You Don’t Know Jack

WARNING: SPOILERS for TORCHWOOD SERIES 3 (Children of Earth) and the very first episode of Torchwood: SERIES 1, EPISODE 1

Of course I have a lot of other things to do that are more important and more urgent than to write a blog entry on a TV series. Still, it seems I have to sweat this one out, it’s just too distracting.

So – yes, of course I’m happy about what they did. (Not so much with the “btw, Jack has a family subplot rewriting – it wasn’t totally annoying. Just not really necessary and unconvincing.) But I’m already digressing.

So people are upset about the obvious. It’s a British show, RTD said he’d hand a clean slate over to the next Doctor Who runner – well, now the slate is really clean.

What I liked best is, when at the end of the hospital scene (or is that still in 10’s house?), Jack leaves, walking through a swing door that looks like the face of a cyberman.

I`’m fairly sure the “cyberman face” was used on purpose, even if perhaps it wasn’t planned. It looks like something that might have come of while they were shooting that scene.

I also loved, loved, loved that RTD and the writers remembered that Jack is not some nice guy superhero, but rather one of the Doctor Who monsters.

He is an abomination, he has history, and while most of his decisions and deeds have been good and honerous, we have also seen Jack the killer in the valley of the flesh eaters, we have seen him sacrificing others, playing with people and their emotions.

RTD’s heroes are really good at walking away. They are ruthless, and the supporting characters know it: When RTD shows us Torchwood for the very first time and Gwen gets the offer to join Torchwood, most of us watched the show for the very first time and mostly remembered “oh, the welding girl shot Jack and then he came back to life”.

What most fans conveniently ignore is that even though Jack talked friendly to Suzie – and people coming back from the dead were not exactly a shocking experience from the character’s POV – her immediate reaction to his “Come with me” is to shoot herself.

She was with Torchwood, she knew Jack for quite some time. So this scene tells us a lot about Jack and life at Torchwood. Gwen? Well, there’s a cute guy and a job opening – why should she bother? (OK, not the biggest Gwen fan here. Actually, I think her character is written so erratically, you hardly get an idea about how she ticks.)

Jack is what Atara Stein would have called a “Byronic Hero“. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Doctor and/or Jack would run into Byron eventually. And I expect goat jokes. Lots of them.)

Jack knows that not only will he outlive the people around him, he also knows that life expectancy around him, and especially at Torchwood, is measured in months rather than decades.

With Jack being as good at walking away as he is – sorry to say that, J/I = OTP fans – he wouldn’t let anyone he really cared about remain that close to him.

With Children of Earth showing the layers of Jack’s personality, the character gained depth and (hopefully) this will resound in any future Jack-meets-the-Doctor plots.

Oh, and btw: when will those ultra-red movie highlights finally get out of fashion. When I first encountered them in “Buffet Froid”, I thought it was brillant, but since then – and maybe even before – everyone who wants the photography to be somewhat “stylish” uses the same old “oh, look, there’s the red theme again” trick.

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