‘Torchwood’ blogging: “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”

Torchwood blogging is back! Haul out your Season 2 DVDs and get watchin’. (Before commenting, please read the intro to my Doctor Who blogging; the same caveats apply to Torchwood.)

(previous: Season 1, Episode 13: “End of Days”)

I’d barely gotten started watching this episode again — for maybe the third or fourth time — before I had to hit the Pause button and remind myself where in Jack’s complicated personal timeline this is all happening. And it’s this: He’s already gone off with Doctor No. 9 and Rose, fought Daleks in the far future, been made immortal, gotten thrown back in time from the year 200,000 or so to Earth in the mid 19th century and then taken the slow path 150 years forward — and through WWII again — to get to circa 2006-7, where he hitched a ride with Doctor No. 10 and Martha to the end of the universe, then came back to contemporary Earth, and lived through an alternate year during which the Master ruled the planet until that timeline was reset. And this picks up right after that. Right?

So here’s my question: How does the blowfish in the sportscar know Jack’s been away and left the kiddies to fend for themselves? Are entities off Earth keeping such a close eye on Torchwood’s doings? MI5 and UNIT and the CIA, those I can believe are keeping tabs on the team. But has Torchwood draw the notice of, I dunno, the spy arm of the Great Intergalactic Federation? And is the blowfish one of their guys? I demand answers…

Ah, Jack’s gang: they love him like we love the Doctor, bitching about how secretive and mysterious he is, how he disappears without explanation all the time, what a major pain in the ass he is, if we’re gonna be frank about it… but “it is more fun when he’s around, though.” Poor Gwen! She gave in to Rhys’s marriage proposal because no one else — ie, Jack — would have her? (I’d rather be alone than marry someone for that reason.) Jack seems almost tempted right then to try to convince her otherwise. Why does he chicken out? It can’t be because Jack, like the Doctor, is worried about living so much longer than the people he loves, because we’ve already seen that that isn’t stopping him from falling in love, and also, he tries to strike up something more serious with Ianto right in this episode (though dinner and a movie does seem a tad prosaic for Jack).

Maybe if Jack understood that the way that Gwen — and Ianto and probably the others, too — feel about him is the same way that he feels about the Doctor. (Oh, the look on Jack’s face when he says, “I found my Doctor…”) Or maybe Jack does get that, and that’s why he shies away from embracing it. But that still wouldn’t explain his running toward Ianto…

*sigh* This damn show. I don’t need my head full of other people’s romantic issues. But there’s no escaping it.

Random thoughts on “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”:

• Thing No. 154 I love about Torchwood: It acknowledges that so much of what pop culture offers us as male aggression and posturing really is about sexual tension. Usually, when we are presented with a standoff like this:

it’s left to us to say, “Aw, come on, just kiss already and get it over with,” and that subtext slips away unacknowledged. But this is Torchwood:

Of course, Jack and John go on to beat the crap out of each other immediately after this, because, you know, it’s not like they’re not men, and that’s how men deal with one another. Just because these guys are hot for each other doesn’t mean they’re any more verbally adept — any more able to work through their issues by talking about them — than other guys.

Torchwood ain’t just about the unexpected coolness of everyone casually sleeping with everyone else and no one making a big deal about it. In the larger, meta sense, it’s about taking what has always been the subtext and making it the text.

• More meta. The first time you saw this scene:

don’t tell me you weren’t saying right out loud to the TV, “Help me, Obi Wan Harkness, you’re my only hope,” cuz I know you were. I was too. And Torchwood knew you would be, because it lets Captain John Hart make the same reference. Which means two things. 1) That they’re still watching Star Wars in the 51st century, which is cool; we’re still reading Sophocles three thousand years later; clearly John is a bit of a classical scholar. And 2) The Torchwood writers know there’s a whole helluva lot of science fictional stuff they can’t touch without acknowledging that someone else got there first, and that the viewers know it too.

• I’m pretty sure I will never cease to find this hilarious:

That is one well-dressed blowfish.

Oh, and Owen hanging out the window of the speeding SUV, shooting at the blowfish? You know he’s wanted to do something like that his whole life.

• How cute is Jack? He finds cube farms “exotic”?

• Not that we can believe anything John Hart says, but the Time Agency is shut down? “There’s only seven of us now”? Maybe some more rogue Time Agents will show up in future episodes, of this show or of Doctor Who.

• “Now we gotta avoid ourselves — great.” That’s what happens when you mess around with time…

(next: Episode 2: “Sleeper”)

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Sun, Nov 09, 2008 8:26pm

I don’t agree with anything you said, MA.J.
Except the Blowfish.

Mon, Nov 10, 2008 12:08am

The continuity thing that’s irritating me at present is what does Jack do in between leaving Martha and the Doctor at the end of “Last of the Time Lords” – where it’s clearly daytime – and rejoining his team in KKBB, where it’s clearly night? Was the Hub empty when he got back? Did he chicken out of going to find them immediately? It’s puzzling!

I think the blowfish is just brilliant. And the little old lady.

Mon, Nov 10, 2008 10:29am

Joanne – I think Jack went and did some of that “standing on roofs” stuff for a while. Then went for a pizza. Then more roof stuff. Then read Ianto’s diary.

I loved the blowfish! Huge fun! It was RTD’s contribution to the episode, according to his new book.

When Gwen says that no one else would have her, I’m pretty sure she was joking. I’ve heard this expression lots of times in real life when it is clear that the couple involved are happy together (unless I’ve misread that also!)

Mon, Nov 10, 2008 3:34pm

Didja see the look on Gwen’s face when Jack leaned in and kissed her cheek at the end of that scene? If she was joking, it was in that “many a truth said in jest” way.

Wed, Jan 21, 2009 1:39am

This totally mystified me about this episode – exactly WHEN did Jack fall in love with Gwen and “come back for her?” Yes, yes, i know she sat by him when he was in a coma (or whatever it was), but when did he develop amorous, rather than strong friendly, team feelings for her? Did i miss an important element somewhere?

Tonio Kruger
Tue, Jun 23, 2009 5:36am

Heh. The last scene of the pre-credit sequence is such an obvious Buffy reference. (From “When She Was Bad,” the first episode of the second season, as long as I’m so OCD about it.)

Come to think, this episode’s guest star is a Buffy reference.

And so was that magic glove used in the first season. (And it too proved to be used by a certain character who wasn’t quite right. I’d be more specific but you know, spoilers…)

One of these days, MaryAnn, you’re going have to break down and watch that show…