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It's kind of surprising to me that I can even watch Torchwood, let alone love it - because such a percentage of its time is spent courting death. Well, maybe courting is a strong word but - facing it?  Yes. Confronting it? Giving it the finger? All that and more.  And I have this thing about death; it squicks the heck out of me....

My name is Doctor Owen Harper, and this is my life. A life that is full of action. And violence. And work and wonder. Secrets. And sex. And love. And heartbreak. Death. My death. The death I survived. The death I'm now living through. Except.... this isn't living ~  A Day in the Death - Episode 2.8


First, of course, we have the immortal Captain Jack, who can't die but can't really LIVE either. Can't enjoy a good night's sleep, can't hope to grow old with a lover, can't, cant, can't…..all because of something many of us thing we would do bad deeds to possess, i.e. Forever. It makes Jack's plight both heartbreaking and eye-opening. Take, for instance, Tosh giving him some feedback after her week of being able to read minds….]

Tosh: Why couldn't I read your mind?
Jack: I don't know. But I could feel you scrabbling around in there. [grins]
Tosh: I got nothing. It's like you were, I don't know...dead. [Jack's grin fades]

Then we have Owen - who watches the love of his life die at the tentacles of an alien and then must go on. Owen's a pretty bitter little pill after that-- until he dies. Only then does he see life from both sides now. He resists becoming more vulnerable but eventually gives in to it. He comes to see how his snark and chill affected others. He makes the amends that he cans. And when he sheds his mortal coil for the last time - he finds it in him to rail.

Owen: [hysterical] Tosh! Toshiko, I can't get out! Not like this! I'm not dying here! Get me out of here Tosh, get me out of here, I died once and I'm not doing it again! Where's Jack? Where's Gwen, Ianto, John?!? You wanna watch the dead man die again?!
Tosh: Owen, just stay calm.
Owen: Why should I do that? Where's the fun in that? I'm gonna rage my way to oblivion!

And of course there's Suzie. They keep killing Suzie. Her take on the afterworld (such as it is) is one of the more chilling episodes of any show I've seen. She talks about utter darkness - but not solitude. Of knowing something malevolent was with her in the dark - forever.

Suzie: “Captain, my Captain!” Do you want to know a secret? There’s something moving in the dark and it's coming, Jack Harkness. It’s coming for you.

Torchwood really very consciously touched on all the main human drivers - sex, death, hunger (episodes like MEAT and Countrycide).  Didn't it? And In a strange way, Torchwood's take on death - that there is nothing after it but darkness and nothingness for some and an eternity as prey for others - has freed up my thinking about the topic in a way a lifetime of other stories (including those told at church) never did. I can accept that's how the show runners/writers might see it, but that it's only one of a (hopefully) huge number of possibilities. Maybe it's just coincided with my starting to look at it from a lot of angles - and that likely coincides with the fact I'm not 23 anymore.   ;).

What are your thoughts on Torchwood's examination of life and death and what the hell it all means, if anything?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2014 10:11 am (UTC)
To be honest, I'm not much of a thinker when I'm watching TV, but I did think it was interesting how much they touched on death themes in this show. It does make you look at things differently when you see how they had the characters act because of certain things that had happened to them.

I mean, it's not like any of us are likely to face many of the things Torchwood did (aliens, et al), but imagine living forever - how would you act? How would I? Especially after so long. What about if you died but were still living? Would you change your thinking? I'm not sure that you wouldn't adjust some things, even if not everything. Would you keep your morals and beliefs or would they shift, finding out what you have done and coming to terms with such a thing - hard to say, isn't it? but definitely something to get us all thinking.

And you know, I think Jack is one of the most honest portrayals of an immortal being - his sexuality, for instance (in my mind at least) is tied to that. If you'd lived for as long as he had, why would you feel restricted to just being straight? Why not experiment, and when nothing can kill you, and you have all the time in the world, it seems to be inevitable you'd give things a go. Once you've gone there and found you enjoyed it - and that you can care for people because of WHO each person is rather than which sex they are - why would you go back? I think that part at least is the ultimate freedom in terms of sexuality, and something most stories (think vampire, aside from Anne Rice's bisexuals) about immortal beings often completely ignore.

And... yeah, so much to think about, so I'll stop there! ;-)

Edited at 2014-02-28 10:13 am (UTC)
Feb. 28th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
Good points all! Yeah, immortality would alter perception/risk taking I'm sure. Though Jack could suffer before he died, so that might help mitigate any 'jump first, ask questions later' kind of thoughts, lol. Would for me.

That "They Keep Killing Suzie" episode just wows me and creeps me out at the same time. The Owen ones, after he died, were amazing. I may have to keep the re-watch going this weekend...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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