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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

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.
lorannah
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
Actually I think there probably was a great deal of role-playing still going on, but that little bits of himself were showing as in Fragments. Mostly I'm thinking about his response to the "looks good in a suit" comment and his joking around the dinner table in Day One - off the top of my head. It's just the balance between acquired persona/real persona was maybe more balanced at first. But you're right it is diffiuclt to get a grip on him in the first few episodes.

And excellent point about Suzie.
lorannah
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Replying to self = bad form.

But I realised I'd left something out. I was going to go on to say that my instinctive reading of this - is that butler!Ianto is mostly a constructed character, but whereas we see hints of his humourous/fun side before Cyberwoman - that disappears later because of the mourning element - so more a subconscious rather than conscious choice on his part. Also after a while I suspect this character became second nature to him.

But I could very well be wrong.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
You could be wrong, I could be wrong, we all could be wrong. Doesn't stop us. :)

I got the impression that as he was going into mourning he became more controlling of his own emotions. We know from the rat!belly scene that he's exceptionally good at hiding sadness behind his duties. So the butler persona became a shield.

And perhaps the roleplaying became not just second nature, but almost.. fun? It would explain the UNIT cap thing if Ianto enjoys a little roleplaying in his sex life as well as his normal life. It would also explain why he keeps up and even increases some of his "butler" duties, like putting on Jack's coat for him and getting Jack's gun out.

Do you mind if I friend you? I'm rather new at the actual posting thing, but I've been a lurker for a while and love your fics.
lorannah
Mar. 29th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
You could be wrong, I could be wrong, we all could be wrong. Doesn't stop us. :)

:D The poking and prodding is so much fun.

I love the idea of the persona becoming a shield - love it. It gives him an opportunity to rebuild himself as well - sort of part of the survival process.

Friend away :D The more Torchwood people on my friends list the better and thanks so much about the fic *blushes*
forgiveninasong
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
Have you read the books and the stuff off the website at all? It shows such a different side to Ianto that we don't necessarily get to see on screen. Have a look at iantos_desktop, which has everything archived from the series 1 website, and the series 2 website. Also, I'd really recommend getting the Torchwood books. The website stuff especially shows the background stuff we didn't see about Ianto's mourning, and the progression of Ianto and Jack's relationship.

(I'm just commenting all over the place now! This discussion is so interesting!)

Edited at 2008-03-29 04:16 pm (UTC)
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love the website stuff (especially the BBC America blog - so funny!) but I'm never sure whether or not to include them as canon in discussions. For example, I know the website says Jack put Ianto on suspension for a month, but the way he showed up at the office while Gwen and Jack were having a conversation about him gave me the strong impression that only a day or two had gone by (though I'd have to rewatch to see the exact circumstances).
ceindreadh
Mar. 30th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
I know the website says Jack put Ianto on suspension for a month, but the way he showed up at the office while Gwen and Jack were having a conversation about him gave me the strong impression that only a day or two had gone by (though I'd have to rewatch to see the exact circumstances).

And remember that Jack was still sporting the split lip that Ianto had given him after they'd gotten off the paving slab. So it can only have been a few days at most later. (can't remember now whether Ianto was still bruised or not)
And of course Jack still showing signs of his injury sort of gets contradicted by the whole rapid healing we've seen.
forgiveninasong
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
I agree with this comment. Ianto came to Torchwood, wanting to be part of the team (outwardly) and looking after Lisa (inwardly). I think his anger that showed in Cyberwoman was that he hadn't really been thought of as part of the team. And it had a *lot* to do with the fact that he realised that he had been busted, and could potentially lose everything in his life; he already knew he was going to lose Lisa, and then rapidly his job, which seemingly seems to be the only thing that Ianto has in his life.

And with regards to him trying to get at Jack, this shows Fragments to be even more interesting. The fact that Ianto *did* have to use his sexuality, to an extent, shows that the way he acted in Cyberwoman, and the comments he made, just reminded Jack that he hadn't necessarily wanted the job at Torchwood because he thought Jack was a bit of alright (as I suspect Jack had thought), and Ianto actually had ulterior motives for wanting it, which must have bruised Jack's pride considerably, as well as betraying his trust etc.