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12 April 2008 @ 04:12 pm
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So I've been catching Torchwood at katchootoo's lately. And last night there was Sarah Jane Adventures as well. I enjoyed that, fun in a who-light way, and it is never bad to see Elisabeth Sladen. Who still looks astonishingly good for a sixty year old.

But Torchwood this week, well...



I didn't buy the end at all. It's not how human beings react.

Torchwood has always tended towards the smug validation of "secrets best kept", though it's had occasional twitches otherwise (Rhys knowing, though of course I'm not certain we aren't working towards his doom), but the problem is, this isn't a matter of whether people are better off having a few hours of being chased by aliens at a wedding erased. That's pure fiction, and easy to handwave. This is a real human situation that happens, and _people don't work like that_. Parents have their children disappear, and they don't say "we wish we didn't know" when the body turns up later; they want to know. And parents have their children returned to them horribly mangled and damaged and mentally ill, and they don't throw up their hands.

It wants us to think that 20 hour bouts of madness are somehow a unique awfulness that justifies all their doings, but it isn't. Accident, disease, our own genes can wreak far worse; there is a genetic defect that drives chldren to chew off their lips, bite off their own fingers, gouge out their own eyes even as they sob in horror for someone to stop them, and their parents don't walk away, they struggle. Families have coped with much worse; their children disappear at a concert that turns into a fiery disaster, and they don't say "oh, we wish we still had hope" when they turn up horribly burned. And they don't throw up their hands and refuse to see them; they sit beside their beds as they go through horrible debriding after debriding, months unconscious.

Olh, in the individual case, sure. It's within the span of human reactions to do so. But what the story wanted us to believe was that was obviously true for all 16 other families, and that Gwen was wrong and Torchwood, in the form of Jack, was smugly right in their keeping of secrets. There wasn't a single voice suggesting any doubt, just the mother insisting that no one else must be told, presenting Gwen as a monster if she were to do so.

And it pissed me off.
 
 
 
R. Francis Smithrfrancis on April 12th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
That episode, and the circus-on-film one before it, were the series 2 low point. I don't know why Doctor Who and Torchwood always crater around episode 10, but there it is. Happily for you, you're now ready for the two-part finale, which is Good Stuff.
Lauratavella on April 13th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
I thought the circus episode was weak, but it didn't *annoy* me. This one had my growling under my breath at the end.
Never mess with the sacred chickenslesbiassparrow on April 12th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen season 2 but given how Torchwood operates (badly and with absolutely no leadership from Captain 'I like to snog people, run after the Doctor, and let my people do whatever they want' Jack), can there actually be any secrets about aliens in Wales that people don't know? This is, after all, the secret organization that has their name emablazoned in their vehicle.
Lauratavella on April 13th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
In this case, it's not so much that people don't know about Torchwood/aliens (Torchwood appears to be no longer a secret agency, in fact), it's the idea that people would prefer to not know about or see their relatives that had been sucked up and spat out again by the rift, because they were damaged in various ways.
Never mess with the sacred chickenslesbiassparrow on April 14th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
That does sound bizarre and counter to pretty much every story of people searching to find out what happened to their loved ones - but par for the course of a lot of the Torchwood writing that I've encountered.
Lauratavella on April 14th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, it was just - bizarre. There are certainly occasionally people whose reaction to a sufficiently damaged loved one is denial and walking away, but very very few. Certainly there are long term consequences -- visits may become more infrequent as the years wear on, people may find they have to disengage from mentally ill, alcoholic, etc relatives because they can't help them and they are being damaged themselves. But presenting the mother who had searched so diligently as "oh, no, I don't want to see him again, now that I've seen that he's mad most of the time, and don't you dare tell any other families or let them see their relatives, now pardon me while I get rid of all my son's possessions that I kept" and then _generalizing this as the obvious and expected reaction of all the other families" was just bonkers, and kind of vile.
Khyri: Hair 2008khyri on April 12th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only Elisabeth Sladen fan out there. I am amazed how little she's changed over the years. My mother was a huge Jon Pertwee fan, and I have to admit that Sarah Jane Smith was my first girl crush... I always wanted to grow up to be just like her (and still do!)
Lauratavella on April 13th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
She's pretty damn fabulous, and very much my ur-Companion (my Doctor was Four, after all). And man, I wish *my* ass looked that good in tight pants!
Capncaptain_boots on April 14th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Well, speaking as a male fan, I had a crush on her. :)
Loligololigo on April 13th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, I pretty much loathed that episode. I can't say I'm a huge Torchwood fan in general, but the end of that episode was a particular low point.
Lauratavella on April 13th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
I skipped the first season, because I knew it was going to hit my buttons in a bad way from what I had heard about plots and from other people's reactions, and I'm not much of a Captain Jack fangirl so there wasn't even that to overcome it. But I've enjoyed most of this season, though I snicker every time they attempt to imply that there is desperate attraction between Gwen and Jack.
my cock still thinks you're a superhero: : initial reaction to the stachemumblemutter on April 13th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
i remember waiting for the reunion, and then waving my arms in distress at the screen at that scene, going "what, no, come on, he's your son you obviously love him beyond anything, what? WHY?" they went through all the trouble of demonstrating how that mother adored her son so much only to slap us in the face for absolutely no reason i could see.
Lauratavella on April 13th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
The only purpose, as much as I can tell, is to validate Jack's behavior. I kept thinking "has no one involved actually met real people? Do they all come from families where they would expect this kind of behavior, never wanting to see a family member again if they were defective? Man, I feel sorry for them."

I've known of families with kids who had head injuries who would be in *tears of gratitude* for even a few hours of their child remembering them and being able to speak again.
Never mess with the sacred chickens: Affronted by meganbmoorelesbiassparrow on April 17th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
The only purpose, as much as I can tell, is to validate Jack's behavior.

I've just seen this episode and I can't help but agree. Most of the time his actions (and Torchwood's) are so deeply dumb they have to work really hard to make them seem at least not insane.
Lauratavella on April 18th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
I gather this season isn't as bad as the last as Torchwood-stupidity goes, and really, I haven't rolled my eyes that much. It's the fact that this episode was all *adulatory* about Jack's secret-keeping that pissed me off.