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No time to post yesterday but how can I not say anything tonight? Torchwood season 3 / Children of Earth: Day Four. Spoilers through ep 4 and thoughts behind the cut.

Sort of arranged by the stages of grief, but mostly just by the numbers.

1. Anger.
Oh, Ianto. We genre viewers can never underestimate the ability of auteur producers to screw with us. On the one hand I kind of expected it; on the other, I have a strong desire to run out and kick someone in the shins. (Disclaimer: this is a metaphorical punch. Or a simile, because I used the word like. Or possibly some other aspect of the English lanugage which escapes me at the moment, because, hello, did you *see* what happened in this episode? At any rate, there will be no actual kicking or any other sort of harm, unless you count my poor gnashed teeth. Please do not send the SWAT team.) I know that beneath the mushroom cloud of the internet exploding, there is devastation but not surprise, which really speaks to the writing on the wall. Let's face it, the character had so much foreshadowing it's a wonder we could see his forehead from all expiration dates stamped on it. But I really, really hoped they wouldn't got there, because it smacks of lazy writing. I honestly hoped, after the excellent run this season, that the TW writers could finally make serious, good drama without having to fall back on character deaths to push our buttons. For 3 and 9/10 episodes, they were doing it. RTD, dude (can I call you dude), I know you've moved on to other series and this is probably the end of Torchwood, and it was all in the service of good storytelling blah blah blah, but man. I really can't tell you much I wish you hadn't done that.

2. Denial.
OK, last of denial. I am pretty sure Ianto will not be coming back in ep 5, unless in flashbacks. It wasn't written like a cliffhanger like Owen getting shot at the end of Reset, and with only one episode left, they just don't have enough time to tell a resurrection story. If he had just collapsed with 5 seconds left in the episode, maybe. But after all the time and emotional weight spent on that death scene, I seriously doubt they'll bring Ianto back. As much as I hate to say it, that scene completed Ianto's arc. He's always been a tragic character, and this season has really cemented the idea that death has followed Ianto his whole life. Ianto's arc this season was coming to terms what he meant to Jack. Jack's arc so far has been about what his immortality means for the people he loves. I strongly suspect that Ianto's death will help set up Jack to reunite with the Doctor for the last Tennant DW special. Much as I would love for Ianto to come back, the pieces just fit together too well. There is a tiny niggling bit of doubt because the actor mentioned doing a scene where he was climbing up the side of a quarry above some fires which I don't think we've seen, but I'm going to assume it was either cut or showed up in some other form that was not actually a quarry. I am also extremely sad that we never got to see Ianto with the charmingly accessorized assault rifle from the promo shots, because his moments of prissy procurement greatness were best when alternated with sheer badassery.

3. Not actually a stage but I'm still typing it.
Something that's been rumbling around in my head for a while: the Ianto of fandom was never quite the same character as the Ianto of the series. By and large, I have to say, fandom wrote him better. As much as Russell Davies seems to have liked Gareth David Lloyd as an actor, he and the TW writers always seemed to struggle with (1) what to do with Ianto and (2) how to write him. I don't think the TW writers have ever been as invested in writing Ianto as a main character, as the fans have wanted him to be. Ianto got some good moments in S3, but especially after Day 3, I still feel that the writers never really figured it out where to take his character. It's a shame, because fandom had some really good ideas about that, which will now never happen. I do wish that, as Owen did with the walking dead man arc, Ianto had gotten more to do in his swan song season; in that respect, I think having only five episodes really limited what they had time to show.

4. Bargaining.
For all the British and American directors out there: hire Gareth David-Lloyd and I will watch your show whatever it is or however bad. He took a minor character with 2-4 line and episode and made him perhaps the most complex and layered member of Torchwood. Good on you, Mr. David-Lloyd. I'll be watching whatever you do next.

5. Grief.
About three fandoms back, I came to realize that what the viewing wants out of its entertainment is not exactly the same as the stories that full-time writers want to tell us. As much as we poor schmucks in the audience admire great drama, we also like happy endings. The writers -- well, they are rarely happy ending kind of people. They love drama for its own sake, and they aren't invested in the same way. So, as much as S1 of Torchwood may have lacked good drama, I forgive it a lot because it has a happy ending (i.e. no one dies. well, permanently.) And as much as S3 has been good drama, I begrudge it a lot because, even more than good drama, I wanted more of Ianto's story. I still do.

6. Finally a comment on the rest of the episode.
Despite all I said about not bring in it for the drama (come on, this is Torchwood!), I think the most powerful and well written scene in episode four was actually the one where the politicians sat around a table and decided that they would sacrifice 10% of Britain's children. Just not, you know, *their* children. That scene was great drama, and I suspect this is the scene RTD conceived the whole miniseries in order to write. The fact that I'm still at a loss why Ianto had to die to accomplish this is sadly incidental.

7. Also a comment about the rest of the episode:
Sadly, poor Clem's death was almost completely ignored. He got some good writing, some good acting, but sadly not really enough of a coherent story to be more than a McGuffin/exposition device. Which is sad, because if you want to show the cost of Jack's past actions to individual people, Clem would have been the way to go yet.

8. Cannot believe I have not gotten around to saying yet how impressed I've been with how the writers have handled Gwen this season. It's like they finally fixed the characterization issues with her that dragged down her character in S1 and S2. Have enjoyed her scenes with Rhys greatly; just wish she'd had a little more time with Ianto, and Jack some time with Rhys. Speaking of Rhys, did Kai Owen do a great job or what?

9. Acceptance.
Have read a couple of comments that Ianto's death was futile, that he didn't go out fighting. To me, it was completely the opposite. He may not have killed an alien or been firing a gun, but Ianto Jones died because stood next to Jack and told the 456, hell no, you are not getting a single child from us, because humanity will stand up in front of you, if it costs us our lives. And Ianto proved it. Ianto Jones died for what he believed in, protecting humanity from aliens. He went out a hero, even if he would tell you he was just doing his job.

10. And in the end ...
The scene I'll always remember as defining this episode is Jack and Ianto strolling into Thames House, weapons in hand. "Jack Harkness. Ianto Jones. We're Torchwood." You totally were, Ianto. You totally were.

Sniff. I need a hug.

Date: 2009-07-10 08:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] walktheboat.livejournal.com
Great description of the fandom's reaction. Spot on. We're all going through some stages of grieving here (I'm somewhere between denial and acceptance... not quite sure where.) But somehow your review did make me feel a little better. You're right about Ianto being a tragic character and this ending does seem right for him. Even if we will miss him.


Date: 2009-07-13 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oceloty.livejournal.com
Thanks so much for stopping by! It's weird but touching to think of this as fandom pulling together in a crisis.

Ianto was Torchwood through and through, and secretly, I always hoped he would be the one to survive the disasters and rebuild Torchwood 1. Realistically, Ianto himself knew the odds were against him as far back as "To the Last Man." On the one hand, I'm OK with his story because, well, I have to be. The character is dead! On the other hand, I really did want more of his story.

*back at ya*


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