May 5th, 2020

Winter Sunlight

Torchwood came for my soul

Having watched the "Dead Man Walking/Day in the Death" duology (Torchwood 2x07-08), I still think this is some of the most affecting, and perhaps among the best, sci-fi TV I've ever seen -- questionable special effects and occasionally questionable writing choices aside, it's just good. I think it might be the best Came Back Wrong story I've ever seen, certainly one of the only ones that's about learning to live with the Wrong rather than treating it as a convenient source of angsty My Friend/My Enemy cannon fodder or a plot-of-the-week that's resolved by the end.

It makes me think about just how much I love "learning to live with the terrible thing" as a narrative trope. It's certainly why I like stories about characters adapting to disabilities or trauma, but it's also something I truly love in various sci-fi and fantasy incarnations, especially the "but who am I?" version in which characters have to deal with navigating being a clone, a human weapon, a robot, or otherwise having their view of themselves undermined thoroughly by revelations about their true nature and/or other people messing with them for their entire life.

It's something I am continually disappointed by, in conventional TV sci-fi that enjoys fixing things by the end of the episode or else shuffling inconvenient clones/alternate-universe selves/robot doubles/etc offscreen to never deal with them again. I still remember very vividly one of the first times I really got hit with this feeling as a child, back in the '80s, watching that one Star Trek episode in which Q becomes temporarily depowered and then gets his powers back by the end of the episode. I can't even tell you how profoundly I did not want that ending; the story I wanted was the story of being a god, thinking of other beings as disposable, and then losing it all, becoming one of them, and having to learn to live with that.

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