agreeing with and helping her. But if there was any clash about this we never saw it, and Jack didn't seem to be either surprised or angry finding out what Ianto had done, and that lack of reaction or conflict is all the more remarkable since it's not only Jack and Gwen who are fighting in this episode, but also Gwen and Rhys. Ianto certainly never pushed Jack so far out of his comfort zone over personal issues as in CoE; or himself, either. But the silent understanding that had been built over the last two (or so) years still holds; a kind of solid foundation that never seems to be in danger of being really shaken. They aren't just a smoothly functioning team, in a lot of ways they are a couple (something that not only Gwen notices, but random people like Ianto's sister's friend), even if they've only started to discuss the terms of their relationship.

Maybe it was mostly about sex in the beginning; at any point after Cyberwoman, with all that baggage, I don't think it was anything as easy or simple as 'just' that; but it was a language they could talk in, when every conversation threatened to open a Pandora's box of memories that neither of them wanted to confront or, probably more to the point, thought he could confront without destroying their fragile relationship. Even Gwen hardly ever manages to talk to Jack about anything that touches him personally without him either completely blocking her or evading the question, however much or in whatever platonic or not-quite-platonic way he loves her, and their relationship isn't fraught with as many issues as Jack and Ianto's in S1. Lies, betrayal, dead girlfriend, grief, pain, guilt, Jack's secrets... Don't touch it, don't break it, don't talk about it, don't even think to hard about it. 'What have you got?' — 'Funny sort of weather patterns.' Silent glares over a picnic table. A shared moment over a weevil's capacity to feel pain.

In S2 the only questions Ianto asks are the to him really significant ones—'Will you go back to him,' which is essentially trying to find out where he stands in all this and what he means to Jack, and it's interesting how Jack manages to at once avoid the literal question (which, judging from what he says in The Dead Line Ianto did notice and remember) and answer the unspoken one; and again in To the Last Man: 'Would you go back to [your time]. If you could,' a roundabout way of asking whether Jack actually wants to be with him, or if he's just convenient, and Jack makes sure that Ianto understands that he is important, although the fact that Jack doesn't really belong in this, or any time, never stopped troubling Ianto, judging from his stricken look when Christina mentioned it in From out of the Rain. And maybe Ianto was content to leave it at that for a while, trying to make sense of his own emotions, especially since The Dead Line also established how much more difficult talking about his feelings and this thing they were having—even to a comatose Jack—still was for him, compared to simply (or not so simply, at that) sleeping with Jack; the part of their relationship that Ianto is not very comfortable, but at least willing to discuss with Martha.

But maybe saying it out loud once made a difference, bcause in CoE Ianto has clearly reached a point where sex, snark, weevil-hunting and the pretence of emotional stoicism wasn't enough any more. What GDL said in this interview about Ianto's irony masking his insecurities and emotions and him finally becoming 'more confident, more courageous, more open with his feelings'—that's more or less how I saw it, because there always were hints enough that Ianto's calm only went so far, and that there was a lot more going on beneath. In CoE their relationship becomes much more up close and personal, more real, without the careful distance of the first two seasons, even if that also meant that things became occasionally a bit messy, awkward and full of misunderstandings, when some of the things that had never been addressed before were finally brought into the open.


I. 'No. You pretend that's all there is.'




But in the end all the scenes they have together in CoE show a struggle towards honesty and openness, which isn't entirely insignificant, considering that neither of them had such a great track record with that. Not that there wasn't always a core of truth to their relationship, right from the beginning: Laughing in each other's arms; the flare of attraction that at least for a moment effectively shocked Ianto into forgetting his plans, and made Jack decide to hire him after all. The fact that Jack continued to be someone who could make Ianto laugh. Jack's rage as Ianto threw every appeal to reason or even the most basic claim to loyalty into Jack's face over and over again, and Ianto's rock-solid belief that Jack could save Lisa, if only he would, even then. But Ianto also went through three different personas trying to get himself hired, and then managed to pull off the deception for months without anyone suspecting anything. Even desperate and determined that doesn't only take skill, but also at least a bit of inclination and practice. On the other hand Jack, who accused Ianto of hiding himself from them, was at this point hiding his immortality, his pre-Torchwood past, his Torchwood past and was even hiding from himself and his memories (Adam). His name is not even his own name. Jack continued to lie, even if his lies were mostly lies of omission or the outright refusal to discuss anything, about his time in Torchwood until CoE, and his reasons weren't as glamorous as everyone thought in Day One; quite the opposite. Ianto lied about his family and the painful relationship with his father at least until Something Borrowed, although at some point later he'd probably started to trust Jack and himself enough to tell the truth, because other than Gwen Jack does know about Ianto's family in CoE.

On a different level Greeks Bearing Gifts showed how much pain Ianto was still hiding beneath his mask of irony and polite efficiency, and the contrast between his outward behaviour and his actual feelings is a lot more pronounced than with either Owen or Gwen, who are mostly concerned with hiding their affair: 'The pain's so constant, like my stomach's full of rats. Feels like this is all I am now. There isn't an inch of me that doesn't hurt. I'm about to brew some of Jack's industrial-strength coffee. Would you like a cup?', and it's highly doubtful that all that pain suddenly disappeared between this episode and the next, where Ianto proposed sex with almost the same cheerful matter-of-factness as he asked Tosh if she wanted a cup of coffee. Toshiko couldn't read Jack's thoughts, but Out of Time revealed the amount of despair that Jack somehow managed to accommodate underneath or alongside his charming, self-assured self.

Gwen's character was developed in a very linear way over the three seasons, and neither Tosh nor Owen's arcs contained any big surprises, even in Fragments. It's Jack's story that is full of revelations throwing a different light on his character and connecting the various aspects—and, to a lesser extent, Ianto's. Their whole relationship is (intentionally or not) not so much developed on screen, but written as a series of moments that made one look at what happened before and readjust one's perception; from Cyberwoman to They Keep Killing Suzie to the kiss in End of Days and Ianto's story in Fragments. Even, to an extent, Jack's grief over Ianto's death, because if that was a sort of 'I love you' in To the Last Man, it was a very general and rather oblique one, and Jack's feeling were never made entirely clear before.

In this respect it's interesting how the scene in the hospital at the beginning of CoE blurs the lines between lies and truth. Because it's not just the story about the alleged neighbour that is an act put on for Dr. Patanjali, but also the way they're playing a couple, although this only becomes obvious with Ianto's pleased, but surprised 'He thought we were together, like a couple,' and Jack's 'Well, we are. Does it matter?', and again Ianto's 'Don't know. It's all a bit new to me, that's all,' revealing that things maybe aren't quite as simple and settled yet as they looked a minute ago. Two people who are effectively together choosing to play the couple they aren't so sure they really are - that's a bit twisted, and also very them. But it's worth noting that for all Jack's hesitancy over what to call it, from the way the scene was shot it clearly was his hand on Ianto's shoulder that in Dr. Patanjali's eyes confirmed that they actually were together, and I still think that was Jack checking out if the potential new guy would have an issue with that. And 'Well, we are. Does it matter?' is hardly a dismissal or denial, in fact it's a bit reminiscent of Jack's 'Why, would you miss me?'; seemingly somewhere between flippant and a slight brush-off, but also containing a genuine question, whether 'Does it matter?' refers to them being a couple, or being perceived as one, and Ianto possibly having problems with either of that.

That Jack hates the word—not that he's exactly denying they are that, even then—, is very likely true, but IMO has little to do with his omnisexual 51st century ways and a lot with the fact that the concept has at this point has become so painful for him that he's unwilling to even discuss it. Something he can never really have; people dying, people leaving because they can't deal, leaving people he loves before he has to face that. And pain for people who love him, and Jack isn't enough of en egoist not to notice that when his own daughter can't stand to have any kind of relationship with him. Not that he doesn't still want it; I think this is very obvious when Jack finds out about Gwen's pregnancy, and even in the face of all the complication that this might lead to, for one brief moment dares to be happy and tentatively hope against all hopes (and a lot of experience) that this unorthodox family he found himself will actually work out this time: 'Ianto! We're having a baby.'

But of course only a few days later all these hopes fall apart, and what remains isn't enough to even keep Jack on the planet, and maybe this is a good point to stop being wordy and analytical and emotionally detached for a moment, because that was just cruel. All that, everything they went through, for nothing, although at least for Ianto even in the face of death it had been worth it, the two of them, Jack's faults notwithstanding, and the only thing he wants to hear is that it'd been good for Jack too, and that he won't be forgotten.


VIII. 'Don't forget me.' — 'Never could.'




And for Jack? This of course is where the speculation starts and there's every chance that the next season—if it ever happens—will prove me wrong, but I think Ianto did make a difference. Not giving up, not leaving, forcing Jack to confront and be honest with himself, and never stopping to believe in Jack's potential for being a hero, even knowing his dark sides.

IMO the end of CoE is a major turning point for Jack. He'd been living in a sort of suspended in-between state for more than a century, ever since he started to work for Torchwood—waiting for the Doctor to come and either fix him or at least explain his existence to him. ('What are you?' — 'I don't know.') Meanwhile taking orders from Torchwood, even if he didn't particularly like them, but that was the price for using them for his own purpose, trying to find the Doctor. After Alex dumped the Cardiff branch on him, the momentum still carried him forward, and Alex begging him to turn the place into something good and useful would have struck a chord, but in the end it still wasn't much of a decision, and he was still waiting. He stayed where he'd been for the last century, and more or less kept doing what he'd done all that time, even if it now was his responsibility, especially after Canary Wharf, and he tried to do it better. When he learned that he was well and truly stuck with being immortal, he chose to turn his back on all the insanity he'd seen in Last of the Time Lords, heading back towards what in comparison must have felt safe and familiar, the only home and family he'd know for a long time; still carrying on. Determined to go on at the end of Exit Wounds, even if I think the question of how long he'd be able to do this, hiring people and watching then get killed, was there even then, unspoken. In Lost Souls he tells Martha he has to stay strong for Gwen and Ianto and take care of them.

In CoE everything falls away, bit by bit, until there isn't enough left any more, and Gwen might love Jack, but she has Rhys, and the baby, and doesn't need him like that, and in the end isn't enough of a reason to stay. But I think that even while Jack is running away from all the pain now, it's also the first time in a very long while that he stopped to consider himself, who he is, what he really is capable of doing, and the fact that he'll have to find a way to reconcile himself with his life and his decisions, because ultimately there is no running away from that. And maybe after so long it is time for a change. Maybe reinventing himself, finding a new life, even if it should eventually lead him back to Earth, isn't such a bad thing; after all he's done it before. In the last scene, saying good-bye to Gwen, there are glimpses of the old Jack, but after a moment the look always slides off his face again, like a mask that doesn't quite fit him any longer.

I think it was at DragonCon that GDL said that Ianto taught Jack about love. Now I don't think that's true in the sense that Jack hasn't loved anyone before; watching Jack sitting in Alice's kitchen, telling her that he'd be there every day if only she wanted him to, there's a long history there. Or his grief when Estelle died, more than sixty years after he left her behind. But like Jack has for the most part perfected the art of shutting off his emotions when it comes to moral dilemmas that require him to make a decision that will endanger or cost someone's life, he had, I think, also resigned himself to the fact that there were some things it was useless and too painful to even wish for, because they forever slipped out of his reach when Rose brought him back from the dead; even to the point where it's become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ianto left Jack with a choice—either to give up on love completely, because dealing with loss after loss after loss is too hard, or to realise that he can still have that, at least for a time, if it's the right person, and if he doesn't push them away from the start, completely screw it up otherwise, or wait until it's too late. That he can have that kind of acceptance, someone seeing his faults and still being able to trust him to do the right thing and love him. That these times, too, count, and not just the pain and loss, and that even if he'll always have to see them die in the end, this, at least, is something he has a choice in.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
eumelia
Nov. 7th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
*twiddles thumbs*

*Hems and haws*

*sighs*

Have you read amand_r's stroy We held gold dust in our hands?
I think you'll really like it.

Yes, my reaction to that whole long, epic and in depth overview and analysis to Jack and Ianto's relationship is with fic.
I'm so far gone.
solitary_summer
Nov. 7th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
As long as the reaction isn't defriending... ;)


*bookmarks* Thanks for the rec!
tikimama
Nov. 14th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Thanks eumelia!
For recommending that fic. I never would have read on my own (I'm not keen on poly fics, despite (or maybe because of) having been in one myself) and it was lovely.
eumelia
Nov. 14th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
I really think that fic is going to be a fandom classic, it's just too good, too epic and too all-encompassing not to.

One of the things I love about fic is how it exposed and exposes me to different possibilities that original fiction often skips or just doesn't get into in depth.

So, yay! I hope you told the author how much you liked it :)
elisi
Nov. 7th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
This... is AMAZING.

It's late, and I'm half-asleep, but this just totally blew me away. I'll come back at some point with some longer thoughts (hopefully), but just for now I'm trying to remember GDL's comment... I think it was that Ianto gave Jack unconditional love, which is something very rare, and that Jack left for the stars to try to see if he could find love again. It was along those lines anyway.

Thank you so much for writing this - it's like everything I ever wanted to say, but never got round to.
solitary_summer
Nov. 7th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
*blush* I'm glad you liked it, I was really unsure by the end! :)

I think I got that from someone's transcript, and I *seem* to remember the 'unconditional love' was said somewhere else... *scratches head*


What I always find surprising is that even the actors seem to do so much guessing about what's happening with & between their characters. Is there any official consensus at all? Or do they just throw the scripts at them?
elisi
Nov. 8th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
I *seem* to remember the 'unconditional love' was said somewhere else...
You know, it might have been RTD who said it. Which makes it even better. *g*
I found it!!!! From GDL's panel at Dragon*Con:

q: "I have another dark question for you"
a: "she's dark this bitch"
q: "do you think Jack can continue to be heroic without Ianto there to be that balancing influence.
a: "No."
q: "What influence do you think Ianto's had on him?"
a: "I think Ianto taught him about love."
audience: awwwwwwwwwwwww
a: "Ianto's death took him to a place where he head nothing left and without that love in his life he's cold enough to do what he needs to do. He's gone off into space to see if he can find the ability to love again."
q: "I'm really glad you say that, I think Ianto was all about unconditional love and you rarely see that on TV."
a: "I agree"


What I always find surprising is that even the actors seem to do so much guessing about what's happening with & between their characters.
I think that might be why I love it - the more convoluted, the better IMO!

Edited at 2009-11-08 06:01 pm (UTC)
solitary_summer
Nov. 9th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you. I knew I read it somewhere, but couldn't quite remember where...
neifile7
Nov. 9th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I can't comment right now at the length it deserves, but I have to say that this is one of the best and most nuanced readings of the relationship arc I've seen. I think you've done what needs to be done (and could only be done at some length): look not just at the relationship dynamics, but the entire context of Torchwood in their lives. I also agree with your integration of the all the radio plays, not just Dead Line.

And may I friend you? This is a discussion I'd like to continue at some point...
solitary_summer
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
Of course you may! And thank you for your comment! :)

I never intended for it to be this long, but after rewatching CoE I decided to also rewatch S1 & 2, just to make sure that what at the time was a much shorter draft wouldn't be contradicted by canon, and then... well, it just sort of happened.
kel_reiley
Nov. 9th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
i love your meta
everything, absolutely everything! i love that way you make your position clear and back it up with specific lines and scenes from the show

but 2 points:

IMO the memories Adam gave Ianto didn't so much hint at an inner darkness or hidden serial killer potential, but drew upon his fear to cause the deaths of even more innocent people, especially those whose lives he'd already endangered once - !!! this was SO my thought then, too! exactly! i even used it in fic!

and the turning point for Ianto was being forced to leave Jack behind at the end of Day One. The whole scenario is so reminiscent of the escape from the Hub in Cyberwoman (the shut down, the red light, Jack forcing Ianto onto the lift, towards safety, Ianto screaming 'There'll be nothing left of you,' in a tone of voice we haven't often heard from him since then) that I think it's supposed to be a reminder— of the past, of where they started, and of how much has changed since then - THIS TOO!! i have a vid in the works that uses this specifically!

oh, good stuff, yo!
solitary_summer
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: i love your meta
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! :)

this was SO my thought then, too! exactly! i even used it in fic!
Could you give me a link?
kel_reiley
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: i love your meta
well it was a small part of the EPIC but specifically in this part that deals with the aftermath of 'Adam' (about half way down the page - Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort...)

that concept was in the back of my mind for ianto and the events in 'adam' but since he can't actually remember what happened there, i had to throwback to the events after 'cyberwoman' to get the point across - namely, the guilt he felt afterward - i hope that makes sense and that it came across in the fic
womance
Nov. 10th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
This is brilliant.

It also might have made me cry a little.
solitary_summer
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)

I was feeling rather more emotional writing this than I usually do, so I'm happy that sort of... spilled over, in a way.
alba17
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for this very thorough and cogent analysis. I'd had vague thoughts along some of these lines, but hadn't thought about it in such a clear, analytical fashion. The idea that Jack was afraid of losing Ianto (relationship-wise) in COE hadn't really occurred to me, but that makes a lot of sense. Also, that Ianto taught him some things about love - wow (I saw that quote from GDL before, but didn't really think about it. Your analysis showed me what that could really mean.) After reading this, I just want to smush them both in a big hug. Fascinating! Honestly, you've rekindled some of my interest in these guys.
solitary_summer
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting! :)

I didn't sit down and started to write with all of this already clear in my head, though; the general idea was there, but some things really only clicked and came together rewatching S1 and 2, especially Ianto's characterisation and arc; and the last 'chapter' kind of caught even me by surprise, but in the end it was the only logical conclusion...


Honestly, you've rekindled some of my interest in these guys.

*beams*
adjovi
Nov. 10th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
wow...this was a wonderful summary. i really liked your take on the evolution of their relationship.

And 'Well, we are. Does it matter?' is hardly a dismissal or denial, in fact it's a bit reminiscent of Jack's 'Why, would you miss me?'; seemingly somewhere between flippant and a slight brush-off, but also containing a genuine question, whether 'Does it matter?' refers to them being a couple, or being perceived as one, and Ianto possibly having problems with either of that.

this is exactly how i read this scene. the parts of coe you explore here are the bits of coe that i actually liked. you put nice positive thinky spins on jack and ianto's moments together, and i rather enjoyed reading this. thanks!
solitary_summer
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad you liked it!

you put nice positive thinky spins on jack and ianto's moments together, and i rather enjoyed reading this. thanks!

I was actually a bit surprised that quite a few people saw their relationship as something so negative after CoE; which I'll admit was part of the motivation for writing this post...
thewatch
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
Very insightful and thoughtful deconstruction here, and I think I agree with pretty much everything you've stated.

I haven't been able to bring myself to watch CoE a second time yet, but I haven't wanted to indulge in fix it fantasies either because of the importance of what did happen, for all the characters.

I hope there will be another season and I'm very interested to see just what they do with the characters. There has been such a profound shift in the foundation of what the series is about and how the people have changed that in itself is something interesting to discover.

Thanks for writing your thoughts on this, it has been well worth the read!
solitary_summer
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, thank you for your comment! :)

It took a while before I managed to rewatch CoE, mostly because I didn't want to put myself through that emotional rollercoaster again, but also partly because I was afraid it wouldn't stand the test of rewatching, but in the end I knew I couldn't write about CoE without that, and I didn't regret it. Of course the emotional impact wasn't quite the same the second or third time, but OTOH I saw things I missed or simply didn't have time to notice the first time...

I'm still hoping for a fourth season, too; I'm absolutely pathetic when it comes to wanting to know How The Story Goes On.
teaboyfan
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Your analysis is amazingly detailed and well thought out. I can't think of a single point to disagree with, and I share your view of their increasingly close relationship in CoE. At least the promotional material told the truth about that, even if most of us certainly weren't happy about how it ended. I'm putting this into memories, because it merits more thought.

I still have trouble with some inconsistencies in Ianto's behavior between S2 and CoE; in some ways he seemed less sure of himself in CoE, in terms of wanting to label their relationship, while he had been more assertive in S2. But maybe that apparent self-confidence had just been part of the facade, because if there is anything we can be sure of, it's that he could present exactly the image he wanted people to see. That's why, after the initial shock, I thought, "OF COURSE he lied about his father's occupation. It was all part of that carefully constructed persona." So maybe what looked like clinginess in CoE was actually a progression in trusting Jack with his uncertainties, instead of a regression. I still find it hard to believe that he would have walked into that room unprotected, though.

I just wonder what is left for Jack now. He kept going after the Master, and after Gray buried him for 2000 years, but Ianto and Stephen have broken him very badly. Even his resilience has to have limits; unless this hypothetical fourth season goes back in time, perhaps to Victorian Torchwood, or into the future well past Gwen's lifespan, I'm just not going to buy it.
solitary_summer
Nov. 12th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)

I still have trouble with some inconsistencies in Ianto's behavior between S2 and CoE; in some ways he seemed less sure of himself in CoE, in terms of wanting to label their relationship, while he had been more assertive in S2.

I think Ianto had a pretty good grasp of Jack's character, and he knew in S1 and 2 he was never really asking for anything that Jack wasn't willing to give, or pushing beyond what Jack was comfortable with.

CoE was a whole different cup of tea, because Ianto was very aware that now he was touching something where he couldn't be sure what triggers he'd push, or how Jack would react, asking for some kind of more formal commitment, expecting Jack to actually behave like someone in a relationship, to open up a bit.


I'd have a bigger problem with them walking in there unprotected if they'd been more in the habit of taking precautions before, but rewatching S1 and 2 I actually thought it was a miracle that no one got killed before they actually did; in fact Ianto would have died in Meat if the guy who tried to shoot him hadn't already emptied his gun, but who needs bullet-proof vests... They didn't think of stealing gas masks along with laptops etc., what with everything else they didn't think to ask for them once they walked into Thames House, and of course they'd seen the recordings where no one was wearing any... *shrug* in absolute terms it was stupid, but IMO not OOC so...
abby_juniper
Nov. 15th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a really good meta! I love these sorts of thinky-stuffs. :-)

Thankyou so much for this! It really put all of what I wanted to say but couldn't say into words -- definitely adding to my bookmarks and sending out to all my friends to read! (^_^)

Is it just me, or do you sometimes get the feeling that fans put more thought into the show than the people making it do?
solitary_summer
Nov. 15th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome, thank you for commenting! :)


Is it just me, or do you sometimes get the feeling that fans put more thought into the show than the people making it do?

Difficult question. I think the main difference is that while we're analysing the finished product, the creators have a whole different set of balls to juggle; not only creative issues, but also also financial considerations, ratings, all kinds of audiences, deadlines, etc. After having read RTD's book I can say one thing for certain—I wouldn't be able to write a line under this kind of pressure.
rm
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)
Thank you. Just... thank you. I can't tell you how much I generally feel like I'm living on another planet with this thing, and it is very much a narrative I'm still living with in an active way.
solitary_summer
Nov. 18th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome, although there's nothing to thank me for, really. I enjoyed how things came together in my head during the process of rewatching and writing this, and it makes me very happy when someone else gets something out of it, too. :)
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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