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 🙂

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refashionista
refashionista
12 years ago

I just finished watching the series last night and was left in a similar place.

I, too, feel Jack gets to be the hero after all — sacrificing his children for the safety of Earth's children — but he's still a bit of a bastard in that he doesn't ask Stephen or his daughter, nor does he comfort Stephen at all when the child is obviously freaked out. Some of this could be explained away as "Ianto's dead, ergo Jack's broken" but Jack was always a bit broken and distant from his emotions. I think it is his self-defense mechanism — a guy fated to live forever could easily feel too much.

I was unsatisfied by the series ending with Jack running away, but unsurprised as I think it a fairly predictable response by the character. Jack runs away from things that make him feel and Ianto's murder and the responsibility of Stephen's death and Alice's alienation from him have certainly made him "feel".

I would have liked for Jack to acknowledge Ianto's importance before he was on his deathbed. I felt Ianto was kind of shat upon by Jack throughout the first four eps — "we're not a couple". I would have liked to see more from Jack but, given his propensity to dodge "feelings", I'm not surprised he sidestepped it at every opportunity. The comment he made to Gwen about saving the niece and nephew was probably (for me) the most outward expression of true depth of feeling for Ianto I saw in the series.

That he had them send Gwen away because he "couldn't stand to look at her" was telling — Gwen has always been the overt, over-the-top emotion in the show and Jack was clearly trying his best to be numb and emotionless.

What would I like to see in the next series? I would like to see Ianto miraculously back from the dead, but that won't happen. I'd like to see Jack return and redeem himself in my eyes, as I don't like him very much at the moment. I'd love to see Lois become part of a reformed Torchwood 3 — she's got guts and was surprisingly accepting of the "spooky-do" side of things. I would like to see Jack unhappy, and perhaps the introduction of a new romantic tension — something palpable that could/would go unrequited for a series or so due to his grief/guilt over Ianto's death.

I'm unhappy that we've lost this great couple, but I'm not sure who else could have been killed to create the same tension in the series – and I'm a Ianto fangirl, too. 😉

Now, how long do we have to wait to see if there'll be more??

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