It is clearly undeniable that Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood and Doctor Who fame is hot. Really, really hot. And he has an amazing smile. But I don’t think the full erotic hotness of him completely struck me until watching the first episode of season 2. And the kissing of James Marsters. Suddenly many things became clear to me – like what’s the deal with men and lesbians…ah, ok, I get it now.
To avoid this disintergrating into some kind of tortured fan rant about hot guys, perhaps I should try a slightly more analytical approach. Thought though that I needed to get all that off my chest first.
Torchwood is a celebration of the polymorphously perverse nature of humans. In it, the various Torchwood members sleep with and/or love each other, people and aliens of the same gender, of different genders, of different races, from different times and who are partially robotic. Interchangeably. Without hierarchies or normative behaviours. And pretty much without stigmas or judgement (except when the action is kept secret and potentially deadly to fellows). Captain Jack is the king of the polymorphously perverse; constantly sexual and clearly without differentiation. I think I would find working with him a mite distracting. when Captain John arrives on the scene, he is an even more extreme version of Captain Jack. John’s polymorphouse perverse nature is reinforced as he is about to die – as he is driven at great speed to the rift, handcuffed to Gwen, he takes the time to admire the scenery – in particular commenting on the sexual allure of those he spots. After one expression of admiration, Gwen dryly notes “that’s a poodle” but Captain John is undaunted. Species, gender, race – all are irrelevant.
Of course, there is a lot going on in the first episode of Season 2. The choice of James Masters to play Captain John, complete with his Spike accent and (pre-chip) attitude, are clearly pointing us to an embedded, extra-diegetic understanding of the character. We all know instantly what to expect, because this is Spike returned to us, minus the blond hair. Even the period costuming reminds us instantly he is of another time, and the super-strength – well, that was also Spike. The referencing continues as Captain Jack and Captain John have that rather moving kiss, then start knocking down each other, and the building. The contrast of hero and villain, the property destruction from sexual tension, all lead us back to Spike and Buffy. What this also does, however, is reference the links between sex and danger which has always been part of the representation of vampires. Drawing on the vampire analogy provides another level of textual referentialism, and we can be pretty sure this is all going to end badly.
Which clearly it does. With kissing as a weapon. But what is interesting over all about Torchwood (up to this point) is that the sexual and the perverse are not inevitably bad, though they sometimes are. And sometimes they are even redemptive, like the erotically charged encounter between Captain Jack and his namesake during season 1. Having only just commenced watching Season 2, I will be interested to see how these themes continue to develop.