(WARNING: Spoilers galore in the following post. I figure I'm mostly safe now, since it's out on DVD already, but if you haven't watched Children of Earth and want to do so spoiler-free, don't read this.)
(WARNING #2: This is turning out to be one LOOOONG blog post. Sorry about that.)
I first discovered Torchwood via Twitter. Earlier this year, someone (Katiebabs, perhaps?) commented that the Captain Jack/Captain John snog was hot. That's it. That's all I had to go on. But I was curious.
Heading over to YouTube, I typed in "Captain Jack Captain John kiss" and watched the video that popped up.
For those of you familiar with the show, it's from the first ep of season two. For those who aren't, and are a little curious yourself, here's a link.
Okay, yeah. I was hooked. A friend sent me her extra copy of season 1, and I glommed my way through it in a matter of days. It took a little longer to finish season 2, just because I netflixed it and had to wait through the mail-it-back-and-get-the-next-one process.
But within a month, I'd say, I'd watched all available episodes of Torchwood, and was anxiously awaiting season 3.
Which brings me to Children of Earth. It would be an understatement to say that I was looking forward to the miniseries. I listened to the radio shows, I skimmed the fan magazines, I chatted about it with friends -- and I did my darnedest to avoid spoilers.
So imagine my horror when I clicked on a blog post about the radio plays to find a major, major spoiler in the comments, just a week prior to the US release. I clicked out immediately, but the damage was done.
I knew about Ianto and episode 4.
My enthusiasm for Season 3 became tinged with dread. Was it true? Was it permanent? They wouldn't really do that to us, would they?
See, Ianto had always been my favorite character. The quiet, competent one who held everything together, the cute one in the background who kept drawing the eye, the one who grew the most over the two seasons I'd watched in very close succession. I liked him. I liked him on his own, and even more with Captain Jack. Jack was more human with Ianto, and Ianto was more confident. I thought their pairing was a positive thing for both of them, and damn were they cute together!
Not only that, but I was already traumatized by the end of season two. Tosh and Owen's deaths had hit me hard, and with two of the five main characters gone, I was wary of how it would work with only three left -- and now, possibly two.
So I approached Season 3 with trepidation. The first episode? Loved it. Loved the premise, loved the fast pace and sense of danger. Especially loved the discussions between Jack and Ianto, and the delving into both their backstories. When Ianto confesses to his sister how he feels about Jack, I melted a little.
Then episode two came along, and I loved it. Watching the Torchwood team fight their way out of impossible situations is one of the reasons I adore the show. And Ianto as romantic hero, saving his man with the help of heavy equipment? Fabulous.
A little disappointed with the final scene of ep 2, though. Ianto SAVES JACK from being buried alive in concrete, and held captive by the shadowy government assassin team, and Jack can't even give him a hug or kiss afterward? Okay, yeah, he's naked, and there are other people around, but still. It didn't ring true for me, especially after he was the one to call Ianto out on his inability to admit that they were a couple.
Episode 3, more of the same. I was impatient for more couple-y moments, especially since I knew where the show was headed. I still really enjoyed the show, caught up in the growing threat to Earth and the children.
Then came episode 4. I watched with dread, knowing what was coming but unable to turn away. And then it happened. Jack and Ianto charged into the room holding the alien, made some high-minded but absurdly ridiculous threats, and brought down their doom.
I mean, really? We're not going to comply because we say so? Against an enemy they haven't even prepared for? Who then turns around and brushes them aside with as much effort as someone swatting a fly?
I cried buckets. It was a heart-wrenching, emotionally draining scene to watch, and I still get a little choked up thinking about it. Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman knocked it out of the park.
I hated it. I hated that my favorite character had been killed off in such a senseless way. I hated that Jack's kiss didn't work this time, like it had back in season one during the fight with the cyberwoman. I hated that the episode ended on such a pessimistic, hopeless note. And I really, really hated that once again, Torchwood had cut short a relationship that was still finding its footing. (See: Owen and Tosh, end of season two.)
I know, logically, that Jack won't ever have a Happily Ever After. Someone who can't die will always be doomed to watching those around him pass away. But dammit, I wanted him to have at least a Happy For Now with Ianto.
I gave in to temptation and headed over to IMDB, just to see if -- yeah, it was true. Gareth David-Lloyd was listed for one less episode than Eve Myles and John Barrowman. He wasn't coming back in episode 5.
I almost didn't watch it. There seemed to be nothing to look forward to -- but I had so much time and energy invested in the show by then, it seemed a waste to leave it without finding out what happened in the end.
A side note: some people were horrified by Jack's decision regarding his grandson. To me, it wasn't outside his character. Remember the episode in season one with the fairies? He's always chosen the good of the many over the good of the individual, even when he, himself, isn't that individual. He's not always a selfless hero -- he can be cold and calculating.
Still, it was ugly.
Don't know what else to say about the end of the season, except it was dark, depressing, and ultimately left us with one character left standing -- and, no offense to Eve Myles, the one who had always interested me the least. Not that I dislike Gwen, but the character just doesn't speak to me the way the others always had.
So Torchwood: Children of Earth was well acted, well directed, intriguing -- and left us with almost nothing Torchwood to move on to in future seasons. Okay, Gwen's still around. And Jack could come back from his snit-fit (look, I get that he's depressed and needs to get away, but having his last line be "watch me" sent me right back to junior high school. And not in a good way.). But what will he be coming back for? And more to the point, what would *I* be coming back for? No Hub, no rift, no team, no love -- everything that made Torchwood one of my favorite shows has been damaged if not destroyed.
I believe that writers have the right to do whatever they want with their characters. But there is a risk in that as well. I remember reading a blog post a year or so ago about an author who took a couple from one of her early books, brought them back in a much later book, and killed off the hero so the heroine could be paired with someone else. The backlash against this book, and the author who chose to do it, was intense. Many believed that the author had betrayed the trust of her readers by this action.
In some ways, for me, the creators of Torchwood have done the same thing. I freely admit that I totally ship Jack/Ianto, and wanted them together. But my reaction to Children of Earth was about more than that. By taking away so much of what made Torchwood what it was, they've taken away my motivation to look forward to season four.
Will I watch it? Most likely. I love John Barrowman, and honestly I will probably be curious at that point to see how they bring Torchwood back. But I'll never wait with excited anticipation for another season again. And I certainly won't fall in love with any new characters again. I don't trust that they'll survive long enough to make it worthwhile. I won't let myself *love* the show again.
And that, to me, is the real disappointment of Torchwood season three.
If you've made it this far -- wow! Thanks for reading! And I'm curious -- if you watched Children of Earth, what did you think? And if not, have you ever felt let down by the creative choices of a TV show, movie, or book? What was your reaction?