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zomg... Torchwood... AGAIN!

Just watched 'Adrift' and 'Fragments'... can't remember much of 'Adrift' at the moment, even though I think I liked it, because 'Fragments' made my brain exploooooooode.

It is clear that somebody has been reading fanfic, because Jack's fanon 100 years just became canon.

He's wandering Earth's past, lost, abandoned, bitter, and confused. Haunting Cardiff in the hopes of bumping into the Doctor so he can kiss him hello and then kill him for being such a bastard. And, of course, Torchwood finds him. Treats him like they would any other alien threat, and when they realize he's actually harmless they offer him a job. And despite feeling like shit about it, Jack works for them because he has nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. And he stays with them for the next century, an 'uncontracted field agent'... doing their dirty work, allowed his relative freedom in return. If we wondered why Jack seemed to be such a cold, unfeeling bastard all of a sudden when TWS1 started, this is probably why. He'd been forced back into the kind of morally lacking and soul draining life the Doctor had rescued him from, after being abandoned by his rescuer and left to find his own way again. He could have run, he's competent and he can take care of himself. But he needs to be in Cardiff, and he needs something to do. This is work he's good at, and it's easier to knuckle under than it is to fight against Torchwood. So he swallows his pride and boxes away the little voice in his head that sometimes sounds like Nine and sometimes like Rose, telling him that he ought to be bigger on the inside.

And then, in an only vaguely explained Y2K murder-suicide, the 1999 TW team takes itself out. Jack is left suddenly in charge after 100 years of being what I can only assume was an unwilling and yet compliant contract killer. Freed from that arrangement and probably in no small amount of shock and grief over the team he just lost, he sets out to rebuild Torchwood in the Doctor's honor, and goes out recruiting.

Enter Tosh, Ianto, and Owen. (And presumably Suzie, though she's not actually in this episode except in one brief offscreen mention.) Each of them is broken in some way, each of them at the end of their rope. Jack swoops in, sees potential that no one else is willing to work hard enough to see, and saves each of them from themselves.

Tosh (whose past I still can't quite reconcile with the Tosh we saw in DWS1, but anyway...) was apparently a brilliant research scientist who wound up in over her head, blackmailed into committing industrial espionage and using her genius for various and sundry nefarious purposes. UNIT accordingly takes a strong dislike to her, locks her up, and throws away the key. If we wondered why Tosh is so quiet, always tries to be unnoticeable, and has an almost hero worship like trust in Jack, this is probably why. Jack rescues her from languishing in the UNIT lockup, and gives her another chance at life.

Ianto, who we must remember at this point was sitting on the biggest secret of his life: his half cyberized girlfriend, actually stalks Jack like a hopeful puppy in search of a new home in the wake of the destruction of Torchwood London. And here is where (after I stopped squeeing over actually seeing Jack's backstory) I really decided that I loved this episode unconditionally. In Ianto's flashback, not once is the half cyberized girlfriend issue mentioned or dealt with. When Jack does his rundown on Ianto and mentions Lisa, Ianto points out, "Deceased!" and sounds almost chirpy about it. He flirts outrageously with Jack, goes out of his way to make himself useful to Jack, and gets himself hired. "Hey! Report tomorrow morning for work," says Jack as Ianto walks away, and for a moment Ianto looks equal parts relieved and terrified and like he's about to cry. If we wondered why Ianto seemed withdrawn and clinical before Jack found out about Lisa, or why Jack seemed to feel so bitterly betrayed when he did find out about Lisa, this is probably why. In that one split second before the flashback ends, just after Jack takes a chance, gives in, and brings Ianto into his sacred mission to rebuild Torchwood, Ianto has such a revealing look on his face. He's succeeded, got himself back in on Torchwood's resources, got himself access to the technology he needs to keep Lisa alive. He's really going to do this, he's going to keep it all together and he's going to save her. It's going to work, because it just has to.

All of that is actually in the episode, unless I'm seeing more vivid hallucinations than usual, without ever mentioning the fact that she's even still alive at that point. I just... gah. So well acted.

And finally, Owen is a young doctor with idealistic hopes and a fiance who is showing the symptoms of very early onset Alzheimer's. Owen refuses to give up on her, vows to marry her and stay with her and fight for her. And fight for her, he does, insisting on just one more scan... only to find that what she really seems to have is a brain tumor. He waits outside as they operate... only to find that what she really actually has is an alien brain parasite that subsequently kills everyone in the operating theater, including her. Jack waltzes in, tells him oops, sorry, that was an alien in her head, she's sorta dead now, and no, you can't do anything about it, and then he drugs him (though not with Retcon) and leaves him to the tender mercies of the psych ward. But sill Owen refuses to stop fighting. He keeps asking questions, keeps telling his mad sounding story about aliens, keeps looking for that American man... until it all seems hopeless and he's half convinced himself that he really has gone mad. And then Jack reappears, seeming honestly sorry for his loss and rather impressed at his tenacity. Jack listens as Owen talks about losing his faith (in himself, in his chances of making a better world), his idealistic hopes as dead as his lover. And then Jack offers him a job, a chance to try making a difference like he'd always really wanted to. If we wondered why Owen was such an emotionally closed off jerk, and seemed to waffle between hating Jack and looking up to him, this is probably why.

And then if that much well thought out, amazingly acted, no holds barred, openly displayed character background wasn't enough sheer awesome for this one little episode, the very last scene sets us up for a rousing round of Jack angst and hurt/comfort all around.

I swear, not even naked mud wrestling could have made me happier with this ep. And we all know Jack is always up for the naked mud wrestling. :-) 

I don't care that...
all of Torchwood is really just the DW writers writing fanfic about their own show, with Jack as the Marty Stu junior Time Lord replacement Doctor, and Captain John as the possibly dangerously insane best enemy worst friend replacement Master. I mean... come on, John. "Oh, Doc--- 'Jack', why don't you like me any more? Maybe if I destroy everything you love and ruin your life, then you'll want to spend time with me! Ha ha ha, I'm an evil emo Time Lo-- Agent. And by the way, there's only a few of us left, it's kinda like we're almost extinct. How much do you want to bet that you're the one who destroyed Galli--- the Time Agency, probably in those two years you can't remember, you poor, traumatized thing, you? I know! Let's rampage around the Universe and have lots of sex. Wouldn't that be good? Hmmm? Wouldn't it?"

Ahem.

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Comments

( 8 comments — leave a comment )
wendymr
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, I really, really liked this episode too, which is a relief because I was seriously disturbed by Adrift, not to mention irritated by its Gwen-heaviness. Fragments: sheer brilliance for all the reasons you mention. In particular, it helps me to feel good about liking Owen this year when I loathed him last year. And Jack... yes, it's so like what for many of us had become fanon.

I feel desperately sorry for Tosh, and that backstory explains so much, as you say. I think I can just about squeeze in DWS1: what if Torchwood/Jack sent her to investigate? Of course, that'd require some finagling, since TW London was still in business then, but who knows?

Ianto... what a conniving bastard ;) It's nice to see him with a bit more character - he was far too 'cardboard' for me last year - though I still don't care for him.

And now I'm all anxious about the final episode because of spoilers I've heard; if bad things happen to characters I like I will be very unhappy.
adaliafic
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm glad it's not all in my head, then! Sometimes I read things into an episode that other people later tell me aren't really there. (See the bit I just edited in to the end of this post... ahem.)

I feel like they've used S2, and 'Fragments' in particular, to try to tie up all the bad characterizations and writing they left hanging from S1. It's resulted in the kinds of things I squeed and speculated about above, and that makes me very, very happy.

I had mixed feelings about 'Adrift'... it had an interesting story to tell, but I'm not sure they told it as well as they could have. I haven't thought about it too much, since I watched it back to back with 'Fragments' and, well, you read this entry already. :-)

I've got a philosophy about expectations for future episodes of a show I like. I hope to see more of whatever made me like the show to begin with, and I try to keep an open mind about the rest. So, in this case, I want to see some more Jack backstory, I want to see some Torchwood team kicking ass and taking names, and I want some more emo angsty moments, because what does this show (this entire franchise...) do well, if not angst?

If they start doing what seems like unearned bad things to the characters, I might be disappointed. But I'm not going to worry about it until the time comes. :-)
wendymr
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
The thing is that I've heard some very specific rumours about permanent things happening, and if those are true I will be very unhappy indeed. Can't say any more without actually giving it away...
adaliafic
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
Spoil away!
wendymr
Mar. 22nd, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
If you're sure...

Beware! Spoilers below!

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Owen and Tosh get killed off in the final episode, leaving Gwen and Ianto with Jack in S3. There's also a rumour that Martha's back as the team doctor. Much as I love Jack, even he's not enough to put up with the Gwen and Ianto Roadshow, for me, and as I'm pretty lukewarm on Martha as well... :(
adaliafic
Mar. 22nd, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, well then.

Less tragic for me if that happens, since I don't particularly mind any of the characters who would remain (and I'm sorta learning to really like Ianto, sometimes). I'd at least be willing to give the new dynamic a shot. I would of course miss the ones who left... though, around here, such things are rarely as permanent as they might seem.
adaliafic
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, and about Tosh in DWS1... the thing that always bothered me about that was that in DWS1 we saw Dr. Sato, medical expert, confronting alien anatomy.

Then in TWS1 we get Tosh, tehno nerd, now working for Jack and clearly an expert in computers and back engineering alien technology.

It's the complete jump in careers that makes me wonder. Maybe she was undercover? But... as a medical doctor?

Me = so confused.
wendymr
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
But was she a medical doctor, or a doctor of some specific branch of science? It's not been specified in TW what kind of qualifications Tosh has.

But, yeah, they needed to be a bit clearer than they have so far.
( 8 comments — leave a comment )

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adaliafic
Adalia Zandra

greetings

This is adaliazandra's fic journal, which she hadn't planned to use very often. That plan has since been defenestrated in favor of posting fic update notices and rambles about DW and TW.

If you note the spiffy paid-account layout, that's because nightrider101 is simply the most wonderful person ever! :-)

If I seem to have disappeared off the face of the Internet, it's because I probably did. I don't actually *like* suddenly ignoring my LJ friends and leaving my stories hanging, though, so odds are I'll be back eventually.