I have heard people claim that Ianto has no illusions about Jack, which judging by Children of Earth Day Four, is simply not true. Ianto, like the rest of the pre-CoE team (I think Gwen has a different attitude by Miracle Day, but that's another story), seems convinced that Jack is capable of all kinds of miracles, and just isn’t trying hard enough. Someone online pointed out that he spends most of Cyberwoman convinced that Jack could save Lisa if he wanted to. This is just like how Gwen, in End of Days, is convinced that Jack can bring Rhys back, and how Owen in the same episode thinks Jack can solve the problem of the Rift being ripped open, and how Owen in his flashback in Fragments thinks Jack, whom he barely knows at this point, could have saved his fiancée.
They’re all a bit better about it in Season 2, but it’s still there a bit, this sense that Jack is capable of all sorts of miracles if he just tries hard enough. They all think this.
Well, almost all of them.
You’ll notice one name is conspicuously absent, the team member Jack has the most distant relationship, the only one he has no apparent romantic tension with despite her obvious attraction to his gender (as opposed to Owen, whose potential attraction to the male gender is more ambiguous): Toshiko Sato.
I’m trying to think, but I don’t ever once remember Tosh expecting miracles from Jack. In fact, when he reassures her that he’ll look after her in 1941, she obviously doesn’t believe him. She’s upset with him for killing Mary, but with neither with Mary nor with Tommy was there this expectation that he could have fixed that situation if he’d only tried hard enough.
Tosh and Jack have an interesting relationship, because Jack is very similar to all his team members (he has Gwen’s hypocrisy, Ianto’s secretiveness, and Owen’s aggressiveness), which helps in relating to all of them. With one exception: He has a very hard time relating to Tosh.
I haven't seen every episode of the new Doctor Who series, but I have seen most of the ones with Jack in them. In Boomtown, the Doctor Who episode after the Empty Child two-parter and before the Season 1 finale, Jack, Rose, and the Doctor are staying in Cardiff, waiting for Rose’s sort-of boyfriend Mickey to bring Rose her passport. And there’s some whole plot involving an alien. Not relevant. The important part is…
Jack Harkness is dressed for the time period he’s in, and he’s acting like an enormous geek. Not just someone who knows a lot about technology, but a geek. Which is interesting, because although Jack is obviously good with technology, I don’t usually think of him as a geek. But here, he is.
This is interesting for two reasons:
1. Prior to losing the ability to die, Jack was a lot like Ianto, in that he wore different faces and slightly differently personalities depending on the situation.
2. Jack Harkness is an enormous technology geek.
OK, if Jack is a geek, why don’t we see this very often on Torchwood?
I think Greeks Bearing Gifts, and Jack’s secretiveness about what he was doing with the alien artifact, provides the answer: Jack knows too much technology. He’s in the 21st century, and he can’t risk changing the timeline. Remember how delighted he was by Tosh’s ability to create a sonic modulator in her Fragments flashback? He was delighted by her, but also by what she’d made, by the fact that this technology, which wasn’t supposed to belong in this time period, was there.
But Jack can’t geek out over technology with Tosh, because he wouldn’t be able to tell her all the things he knows. It has to be a secret. So he hides that side of himself. This leaves him with no way to relate to Tosh, who is very different from him in other ways.
There’s another similarity between Jack and Tosh, revealed in Fragments. Jack’s how-I-joined-Torchwood backstory revealed in the episode was most similar to Tosh’s how-I-joined-Torchwood backstory in the same episode then to any of the rest of the team members' backstories. Unless Ianto’s still-secret (and probably always will be, at this point) how-I-joined-Torchwood-One backstory is more similar to Jack’s, which I doubt. This is interesting on a few levels. One thing about both Jack and Tosh’s backgrounds that struck me is that they both have things to be ashamed about, that the others don’t know. Tosh stole secrets and gave them to people whom she shouldn't have. That was wrong. Everyone knew Gwen, Owen, and Ianto’s mistakes, but did they know about rule-abiding Tosh’s secret origin? I’m sure Ianto does—he knows everything—but the other two? Jack has done a lot of bad things in the past that his team don’t know about. And who was the first person on the team he revealed his con man past to? Toshiko. Did the others ever find out? Not sure.
I was also thinking of Greeks Bearing Gifts. When Tosh is first talking to Mary, she tells a story about an alien letter she translated, I think it was a letter from an actual alien, not any kind of human from the future, and it was about how much he missed his wife and kids, and so forth, and Tosh said she cried. And said, “the guys at work, they're great, but they don't... see it the way I do.”
Someone online, I can't remember who, pointed out how schizophrenic it must be to be Jack Harkness, working for Torchwood (which, according to Suzie, sees only the “shit” when it comes to alien life) while knowing about all the amazing things out there. Do Owen, Ianto, and Gwen ever have anything positive to say about aliens? I don't remember. I have heard fans complain about Gwen equating compassion with human, but they’re all like that. Gwen only cares about Beth because Beth was, for all intents and purposes, human. (I once saw someone try to claim that Ianto was more compassionate than Gwen because he cared about cyber-Lisa, while Gwen only cared about Beth because she knew Beth first as a human. Yes, the logical flaw in that is incredibly obvious. Ianto was horrified by Lisa’s cyberization, and wanted her human.) She also displayed compassion for at least one of the aliens in Reset, but it's a rare moment. Owen has Connections with the weevils, and was upset when poor Janet was being beaten up by that guy in Combat, but he doesn’t exactly <i>like</i> weevils. Jack is usually cold and ruthless with aliens, but is capable of compassion (In Meat and Reset, even if his compassion in Reset was hypocritical given Torchwood's own treatment of aliens), and we know from his history that he is aware that aliens are human (I've even heard speculation that he may be himself part alien). Both Jack and Tosh seem to be the only ones who know, who get, that aliens are people, too. Which is interesting on many levels, especially given how they are both capable of ruthless pragmatism. And of course, like the geekiness, this is another thing Jack hides: Wouldn’t do for it to be known that the leader of Torchwood is in love with an alien. So he can’t relate to Tosh over that, either.
And of course, Tosh is super professional, and isn’t very comfortable with Jack’s flirting (which is why he doesn’t do it with her often, if at all), and they often have a hard time with Jack’s attempts to have a personal, as well as professional relationship with her. Tosh seems to have a hard time with relationships that are very personal as well as professional, which, if you work for Torchwood, really sucks. Having personal relationships outside of work, as Gwen proved, is hard.
I wonder if that’s part of the attraction of Owen? He doesn’t give a damn about what’s professional. It’s interesting that Tosh, who has no illusions about Jack, has lots of them about Owen.
At the end of Greeks Bearing Gift, Jack has this joke, "What do bosses do in situations like these? Y'know, regular bosses." And he would only make that joke with Tosh, because she’s the only one who cares. He’s really trying to relate to her. in that scene.
I think that’s a large part of why I like GBG…Jack and Tosh’s relationship is interesting, and complicated, and really, really, hard, for both of them. They’re very different, and the things the have in common (geekiness, seeing aliens as people), are from the sides of Jack that he hides from his team. I will have to re-watch To The Last Man, but I don’t remember it being so interesting from a Jack/Tosh perspective…they have scenes together, and obvious fondness, and respect and so forth, but there isn’t that…that inability to relate, combined with an obvious <i>desire</i> to connect, that I find so fascinating.