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13 July 2011 @ 03:47 pm
Torchwood The Lost Files: The House of the Dead (Radio Play)  
Wow, you lose interest in a fandom and SUDDENLY there's an influx of new material. I had no idea that BBC had commissioned three new radio plays that more or less take place before the events of Children of Earth, hence the "lost files" bit of the title. I ended up listening to these in backwards order so my reviews will also be as such.

The eponymous house is a local pub in Wales that's famous for being a gathering place for ghosts. But alas it's now under new ownership and has been set for demolition. To send it off properly, a psychic and locals gather around to hold one last seance so that each and everyone can see their dearly departed loved one for the last time.

That is until Torchwood bursts on the scene.

Turns out, the pub is sitting on a crack in the Rift (of course) and an ancient evil being lives just inside of it (OF COURSE). It's main source of sustenance is the grief of others, hence its tactic to maximize those in bereavement by showing them their lost loved ones. Jack and Ianto attempt to stop the seance with no success and soon they're left to deal with ghosts of their own.

Ianto sees his dad and through a series of somewhat vague exchanges, you see right away that the Jones men did not get on. No real explanation is given for this estrangement that ended in Ianto carrying the guilt of never having even called his father when the latter was on his deathbed. You get some glimpses of perhaps Ianto's dad being overly critical but mainly we're left to imagine (re: fic about it like whoa) why their relationship was so difficult.

And then there's Jack. It's his ghost that's the big massive reveal and I have to say, I actually didn't really guess it until Ianto's dad more or less spelled it out. The entire episode we've been listening to is set 6 months after the events of CoE. Meaning the Ianto we've been hearing is actually a ghost as well. Turns out, Jack purposefully went to the House of the Dead not to just shut down the grief-eating creature but because he knew the ghost he'd see would be Ianto. He wanted to see him one last time before he blows up everything using a bomb that would seal the Rift forever, sealing Jack in between worlds which is about as close to suicide as Jack can get.

In a desperate bid, the evil below tells Jack he could just leave and take Ianto with him, alive once more and by Jack's side. It really gives you a glimpse into Jack's level of grieving that he actually accepts the offer.

When Ianto realizes that he's actually dead and was more or less resurrected by Jack through this house on purpose, he's less than pleased. Despite some creaky acting moments, the argument Jack and Ianto get into about this whole thing was incredibly satisfying. I liked that Ianto didn't hold back any of the bitter feelings he had over dying. His almost instant question about whether or not it was Jack's fault that he'd been killed was somewhat shocking for its bluntness but appreciated at the same time. They also get into verbal blows about how Jack insisting that he could never forget Ianto or anyone from his past and Ianto speculating that Jack was doing it out of obligation than true affection.

We also got a chance for Jack to really lay it out in regards to how lonely his existence is due to his immortality. His line about how he hated the idea of coming back to life knowing it'd be empty now that Ianto was gone was pretty sob-worthy. The writers as per usual dangle happiness before Jack's eyes for a handful of minutes as Ianto agrees to leave the house with Jack...only to trick him into exiting alone so that Ianto can blow up the house himself, sealing the Rift forever and destroying the link to the dead for good.

Overall, I have to hand it to the writers for attempting to give audiences some closure. They neatly tied off Ianto's story and made it all the more heroic by having him make the sacrifice to destroy the Rift and remain dead. This play also explained why after the events of CoE, there was no more need for Torchwood to exist in Cardiff since the Rift is now effectively gone.

The writers also finally buckled under fan service pressure and actually had Jack and Ianto exchange those three words. When I actually listened to it, the whole thing felt fairly melodramatic and even now I'm not entirely sure I liked it. I'd always liked the fact that Jack and Ianto's relationship was characterized by their feelings being apparent through their actions rather than words. But at the same time it was clear Jack had always regretted not telling Ianto he loved him before his death and it did feel slightly cruel to not give him this chance. For a moment I really thought the Rift would blow up before Jack got the words out. It would really have been in keeping with the angsting fest of this episode.

But nay. In the end, it seemed everyone got some sort of closure (minus Gwen perhaps who never actually appeared in this) and it did set the stage rather nicely for the new series.
katarzi on July 13th, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
Huh. I'm not sure I want to listen to these -- part of me is like BUT OLD!TORCHWOOD and the rest is like why are you insisting on dragging your love for this series out for so long because really at this point it's just masochism. :| Let me know how the others go, I guess!
formerly lifeinsomniac: Team Walesjoonscribble on July 14th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
I have to say, I think this one was probably the best of three and that's not saying too much. This play was at least typically Torchwood in that the science was a complete fail and there were plot holes the size of my fist. For instance, why the hell didn't Torchwood seal the Rift years ago if they had the tech to do it? Wouldn't this help reduce their workload?