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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.)

TW:MD episode 7 and CoE )

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# As a sort of addendum to the post about the radio plays... It's funny, really. I thought I was over CoE. I never had as bad a reaction to Ianto's death as many others, I've rewatched the whole story several times since without tears or trauma, and I thought that with the The World is Always Ending meta at the latest I'd made my peace with it. Apparently not quite though, because somewhat belatedly it occurred to me that such a strong, and in the end probably disproportionately negative, over(?)-emotional reaction to HotD, two years after CoE, wasn't exactly the response of someone who's over it. I actually find that a bit frightening. It's a strange thing how your own brain can catch you by surprise.

# TW 4.06 The Middle Men )
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Author's note: It's funny how I never plan on these things and they happen anyway. I had absolutely no intentions of writing about Jack and Ianto again after the big post in 2009; more than 9.000 words of meta—what was there even left to write about? But then I wrote about death, life, and what it means to be human in DW and TW, and in the process of rewatching for that I had a (short) paragraph's worth of an idea that I didn't think would amount to more than that, but somehow kept... not so much nagging, as occasionally nibbling at my mind, and months and months later, I'm not sure how exactly, it suddenly turned out that there still was something I wanted to write after all before we get new canon. Which then developed a life of its own, took me to places I hadn't expected, and, well. Insert obligatory warning for excessive wordiness. It's also, I guess, a sort of post-CoE closure for me, because this time I managed to tie up all the threads running through the first three seasons in my mind.

Time - he's waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me, boy

- David Bowie, Time -

The World Is Always Ending: Time in Torchwood's Jack/Ianto Arc

Time has always been Jack's theme. Before he travelled with the Doctor, he was a Time Agent turned time-travelling conman who lost two years of his life somewhere along the way. When he danced with Rose in The Empty Child, it was in front of the clock of Big Ben. But after Rose brought him back to life permanently and he accidentally got himself stranded in 1869 in the attempt of trying to meet the Doctor again, his relationship with time changed radically. He lost the relative freedom and control he used to have over it, and suddenly found himself once more chained to a linear timeline, no longer able to jump back and forth through the centuries and millennia, using history for his own purpose. He lost his mortality, something that, as DW canon also repeatedly emphasises, constitutes a basic element of what it means to be human, but at the same time he was forced to live his life in a very human fashion, day after day after day, without even the most basic freedom every human being has, to end it. Time became a burden.

Among the clutter on Jack's desk there are two objects that are a permanent fixture throughout both the first and second series of TW: the growing Tardis coral and an hourglass. Regardless of whether they were put there with this purpose in mind, between them they illustrate Jack's state of being, and his dilemma. The former is an obvious symbol for the Doctor, for what happened to Jack, for the ability to travel in time he is hoping to regain eventually: the power of (and, to an extent, the power over) space and time. It can be read to represent his new life that, in absolute terms, has only just begun and that he's still trying to get used to. The hourglass, on the other hand, traditionally symbolises the fleetingness of time, the brevity of human life; mortality and death. It is used briefly in Fragments to illustrate the passage of the years and decades Jack spent in Torchwood, but it can also stand for the old, human, life Jack lost, the humanity he's struggling to maintain, and, as a memento mori, for a heightened awareness of the death that is omnipresent in the world around him, but continues to elude him. If the sand running through the glass symbolises the human lifespan, then in Jack's case the hourglass gets turned around again and again with each death, and the sand starts running anew. It's between these two polar opposites that Jack has to find his way now.

Part 1: Ten Minutes, and Counting )

Part 2: Eight Thirty-Two, Thirty-One... )

Part 3: Thirty Minutes )

solitary_summer: (Default)
Damn. I thought I was joking when I wrote that, but either I'm imagining things, or the cough medicine is really making my brain annoyingly unfocused and sluggish. (And people are apparently taking it for recreational purposes? That seems rather baffling...)

Anyway. This is really sketchy and incomplete, mostly stray thoughts and bits and pieces left over from the epic meta post, as well as some that made it in there, and I probably wouldn't have written it if I weren't marooned at home and too dazed and lethargic to do any serious Russian studying. It originally goes back to this post, about year ago when I was rewatching TW after CoE, and it struck me that that at least looking at it from a post-Utopia POV the Philoktetes reference fits Jack much better than Mary, and that a lot of Jack's story in S1 is told indirectly through all the things he doesn't say, the question he doesn't answer, and the themes the stories address, even when they aren't about him as such. And of course there are scenes and lines that take on a different, more serious meaning after S2, or CoE.

When I was rewatching again this summer what unexpectedly caught my attention was Sleeper. It's the one single TW episode I never paid much attention to, because for me the way Jack treats Beth comes close to being borderline triggering and I have major issues with the way the episode from the beginning operates on the assumption that she is guilty, even when this is far from clear to the audience, but if one looks at Jack's story from the mortality/humanity angle, it becomes really obvious that the question of what makes us human, the mind or the body, is far from irrelevant.

Maybe this is me completely overinterpreting, and maybe it's time I stopped writing about TW until I get new material to think about (I think it really is...), but for all that Jack is almost in the background much of the time, on some level he determines the mood of the show and the choice of stories a lot more than is immediately visible, as with the shift from the bleakness of S1 where Jack struggles with his immortality, towards a more positive mood in S2, once he at least partly and temporarily resolved his issues in Utopia/SotD/LotTL.

How to best describe this? A brief episode by episode discussion of all the little parallels and repeated themes, focusing on Jack's story S1 through CoE. )

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[Hu. I still can't quite believe that I'm actually, finally, clicking 'post' on this entry.]

Author's note (sort of): Massively tl;dr, sneakily disguised by fake lj-cuts; don't say I didn't warn you. Looking at the deaths seemed like a good starting point since they're such a persistent theme and especially once the last three DW specials turned the entire story into a struggle with death and the acceptance of mortality, and it... kind of got out of hand from there. A little. A lot. It still feels like an awkward and unsatisfactory compromise in far too many ways, but it's the best I can do at the moment and after six months of turning this over and over in my mind I'm tired. Camus quote notwithstanding, no philosophers, living or dead, were harmed mangled quoted embarrassed in the making of this post, but I'd never even have found the courage to write this without the inspiration from Rüdiger Safranski's books, most of which I read while I wrote & watched & wrote & rewatched & rewrote & edited. I hope he doesn't self-google.

Final note: TW (abbreviated) refers to the show, Torchwood (written out) to the institute; DW only to the RTD era and 'The Doctor' only to Nine and Ten, because everything else, even if I'd watched more of the old series than I have so far, would be completely beyond the scope of this post.

You think knowing the answers would make you feel better?

Death, life, and what it means to be human in Russell T Davies's Doctor Who and Torchwood

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.

~ Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus ~

For the sake of goodness and love, man shall let death have no sovereignty over his thoughts.

~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain ~

'Who said you're not important?'

~ The Ninth Doctor, 1.08 Father's Day ~

I. Doctor Who S1: Everything has its time and everything dies. )

II. Doctor Who S2: We forget because we must. )

III. Torchwood S1: It's just bearable. It has to be. )

( IV. Doctor Who S3: Rage, rage against the dying of the light. )

( V. Torchwood S2: That's what I come back for. )

( VI. Doctor Who S4: We always have a choice. )

( VII. Torchwood Children of Earth: So, tell me, what should I have done? )

( VIII. Doctor Who 2009/10 specials: Lived too long. )

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Another picture from yesterday's (very peaceful and relaxing, not counting the wild pigs that tend to freak me out a bit, for which I totally blame all those fatal boar hunts in Greek mythology) evening walk in the Lainzer Tiergarten...

Had my hair cut today, as in, it's now shorter than it's been in some 36 years or so, as in, I'll have to remember using sunscreen on the back of my neck now for the first time in my life; diagonal fringe, very short everywhere else. I'm so pleased with it I actually tried to take a picture, but I looked completely psychotic on each and everyone of them.

Also rewatched CoE over the last weekend, and what really struck me once again, especially now that I deliberately shifted the focus away from the relationship angle, is the sheer (I still don't have a better word for it) Greek tragedy quality of Day Five especially. They all doom themselves. Jack of course, Ianto, who insists on doing the right thing, Alice, who worried about the state of the world when 90% just look away, Frobisher, who in the beginning was vain enough to be proud that he was being trusted with all this. And then in the end there are the three unlikely heroes who saved the world, Jack, who did something terrible trying to make amends for something worse, Johnson, who believed she was protecting the state by murdering people, and Dekker, the evil spirit in the background who always survived by standing back. Day Four I can deal with, but Day Five... it's still almost impossible to adequately put it into words.
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10 cm snow tomorrow? Are you kidding me? *groan*

Generally, though, feeling somewhat better. Although I can never quite decide if this process of getting used to the job again after a holiday is actually a good or a bad thing. But last week was horrible in the completely surreal what-am-I-doing-here,-please-kill-me-nownowNOW way, so improvement is... improvement, I guess.

I've started to rewatch DW, because I have the vague (as in, at this point, mostly watch and see where it takes me), but persistent idea of writing something about life and death/death and life in DW and TW/TW and DW, even while I tell myself I shouldn't. Complete waste of time. Complete self-indulgence that I have no time for, really. So many more important things I should be doing. One of these days I'm going to do a word count on all the TW meta I've written over the years & cry.

Anyway. S1. It's strange, because on some level I don't even like this show all that much; it's just too... family, I guess, but on another level I really adore it. I love the characters, each and everyone. They're so completely... connect-with-able, a quality that I'm almost always missing in USin TV shows. Father's Day is lovely, Boom Town is so brilliant with the scenes between the Doctor and Margaret, Dalek has some very good bits too, and of course there's TEC/TDD. It's strange to see Jack back in the beginning again, still without the burden of Torchwood and immortality, before things became so impossibly complicated. I was almost in love again the tiniest little bit for a moment. I don't even think he's all that great in the last three episodes (his hair definitely isn't, and neither are the outfits), but in these two, whoa. What an entrance. The finale isn't my favourite one, Bad Wolf with its media critique isn't very rewatchable, but the end of TPoW with Rose channelling the Tardis energy and the regeneration is just fantastic. Epic. Love it.

There's something that occurred to me—what Rose says in TPoW—'The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. [...] That you don't just give up. You don't let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what's right when everyone else just runs away!'

I didn't consciously recall the scene at the time, but that's essentially what I was trying to say about Ianto's role in CoE, the dynamics between him and Jack. Ianto represents that at that moment, not Jack, who has no clear idea at all what to do, even though of course it's never that easy, and less so in TW than DW, because TW doesn't have the fairytale quality where having no weapons, no defences and no plan actually works for you in the end; there's no dea ex machina to evaporate the 456 and save Jack from either having to do something terrible or live with the even worse consequences. And Ianto takes it to maybe not quite healthy extremes, with a complete lack of instinct for self-preservation, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it's Ianto's 'There's always a choice' in EW that defines him, because for him these are not empty words. He means it, all the way. Meant it when Jack pointed a gun at his head.

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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.' )

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

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

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

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

II. 'Speak to me, Jack.' )

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

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

solitary_summer: (...singen die sirenen)
*hides face in hands* 5000something words. *questions own sanity*

Torchwood: Children of Earth - Ethics, narrative structure, and why I don't think that Ianto's death was meaningless, or homophobic; still not touching that debate, though. Well, mostly. Also some thoughts about Jack that just kinda happened. Um.

Many thanks go to [ profile] alex_beecroft, who took the time to discuss this with me and helped me clarify and verbalise my own thoughts.

The plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy; Character holds the second place.
A perfect tragedy should, as we have seen, be arranged not on the simple but on the complex plan. It should, moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and fear, this being the distinctive mark of tragic imitation. It follows plainly, in the first place, that the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither pity nor fear; it merely shocks us. Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity: for nothing can be more alien to the spirit of Tragedy; it possesses no single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor calls forth pity or fear. Nor, again, should the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited. A plot of this kind would, doubtless, satisfy the moral sense, but it would inspire neither pity nor fear; for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves. Such an event, therefore, will be neither pitiful nor terrible. There remains, then, the character between these two extremes- that of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty.
- Aristotle, Poetics -

Pt. 1, Complication: 'Sounds like a good deal.' )

Pt. 2, Reversal: 'Let's go stand up to them.' )

Pt. 3, Unravelling: 'I began to like it. And look what I became.' )

This is the CoE I saw. This is why I don't hate it, even with the crying at 3 am and whatnot. It took me a while to actually put my feelings into thoughts and words and then kept adding & editing especially once I rewatched it, and clearly I'm completely insane, but my brain refused to let go and maybe writing is my way of dealing but essentially this is what I saw the first time. It never felt alien, un-TW-like, to me me, and still doesn't. A bit more New Who-esque maybe with the sheer scope of the story, and as far as TW continuity is concerned I wish it hadn't come right after the S2 finale, because in many ways it feels almost like a (extended and vastly improved) rewrite with more inner logic and better balance, pacing and casting. But in the end it's simply a too good a story to hate.

solitary_summer: (kamille)
Day Four. (*sigh*) It took me a full three weeks to get over my initial shock & depression, apprehension and nerves to seriously consider rewatching, but I'm actually glad I did. It's easier when you already know what's happening, when you have a certain distance and can watch and appreciate it as drama (I guess all the meta writing I did last week helped...), instead of living with it and getting your heart torn out and trampled all over.

And in the end (sorry) it's brilliant. It's the best thing I've seen in a very long while. I remember how Exit Wounds almost completely fell apart for me once the initial shock value was gone, except for the last ten minutes of so with Tosh and Owen's deaths, and this isn't happening here at all.

Although I do sort of wonder whether I should blame yesterday's Greek salad for my upset stomach, or Torchwood.

solitary_summer: (winterabend)
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 the irony is... )

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.

solitary_summer: (...singen die sirenen)
Also, upon rewatching - Jack's own reservations about relationships aside, and he certainly does have those, to me it looks a lot like not only Ianto thinks Jack has problems with being a couple, but that Jack also thinks Ianto might not want that. Which is maybe part projection on Jack's side, but on the whole not inconceivable considering that his own daughter wants him to stay away from her and her family, and there's always the matter of what happened to Lisa. How else do you interpret Jack's 'Now who's a couple?' after Ianto asks him where he's going in that scene on the stairs?

After all the whole discussion started with Jack's hand on Ianto's shoulder in the hospital, which I think was Jack not-so-subtly checking out if the potential new guy would be okay with the two of them. And when Ianto brings it up the first time, Jack replies 'Well, we are. Does it matter?' - So maybe I'm reading this completely wrong, English not being my first language and all, but that's not exactly denial, is it? In fact it looks like pretty much the opposite to me.

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Felt like I'd been run over by something heavy the whole day. Several somethings, even. Repeatedly. How can I already be so tired after only five days at work? And whyever did I offer, not to say force, M. to take the day off?

But since I'm already tired and cranky, there's something I'd like to get out of the way regarding Torchwood.

Whatever I may or may not eventually post about CoE - I'll be steering very clear of the homophobia debate.

[Parenthesis: I actually wrote most of this before yesterday's interview; if it sounds like ass-kissing now, I guess that can't be helped. I should have known that one day I'd regret all this endless stewing over lj posts.]

I might be sort of, vaguely, theoretically bisexual, but that never went further than a crush and the odd moment of attraction and finding Gwen/Eve Myles maybe the most attractive person among the cast. Mostly I'm pretty much asexual, bad with personal relationships of any kind, and Just Not Interested.

I've never gone through any serious conflicts, inner or otherwise, about sexual orientation. I never had to fight for anything. I've never been discriminated against. As far as everyone else and the way they treat me is concerned, one single drunken discussion with G. ages ago aside, I might just as well be 100% straight. If anyone thinks I'm weird, which they probably do, it's because of my lack of sex life and relationships.

So while the CoE ending may or may not look a bit heteronormative on the surface if you're looking at it from a certain angle, there's no way I'm going to implicitly or explicitly accuse a gay man of being homophobic or unconsciously writing homophobic storylines, and I understand why RTD would be pissed about that. Especially if the OMG-the-show-is-so-bad-I'm-only-watching-it-for-the-boykissing-haha crowd is now screaming homophobia.

OTOH, I'm not going to attempt to argue anyone who actually is gay and does think it's homophobic out of their opinion either.

I just don't feel it's for me to say, even in the privacy of my own mind. I don't have the experiences, I don't have any credibility here; it'd be rude and presumptuous.

And now I'm going to have a glass of wine & then catch up on all the sleep I didn't get last this week.
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What I'm starting to hate most about CoE (et seq.)? Not so much all the obvious things, but all the hurt and bitterness, anger and resentment it brought out. That it makes even posting about S3 a bit of a minefield, because I'm already too busy wondering if whatever I might say will be hurting people who are already hurting, or alienating people I like. What to say, what to shut up about. I've never actually been in such a position before, fandom-wise, and I don't like it very much.

solitary_summer: (Default)
It'd be easier if I could just trash CoE. I might change my mind on rewatching, but while it was in many ways pure sadism, the way we were - maybe up until the end of ep.3 - deceived that this was going to be more or less normal Torchwood fare, until the sheer monstrosity of the plot unfolds and the tearing-down begins, and while there are obviously a lot of things that completely piss me off about Ianto's death, the whole thing wasn't, IMO, bad as such.

I wish I weren't so torn up about this - on the one hand I loved this show so much, even when I criticised it; I still remember how S2 kept me sane in the post-Christmas depression one and a half years ago, how I was looking forward to each episode, and I'm so angry that this is all gone now, that I'm on the verge of tears again. Now walking through Salzburg, up the Möchsberg with Dead Souls on my iPod, or lying in bed, listening to The Dead Line, barely a couple of weeks ago, will now be my last stupidly happy fangirl memories of that show, not completely overshadowed by the tragedy and utter bleakness of the end.

OTOH... the Jack in CoE is from the first to the last exactly Jack how I'm seeing him, and his arc has perfect inner logic, just like the state of Jack/Ianto was almost exactly how I was seeing it after S2, and every scene between them in CoE was spot-on and touching, moving the relationship just a little further and actually developing it instead of all the experimentation and improvisations in seasons 1 and 2. Until it's nipped in the bud, which brings me back full circle to being completely pissed off. But there were enough episodes in S1 and S2 that left me at least a bit baffled as far as characterisation, relationship continuity and such were concerned, and this was never the case here. As much as I hate to say it, mostly I'm on RTD's page, even while I want to hit him with the book. Repeatedly and hard.

And sadism or no sadism, to create something with such an emotional impact... that's not nothing. And it's not quite the gratuitous killing purely for shock value (is there a word for Effekthascherei?) that Joss Whedon is much too fond of either, there is more coherency and logic here.


I kind of suspect I'll be defriended by the non-TW-related half of my flist for being completely crazy, and by the rest for being a bad fan in the near future.

solitary_summer: (Default)
Since I'm not going to be able to sleep anytime soon anyway...

What the hell am I supposed to say about this? )

solitary_summer: (Default)
Who do you call when you can't stop crying over a bloody tv show at 2:47 in the morning. Exactly no one, obviously. I don't know think I'll be able to rewatch that, ever.


solitary_summer: (Default)

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