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some Ianto thoughts (the best kind)

I've been thinking a lot about Fragments (2.12), in particular Ianto's scenes.


Someone else (can't remember who, sorry) once described Ianto as a "roleplayer", saying that he was happiest when he had someone he was supposed to be. I'm taking a slightly different tack here, in that I think Ianto is used to playing a role, is very good at playing a role, but that it's not necessarily his default state.

1. Sexy and mysterious. This persona is obvious from the Bond reference to the tight jeans and dark jacket. He tells Jack he knows what a Weevil is, but doesn't offer any more information. When he reaches out for Jack's face, and later when he says he loves the coat, he's definitely trying to use sexuality to interest Jack. Interestingly enough, in this scene he's confident enough to take a little jab at Jack, replying "you think so?" when Jack says he'd had the Weevil under control by himself.

2. Young and emotionally open (only seemingly, of course). His attempt to impress Jack with the coffee, the college-kid necklace, and his insistence that there must be a place for him at Torchwood Three all give the impression of someone who is young and trying to please. His palpable desperation, his mention of Lisa being dead, and his attempt at appealing to Jack's sense of sympathy make him seem emotionally open. It's interesting that he continues with the flirting and touching; it makes me wonder what he'd heard about Jack that he thought someone more innocent would appeal to the older man. Again, he mentions the coat, saying "I really do like that coat!". The "really" in that sentence is another indication that he's going for the impression of honesty.

Again, he takes a little jab at Jack. When Jack says he didn't want the equipment from Torchwood London to get into the wrong hands, Ianto says, "and you're the right hands, are you?" These small remarks are really interesting to me, because they don't seem to fit with what Ianto would think Jack would want in an employee. It seems that these lines are the only indication of the snarky Ianto we all know and love peeking through the personas he has built for himself.

3. And.. this one's harder to define. In part, I think, because the scene was played for laughs, not for character insight. And also, I believe, because this scene was to show Ianto's "true" character, which is certainly much more complex than either of the stereotypes mentioned above. So, to help, a series of observations:
  • When he first stops Jack's car, he looks pretty resigned to the fact that he's not going to be getting a job. I'm thinking that he probably actually gave up after the last time, and found Jack because he knew something would have to be done about the pterodactyl and he couldn't catch her/care for her all by himself. Thinking about this now, I'm actually wondering if this gave Ianto a way to judge how Jack might react to Lisa. I don't think he planned it that way, but once he saw that Jack was going to capture, not kill, Myfanwy he might have decided it was worth it to try begging for a job again. It would explain why he went from seeming willing to stop his attempts (in front of the car) to his diatribe about being a butler.
  • He stops actively trying to flirt with and touch Jack. This could be seen two ways: either he's trying a different tack since his previous attempts to use his sexuality to get hired have failed, or it's another way of showing that he's stopped actively trying to get the job. Both are valid arguments, but I'm going with the latter.
  • He's critical of Torchwood Three's supplies and Jack's methods. This time, his criticisms seem more prevalent (not just throwaway lines) and vocal. Again, another indication that Ianto's given up on getting into Torchwood Three, since he doesn't seem to feel the need to censor himself in front of a potential employer.
  • He's wearing the suit. I have theories about this, but they're more suited to fic than canon.One doesn't dress up for a pterodactyl hunt. One does, however, dress up for a funeral. I'll leave it at that. In any case, it's far more reserved than either of his previous outfits were. The fact that Jack likes the suit (and, by inference, a more reserved person in general) might have influenced Ianto to adopt the butler persona in the first season.
So, this Ianto seems to be a sort of amalgamation of the first two. Confident enough to criticize Jack, but desperate enough to offer to be a butler.

The most interesting part of this whole discussion, though, is if you compare the Ianto described above to the Ianto we're given through the rest of Torchwood, particularly in season 1. It's been commented on a lot that Ianto seems to have taken the idea of being a butler to heart, and I have to agree. He starts calling Jack "sir", he continues to wear the suit, and he has that Alfred-esque way of standing quietly and attentively. He jokes around with Jack a little, but he acts quite differently than he did in Fragments. Once again, he's adopted a persona, and this time it sticks.

But over time, and as his relationship with Jack progresses, we've seen more of the Ianto that was first revealed in Fragments. He's become more confident, more involved, more willing to take action, more humourous, more relaxed, though he's lost most of the awkwardness that was evident in his little "mmm, chocolate" speech to Myfanwy. In any case, I'm curious as to where the writers will go with his character from here.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to comment! I'm pretty new around here, so I don't have much yet, but fic and a vid will be up soon! I hope.

ETA: Um, if there's anything weird about the layout, try to ignore it for now. It's a work in progress.

Comments

( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
vipersweb
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
I think you bring up a lot of interesting points. From what I understand, Ianto was not meant to remain as a full cast member and I sometimes wonder if that indirectly led to the lack of character development we saw for him in Season 1. But I agree with your assessment that he took to heart the role of butler. I also think his character is a tad uneven: compare his character in Everything Changes, where he seems much more involved with the team viz, urging Gwen to enter the Hub and then the lunch where they're trying to determine Jack's sexuality. It always jarred me a bit that we get that and then in Cyberwoman, he is so clearly on the outside. And he remained there for the rest of the season, sort of skirting the edges, which is why I think a lot of people were jarred by his character in season 2. I think we're seeing a Ianto who is more comfortable with his place in TW 3 and among the team and even, to an extent, his relationship with Jack. I'm really curious to see what happens next season.
craevn
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
The impression I got from Everything Changes was that not only was he more involved with the team, but that he was also rather content about his position. I'm thinking about his smile at the "that's harassment" line, and his huge grin when he comes bearing lunch. Which is a huge contrast with his words in Cyberwoman, where all of a sudden he seems quite resentful about getting stuck with all the crap jobs.

Fragments was a wonderful retcon for Cyberwoman in many ways, but it did not explain that anger well at all. Ianto practically begged for the job, said he'd do anything, so it doesn't make any sense that he'd complain about it in Cyberwoman.

So I definitely agree with you that his character is not completely consistent. I feel, actually, that in some ways Fragments was a way to explain these sort of inconsistencies too. By presenting Ianto as a roleplayer, they can have him acting oddly and explain it away as him playing a particular role.
astuta
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
*intrudes in discussion* I think that Ianto wasn't resentful so much about the job he was given. He said: "I clean your shit for you, no questions asked" I think he was trying to convey that they didn't consider him part of the team and that they new nothing about him and didn't care. It was a way of saying "You don't care, why should I".
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
I think I need to study up on my canon. :) Thanks, that clears up a whole lot. So I guess Fragments really was the perfect retcon episode for Cyberwoman afterall!
lorannah
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Really interesting discussion.

I'd agree that we do see a more relaxed, happier Ianto before the Cyberwoman episode - and although I still need to go back and rewatch I feel that maybe that's closer to real-Ianto - the dry humour and snarkiness that we see tantalising little hints of in the flashbacks like you say (I think that it's these little real bits of Ianto that attracts Jack more than anything else). That disappears after Cyberwoman, because I think that is Ianto's darkest hour - he was clearly struggling before that with the subterfuge, but he both honestly thought he could save Lisa and didn't really have to confront what his betrayal could mean for the team in concrete terms (I've always felt that it's a combination of the loss and the betrayal that really shakes him). So the re-emergence of the Ianto we get to know in series 2, is both him becoming more comfortable within the team and also him emerging from his mourning period so to speak.

In terms of his anger during Cyberwoman I'm less sure. I think maybe it may just be lashing out and partly trying to share the blame for what's happening. Also if he has a reason to blame Jack, then it lessens his betrayal in some way. I think it probably doesn't reflect how he feels on a day to day basis, accept in little niggly ways that everyone feels, but in the stress he brings those feelings out. I'm not really sure how to explain what I mean.

But yes some really interesting points in this post. :D
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
The problem is that we really didn't see much of Ianto in the period after Fragments but before Cyberwoman. He was so much in the background that we don't have much characterization to work with. If you're right though, and the Ianto working for Jack before Cyberwoman was, in fact, the 'real' Ianto, then it means the roleplaying was mostly abandoned as soon as he'd been hired. And the mourning would explain the quieter Ianto that we associate with the butler persona. So perhaps Ianto never did any acting at all. *muses*

As astuta pointed out above, Ianto's anger during Cyberwoman was less about being given the crap jobs (as I'd misremembered) and more about being ignored and taken for granted. In which case, it would hit Jack even harder after the whole incident with Suzie. So I definitely think Ianto was trying to hit Jack where it hurts with that one.
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holdingoff
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
the whole "ianto was supposed to die in cyberwoman" line is so old it needs to be buried.

the entire s1 of torchwood was shot at once. ianto was in the entire series. maybe in some early drafting of the s1 arc, they had planned on offing ianto; but by the time they finalized the arc, he was firmly in place as a character to develop.

and i think we can all agree that whomever decided to maintain the character made the right decision, even to the point of continuing with the ianto-as-enigma situation.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
and i think we can all agree that whomever decided to maintain the character made the right decision, even to the point of continuing with the ianto-as-enigma situation.

Oh I definitely agree. After all, it gives us so much more to speculate about. :)
joonscribble
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
I really liked the points you brought up about Ianto's character. It really does seem that Ianto largely suffered from Writers Inconsistency during the first season as yes, he wasn't meant to have survived the bulk of season one.

In regards to him adopting and maintaining the butler persona, I feel like a part of it has to do with guilt. For all Ianto did to crowbar his way into Torchwood Three, he felt guilty over lying to Jack. And the guilt probably only increased after the outcome of the cyberwoman debacle. In a way, I felt like he really got adopted the role he originally presented to the team to in some ways convince himself that he didn't completely lie, that the Alfred-esque face he showed them was truthful to some extent. In this way, he wouldn't feel like a complete liar and a traitor.

But as the series progresses, I'll be curious if the writers will start to shift Ianto's personality toward something a little less reserved since underneath the wools suits and starched shirts, there's snark and quips to itching to get out.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Now I'm wondering if we'll ever see the day that Ianto doesn't come into work in a suit!

Guilt being a motivating factor for Ianto is very likely, I think. The butler thing is a way for him to do penance. And, perhaps it allows him to feel a bit martyred as well. That would explain his outburst to Jack in Cyberwoman about getting all the "shit jobs", which doesn't make much sense in light of Fragments' desperate begging for any sort of work at all.
joonscribble
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
I have to hand it to "Fragments" that it really did make me run and rewatch "Cyberwoman." So much of the confrontational dialog between Jack and Ianto take on a slightly different, interesting spin now. And while I'm sure it wasn't pre-planned, it does make some of the more overreactions from Jack during "Cyberwoman" all the more understandable.

It also led me sort of theorizing exactly WHY Jack let Ianto stay on at Torchwood Three. At first it seemed we were just supposed to buy the idea that Jack's merciful that way, but now I'm more under the impression that he let Ianto stay on as a kind of "You don't get to walk away from your mistakes that easily" punishment. May the "walking away" be either via death or retcon.
astuta
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
*intrudes* I think the decision to keep Ianto had a lot to do with Susie. Jack never noticed that something was wrong with her and because of that she ended killing herself and Jack felt guilty about that. I think Iantos comments about him not knowing nothing about him and not caring hit home. The teams its his responsibility and he should know better and take care of them. I think he wanted to do better, make things right and learn from his mistakes.
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craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Not just walking away from his mistakes, but walking away from his responsibilities too. Jack might feel that after practically begging for a job, Ianto doesn't have the right to abandon it so easily.

Plus, I'm sure there was all sorts of paperwork that was needed to set up a new job position that would have been pointless if Ianto wasn't around anymore. :)
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fanbot
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
I just had to jump in and give some icon love to your Rift City icon!
joonscribble
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
All credit goes to silversolitaire who did a series of Torchwood icons using film posters.
sarka
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
I'm just another newbie, but...

My impression of the third scene in the Ianto flashback was that it wasn't the third scene in the Ianto-trying-to-get-a-job-scenario.

I mean, Jack's irritation is off the charts. Two encounters just don't generate that sheer amount of annoyance! My impression was that Ianto had been showing up every morning outside the hub, probably with coffee, for at least a week. It'd be a repetition to show it on television, but seriously. So there'd be a few encounters - and personae, I agree, Ianto is a bit of a roleplayer - that we didn't see in the episode.

What do you think?
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that I'd really like to read that fic, actually!

Anything is possible, and Ianto's "tomorrow morning, then?" also supports the idea that perhaps he did show up a few other mornings.

And if that indeed was the case, I wonder what Jack thinks of him (especially if we're assuming that Ianto adopted a different persona each meeting)? Jack would have to have noticed the changes! Perhaps the reason Jack hadn't hired him before was because he'd seen that Ianto was hiding his true self. Then in the warehouse scene, when the real Ianto comes out, Jack finally gives in.
holdingoff
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
"He's critical of Torchwood Three's supplies and Jack's methods. This time, his criticisms seem more prevalent (not just throwaway lines) and vocal. Again, another indication that Ianto's given up on getting into Torchwood Three, since he doesn't seem to feel the need to censor himself in front of a potential employer."

I tend to disagree. Ianto, in a suit, is being professional and is pointing out that if HE were responsible for outfitting the tw3 vehicle, it would be prepared for such an eventuality. if you watch the entire suite scene, he is impressing that he obviously has skills that tw3 needs. he points out what he can bring to the team through his more varied experience -- unlike the rest of tw3 who are all specialists.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Hmmmm, now that I think about it, I can see your point. The problem I have is that Ianto doesn't bring up a connection to himself at all, he merely points out that Torchwood London would have the equipment they needed. But, if you accept that that meaning is implied, I can see what you mean.
fanbot
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
You've made some fine points. I agree with many of them.

I think at the start Ianto was living just to save/cure Lisa. He would do anything to accomplish this.

About his sexuality: I don;t think he was even gay. In I think it's the second episode the TW team are quizzing Gwen about Jack's sexuality. Ianto says "I don't care." Of course he doesn't, he has Lisa.

Think about his: How much does TW London know about TW Cardiff? How much research can Ianto have done in advance?

Notice that Ianto says about Myfanwy "She knows me." He knows to use chocolate. Did he bring her down from London as a way of interesting Jack?

I think Jack played his game and also physically wanted him. Jack gave Ianto all the degrading jobs like tea boy, cleaner-upper and tourist office front man to see how much he could take.

And, yes, I think Jack may have "had" Ianto, too. After all, we know Jack can't do without for long. And Ianto would do anything to save Lisa.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
How much does TW London know about TW Cardiff? How much research can Ianto have done in advance?

These are exactly the sort of questions I wish we had more answers to. However, I'm pretty sure he must have known something about Jack being interested in men, at the very least. Otherwise, his first instinct wouldn't have been to use flirting to convince Jack to hire him. Especially if he wasn't aware he had bi tendencies, it wouldn't be his first instinct to assume that Jack was gay or bi.

Based on the information that he does have regarding Jack's sexuality, I'm guessing that most of what he's heard of Jack has come from rumours and gossip. A person's sexuality isn't exactly the first thing to come up on personnel forms, after all. :) And Ianto may or may not have had access to any files at all; I think it's more likely that he just remembered what he'd heard around the office.

I did find the chocolate thing a bit odd. And I suppose transporting a pterodactyl can't be too much harder than transporting a cyberwoman. So it's definitely possible; I'm just not sure if it's likely.

Jack probably gave Ianto all the demeaning jobs because that's exactly what Ianto asked for. He offered to become a butler - a servant - which is pretty bad. At that point, Ianto would do anything to help Lisa.
nightspring
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
I have to jump in and say that there's room for argument about whether Jack gave Ianto just the "demeaning" jobs. Just because Owen perceived Ianto's job to be "just the teaboy," doesn't mean that Jack looked at it the same way. Yes, some of Ianto's duties includes "menial" jobs like making coffee and serving the food. But one of the things Jack said about Ianto when he introduced him to Gwen in the first episode is he "gets us everywhere on time." And maybe I'm biased because I started watching S2 first before getting hold of S1, but that impressed me as a hell of a hard job to do, considering the nature of the Torchwood gang. In my mind, that makes Ianto the office manager, rather than a servant or low-level assistant. Also, at the end of 1x03, Jack thrusts the "ghost machine" at Ianto, who takes it and asks, "Secure archives?" and Jack nods. Which means Ianto has access to and responsibility for securing the most dangerous artifacts that Torchwood holds. Again, that's a key job, and open to much abuse in the wrong hands -- and I suppose Ianto did abuse his position by keeping Lisa in the basement. But somehow, in the space of at most about six months between the Ianto flashbacks in Fragments and Everything Changes, Jack's come to trust Ianto enough to have him managing the *secure archives*. And while it's not until Sleeper that Ianto says he knows everything about Torchwood, I bet he knew that already by the time of Everything Changes.

Also, while watching Fragments, I thought Ianto offered to be the butler, not just because he was desperate for any position at Torchwood Three, but because he it was something he actualy wanted to do -- I mean, who the hell notices egg on someone's collar? The very fact that Ianto noticed *and* thought it was something that should be taken care of -- he's truly a butler by nature, I say! *snerk*
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
Yes, you're right. I should've watched my wording. The impression of him having the crap jobs comes mostly from his line about "cleaning up [the team's] shit" in Cyberwoman. As well, a ton of fics appropriate Ianto with the job of cleaning up bodies and messes left behind by the team (which, in fact, is done by Tosh in one of the books I think), and the fanon tends to seep in over time.

And I can definitely see how watching season 2 first would have influenced you. I went into season 1 with no knowledge of future events, and truthfully didn't even notice Ianto until Cyberwoman, and didn't start to like him until Countrycide. As a result, my impressions of him up until then are fairly vague.

And while it's true that Ianto seems to be the functional core of the team, I'm not sure the team even realizes it (excepting Jack). And because they didn't realize it, we didn't realize it either until later episodes, where the meaning behind little things like his knowledge of the secure archives becomes apparent.

Ianto's an excellent butler, and I agree that he probably enjoyed that job much more than he would have if he'd been a field agent in the first season. But, I wonder if he'd realized this yet. His first scene with Jack in the park seemed to be him selling himself as a field agent, as opposed to someone who would stay inside the Hub. And one would think he'd choose to use the persona he wants to become most, first. I wonder if Ianto got a little bit romantically caught up in the idea of being a big action hero, or something, because it seems to incongruent with what we've seen he thinks about field work.
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fl_zed
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
uh, I thought that butlers had a pretty powerful position, as opposed to any manservants/valets. Isn't "butler" the title the head servant of the house has? The guy with all the keys etc who more or less is the boss of the other servants, manages and coordinates them around the house when needed, and makes sure the dinners are properly served, etc.
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forgiveninasong
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
Jumping over from whereever you linked this from :) Hope you don't mind.

You've made some really good points in this post, and the subsequent discussion in the comments is really interesting.

I think that Ianto saying that he would do anything to be at T3 just showed the level of desperation he had with regards to Lisa and keeping her alive. He knew that the only place he could do that was another Torchwood. I agree with whatever someone else said in the comments about the irritation Jack had with Ianto progressively during the three encounters that we saw on screen; it must have been that Ianto had been outside of T3 every day or something. The way *I* understood Ianto's part in Fragments was that it was to show the backstory to Cyberwoman, really.

I'm now going to go and comment on all the other comments about this, because I have forgotten what I was going to say about them!
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