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This is just a snippet of... speculation, really, not even meta, that isn't going to fit anywhere else (that would be the 'anywhere else', I'm not sure I'll ever manage to actually write...) about MD:End of the Road, which at the first viewing struck me as anti-climatic and somewhat non-sequitur-ish after the brilliant Immortal Sins. However, on rewatching I started to think about some of the (potential) implications of the episode.

(And while I'm at it, it really is a shame that Angelo wasn't used beyond that one episode. The character is such a lucky combination of script and actor, he comes alive within fifteen minutes in ways the new main characters never really manage to over the entire run of the show. If there ever should be a novel featuring him, I'd almost be tempted to break my rule about tie-in media. Well, almost.)


What is an indisputable fact is that at one point Angelo had a change of mind. He saw the miracle coming, decided he didn't want to end up another Tithonos (referenced in ep. 2, presumably intentionally), and rather elaborately arranged his death, using the panels salvaged from the ruins of the Hub and making his granddaughter get Jack to him one final time. And maybe this was all that was about. But when Jack's mentions Ianto ('Did you see him? Did you see Ianto? You‘d have liked him. Or maybe not. You‘d have been jealous.'), that got me thinking. I wonder if the real question isn't so much whether Angelo knew about Ianto, but how much exactly he knew, and if it really was just old age and a failing body that triggered his decision to assure his death at a point when eternal life was finally becoming a real possibility. If Angelo — or maybe more likely his people — didn't go through the debris at random, but were looking for the panels specifically, his knowledge of Torchwood must have been quite detailed and extensive. Even if the aim was only to pick up suspicious looking/potentially useful artefacts, he must have been monitoring events quite closely to get there before anyone else. That he knew about Ianto I think can be taken as given. He'd also have known at least about the general circumstances of Ianto's death, as well as about Jack's disappearance after CoE.

Now Angelo's granddaughter said Angelo was ashamed of having grown old, and therefore never contacted Jack. And it makes sense. If he followed Jack as closely as he seemed to have, he would have known not only about Ianto, although recent technological developments would certainly have made stalking easier, but also Estelle, Alice's mother, others, while he himself grew older and older. Angelo actually saw, if only in glimpses and snapshots, what Ianto only feared for the future. He'd been left behind and replaced again and again; he must have known he'd lost Jack a long time ago. And then, at this time of his life, his health and body failing, his dream of immortality, or at least the immortality he wanted, and what he wanted it for, also failed, to see Ianto, at twenty-six, a whole human lifetime younger than he, sacrifice his life without regard for himself to help Jack try save the world... That must have left a bitter taste.

Having 'devoted the rest of his life to finding out how to live forever', employing every means possible to prolong his life, and with such pitiful results, must suddenly have seemed very pointless. Even if Angelo would have been unaware of the exact circumstances of Ianto's death, he himself had once made a similar choice, rejecting safety and not allowing Jack to exclude him from his life, and, if only that one time, had also saved the world with Jack. Regardless of what his life had been since then, imprisoned in an aged, dying body, Ianto's end might, at least through the nostalgic haze of romantic memories, suddenly have seemed the better, braver ending.

Certainly the implicit message of the episode is that immortality itself isn't all that special — Angelo's granddaughter is very much aware of this, telling Jack effectively that if it were just about immortality he might just as well be a jellyfish, or a cancer cell. It's what you do with your life that matters, whether you can make it count. And maybe that is the conclusion that Angelo eventually reached, that he could have done better than to pick, from among all the things Jack brought into his life, the dream of immortality, and cling to that, choosing safety in every other respect. It's also significant that in this episode the person who is, quite literally, running from death once he finds out about the existence of category zero, the one who has been building his personal mythology around the fact that he survived for a while already, is Oswald Danes, for whom immortality, like death, is linked to power. Angelo, who I think it's safe to assume wanted immortality because of love, realised his error in the end. Even Esther, who in ep. 7 for a moment is trying to see the bright side of the miracle, is quickly convinced otherwise during the conversation with her sister, and becomes even more determined to end it. Rather than just a fanservicey throw-away line, in the context of the episode Jack mentioning Ianto could also be seen as a tribute not just to Ianto, but also to Tosh and Owen.

And here's another thing, although this is really very speculative: the panels. Jack himself doesn't really know why Angelo used them as he did, or what kind of a message he was trying to send Jack — which he certainly did, because if he only wanted to die, he could have killed himself quietly at any point before Miracle Day. ('Maybe that was revenge, or maybe giving me a clue.') I wonder if that is all, though. If Angelo knew enough to use the panels, he, like Jack, might also have been aware of the danger they posed. Angelo's reasons for taking them might have been partly or primarily personal, but there's also the element of... as Jack describes it, saving a timeline that might otherwise been lost ('This thing would be the end of us. This timeline would be terminal.'), which echoes Jack and Angelo saving the future back in 1927. So, yes, maybe revenge in the sense of getting Jack there, of effectively getting Jack to kill him, and maybe forcing him to grieve over him at least a little bit, to feel a little bit guilty. Maybe a suitable, if belated, reply to Jack's at least equally dramatic good-bye on the roof. Maybe, like Ianto, he wanted to be remembered. But maybe he also wanted, even from beyond the grave, to save the world together with Jack one last time. Angelo, who wanted to be faster than everyone. And he was, in the end.

And there is one last thing: It took the kiss to trigger the panels and kill Angelo, Jack's mere presence or a touch wasn't enough, which seems rather risky based on nothing but speculation. Not that it would make it that much less of a gamble, but it makes me wonder about the recordings from Thames House, and whether Angelo ever saw them. Was it that which decided him that since he'd never get Jack back, he'd wanted to get at least as much, or as little, in the end?


(What I also wondered about is whether Jack had any regrets about Angelo, and how he left him behind. He certainly seems to be a little more forgiving in TW S1&2 when it comes to betrayal rooted in human weakness and panic in the face of the incomprehensible. Then again, of course Owen shot him only once...)

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
topaz_eyes
May. 6th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. I think Angelo's betrayal of Jack plays a huge role as well. Angelo was the Judas figure in "Immortal Sins"; maybe his shame was because he knew his betrayal had set the Blessing in motion, and his longevity was thus about redemption, about setting things right. (It's significant Angelo was shunned by the Families, too. Angelo knew all about Torchwood, and he also knew all about the Families' plans for Jack's blood.) To me that makes more sense than the simple vanity his granddaughter describes: Angelo would have seen Jack with Estelle, Alice's mother, and his other partners who aged over the years. Angelo would have learned too, how much true immortality sucked over the years.

As I see it, a big part of Angelo's conflict was reconciling his love for Jack with his religion. His religious belief played a huge part of his betrayal, so I'd think his belief would also lead him to try to live long enough to redeem himself. In that light, Jack kissing Angelo might have been seen as forgiveness. We'll never know Angelo's true motives because most of his story after "Immortal Sins" happens off-screen.

(The more I think of it, the more I believe Miracle Day's premise stems directly from the Resurrection Glove episodes. The Glove would have made more sense as the plot device than Jack's blood, but whatever.)
solitary_summer
May. 6th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
We'll never know Angelo's true motives because most of his story after "Immortal Sins" happens off-screen.

That's what really bothers me about this episode, that basically everything about Angelo's life after 1927, his motives for what he does, is completely left to speculation. I've listened to the DVD commentaries, which are mostly useless, but at one point Julie Gardner mentions that MD was originally conceived as a 13 episode story. Maybe Angelo's story would have given at least a bit more space there?

In any case, eighty years is a long time, a lot of things may have changed between then and now. Maybe Angelo lost his faith over the whole business with Jack? Certainly Jack's immortality would be hard to reconcile with Catholic dogma. What is noticeable and to me seems deliberate considering the heavy religious symbolism of ep.7 is that there are no religious symbols at all in Angelo's room, or anywhere in the house, as far as I could make out; no crucifixes, madonnas, saints, not even religious paintings; only all those pictures of Jack. But of course he might have transferred a religiously-tinged guilt to Jack. Or maybe he tried to replace the eternal life of the soul he'd believed he'd lost with the quest for an eternal life of the body? Impossible to tell. What struck me about Angelo's character was the fascinating mixture between religious conservatism and love for everything new, like he thought Jack's wrist strap was black magic one moment and wanted to know how it worked the next, and I wonder which part won out in the end. I think he might have held on for a long time to the possibility that one day he might discover not just the secret of eternal life, but also manage to reverse his age, and eventually get back to Jack. After meeting Jack a lot of things must have suddenly seemed possible. But again that's pure speculation...

The more I think of it, the more I believe Miracle Day's premise stems directly from the Resurrection Glove episodes.

I agree. The theme was always there, right from the beginning.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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