Torchwood – exit wounds

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

My overall reaction to this episode is massive squee. That was good! It messed with my expectations in the best of ways. I honestly did buy the idea that John was the bad guy until he explained otherwise. I honestly thought, when Ianto said he was going to try and shut down the nuclear reactor from the inside, that that was the end of him in a ‘going out as a hero’ season finale way. So when Owen went instead I was like ‘oh yes, of course, cos he’s already dead! Even Owen’s mysterious control over the weevils was used in a way that made loads of sense.

I think this episode had the strongest plot I’ve seen in an episode of Torchwood yet. Things worked – the aforesaid Weevils; Jack coming up through Torchwood’s floor not in one of RTD’s usual deus ex machina coincidences but in a carefully set up subplot that made time-travelling sense! I squeed, I honestly did 🙂

Of course it made no psychological sense whatsoever. Is there anyone out there who seriously believes Jack would still be sane after being buried alive for a thousand years? He’s falling into the trap of New Who – the trap of making the hero such a ghastly Mary Sue that you hate him. And why has Jack come back speaking like the Bible? Redemption? Atonement? ‘I offered you absolution’? Yes, yes, you were drawn alive out of the grave and now you live forever. Seriously, Jack, you do not make a good Christ figure, and you do not want to make a good Christ figure because someone else has already done that, better. You were more amusing as a messed up con-man trying to become a decent human being than the cut price deity you’re in danger of becoming.

Ahem, but on to other things…

While I’m ranting, can I say that the ‘hero’s evil brother’ thing has been done to death. It had been done to death when Robin of Sherwood revealed that Guy of Gisburne was Robin’s younger half-brother – and that was 20 years ago. If Jack is going to be saddled with mythic archetypes (which frankly don’t suit him) they could at least try to do it differently, or well!

Grey turning out to be evil has got to be the only ‘plot twist’ that can’t have surprised anyone at all. I was honestly hoping that Torchwood would not go there. But it did.

Still, where it didn’t go, though I thought it would, was killing Ianto. So I’m a happy camper. The fact that they killed off Tosh, who is my second favourite character is made up for by the fact that she had one hell of a death scene. Tosh saves the city! And then she saves Owen’s sanity and she does it all while dying from an abdominal wound in extremely well acted agony. Yes, it made me cry, but it made me elated too, because the writers had been consistently letting Tosh down in terms of storylines this series and she at least went out in such a way as to demonstrate to everyone that she was a big damn hero.

Owen – I fully admit that when he got locked in the reactor my thoughts were ‘oh, thank god, they’re finally going to get rid of him properly!’ But he claimed my affection with his wild, honest panic – something so human that you don’t often see from TV heroes. They finally made me believe, too, that he and Tosh might have worked after all, if they’d been given time. So that was bitter sweet and really well done.

Can I say on a shallow level that Ianto storming in and shooting everything in sight gave me a fangirlish squee? Gwen was also awesome with her take-chargeness, though I still find her behaviour with Jack inappropriate considering Rhys. LOL! But it’s amusing that the only people left standing are Jack and his harem. Probably a very good decision, ratings wise, too – since most viewers want to see Jack end up with either Gwen or Ianto, though from what I can tell there’s also a faction who are fine with him having both – and they’re pretty happy too.

To sum up; everything except for Grey and Jack’s overly epic battle = squee. But Jack? You’re not the Doctor, and you’re not any kind of deity, OK? It’s just no fun. (And frankly the Doctor used to be more interesting when he was just a well intentioned time traveling alien and not the messiah too – but that’s a different rant.)

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16 years ago

Well, Jack has wanted to be a leader of a cult all through the season. Remember Adam?

And in Something Borrowed, when he takes a cheap shot at the Virgin Mary?

Of course, he’s just been buried alive for something like 2000 years. I guess in that time he could have thought up the new church of scientology, and who could have blamed him?

16 years ago

Oh yes – if it hadn’t been a trend I probably wouldn’t have even spotted it, but that scene in Adam was really quite disturbing. ‘I’m the one who can give meaning to your poor sad little lives’ oh yes?

*G* Well, I was wondering if he’d turned to the consolations of religion down there, and season 3 would feature the new evangelical Jack, calling the world to repent of its sins. That might even be vaguely amusing for a couple of episodes 🙂

16 years ago

Yes, he is buried alive just a few years before Jesus is crucified.

Hard to believe he did not suffer any psychological ills being buried that long, especially since his brother was so scarred by hanging around a few corpses for a couple decades. So to me Jack isn’t scarred enough, and Gray is overscarred. Now I can’t say what his torture was like, but remember the thousand deaths and electrocutions Jack suffered PRIOR to his 2-millenial burial, including of course the year of torture at the hands of the Master… His century of sleep in cryogenics to avoid his double is relatively a cakewalk!

Some questions:

1. How was Gray actually rescued, and manage to have the knowledge and strength to enslave John as he did AND find Jack going through time?
2. Why did Gray look for the 2008 Jack? They are both from “the future” and since Gray was tortured in the future and aged only 20 years (he doesn’t have Jack’s immortality problem), so why didn’t Gray find the Jack that existed in Gray’s timeline?
3. Not only wasn’t Jack scarred enough (except for using words like “absolution” – big deal), but HOW was Jack able to emerge from 100 years in cryo AFTER 2,000 being buried alive AND not miss a beat in 2008 as to what was going on and who his friends were, etc. I mean, I forget phone numbers after a few years, how does he remember his tops secret Torchwood access codes???
4. Knowing that Gray was controlling him and that he really cared about Jack and knew things would get worse, why would John BEGIN his “sorry but I’m not in control” return by trying to kill the team AND machine-gunning Jack?
5. HOW did his jacket and clothes survive 2,000 of burial without suffering decomposition???????
6. Does all of this seem like the past dosier and character development of the Face of Boe as we know him from Doctor Who? (Think of how the young Anakin eventually becomes Darth Vader, and how much odder Jack/Boe is.)

Other than that, Toshiko’s and Owen’s deaths were unexpected and poignant. By contrast, Gray’s evil motivations were weakly realized and acted, and Jack’s reactions slightly less so. He did look and sound a lot like Jack, I’ll give you that, but the whole interaction was so contrived that it seemed like it only worked in the script. I mean, could Gray REALLY blame Jack that much? They were kids, and he let go of Jack’s hand as much as Jack let go of his. Why not blame the parents, who should have protected both? How was he even AWARE that Jack was still alive instead of “the only survivor” who he’d be able to hate so much? Could he not NOW see Jack’s pain of tortuing himself so long for losing Gray? Just didn’t make much sense… The mother/son love/loss/rejection in “Adrift” made much more sense, was sadder and better acted. Presumably her son was tormented to such a degree that he screams for 20 hours straight and yet somehow does not blame or hate his mother. Hmm…

16 years ago

*g* I suspect that not even the writers of the show know the answers to these questions 🙂 I agree with you totally that Jack is simply not scarred enough given what he’s suffered. He would be doing well to be functional at all, let alone arriving back and immediately getting Victorian Torchwood to do what he asked.

A friend of mine was speculating that perhaps this could be fan-wanked as being an effect of the TARDIS energy he absorbed; he’s simply more alive, more unbreakable not only physically but also mentally than a normal human. That makes a certain amount of sense to me. *Something* needs to explain why he isn’t a gibbering wreck by now. And of course if Jack is superhumanly resilient, it makes more sense that Grey – being merely human – is a lot more effected by less of a trauma.

Mind you, the actor who played Grey – though doing a good job at looking like someone who could be Jack’s brother – didn’t IMO do a good job of anything else. He didn’t convince me he was unhinged, or even that he was anything other than a stereotypical evil villain. He had no personality at all. In fact it was such a lame storyline that I refuse to dignify it by trying to make sense of it 🙂 Bad idea; do not want.

I was OK with John attracting attention by attempting to kill the team – however remorseful he is, he failed murder rehab, and I don’t think he has a problem with killing a few people to get a job done. Shooting Jack was a clever way of putting him out of action so that he could be restrained before he came back to life.

Ianto has put some kind of secret ninja-butler imperviousness spell on Jack’s clothes because he loves the coat so much – that’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it 😉

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