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: echoingvista
points out that From Out of the Rain
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.
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
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