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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. )

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: (...singen die sirenen)
I'm not even going to squint at my flist (or lj generally speaking) until I've watched S3, because I suspect I'm already a tiny bit spoiled anyway, but I'll just post my thoughts about the audio plays in the meantime. Since I'm usually a very visual person I wasn't sure at all how I'd do without the optic element, but scribbling happened anyway; I think it's something of a pavlovian reflex by now. Actual pen & paper scribbling even, in my computerless holiday state. Now posting that before actually watching S3 is clearly an exercise in masochism and superfluousness, but OTOH I'm kind of curious how my interpretations compare to actual canon. Plus, I have an unhealthy inability to throw away anything.

(And I'm almost willing to bet that I was & will be the only person to walk across the Möchsberg and the park in Hellbrunn with Jack and Gwen and Ianto saving the world in my ears, and a probably completely inane smile on my face. [ profile] soavezefiretto was right, I so needed that IPod. *g*)

1. Asylum

Well, hallelujah. Thank you. Finally addressed at least to a certain extent some of the issues that needed addressing after the much too torture-happy S2. Wanted to hug PC Andy, several times. Really liked the story and would have loved to have a tv episode with it.

It only struck me just how wrong things have gone when Gwen gets the call that she's supposed to bring Frida to the Hub, and there was an alarm going off in my head. From a pure gut reaction, however nice Gwen was being about it, I didn't trust them, and Jack most especially, with that girl's well-being at all. Which is kind of problematic, if these are supposed to be the good guys. I have no idea if last season went intentionally in this direction, exploring the darker sides of TW, or if they looked at it and at least in retrospect realised that some of team TW's actions weren't looking so good especially in view of what happened over the last years during the Bushite 'war against terrorism', but the suggestion that TW itself might be the cause of violent anti-alien discrimination in the future certainly acknowleges that things are still far from right and that Jack isn't handling this as well as the thinks he is, or changed it as much as he wants to think he did.

After this episode I'm still not a hundred percent happy, but at least recognising something basic like that there are, oh, good and evil and all kinds of moral shades of grey aliens, and acting accordingly, is at least a start and makes me feel a bit easier. Given the admittedly very difficult situation they're working in that's at least something.

Jack though... he's really a bit of mess, isn't he? )

2. Golden Age

Didn't do a lot for me, to be perfectly honest, the premise seemed a bit... extreme, maybe? Or maybe it's because I'm not British? And Ianto must be getting a bit tired by now of almost getting killed by Jack's psychotic exes...

'I just can't die, no matter how hard I try.' (Jack)

Was Jack actively trying at one point, hoping that it would finally stick, or did he just not care at all? (me, after Fragments and the 1300something deaths) Which I guess answers that question. And a pretty awful thing to say with that kind of offhandedness.

'I was only obeying orders.' And admittedly that phrase has very likely a less ominous ring to a British ear, but my brain can't stop itself from thinking, when else, where else, doing what else?

'Since when have you obeyed orders?' (Ianto)

Ianto is has probably made some educated guesses about Jack that are more right than wrong, but he's wrong here, because Jack clearly did then, even if it meant hurting someone he loved, and probably in a lot of other situations, because TW would hardly have tolerated someone who sabotaged them at every turn. They'd just have stuck him in the cell next to the weevil, or the contemporary equivalent thereof. The cell with the weevil, even. (Which, come to think of it, I wonder if they did, and how often, before he finally gave up.) Clearly the story about how exactly he came to join Torchwood is not one of Jack's favourite dinner time anecdotes.

3. The Dead Line

Good story, enjoyed it. Would have loved to see that one, too.

Really liked that Ianto has finally advanced to some kind of officially recognised boyfriend status, so that he gets to sit beside Jack while Gwen and Rhys go out to investigate, which is also where I could almost start to suspect that TPTB are actually reading my posts because that fixes my admittedly maybe not wholly rational S1 pet peeve with Gwen's death watch while Ianto secretly snuggles Jack's coat.

Ianto's speech was beautiful and quite heartbreaking (as was the music accompanying it, as well as the 'not just a blip in time' end), and didn't surprise me at all; this was pretty much what I expected from Ianto - no illusions about what he's doing and what he has and hasn't, and suffering from it. It shouldn't be so hard for him.

But start *talking* to each, for god's sake. *sigh* )

What I do believe is that Jack will be fighting as long and as hard as possible that no one whom he was close to will ever be just a blip in time to him. This is after all the man who cares enough to regularly check on someone whom he's dated three decades earlier, for a few weeks, to see if she's okay. Jack's when, what & with whom anecdotes might be occasionally annoying, but he's clearly holding on to these memories.

Which is how I think he eventually turned into the Face of Boe - he didn't want to forget anyone and needed a bigger brain for that. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. :)

solitary_summer: (Default)
(Now that I finally have some free time on my hands...)

I started writing this some time last November, a while after I'd rewatched the DW S3 finale and TW S2 and then tagged it 'unfinished' and never touched it again, partly I suppose because Christmas, flat searching anxiety, etc., got in the way, partly because this was never very coherent to begin with and always a bit too speculative for my taste.

But upon rereading, er, digging it up again, while I'm still not enthusiastic about it, I'm finding that parts might still be kind of interesting, and since this is the last chance to post it before it all gets jossed to hell by S3 (although OTOH I'm occasionally, sort of, very, very, quietly, still patting myself on the shoulder for that not-too-jossed post-S1 Jack/Ianto post...), I thought I might post the better bits after all.

A Jack character post, mostly. )

[ETA: In case anyone comments - no S3 spoilers, please!!!]

What If

Oct. 16th, 2008 10:49 pm
solitary_summer: (Default)
Very much tl;dr, way too much time spent writing it, but here goes anyway. Rewatching TW S2 I (think I) finally figured out what went wrong with Jack/Ianto, and why.

Actually I had a bit of an epiphany after watching Meat, thinking about Gwen and Rhys and Jack and Ianto's respective relationships, especially that one scene with Jack, Gwen and Rhys: 'You love him. Makes you vulnerable,' and 'That's your decision.' - 'Yes, it is.' - 'You both have to live by it,' which Jack says without a visible hint of recognition that this might apply to him too, which I found a bit odd, now that I was watching the episodes without a week between them, when only in To the Last Man he'd said, albeit in a rather roundabout, Jack-esque fashion, that he did love (although maybe in a rather general Jack-esque way, but the word love was definitely mentioned) Ianto.

Because if he can tell Gwen that, he's thought about it. Probably learned from painful experience, because realistically, however much he may have disliked Torchwood as an institution, in over a hundred years there'll have been someone there before Ianto he's slept with, been friends with, possibly been at least a bit in love with, and lost, even if he hadn't personally sent them to their death. But at least during that episode, Jack sticks to what he's saying there. He won't compromise a mission and the rest of the team's safety, not for Ianto, not for Gwen. And while this does of course make sense for Jack as the leader of the team, it also is a bit harsh, especially as the Gwen/Rhys storyline in Meat is all about the willingness to take risks and make sacrifices for the person you love, rules and regulations be damned.

So I was thinking that they're really kind of hard on each other, for this to be the self-understood, unspoken thing that it apparently is (because there isn't a moment in that episode where Ianto is expecting Jack to come to his help), and how Jack could be so sure about being able to do this, when only three episodes later he'll completely lose it when Owen dies, and that sometimes the inside of Jack's head made no sense to me at all.

And that was when I remembered that originally it'd been Ianto who was supposed to die, and suddenly a lot of things started to fall into place and fit a lot better. With Ianto killed in Reset, the whole Jack/Ianto relationship that always seemed a bit haphazard (which, other than in S1 where relationships were indeed a bit experimental and erratic, the other S2 relationships are not: both Gwen and Rhys and Toshiko and Owen have consistently developed arcs from the first to the last episode with significant emotional moments and turning points) would have had a completely different dynamic.

trying to reconstruct the original S2 Jack/Ianto arc )

and this is what I think happened )

No wonder I kept waiting and waiting for the defining Jack/Ianto episode that I felt had to come in S2, but never did.

To be perfectly honest, I'm a bit torn about this. I'm invested enough in the characters and the ship that I was happy when (against all my expectations, let me add) Ianto actually survived S2. However, having actually given the alternative some thought beyond oh noes, they wanted to kill Ianto *again*, and especially looking at it from a story-telling perspective... I've got to say I'd kind of have liked to see how it'd have played out. The current version got us alive!Ianto, greenhouse!sex and the brilliant A Day in the Death, the but the original version would most likely have made for a much more emotionally satisfying, complex and dramatic Jack/Ianto arc, a probably improved Dead Man Walking and From out of the Rain and I think would have made Jack's characterisation rather less jumpy and much more coherent.

Or at least writing this I suddenly found myself liking S2 Jack a lot better than before...

[*] ETA: [ profile] echoingvista points out that From Out of the Rain and Adam were switched; I'd assume in order to... not even so much to give Jack a better justification for trying to resurrect Owen (he doesn't remember his promise), but to make the viewer understand it a little better.

And that is the (last?) missing piece that'd make the whole of S2 flow so much better. The slow From Out of the Rain would have fit better earlier in the season, it'd have fleshed out Ianto's character and background at least a bit before they'd killed him, and Adam - which already is one of my favourite S2 episodes as it is -, would have even more powerful as well as more inherently logical. Gwen's admission that she loved Jack would have made for a smoother transition between Something Borrowed and Adrift as far as Gwen's relationship with Rhys and Jack is concerned; Adrift would have served to emphasise that regardless of her love for him there are too many things dividing them, that she'd made the right decision. If Owen kept his lines, it'd have paved the way for his death in the finale; he would still die, no one saving him, but save a lot of lives (maybe finally enough?) through his death. As for Jack/Ianto... ouch, ouch, ouch. Messed up and emotional, and I'd never have thought of that. Pretty damn genius.

My inner Jack/Ianto shipper is protesting, but I have to say that they didn't do themselves (or anyone except the Jack/Ianto fans) any favours with all those last minute changes and hasty patching up. It messed up the whole Jack/Ianto arc, significantly weakened the Jack/Gwen/Rhys arc and brought about all those inconsistencies in the relationships that drove me crazy when I was watching S2 the first (and second) time, because it made it all seem so erratic sometimes.

solitary_summer: (Default)
An hour at work for M.'s lunch break since B. is sick, then discovered again that the Mariahilferstrasse on a Saturday afternoon with all its rampart consumerism is enough to drive me to depression & near tears. I rather need jeans, henna and a rucksack, but just couldn't face it & fled home.

Slept for two or three hours, woke up with a headache (somewhat better now).

Had pizza.

Read a bit. Wrote a bit.


And because everyone needs a break from Russian vocabulary once in a while, I watched Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (finally starting with S2 on DVD) back to back few of days ago, and...

a couple of thoughts, because clearly it's been too long since I've rambled about TW )


Okay. I'm still ridiculously fangirlish about JB much of the time. I like a lot of pop music (& refuse to be embarrassed about that, see music choice). However, the new JB single? Not my cup of tea. Too bland, too polished, too boring. [ETA: And now I'm feeling guilty for being too negative. Great. *facepalm* Time to get some sleep, I think.]

solitary_summer: (Default)
With 100% more Jack/Ianto after all the Jack/Gwen meta in the Adrift review. And thanks go to [ profile] alex_beecroft for making me watch the relevant scenes 1382 times think it all through. *g*

Torchwood 2.12 Fragments )


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