Torchwood CoE reaction (spoilers)
I couldn’t manage to keep my resolve of not watching part #5, so I finally watched it on iPlayer. In my usual indecisive way, I’m in two minds about it.
On the one hand, considered on its own and as a series finale and full stop, I thought it was an improvement on #4. At least the Jack/Ianto relationship was acknowledged as being so important that Jack was broken at Ianto’s death, and could not go on. Considering how many relationships he must have had over his years in Torchwood, that was a serious acknowledgement of how important Ianto was. As, of course, was his ‘no, I’ve changed my mind, take the rest of the world, but not him!’ in episode #4.
I can easily imagine that that is what the writers were talking about when they said the fans would be happy about how the J/I relationship goes in this season.
And after Clem’s ‘so, the man who sent me and my friends to die, can’t die himself?’ question, I thought it was appropriate that Jack proved he was a hero. He can’t die, but he can do what nobody else in the world seems willing to do – sacrifice his own children to save everyone else’s. Every other person in the show is content to let other people’s kids die as long as their own are saved. Jack gets to prove that he can make a more ultimate sacrifice even than dying for the sake of the human race. (It’s a shame no-one asked Stephen. Maybe he would have consented.)
So yes, on the one hand Jack finally acts like a hero, plus the loss of Ianto breaks Jack as nothing before has done. And as a ‘no more Torchwood after this, chaps’ ender, it seems almost like the best that could have been hoped for.
On the other hand, if I consider it in its context of being just about the only mainstream TV show in which the hero is in a significant gay relationship, then I’m hugely dissatisfied. Ianto dying plays into too many ‘dead gay’ tropes, reinforces too many old messages that we thought TW was immune to. And ‘Ianto is so special because when he dies Jack can’t go on,’ is not in any way preferable to ‘Ianto and Jack save the world and Jack actually acknowledges his feelings while Ianto is alive and can benefit from them!’
I feel that in a way the J/I relationship had been slowly and tentatively evolving through the programme from ‘comfort shag’ to ‘maybe a couple’, and this storyline copped out at the point where ‘maybe a couple’ would have become ‘actually a couple.’ It somehow seems designed to stop the story before the programme ever reaches the point of having a main romantic couple who are both guys.
It’s as though they were playing with the idea, but they didn’t have the courage to actually do it, so they killed Ianto off rather than allowing the relationship ever to arrive at the committed partnership stage, which Gwen and Rhys had been at for over a series. And that’s so disappointing for a programme that had seemed so progressive and ground breaking.
So from an inner story point of view I quite liked it. From an outer meta pov, I found it hugely disappointing.
And I still think that Ianto deserved better than getting refrigerated just to show how much Jack loved him. Jack’s been married before – to Estelle – so he’s clearly done the couple thing before. Why not with Ianto? If he’s willing to sacrifice the world to save Ianto, it makes no sense that he couldn’t even say ‘I love you’ when the man was dying in his arms…
Re the Debenhams thing, I liked it. Ianto has always been ferociously introverted, secretive and private, and Gwen trying to pull that ‘oh, he talked about you all’ thing was painfully insincere, and deserved a good slap down. Ianto’s always been a bit of an international man of mystery, so I like that we don’t know much more about him now than we did when the series started. We don’t need to, after all. Actions speak louder than words, and anyone who can pull off rescue-by-bulldozer must be seriously awesome 🙂