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In "Exit Wounds", Jack spends almost twenty centuries suffocating, dying and coming back to life... but apparently suffers no permanent psychological damage as a result. Moreover, after being buried in dirt and exposed to the elements all that time, his clothes are completely intact! Come on — it's not like nudity is taboo on this show! (Though we would miss that sweet Badass Longcoat...)
Considering he spent those twenty centuries dying and coming back to life willingly in penance for failing to protect his younger brother, one may argue the psychological damage had already been done. That just leaves the lack of Clothing Damage...
There should've been still more damage to the psyche. Regardless of whether he thought he deserved it, 1700 years of torture should have been enough to make him completely insane.
The same can be said about his reaction to be tortured for a year by the Master.
In that case, the end result is at least slightly more believable: Jack has been a POW before, and can probably anticipate and handle the psychological effects of torture better than the average person.
Yeah, Jack is a ton more well-adjusted than he has any right to be. Perhaps he has 'mental immortality' as well?
That would actually make a LOT of sense, considering the origin of his immortality. Rose brought him back, and he's mentioned as being a fixed point in time. Assuming this fixed point started when he was brought back, one could put forward the theory that he remains exactly as he was at that moment.
He isn't exactly the same: it was established in the end of "Last of the Time Lords" that Jack is still aging (albeit at a very slow rate).
The big monster in the first season finale, "End of Days," feeds off of people's life energy. As an immortal, what does Jack do? He stands in front of it and lets it eat up a bunch of his life force. Jack had no clue what this would do, and he's feeding a supernatural demon exactly what gives it strength. He risked making it unstoppable. Thankfully, it manages to "overeat" on Jack's life and die; but just because the plan did work doesn't mean it wasn't stupid for Jack to expect it to work. This also means that the major conflict of the season finale was solved by Jack standing in front of the big monster and yelling a lot.
Him making that choice was at least justified, because I can't think of any other potential solution for a giant, probably invincible to pretty much everything, monster that kills everything that comes within a pretty large distance of him. Except starving him by dropping nukes everywhere, which wouldn't really make a difference.
The build up to the team turning on Jack and opening the rift is one. They get played like a harp by the villain all based on selfish reasons. And even after the crisis ends, it's all hand waved away and Easily Forgiven without a second thought to the dead people lining the streets. The fact that they're even allowed to be in Torchwood after shooting their commanding officer and unleashing a demon that killed hundreds of people is mind-boggling.
The backstories from the episode Fragments. Toshiko - Since when were UNIT a vindictive bunch of torture-happy monsters who "disappear" people and put them into solitary confinement for life? It looks like an all-out case of Ron the Death Eater to make the Torchwood characters' amorality and uselessness look better. Ianto - so, Jack, Ianto just showed his courage by saving your life, and you made him a tea boy? Jack - he explains in countless episodes of Torchwood and Who that he took part in both World Wars waiting for his Doctor. Here, however, he just gets bribed to join Torchwood after a tarot reading. This entire episode is a wallbanger.
Well, Jack was pretty much forced into joining Torchwood. Given his history with them, it might make sense that he might not immediately trust someone from Torchwood 1, especially if the person in question spent the majority of the flashback hounding him. Also, given that Ianto's an archivist, he might not have that much experience in the field.
There's nothing to suggest that Jack didn't go to war after he joined Torchwood. (After all, he started working for Torchwood as a freelance agent; he wasn't assigned to any particular base.)
"Countrycide": the final scene, and the fact that Gwen, who supposedly has been a police officer for quite a while, expects to get a rational motivation from a psychotic cannibal, and is driven into a psychological decline that lasts the rest of the season when he responds "For the Evulz".
The whole episode was a huge wallbanger; specifically the scene where Jack drives through the wall in a truck, then comes out and in a bad Big Damn Heroes moment, putting a whole in all the bad guys Just In Time for them not to get slaughtered by cannibals. The whole episode was filled with terrible cliche bad horror movie tropes.
"Children of Earth." Let's see... where do we begin?
Ordinary men and women become complete monsters. It doesn't matter how many cover stories you release; ordinary soldiers and police will not round up busloads of children to murder just because they are told to. In real life, there would be a revolution. Simple as that.
There's a reason "I was only doing my job" is one of the scariest phrases uttered. If a person feels the ultimate responsibility won't fall on their shoulders, they'll do some terrifying things.
A better example may be Rwanda. In both those cases, those events were preceded by years of systematic propaganda, demonisation and isolation of a specific group to be attacked. It is a wallbanger to portray the public, police and armed forces turning upon arbitrarily (as far as they know) selected individual members of their own groups overnight. And the group in question in this episode probably was recently one this society wanted special protection for. (Think of the Children!, people!)
How would this have worked in America? That would make for interesting fanfic — the attempt to implement that plan in a country where people have the right to bear arms and frequently do...
How about the complete change in characterization after a month? Since when is Gwen a super shooter? Ianto, Mister OCD, can't lock his car right? A bunch of kids can break into a lock made with alien-based technology? Come on!
The SUV was lock picked — there were no broken windows. A couple of yobs on a council estate can pick a triple deadlock when the advanced sonic screwdriver consistently has problems with such locks. The Doctor should track down these kids and take lessons.
So let's stand up to the aliens whom we already know have a deadly disease they can use... and let's not use any protection! Gas mask anyone?
The given reason, at the start of Day 5, for the Doctor not showing up to help the people of Earth in their time of need: "Sometimes, [he] must look on this planet... and look away in shame." Hold it, hold it; are you saying the Doctor, who supposedly loves the human race (and has on several occasions literally defended it to the death), would intentionally allow millions of innocent children to be sent to A Fate Worse Than Deathto teach the grownups of Earth a LESSON?!
Only a major wallbanger if Gwen was Armed with Canon. Otherwise, it is just a dumb line.
RTD wanted this to be the official, in-universe reason for the Doctor's absence. That wouldn't apply to all incarnations of the Doctor, though, and doesn't seem to apply to Eleven.
But that is an even bigger wallbanger. This corrupt, weak government that were perfectly willing to kill hundreds of innocent children are a direct result of Ten ending Britain's Golden Age by impeaching Harriet Jones (which also led to the Master, lest we forget). We will never know what Jones did differently when the situation occurred in the previous timeline, but I'll bet it wasn't using children as meat shields. If RTD had made this canon, the Doctor would still be passing judgement on something he himself caused...
It's telling that Steven Moffat seems to have gone out of his way to debunk this: first, by creating an episode centered around the idea that the Doctor—not just Eleven, but the Doctor in general—is so "ancient and kind" that he can't bear to see children so much as cry (let alone be sent to a fate worse than death), and secondly by having the TARDIS herself(!) state that she takes the Doctor where he needs to go rather than where he wants to go.
There's also the possibility that the events were a "fixed point", and that the Doctor's intervention would have caused even more damage to the timeline.
Faced with global catastrophe, the Government's first priority is to dispose of their alien experts in order to prevent Jack revealing past complicity - despite it turning out that Jack was personally complicit, and he makes a career of covering things up.
People in the Doctor Who universe seem to have short memories. All the children freezing in unison is certainly spooky, but nobody remembers that the Sycorax pulled exactly the same stunt only two or three years before on a larger scale, and they turned out to be bluffing. Even if the general public don't know the full story behind that, the government, Torchwood and UNIT all do.
If the 456 use our children as drugs, then they should be Deleted because they are a hostile element. Dalek homing beacon? Put it on their ship. Harriet Jones was justified, and so is Torchwood in believing the Doctor to be an Evil Alien, especially 10 (Time Lord Victorious.)
Ianto's gratuitous death. It served no purpose; it only happened because of complete stupidity on the heroes' part.
I could be wrong, but I think the official excuse that was given was that, without Ianto's death, Jack wouldn't be in a dark enough place to comtemplate killing Stephen. Obviously, this argument doesn't hold up too well when you consider that Jack would still have been just as cornered in end regardless of whether Ianto was alive or dead.
Jack wasn't a supergenius time traveller who could whip something up to shoo the 456 away. He was also under a strict time limit. So you can forgive him for believing his options were one or the other.
And in any case, this was the Third Option — the first two were "Let the 456 take the children", and "Try to fight back and in all likelihood fail."