Torchwood, mostly

My Torchwood love is growing with every episode, it seems. After a slightly weak start, I’ve really been enjoying the character development all round in S2.

So we find out Jack’s Big Issue, and it’s about time. Somehow it completely caught me out to see him in anything as ordinary as a nuclear family. I guess I’d assumed people would’ve come up with some other way to organise themselves by C51.

A slightly bigger budget would’ve helped with the Bo Peninsula. It appeared to be just round the corner from Bad Wolf Bay, and probably was. I tend to spot movie refs everywhere – apart from it looking like Luke Skywalker’s planet, I spotted Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the moment in Empire of the Sun where the young boy loses his parents in a chaotic crowd – and doesn’t see them again for five years.

It’s nice to see Jack have more to work with. I liked his bonding scene with the team very much. He’s very much their father figure, isn’t he? Loves them, quite openly, with all their hang-ups, just as they are. I got the feeling he’d never forgiven himself for failing his family –  just when he lost his dad and he felt it was his job to fill those shoes, his confidence was shattered by his failure to protect his little brother. I do hope we’re going to get more of that arc. Things didn’t seem resolved by the end by any means.

Isn’t it interesting that for all the talk of shagging, we’ve never seen Jack do more than kiss anybody? It’s a tricky balancing act – if he’s too sexual, his position as father figure to the team feels compromised. And yet you get the feeling with Jack generally that the really significant step in any relationship is the one into intimacy, not the one into sex, which merely reflects the first.

I see more and more parallels between him and the Doctor. Both are out of their time. Both carry guilt because they failed in a situation they should never have been put into in the first place. Both repress their memories, and it gives them problems in relationships. Both try to appear emotionally detached but are clearly very loving people, and perhaps a little embarrassed by that love. Both have done many things they’d rather not talk about. Both are looking for family-type relationships, generally within the little groups of people they work among.

Fic tends to represent the Doctor as the screwed-up one who can’t share, but is that entirely accurate? I’m getting more and more bothered by his pathological inability to share his past with even very close friends and colleagues. I mean why, in all honesty, can’t he tell the team something about the Year That Never Was? Maybe not all the gory details, but they aren’t just pen-pushers who don’t believe in aliens, they work with the seemingly impossible on a daily basis. When is someone going to sit down in the undercity and refuse to budge until Jack opens up?

Until he does that, or at least takes the first steps towards it, his team-building is going to be one-sided, and there’ll be at least the suggestion that he’s hiding behind the role of leader, which leaves him increasingly isolated and needy when those relationships are all he has.

Martha – God I loved her to bits in this. Made most of her performance in DW S3 look like she’d been hobbling around in shoes that didn’t fit her. That unrequited love thing was so very wrong for her. I’m getting a bit worried that they’re going the same route with Tosh. Anyone noticed how similar her musical cue is to Rose’s Theme?

Owen verged on the lovable in that episode. Definitely a South Park type OMG moment there at the end. And if they bring him back from this, then any excuse that a reunion involving Rose is impossible will look as battered and patched together as the jump seat in the TARDIS control room.

The only character that still doesn’t come alive for me yet is Ianto – I simply cannot believe in Ianto/Jack as a relationship, can’t imagine them together. Is it just me?

My son is playing a male version of “I Will Survive” which seems wrong on so many levels. I’ve been reading a literary study of fanfic (something of a rarity) by Sheenagh Pugh, and she takes a long look at the slash genre in general, particularly the interesting fact that the overwhelming majority of slash writers are female. Apparently there are whole mags dedicated to anime slash in Japan – didn’t know that. It’s huge. Also, she claims Japanese slashers tend to invent OCs when they exhaust canon, whereas Western ones are more likely to explore RPF, which I find squicky.

I am gobsmacked by the complexity of the fanfic universe, its customs, etiquette, vocabulary and argot – and most of all by the way I jumped into it just over a year ago completely ignorant of all those things, and yet survived. Sheenagh Pugh hardly mentions DW because she’s mainly interested in female ficcers – and before you jump on me, her book was published in 2004 and on the first page she makes the now ironic statement that “DW fiction is the exception in fandom, being almost exclusively a male preserve.” She teaches creative writing in Cardiff, so she might revise that statement now.

But what really comes over to me is how precisely, and I suspect deliberately, RTD panders to fanfic writers by giving them exactly the material to make them foam at the mouth. Back in 2005 I hadn’t even heard of slash, but I can see now that Jack/Doctor screams it from the outset. I wonder if he ever reads the stuff and marvels at the Hydra-headed monster he’s created.

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5 thoughts on “Torchwood, mostly

  1. I’m not sure how much I can say in response because you seem to have said it all 😉 Jack really does have that ‘letting people he loves down’ guilt right from an early age, doesn’t he? Even though it’s 150 years ago for him, it obviously still haunts him – and ‘Captain John’ saying that he found Grey, just before he disappeared, must have been torturing. Interesting, given what you said about Jack’s inability to tell even his closest friends stuff that’s happened to him (even though Ianto obviously knows that he’s from somewhere other than this century), that Jack obviously told ‘Captain John’ about his past on Boeshane. Though maybe that’s what taught him that confiding in people doesn’t work? Or it could be being betrayed and left behind by the Doctor.
    Yes, the Doctor and Jack have so much in common, which is one of the things which makes them so irresistibly pairable. Though, of course, those things in common would also make them argue incessantly, especially given the Doctor’s ego and Jack’s enjoyment of taking him down a peg or two.
    As for the rest of it… Martha was great in Reset and, as I’ve said elsewhere, I wish she’d been like that in DW. She was badly let down by stupid character-arc decisions. And, cheesy though it may have been, I did love Jack’s scene in the conference-room with his team. God, he loves them – though, as said, it didn’t half scream orgy-opportunity 😉 Loved his comfort for each and every one of them. Though could Gwen have been any more obvious? I am so relieved that both she and Jack have forgotten that little confession.
    Very interesting developments, and I hope that we’ll get to see more of Grey. And, too, that when Jack reappears in DW later this year he won’t be just shoved off to the side, Action Man as needed and disappearing when he’s not. We need interaction with him and Rose, him and the Doctor and the three of them together. Mind you, that’s probably a vain hope.

  2. We need interaction with him and Rose, him and the Doctor and the three of them together. Mind you, that’s probably a vain hope.
    I’m sure you’ll rise to the challenge!

  3. We need interaction with him and Rose, him and the Doctor and the three of them together. Mind you, that’s probably a vain hope.
    Oh, I hope not. But if they don’t give it to us, then we’ll just have to fix it for ourselves, won’t we?

  4. The only character that still doesn’t come alive for me yet is Ianto – I simply cannot believe in Ianto/Jack as a relationship, can’t imagine them together. Is it just me?
    No, it’s not just you. I’ve been more convinced in fanfic than I have been in actual series writing. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with Ianto. While I know that would rip the guts out of all the Jack/Ianto shippers, I’m just still not quite convinced that Ianto has gotten over what happened to Lisa. What he said in the boardroom during “Adam” convinced me of that even more.
    And I know that might not be saying much for Jack, to be so trusting as to “dabble” with Ianto. (And doesn’t Ianto’s choice of words make the relationship seem that much more casual?) But…the wisdom of Sun-Tzu could well have survived into the 51st century. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
    Can’t get too much closer.
    God, I sound cynical!

  5. I agree, I think what doesn’t quite convince me about Ianto/Jack is that, while we saw Jack quite clearly flirting with both genders from the start, Ianto was previously in what appeared to be a very passionate and exclusive straight relationship. I see him as the kind of guy who’d need a lot of build-up and courtship to cross the line into sex with anybody, and with Jack that didn’t seem to happen. Ianto just isn’t the type to be casual with anybody, is he?

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