( Because you're breaking my heart )
( Because you're breaking my heart )
( Ow )
I saw someone make that statement about Torchwood's Owen Harper. They didn't like his Fragments backstory, the revelation that he had a fiancée who died, because it gave him a reason for being a jerk.
Now this struck me as odd, because for me, Owen's fiancée's death did not in anyway explain his particular brand of assholishness. In fact, the main reason that I dislike his Fragment backstory is that I struggle to see in S1 Owen the Owen we saw in the flashbacks in Fragments. It doesn't fit, for me. Sure, people can become unpleasant after the death of a loved one. But to go from being a devoted fiancée to the cynical, unloving and unlovable Owen of S1 is not explainable only by the death of a loved one. People who lose loved ones do not react that way from the death of a loved one alone. The equation of human nature is not as simple as: Bad thing happens to person -> person becomes unpleasant.
Which leads me back to the "jerk with no reason" description. Since every has reasons for their behavior, what is actually being said here? It seems the only thing that counts as a "reason" is suffering. Someone who is a jerk with a reason is someone who has suffered in a way that the fan deems sufficient to justify or explain - or possibly sanctify - his assholishness.
And that leaves me with kind of bad taste in my mouth.
Jessica Jones is really, really, the worst in terms of a single character. Torchwood Children of Earth is also very awful, but it’s the whole situation rather than what’s happening to one character that really gets to me. One of the most horrifying moments of Jessica Jones, to me, is when Kilgrave tells her he’ll leave Malcolm alone if she sends him pictures herself. Somehow the fact that he’s asking for selfies, not nudes, just makes it creepier. He has this much control over her, and she has no real choice but to go along with it. And if she doesn’t do it at the right time, he gives implied threats.
Two others that I find very horrifying are Sam Winchester (in Supernatural seasons 3, 4, parts of 5, and the first half of 7, specifically), and Drusilla from Buffy. Drusilla’s situation is more horrifying than Sam’s, but Sam’s is visceral for me as much if not more because he’s a protagonist and we get a stronger sense of his experiences, and also because I love him more.
There’s really no redeeming factor to Dru’s story. People have tried to find it. I've heard argued that the redeeming factor of Drusilla’s story is that she is happy, when Angel gave her eternal life in order to punish her forever. That may be true, but it seems very, very tiny considering that she has become the very “evil thing” that she was desperate to avoid. Another fan, after pointing out accurately that Dru can’t be a survivor because she’d dead, argued that Dru was…I don’t remember her exact wording, but because Dru just existed. Continued. She remains Drusilla.
Except she wasn’t always Drusilla. We don’t know her human name, but if it was Drusilla I’ll eat my hats. Whoever that girl was, perhaps she wasn’t completely and utterly destroyed, she does still exist as that monster, but she was transformed into the thing she least wanted to be. There is no redemption for her.
And that’s horrifying.
And yet...maybe those fans aren't so wrong. Drusilla is dead, to be sure - but also not. She still exists. She’s not miserable. Angel has turned her into what he wanted her to be. He made her, he designed her. She was, indeed, his art.
But she’s not…she’s not forced, not anymore. She makes her own decisions. “I could pick the wisest and bravest knight in all the land - and make him mine forever with a kiss.” And she does.
She’s insane. Angel and Darla made her insane. They took her sanity and they made her a monster - but they don’t control her. She’s not a prisoner. She’s a very different being now, she’s the “thing” she didn’t want to be. What happened to her was not her choice. As others have pointed out, Dru is the only one of the fanged four who does not get some form of redemption…because she does not need redemption. She’s a victim. An eternal victim.
Dru is a monster, but she is a monster who makes her own decisions about what to do. Angel and Darla can’t, for example, keep her from vamping Darla again. She’s the monster, now, and they are the victims. Dru is out of her mind, but her insanity is hers. She has visions and she says things that make no sense and Angel and Darla can never understand. She’s a Cassandra who has no desire to be understood. She loves. She loves “quite well. If not wisely.” She’s not the young woman who begged Angel to help her be good. And yet…"In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed." Drusilla is her own being, her own independent agent.
1. S1 has been better than I remembered so far...but not Cyberwoman. I think I'm going to walk away with my same opinion: Worst TV episode that I have ever watched in full.
2. Watching the episode, Eve Myles is so much more talented than Gareth David Lloyd that it grates.
3. Lisa's revealing outfit is unnecessary and gross. The way doctor inappropriate feeling up of her is unbelievably unnecessary and gross.
4. Ianto and Lisa have no chemistry. None at all. The episode would have a shot at being decent if they had chemistry.
5. Ianto does have a bit of chemistry with Jack - and I'm convinced they're already sleeping together. Jack has a gun to Ianto's head demanding to know why Ianto put them all in huge danger. Ianto retorts by accusing Jack of not caring about him on a personal level - and Jack is moved enough by this to put the gun away. They must have been sleeping together. Exchange doesn't make sense to me otherwise.
6. We get no sense of Lisa as a person. I recall being irritated at fandom for usually only caring about Lisa in terms of how she affected Ianto's relationship with Jack...but I can kinda get where they are coming from.
For each these shows, I naturally have favorite characters: Dr. Owen Harper, Buffy Anne Summers, Sam Winchester, and Jessica Jones herself (though Trish is a damn close second). Liking the type of shows that I like, all these characters have killed people (and/or people-like beings). Naturally, I feel the need to name my favorite kill for each character.
( Spoilers for all four shows )
You know what else is fun? Naming my favorite villain of each show! So:
( Again with the spoilers )
*Yes, I'm a Buffy/Spike shipper. What's your point?
I do think familial comparisons are actually appropriate in Torchwood, to an extent. I mean, Owen obviously has this whole daddy issues thing going with Jack, and Jack sees Owen as his wayward little brother, to some extent (Although—right there. You notice that? The familial relationship is different from Owen’s point of view than from Jack’s.). And Jack sees the team in general as his children, to varying degrees. But, that doesn’t mean they are his children. Jack is not Owen’s father, and Owen is not his little brother. There are elements of that in their relationship, but it is not the sum of their relationship. Which is to say, Jack and Owen have a platonic relationship in canon with familial elements, but the familial elements are not great enough to keep the relationship platonic (the Owen in my head is actually very straight, hence the platonicness, but that could just be me). It’s just not. They are not related. They don’t perceive themselves as related. They don’t even act like they’re related, most of the time. It’s just once in awhile, Owen gets his daddy issues into the relationship, and Jack gets his I-lost-my-little-brother issues into the relationship. Those issues might make having sex awkward, but they might not. It’s hard to judge. People are more complicated than that.
(Although…who gets forgiveness and a hug at the end of Season 1? And who gets forgiveness and a hug at the end of Season 2?)
I briefly shipped Jack with Martha, after watching her on Torchwood and on the Season 3 finale of Doctor Who, but after watching the rest of Season 3, I realized she was younger and more…young than I’d given her credit for, and the relationship started seeming too unbalanced for me.
Someone online was complaining that they overdid Martha-is-wonderful in her guest appearances on Torchwood, trying to compensate for her sometimes questionable treatment on DW. I wasn’t sure about her in my first watching of Reset, because, as the person pointed out, everyone seemed to just love her, but the second time around, I believed it. Jack obviously loved her, and if Jack loved her, the others would fall in line.
And note, the one character who doesn’t seem taken by Martha: Toshiko Sato. This is probably because the writers had already chosen her backstory, and knew she had issues with UNIT, but it fits with what I’ve noticed: Tosh isn’t as taken in by Jack as the others. She’s not going to love someone just because Jack does, whereas for Gwen, Owen, and Ianto, Jack’s feelings are enough.
And if you think Owen’s flirting with Martha had nothing to do with Jack’s adoration for her, just remember what he did the last time Jack brought a new woman into Torchwood and displayed obvious favoritism for her. Season 1 Owen was much rougher around the edges, and his treatment of Gwen was less like flirting and more like sexual harassment, but he obviously wanted her in bed, and I’m quite sure he wanted her in bed because she was Jack’s golden girl. His argument with Ianto in Death in the Death (where he says that Ianto has “won” because he goes out in the field now, and is “shagging Jack”) makes it clear that he considers having sex with someone as a way to get status, and Owen is nothing if not focused on status. Gwen was very much Jack’s golden girl in Season 1 (and still to a lesser extent in Season 2), and I’m sure that’s a large part of why Owen wanted to sleep with her. Also why he had no interest in Tosh—Owen perceived her as being below him in status, and therefore something to be avoided. Also, she’s a blatant geek, and Owen is a closet geek who associates geekiness with weakness, and will do just about anything to avoid both.
(“It’s all my fault”, Nancy says at one point.)
And the solution is the reverse of the solution in CoE. The young blond male child to whom Nancy has been lying to about their biological relationship has to be saved to save the world. In CoE, Jack murders the child to save the world.
I remember, the first time I watched the Empty Child two-parter, how interesting it is that Jack is so upset about having lost two years of memories in the Doctor Dances, and then in Torchwood is administering Retcon left and right. It’s also interesting in that Jamie’s story is a metaphor for keeping secret from children…if anything slips out, just shut the door, hang up the phone, try to shut it in, don’t let the child know, but this only makes things worse. To make things better, you have to be honest, to tell them the truth. This is interesting in light of how secretive Torchwood is, and how much they hide things.
But, you see, Cable bashing bothered me a bit. Cable (son of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone, raised by Cyclops and Jean in the future) was another character I liked who wasn’t very popular. He was at that time in the book Cable & Deadpool, co-starring with the far more popular Deadpool (brain damaged mercenary who breaks fourth wall). People who said they only read Cable & Deadpool for Deadpool and wanted Cable gone. So maybe it’s not character bashing that bothers me. Maybe it’s *relationship* bashing. So what bothers me about Torchwood fandom is not that they bash Gwen, but that they bash her relationship with Jack. And Buffy fandom, when fans bashed Buffy *because* they like Spike, they are bashing Buffy and Spike’s relationship. The same with Yoko Ono among Beatles fans, since I am invested in both her relationship with John Lennon and her non-relationship with Paul McCartney. In complaining that Cable & Deadpool has too much Cable, they were bashing Cable and Deadpool’s relationship.
But the first time I saw Fragments, I really liked it. I really liked Owen’s backstory, which I later came to feel did not fit his characterization. I really liked Tosh’s backstory, which I later felt was following a pattern of having bad things happen to Tosh to an extent which was overkill. Ianto’s backstory was a little confusing without knowing the backstory from earlier Torchwood episodes and Doctor Who, but I enjoyed it. And if anything, I appreciated it more once becoming familiar with the backstory. I also quite liked Jack’s backstory. That is the one that I changed my mind the least about after becoming familiar with the characters. I still thought it was good.
I have some thoughts about Jack Harkness and family, specifically in terms of how he relates to his daughter and grandson in Children of Earth.
It’s pretty clear that Jack is the closest thing Steven has to a father. Which is to say, he is not Steven’s father at all, because he comes so rarely that it’s like a treat. But better than Steven’s actual father.
Whose fault is it that Jack has such a distant relationship with Steven? In CoE Day One, when Alice makes a resentful comment about how signing checks is easy, and Jack points out that he stays away because she asked him to, that he’d come around every day if she wanted.
He’s blaming her. But it’s not entirely her fault. I mean think about it…every day? If you’ve watched either of the first two seasons of Torchwood—or, for that matter, even Children of Earth!—you would know that just isn’t doable. Jack’s job is too dangerous and too demanding.
(Or is it? Gwen pulls it off, doesn’t she? But Gwen manages just barely, and really kept her relationship with Rhys through the grace of God and his own loyalty toward her. It’s sheer stupid luck that Rhys is even still alive. Besides, Jack is the leader. A more demanding position.)
And then there’s the little fact that Jack spent the first…what, five years? Of Steven’s life prepared to leave the planet at the drop of a hat should a certain alien with two hearts show up at his doorstep. We now know that Jack didn’t just abandon the team when he left at the end of seasons two. He abandoned his daughter and grandson.
Here is how I see Jack’s relationship with Steven: He is the closest thing the boy has to a father, but he is a bad father. He comes and goes. His work comes first. We see this mirrored in Frobisher, who is busy with his job all the time and rarely gives affection to his daughters.
Someone online once pointed out that we see the name of one of Frobisher’s daughters on the door all flowery and cute, and we see Steven bleeding and shaking, and suggested maybe it means that Frobisher killed the idea of a child, and Jack killed an actual child.
(Why do we see Jack’s murder, and not Frobisher’s murders? I hadn’t thought of that, and now I’m not sure. Perhaps it's because, whether because of circumstances or personality, Jack faces the horror of his actions. Frobisher doesn’t. Or maybe it’s just because the way Frobisher kills his children is much more realistic—real adults kill real children that way—while Jack’s killing of Steven is very sci-fi.)
But that’s not true. They both killed actual children.
And they both killed the idea of children.
What did Jack lose in Children of Earth? Home. Partner. Child. In short, family. This is the thing about Torchwood’s Jack Harkness, which a lot of people don’t notice, because they’re stuck on the idea of him being this intergalactic slut, which he isn’t. In the first three seasons of Torchwood, Jack Harkness had sex with all of one person. In almost every romantic interaction he had (whether dancing, kissing, or sex), the other person took the lead. Jack is certainly always talking about past sexual encounters, but talk is cheap. Actions are more important.
The fact is, the Jack Harkness of Torchwood wants a family. He’s jealous of Gwen for Rhys, alternatively urging her to hold onto her relationship (“Don’t let it drift” “Be normal, Gwen Cooper, for me”), and getting in between Gwen and Rhys (interrupting their date in Combat, dancing with Gwen for so long at their wedding). In short, he wants Gwen to be happy, and thinks Rhys will give her that happiness, but he is intensely jealous. Not, as some people assume, because he wants Gwen (although that may be a factor)…but because Gwen has the normal life he wishes he could have. In the one with the fairies, we discover that he and Estelle promised they would never part. In Something Borrowed, we discover he was married. Both these details involve female lovers (which bothered a lot of people), but we’ve seen him willing to work at maintaining his relationship with Ianto, and when Ianto suggested the possibility that they would be together until Ianto died of old age, Jack hardly protested.
And of course in CoE Day One, Jack blames Alice for the fact that he isn’t more involved in her life, and his grandson’s life, which isn’t Alice’s fault, but isn’t entirely Jack’s fault, either.
How well did Jack and Steven know each other? Not too well, I imagine. To Steven, Jack was more the idea of a father figure than an actual father figure, a man who comes every now and then bringing money and praise. To Jack, Steven was the idea of a child, the child he never got to raise.
(Note: We also saw how Jack values family in his Grey backstory. For all its faults, the Grey story and Jack’s reaction to this event of his past emphasized just how important family is to Jack.)
Jack did not love Alice the way a father loves his daughter. Nor did he love Steven the way a father does his son, or the way a grandfather loves his grandchild. He loved them, yes, but also the idea of them. The idea of being a father, and a grandfather, of having a normal life, of having a family.
In killing Steven, he gave up on that idea.
Like a lot of people, I thought of Captain John Hart as being like Spike, what with the whole same-actor thing. And watching Angel S2, I realized that there is definitely some truth to the whole Jack-is-Angel thing I’ve heard other fans talk about that. Except, by that metaphor, John Hart ain’t Spike. He’s Darla—the ex who wants the morally murky protagonist to become his/her partner again and return to the dark side.
Except…then I re-watched the Buffy Season 2 episode. “Dark Age”. And I realized, John Hart isn’t Spike, and he isn’t Darla.
He’s Ethan Rayne.
Ethan even has the line (which is Jack’s, not John’s, on “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, but still, it’s about their relationship), “We go back.” There’s a scene where he’s alone with Buffy and being all skeptical of her when she’s saying positive things about Giles, and I’m thinking, “This is like ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, isn’t it? He knocks her out?” And he totally does! He gestures for her to go in front of him, and then knocks her out! It is so very MUCH like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”—well, without the kissing, but you know. Not every show is Torchwood.
I already have a Giles-is-Jack-Harkness thing going after watching “The Gift”, because of his opinion on the whole kill-Dawn-to-save-the-world thing (I am one of those unusual people who saw “The Gift” after I saw Torchwood: Children of Earth). Naturally, Giles and Buffy’s respective stances on the whole killing-Dawn-to-save-the-world thing led to comparisons to CoE. I realized that Giles and Jack have something in common: They don’t die. They send others to their deaths. It’s made very clear in S5 that that is what a Watcher does. They send Slayers into battle, and the slayers die. Young. And the watchers truly care about the Slayers. In Jack’s case, he sends his fellow Torchwood people into battle, and they, too, die young. And Jack truly cares about them.
Buffy is Ianto and Gwen in this metaphor—the ones who protect those they love, who would rather die than choose to save the world by destroying a loved one. Ianto was quite clear on th whole “you’re not getting one solitary, single child” thing when he confronted with the 456, and even though she didn’t blame Jack for killing Steven, I don’t think Gwen would have done the same thing herself. Giles and Jack make pragmatic decisions because they survive. Buffy, Gwen, and Ianto are idealists because they don’t.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows.
boot_the_grime gave me the letter G.
Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): I have surprisingly few thoughts on Giles. I like him well enough most of the time, but was never as deeply interested in him as I was in some of the other characters. The only time he inspired a strong emotional reaction in me was when he left in S6--and oddly, the character on whose behalf I was most pissed-off was Dawn. As in, "How could you leave this girl in the charge of two out-of-control twenty-year-olds?" Ironically I think Giles may have left because of Dawn. I think it may have been swsa who first suggested that idea; that Giles was willing to be a father figure to Buffy, but absolutely did not want to be one to Dawn, and he left in large part because Buffy was trying to get him to be the one responsible for Dawn.
Glory (BtVS): I love Glory. She wasn't the brightest or most interesting villain on the show, and her hench-demons were quite irritating, but she was a god and could throw Buffy and Spike around like ragdolls. Season five fight scenes were among the most delightful of the show.
Gunn (Angel): I could never really get into Gunn. I do remember being annoyed by the narrative that had him kill his (recently vamped, probably not yet harmed anyone) sister while a season later Cordelia lets Harmony (already eaten her share of people) go. Maybe that was supposed to illustrate Cordy and Gunn's different attitudes towards vampires, but it would have been nice to have it addressed more directly (i.e., have Gunn have doubts about whether he was right to kill his sister, or have him or someone else criticize Cordy for letting Harmony go). AtS in general had a problem with unacknowledged inconsistency in how demons and vampires were treated/portrayed.
I think my favorite moment for Gunn was in S5, when he chose take Lindsey's place and endure (possibly eternal) torture for the cause, and to atone for Fred's death.
Gwen Cooper (Torchwood): I started watching Torchwood with the same attitude about Gwen as I had about Buffy on BtVS: that she was most important woman on the show, and the target of fannish hostility, and therefore if I was going to like the show, I was going to like her. I wasn't entirely sure whether I would like her at first, but she clicked with me in the scene in Ghost Machine when she experiences memories of her and Rhys. My feelings towards her remained fairly consistent from that time onwards: I always liked her, but she was never a favorite. Her relationship with Jack increasingly became one of my favorite things about the show, and definitely my favorite thing about her character. This made the fandom a bit difficult for me--I never had any desire to see Jack and Gwen together as a couple (and didn't really think that would ever happen), but fandom was afraid this would happen, and many fans responded with hostility towards any positive interaction the two had (especially if it was flirtatious, which, well, this is Jack Harkness we're talking about, so that would be most interactions). Reading review after review where a relationship you like is put down and insulted can get tiresome.
Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man Comics): The comic version, because I haven't seen the recent movie.
First of all, I must admit to being a hardcore Peter/MJ shipper (again, comic version; I only saw the first Raimi movie, but it was quite enough to put me off movie MJ as a character), which of course affects my view of Gwen. What I mostly think about about Gwen is that she had potential, but it didn't go anywhere. I once saw a Peter/Gwen shipper argue that Gwen was better suited for Peter as love interest than MJ because she was also a science major--which would have been a good argument if Gwen being a science major had ever been mentioned outside of one issue (With Silver Age female characters in general, I tend to prefer the flighty, ultra-feminine types, like Mary-Jane Watson and Jan van Dyne aka the Wasp, because then their portrayal as ultra-feminine feels more like genuine characterization and less like "Ha ha! Girls are so girly!"). Gwen's character quickly devolved into a boring love interest, and the writers couldn't think of anything to do with her besides killing her off. That's a shame, really--because she had potential.
She makes connections. Lois. Clem. Rupesh. Rhiannon. Johnson. She keeps everyone connected together, and gets Jack in touch with the people he needs to be in touch with.
She’s always of both worlds. A police constable, but on the run for the law. Torchwood, and ordinary folk. While every other woman in the miniseries is either a mother or not a mother, Gwen is pregnant, partway between both worlds. She can communicate with people from vastly different worlds: Lois, the daring young woman in over her head, and Clem, the old man still stuck in 1965. She can love and obey Jack and still support Clem, the person he hurt. Gwen is even the one to try to call Frobisher in Day Two. Jack sends her to Rhiannon, a woman he’s never met, and probably never will, and Gwen is able to connect the two worlds that Ianto has kept separate with lies and reserve.
There are so many different people in Children of Earth, and Gwen can communicate with just about all of them.
What about you? Do you find yourself getting more defensive of some characters than others, even if they aren't your favorites?