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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

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.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
There is no such thing as intruding on LJ. :)

Of course, the argument against that is that if Ianto was retconned (I don't believe Jack would really kill him, despite what he said) he wouldn't be a part team anymore and thus Jack wouldn't have to take care of him.

I actually agree with you, though. I know some people have said that Jack is more of a follower than a leader, and I think I agree with that. He tries the best he can, but he has problems with distancing himself from his team. In the first season, as can be seen with Ianto and Suzie, he's too far from them. And then in the second he's too close, as can be seen by his actions with regards to Owen. Now I'm wondering what he'll do in the third season.
astuta
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Ummm... I think recton isn't used that often or in that way. Most people in the fandom seem to think so, but I don't. Why Ianto still knew about Torchwood 1 and Canary Wharf then, if he was not working there anymore? I think retcon its only used on civilians or if a person is a threat to the organization.

Analyzing this from the first season episodes its difficult, the writing wasn't very cohesive, probably because they didn't know if the show was going to work out or not. God know whats going to happen in season 3. Hopefully more development for Ianto as a character.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if it's that most people in fandom actually think retcon is used like that in canon, or that it just makes for better fanfiction. I'm one of the latter. It's not very realistic to have to retcon anybody who ever wants to retire, but then again, Torchwood as a show is not exactly the epitome of realism.

As for Ianto being retconned after Torchwood One, it's possible that he left rather suddenly (that and there were only 27 people left, and possibly injured at that, to organize everything). After all, he had to smuggle Lisa out before someone else discovered her. I really wish the writers would give us more information on how exactly Ianto got Lisa transported and kept her alive and somesuch, but I'm not counting on it at such a late date.
joonscribble
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
I feel like retcon is a sort of free for all device for both the show's writers and fic writers. I'd sort of taken Gwen's mention of retcon in "Meat" to believe Torchwood's early retirement plan basically meant Retcon.

You'd think Torchwood would be more diplomatic about using it or at least more careful about it. And yet it's the same world where a secret organization runs around with their name etched into the outside of their SUV.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
Makes me wonder what sort of theories people from Cardiff come up with about Torchwood.

Now I'm thinking someone should set up a website or blog from the point of view random people who've run into Torchwood. They could have long discussions on what the organization's true motives are, that Captain man's unnaturally white teeth, and what was that purple-orange thing someone caught a glimpse of the team chasing?

I'm actually sort of wondering if the retcon thing is a Jack's-team-only thing. Have we ever gotten a hint that Torchwood One even knew retcon existed? I'm pretty sure I remember Jack saying in the first episode that the amnesia pill was of his own devising...
joonscribble
Mar. 29th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Now I'm thinking someone should set up a website or blog from the point of view random people who've run into Torchwood. They could have long discussions on what the organization's true motives are

It can totally be LINDA for the Torchwood crowd.

Is retcon selective for Torchwood Three? I can't remember far back enough to the first episode.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
I looked up a transcript and I was right. Jack says, "It's an amnesia pill. My own recipe, with a touch of denial and a dash of retcon".

Though I suppose for the sake of fic, you could say that Jack gave the recipe to Torchwood One. For the one I'm planning, I'm certainly going to have to. :P
ceindreadh
Mar. 30th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Or the 'my own recipe' could just mean that Jack was using a different version of whatever amnesia pill that Torchwood 1 used.
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. :)
forgiveninasong
Mar. 29th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
I rewatched Cyberwoman after I'd first seen Fragments, and I watch it now in a *totally* different light. I understand the rashness of Ianto's reactions, as well as then understanding Jack's immense hurt at it, because his pride and trust had been knocked and betrayed. Certainly, Fragments gives us more character backstory to Ianto than we first thought.

Jack could have easily fired Tosh as well, after the whole 'Mary' stuff, but he kept her on as well. With Ianto, he recognised that it was grief and despair that had taken him over, but didn't want to fire him, just teach him a lesson, so suspended him from working after the Lisa stuff.

(Anonymous)
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you say you understand Ianto's actions better, as well as Jack's, because I've gotten the impression that around fandom there's been a lot more focus on how Fragments explains Jack's anger in Cyberwoman than on how it explains Ianto's reactions. But I think you're right. After feeling like he's betrayed both Jack and Lisa in Fragments, it makes sense that he'd be so determined to help Lisa in Cyberwoman; in his mind, if he'd succeeded it would've been enough to justify the things he's guilty about.

(Um, I hope that made sense... I just woke up.)

Also, I've been thinking about Tosh's backstory in Fragments, and how it may have influenced her storyline with Mary, and in particular Jack's reaction to it (which is very very different from his reaction to Ianto's betrayal in Cyberwoman). In that scene with her in the warehouse, Jack knows Tosh had nowhere else to go. And he presents it that way to her. I found Jack in that scene to be very manipulative. I think Jack realizes that he kind of cornered her into being hired, and thus feels a certain sense of responsibility for her. So when Mary happens his immediate reaction is not anger (like with Ianto), but 'what did I go wrong?'. Ianto and Tosh are really opposites in that way; Ianto had to push to get hired, while Tosh had no other choice.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, uh, that was me.
forgiveninasong
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
Of course, it does kind of explain *more* why Jack was so angry in the first place, but I just got to understand Ianto a bit more, and why he even had her there, and why he went there. He felt like he was betraying her by using his sexuality with Jack to get the job there, and then felt like he was betraying Jack by doing the same thing.

Maybe Jack's reaction to Tosh was different to Ianto's because, well, Ianto said that Lisa was *dead*, so he felt so betrayed by Ianto, that was part of the anger, but with Tosh, she had only (ha) been corrupted by the alien? You think he was being manipulative? I saw it as, he always knew that Tosh would accept the chance to get out of UNIT, no matter which way he played it to her, so he was just having a bit of fun (and face it, it's telly, it's got to be played in an interesting way) with her, and she was always going to say yes.

I agree with you on the 'where did I go wrong' thing with Tosh. He had an obligation to her (and there are many quotes from canon about how he was looking after her), and he felt like he let her down, whereas with Ianto, as far as Jack was concerned, he had done Ianto a favour in giving him a job at Cardiff, and then Ianto betrayed him, because Ianto (as Jack thought) *did* have other options, whereas Tosh didn't. Hence part of the reason for the differing reactions to each of the characters when they betrayed him.
craevn
Mar. 29th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Maybe manipulative isn't the right word. I just found the juxtaposition of Tosh's misery and Jack's joking and too-large grin a bit.. jarring. I really need to rewatch that scene.

It makes sense for Jack's character, I guess; he's never toned himself down for anyone else before, so why would he for Tosh? I just keep seeing Jack's joking in Fragments and comparing it to the tender face touch in Greeks Bearing Gifts. I think Fragments actually gave me a darker impression of Jack in general, and I think the reason for that is that the Jack in Fragments doesn't feel any loyalty for the people who are going to be his team. *muses*
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.