OK, so I need to get this off my chest - I think it’s going to get long, sorry…
Spoilers under the cut for Veronica Mars Season 4 (and Torchwood up to the end of Children of Earth, if that bothers anyone).
When I get into a TV show, I *really* get into it. I invest myself in the characters, I spend all my spare time thinking about the storylines, wondering about their backstory.
Back in 2006/2007 I got into Torchwood - it was queer and adult and sexy, with aliens and Welsh accents and I fell in love immediately. That’s not to say it’s a perfect show, looking back on it, there were definitely some dud episodes, but the cast were great, the characters worked and there was a clear narrative thread running through it.
At the end of the second season, Torchwood killed off two of the main characters. It was brutal and heart-wrenching. I remember watching the episode and bawling. If I think about it now (11 years later), I will still tear up.
Those two characters were gone, but they had been given a moment that has stayed with me forever. They were in character until the end, they were angry and scared and sad and brave and brilliant. They addressed their loose ends, not in a way that wrapped everything up nicely, but in a way that made *sense*.
I was devastated and I would miss them, but after I’d pulled myself together, I totally understood why the story had done that. If anything, my love for that show was stronger afterwards.
Then Torchwood announced a 5 episode mini-series, which was going to air over 5 nights. As we got closer to the episodes airing, there were a bunch of rumours that they were going to kill off Ianto.
Now, Ianto was my guy. He was my dude. I loved him. But I remembered how well the show had addressed Tosh and Owen’s deaths and I thought - OK, this is going to be awful, but we can trust the creative team. If he has to die for this story, it’ll be manageable.
Episode 4 aired and Ianto died.
Only it wasn’t like the end of season two. He didn’t get his moment or a resolution. He just sort of…died. It was all meaningless - there wasn’t any knock on effect on the other characters or the plot, he just… wasn’t there anymore.
I don’t remember crying after that episode, I remember being PISSED.
It was abundantly clear the writers just wanted him out of the way to free up his boyfriend for a retooling of the show.
I’d invested my emotions in this show and in Ianto specifically. I’d trusted the creative team behind Torchwood that they were also emotionally invested in their characters and they’d demonstrated clearly that they weren’t. That some characters could reach the end of their usefulness and be tossed aside.
I never watched the fourth season of Torchwood. Why would I? I couldn’t invest emotionally in the show, because I couldn’t trust that the writers would respect that investment.
A few years before Torchwood, I had another show I was obsessed with. It was a story about teenagers, but didn’t treat them like children. It was dark and characters I loved went through trauma after trauma, but it always felt like there was a narrative purpose to it.
Then Season 4 happened. I yet again watched a character I was hugely emotionally invested in die and wasn’t sad, I was PISSED.
Because, just like with Ianto, I didn’t feel like that death was for anything. It wasn’t driving the plot or any character arcs (the mystery was already solved and any consequences are lost in a year we’ll never see).
It was just another writer who didn’t know what to do with a character, so just decided to get him out of the way.
So, I’m out - if there is a season 5, I won’t be watching, because that trust I had in the creative team, it’s gone. I can’t invest emotionally in the show if that’s the respect the characters get from the writer.