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COE and team competence. Oh really?... - rabecka
COE and team competence. Oh really?...

So... many, many others have written brilliant post mortems, and now that I've seen all 5 episodes, I'm not going to compete. However, I have a somewhat different complaint, that I hope others might find interesting.

Essentially, it aggravates me that the team had to be pretty incompetent for COE to play out like it did. There were just so many missed opportunities, right alongside things that worked that shouldn't have. Now obviously, these were a plot device, but it's a plot device I happen to hate. (Remember season 1, Day One, when Carys grabbed the hand and Jack yelled "Put that down. It's only important to me." From a former conman??? That's the type of thing I mean.)

Day One:

1. If Ianto could track any car (as stated in Day 2) why couldn't he track the SUV. And why did he wait til he got back to the hub, then not even get on the computer to look for it?

2. Why was Jack unable to contact anyone? Are you telling me that in 100+ years, the only contact he had with UNIT was Martha, and the only government contact was Frobisher (and not even a direct line)? And what about the crown – that's where their authority comes from after all. Yup, head of a top secret agency, blocked by a sergeant and secretary.

3. When Jack knew he was about to blow up, why didn’t he give his Vortex Manipulator to Ianto? He used it to start the lift, but Ianto wasn’t out of range immediately.

Day Two:

4. After working together for years, Gwen and Ianto couldn't think of one place to meet without specifying the place name? WTF??

5. What about any preplanning at ALL. They're in a dangerous profession, facing aliens with who knows what capabilities and technology, and it never occurred to anyone to plan for the hub being compromised. Or for agents being outside of the hub during a lockdown.

On things that should not have worked:

6. The funeral director was tied with his hands in front of him. Um, pull off the gag? Your hands are right in front of it…

7. Jack's rescue was ludicrous without tight coordination btwn Gwen and Ianto. Consider… Gwen goes into a secure facility, and blanks a security camera. She then walks into the next room, and in full view of that camera, points a device at it, and it goes dead. Like that wasn't going to bring everyone running. As for Ianto, without Gwen and Rhys, he would have been immediately captured. The only way this makes any sense is if Gwen was a decoy to draw the guards, so Ianto could do his thing. And good thing the keys were left in the cement truck...

8. And just to nitpick, ever seen concrete being poured? It doesn't set up that fast.

Day Three:

9. Jack was a former conman, and indications are that his history with Torchwood wasn't exactly hearts and flowers. Wouldn't he personally, have set up false identities and bolt holes for himself? (We see Owen with a batch of fake ID's in Ghost Machine.) Also, given compound interest, the number of years he's lived and knowledge of the future, he should have accumulated enough money to pay off the national debt without half trying. It may not be a big concern for him, but I can't believe he wouldn't have squirreled away enough to run if he wanted to.

9a. If I really wanted to make Jack competent, and manage a completely different track for COE, I'd speculate that he had offsite stashes of alien artifacts that he kept from Torchwood. He was a Time Agent, and could easily have considered some things too dangerous for the timeline.

10. After the hub is very publicly destroyed, and an attempt made to kill the whole Torchwood team, there's STILL no one Jack could contact at UNIT, who might talk to him?

11 After Stolen Earth and Journey's End, he knows Sarah Jane, and knows about Mr Smith. There's another contact. Oh, and Sarah Jane showed up with a warp star in Journey's End, so Jack knows all about her having alien devices.

12. OK, I'll admit I find this hilarious, but has it dawned on everyone that the critical piece of technology (i.e. the contact lenses) required to make everything work was only available because Gwen took them home to play sex games? Now that's the Torchwood we know and love. Except why do Gwen and Rhys get kink, and Jack and Ianto get beans? No, no, NO!

13. The Torchwood thieves. Obviously played for laughs, but uh, folks... when you lift something, don't run. No better way to draw attention to yourself. Certainly Jack, as a conman should have known that.

Day Four:

14. Once the situation is clear, why didn't Jack try to call the Doctor? In Stolen Earth, they sent the call thru the hub, so presumably, he had the number. Even if he didn't have it from that, do you really believe he wouldn't have gotten Martha to share? And memorized it.

15. Personally, I don't see Jack as either arrogant enough or naïve enough to believe that the monsters are going to go away just because he walks in and tells them to, which rather makes the whole thing fall apart for me. Now if it was the Doctor doing the talking, he'd believe it.

16. Which brings us to: Jack’s speech facing the 456 was just lame. Basically, a powerless bluff. Why not invoke the Shadow Proclamation? Let them know he’s immortal. That he has ways to get off the planet, and contacts off world. That he'll never give up tracking them down. The result might have been the same, but at least it had a chance, and would make Jack appear dangerous rather than clueless.

17. Ianto's “Go back 150 years and see what you're facing” was a great line, but unfortunately it makes no sense. Why would the 456 have records of Jack from 150 years ago? It's not like he's on the Internet. (Interestingly, this might have worked anyway, since the 456 seem to have some psychic ability and might have picked up the intent.)

18. Shooting the tank? Really? When the 456 presumably have enough ships in orbit to transport millions of children. Yeah, that works.
Day Five

18. Torchwood's computer systems have been compromised for years? I don't know about anyone else, but I really, really don’t want to believe that Tosh wouldn't have noticed. And, actually, this didn't change anything, so it was just a gratuitous slam.

Comments anyone?...



136 comments or Leave a comment
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piepeloe From: piepeloe Date: July 25th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I know, I've noticed a lot of these myself as well, and a couple of others. I know TW often has plotholes and most other shows probably do too, but I usually don't notice them. I don't know if it's because this time they were more obvious or if this time I just really didn't like the outcome. I admire CoE for the emotional impact, the visual style, the acting,...those things were all a lot better this time around than previous series of TW so I could understand why I didn't notice the plotholes while I was watching, but I've never noticed this many inconsistencies even when watching an episode for a second time or when thinking about it later on.

It's too bad really especially since they must have known there would be a huge reaction from the fans. If the story had been airtight, people would obviously still be upset but it would have been a more fitting end to the TW we all knew.
aeshna_uk From: aeshna_uk Date: July 25th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Dramatic license. ;) If everything had to be accurate and make sense on TV then there wouldn't be any of those 5 million forensic policing shows around! It's more about the emotional flow of the drama keeping the viewers engaged.

I actually really liked the "where do we meet" conversation between Gwen and Ianto specifically because they don't give a named place - they have every reason to think their conversation is being listened to, so they have to be obscure and not just give the game away to the assassins.

You know that I have a much happier view of Jack's time with TW than most. ;) And while I agree that he should have oodles of cash squirrelled away, getting at it in those circumstances might be tricky.

Can't invoke Sarah-Jane. Last thing you want is the kiddies trying to tune in! Ditto the Doctor. ;) Mind you, what would the Doctor have actually done? Stood there and yelled at the 456 a bit, no doubt, and we've seen how were that approach worked out!

(and besides, it's all his fault anyway - none of this would have happened on Harriet Jones's watch! ;))

Actually, don't have any problem with the idea that Tosh might have missed something. I do get a bit uncomfortable with fandom's insistence that she was infallible at times, so it's almost nice to see something getting in, at least partially, under her radar!

I loved CoE overall - sure, there were oddities and plot holes and unlikely coincidences, but the pace carried it along and there wasn't really anything worse than in most major dramas (doubly so for all the aforementioned forensics nonsense). Certainly nothing worse than in s1 or s2! But then, I'm happy with the character choices made and the possibilities opened up for any s4, so I might have a more relaxed view than many fannish folks. :)
motschekiebchen From: motschekiebchen Date: July 25th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm, about Tosh not noticing I have to disagree. I agrre with you that she is not infallible but I'm pretty sure after Suzies computer manipulation in "They keep killing Suzie" I'm pretty sure Jack would have insisted on her checking out the whole system for any more traps.
welshactorlover From: welshactorlover Date: July 25th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Totally agree with No. 16. Jack was all bluster - just what did he hope to achieve by threatening the 456? And when they called his bluff he was totally powerless. It was all just a plot device to kill Ianto.

Re No. 17, I think it was all about showing Ianto's blind faith in Jack's ability to save the day, when actually Jack was useless and Ianto's faith just got him killed.
arkadelos From: arkadelos Date: July 25th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
After reading all the spoilers, I realized that RTD has alienated both the heterosexuals and the homosexuals. I think that is the first time a series has ever alienated both. Where are they going to get their fanbase now?
arkadelos From: arkadelos Date: July 25th, 2009 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
The only thing I can say is about Sarah Jane. It would not have worked out to bring her onto TW because her series is a children's show. It would have been very inappropriate for all the audiences and the themes of each series.

As for everything else... yeah, it absolutely sucked. I read all the Brit spoilers, and that convinced me not to watch it.
rabecka From: rabecka Date: July 25th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never expected either Sarah Jane or the Doctor to show up. I was mainly annoyed at the assumption that because the hub was destroyed, Jack was completely cut off. Just trying to point out that, over the years, he should have made plenty of contacts that could help. SJ was just one we knew about.
satanassa From: satanassa Date: July 25th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
You get a standing ovation from me for pointing out all these things! Another thing that bothered me right from the start was the word 'children'. What do the 456 mean when they say children? Kids of at least school age? Are infants included? Teens up to 16? Up to 18?
Also, 44 years ago the aliens were satisfied with 12 children to supply all their drug habits. Now why do they need millions all of a sudden? Since the politicians were shown to be so cold-blooded, couldn't they have bargained with the aliens that they would give them X number of children every year, X being a number small enough not to be detected by the public.
But, I am just a silly fangirl after all! Who am I to question the great writing skills of His Highness Russell T Davies.
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szm From: szm Date: July 25th, 2009 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Dekker did not hack Tosh, he just didn't. And if he'd even thought about hacking Torchwood One Yvonne Hartman would have literally had his bollocks for earrings... (okay yes, disturbed myself with that image)

I did have a bit of a WTF moment when Gwen was 'teaching' Jack how to con and steal. Grandmothers sucking eggs comes to mind.

blackstronghold From: blackstronghold Date: July 25th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
JB explained in the Declassified that Gwen was teaching Jack stuff he already knew, but she might not have known he has done (trying to remember if Jack mentions his conman persona to her at any given point and failing). So if she didn't know he was a conman who knew the tricks of the trade, she wouldn't think to not show him the ropes.
criccieth From: criccieth Date: July 25th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)
yep. PLUS - are you telling me that after Cyberwoman, Jack and Tosh didn't install all SORTS of security devices that would have detected that bomb inside Jack the moment he went back into the Hub?
lorannah From: lorannah Date: July 25th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep agree on all of these. Not to mention that Tosh's convenient Time Lock from Journey's End has conveniently disappeared again.

Similarly the plot also relies on most of the government agencies being complete idiots as well.

If anyone had actually behaved competently in the show, the plot would have fallen apart.
melita_r From: melita_r Date: July 25th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
'If anyone had actually behaved competently in the show, the plot would have fallen apart.'

This is the best summary for CoE I've seen.
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selenityshiroi From: selenityshiroi Date: July 25th, 2009 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Best post ever.

The truth is, this story would work if it was about a normal government agency. The reason it DOESN'T work, is because RTD squeezed Torchwood into it.

If this had just been about Frobisher and a handful of tech operatives then it would have probably worked perfectly.
rose_cat From: rose_cat Date: July 25th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
The reason it DOESN'T work, is because RTD squeezed Torchwood into it.

Yes, yes and YES. The non-TW parts were fascinating. It could have been a great miniseries -- but not in the Whoniverse. What a waste, and not just for Torchwood.
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From: jsks Date: July 25th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
one of my problem is if the 456 are powerful enough to have a transmit beam why did the need the government to round up the children for them? they could have taken large groups of children from schoolyards , playgounds. the lack of planning anyone's part in case the 456 came back and wanted more kiddies. what did they expect the rest of the world to do when told to hand over 10% of the children of their country? that jack had a secret family that in the cut throat world of intelligence no one including torchwood 3 or london knew about yet jack seemed to visit and support openly? that johnson and her merry band for months observing 3 people did not about alice and child does not speak well of their ability to gather intell. how many times did alice call jack before they started to trace her calls? you brought many of the same ones i thought of.
on a lighter note piepeloe love the icon. josh/sam
lukita From: lukita Date: July 25th, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, CoE have so many plot holes and lack of Earth Logic for everyone involved it's not fun on a rewatch, they just leap out at you.
From: notyourfoxtrot Date: July 25th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
12!!!!! And BTW Jack and Ianto kiss once! (Day one) Because that last kiss doesn't count, Ianto was already gone.

Once! And that's it? What about a The-man-I-have-been-shagging-for-more-than-two-years-got-blown-up-then-regrew-his-body-and-then-got-covered-in-cement-KISS? Instead we got Jack behaving stand-offishly towards Ianto.

So bloody out of character.

RTD, who were these people in CoE and what have you done to Torchwood 3?

Maybe the real Torchwood 3 has disappeared to whereever Torchwood 4 is?
And CoE was an imposter!Jack AU?

Great compilation BTW! You really showed that CoE consisted of plotholes only.

jovialien From: jovialien Date: July 25th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just had to say -

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rose_cat From: rose_cat Date: July 25th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of gratuitous slams, was it really necessary for Ianto to have turned out to have lied about his father being a master tailor? A nice bit of background for Ianto was negated with what seemed like a cheap shot.

I'm not sure I could watch this again, not so much because of the darkness of it, but because of the rampant Idiot Plot. It was hard enough to hand-wave it on the first viewing. (So much for DVD sales.) And what was the point of setting it in the Whoniverse, anyway? I suppose it could work as an AU in which everyone is stupid and there's no hope anyway.

As far as I'm concerned, Torchwood ended with S2. Too bad RTD couldn't resist breaking all his toys...
vipersweb From: vipersweb Date: July 25th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
the only thing I can think of for doing so, is to provide an explanation for why Ianto and Rhiannon grew up on council estates. I imagine, though don't know for sure, that a master tailor wouldn't live on council estates. I think the writers decided it would be way cooler if Ianto came from a less privileged background, and look! instant reason for why he remains so secretive about his life. Clearly, he doesn't want anyone to know how he grew up, which is why he always wears suits and looks put together.
dru_evilista From: dru_evilista Date: July 25th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow...I'm so unobservant I didn't notice most of these, but yeah. Even more reasons why COE was total fail. I'm glad it's over, and hopefully the BBC will shoot RDT and never make anymore Torchwood so we can all just pretend the show was canceled after Fragments, and everything after was just BadFic.
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From: notyourfoxtrot Date: July 25th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. And as for the sound wave you've mentioned: For 4 and half days the 456 are completely indestructable, have an invisible ship somewhere up there and have seemingly unlimited power (they speak through children etc.), then ..tada! ... Jack pulls a sound wave out of his arse and they are destroyed.

(Reeks of deus ex machina if I ever saw one).

Sound wave? Really?!

...and RTD tells us he won't bring Ianto back, cause THAT would be just tooooooo strange, oh yeah!
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blackstronghold From: blackstronghold Date: July 25th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
6. The funeral director was tied with his hands in front of him. Um, pull off the gag? Your hands are right in front of it…

I didn't catch it the first time, BUT he wasn't just tied at the wrists and gagged (because I was wondering what was keeping him from just sitting up and crawling out). Then I saw that he was also tied up across the chest, so in theory I can imagine, he wouldn't be able to do that (but I'm not gonna go looking to tell how close his hands were to his mouth).
rabecka From: rabecka Date: July 25th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a minor one for me. It's just that I was cringing over that whole rescue, and this was just one more detail. I couldn't see exactly how he was tied, but the hands right near the mouth stood out.
rebeccama From: rebeccama Date: July 25th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, my first comment is that you make some very good points. I am starting to wonder if they jumped into a parallel universe where Jack was never a conman. (The Stolen Earth/Journey's End inconsistencies are especially grating as RTD wrote those episodes.)

BTW, I have been compiling me own list of illogical issues and wtf moments. I saw some of the ones you did, but you have some I didn't think of so do you mind if I link to this post if I get around to posting it.
rabecka From: rabecka Date: July 25th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely, feel free to link. Rather exciting for me, actually :-)

jumped into a parallel universe where Jack was never a conman
My personal theory is that Jack and Ianto were replaced by defective clones, while they took off for a vacation in the tropics.
buhfly From: buhfly Date: July 25th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
6. He was also just...lying there. I even said, "Uh...you could sit up...?" at the screen.

16. I'm putting this here, even though it doesn't really fit the point... It seemed to me that Ianto being with Jack at ALL while meeting with the 456 seemed like a writer's convenience. What, exactly, was the POINT of Ianto being there? He didn't do anything except deliver a few one liners.

I totally agree with everything you've said. :(
buttercupgaud From: buttercupgaud Date: July 27th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC) (Link)
This really annoyed me. Ianto NEVER does things like that. If it had happened in any other episode (which is wouldn't have because it was stupid) it would have been Gwen with him. Or more likely no one BECAUSE IT WAS SO DANGEROUS AND STUPID. Not just because of the aliens but the government too, who had been trying to kill them for nearly a week. There was no guarantee that they wouldn't both be shot on sight, So stupid and annoying.
From: jsks Date: July 25th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
a few more things to add to the plotholes from hell.
the destruction of the hub was justified by the thinking that jack's gift was connected to the hub, yet if they had hacked into torchwood records how could they not know the fact that jack could not die long before he first stepped into the hub as seen in fragments. so blowing up the hub (all of this with in a few months of exit wounds when would presume that city might be still be under heightened security) and not picking the team off when they were alone and away from the hub starts to look not so bright on johnson's part. would not have taking the hub intact have been smarter because amoung all the alien toys that might have found a weapon to use against the 456?
jack steals an expensive car and drives it to the hub 2, just a thought but wouldn't a car like that have a high end security system to maybe track it?
london has an extensive cctv system(american and i know about it) monitored by the police 24 hours a day, yet jack is able to steal a car, the scooby gang goes on a petty crime spree, ianto goes shopping in broad daylight, gwen calls and has face to face meetings with lois again in the daylight, gwen calls andy and arranges clem's release, again johnson and crew during this state of high alert( with all the high tech gear at their fingertips) they are not monitoring uk cctv, keeping an eye on friends,family and workmates of of gwen,ianto and rhys, oops guess someone missed basic spy craft 101 that day.
this is making me feel a lot better. thank you.
kholran From: kholran Date: July 25th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep. They were the worst snipers in history. Even with laser sights, they STILL missed the targets every single time. Apparently they no longer train people how to hit a moving target in sniper school.
astuta From: astuta Date: July 25th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm still wondering why Ianto and Jack went with simple guns to face the 456. Not only that, they knew that the 456 were in a tank, with some kind of gas. Even if they didn't know the composition of it, that gas didn't look very healthy. If they thought that they were going to shot the alien down, they had to realize that they were going to flood the room with it, so why didn't they take gas masks?

I think what bothers me the most is that it makes Jack and Ianto very stupid.
kholran From: kholran Date: July 25th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep, I had that same thought. And they likely would have known the gas was toxic, as they got all the images of the camera man suiting up from the contact lenses. The fact that the guy didn't just walk in with the camera should have been some clue.

Also makes me wonder why they didn't just shoot the control panel for the tank. Change the composition of the gas inside (seeing as it had to be so specific). Yeah the thing might have still released a virus (that escaped through an airtight glass tank) but it wouldn't have been able to survive a change in its environment.
kholran From: kholran Date: July 25th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep, you definitely make a lot of good points. The plot holes, they are everywhere.

The one I wanted to add, and maybe one of the most important? How did the 456 know you could make drugs from kids way back in the 1960's? Did they demand 12 kids first/for another reason, and then were all "Hey dudes, guess what they can do!"? Or did they have one kid somewhere that they had been making Space Meth out of before, and then decided they needed some more? Did they get the idea from another alien species that had abducted some kids earlier? It makes no sense to me that a species that had (hypothetically) never seen a human being before suddenly shows up in 1965, knowing that kids = super high.

Also, after the sound waves kill off the 456 in the big Sea Monkey tank, why does it become suddenly empty? Did the fire beam burn off the gas? And if so, why didn't the gas burn off when it arrived via the same teleport pillar of fire? And damn, that glass was STILL spotless despite the number of times the thing threw up on it. Maybe it used the kids as Alien Windex too.
From: jsks Date: July 25th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
thank you for making me laugh so hard i scared the cat. just had visions of alien stoners sitting around asking who smoked the last of the stash and one going "hey @@@@" i heard earth kids give the best high. lets go get some" makes me wonder what the writers were smoking.lol
From: asdhjfbciwu3487 Date: July 25th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
It makes me a little bit sick to see people blindly praising CoE, because a lot of these plot problems are just, well, stupid.

Yes, let's madly shoot a bulletproof tank of glass! Even if we thought it was breakable, we just saw that in order for a human being to exist inside it, he needed protective gear, but no matter! It's not like Jack doesn't know the 456 are capable of bio warfare! Let's just conveniently forget the 456 lives in poisonous gas and hope for the best!

I mean, the glass did't break, but come on! If it had broken, the what? They'd have just loosened themsevles and gotten alien goo all over everything.
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kholran From: kholran Date: July 25th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Blank page passed from Frobisher to Spears indicates a secret anonymous untraceable assassination order - which she then sends out in an email under her own name.

With the title "Order to Kill" no less. Super secret government activity. You're doing it wrong.
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fide_et_spe From: fide_et_spe Date: July 25th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the Charlie Brooker show (a satirical telly review show in Britain for those who aren't from here) they laughed a lot at the fact that Jack keeps telling them they need Torchwood, finally gets in, then in the next scene he is surrounded by body bags. They were saying how Torchwood is clearly rubbish.

I still can't get over them going into that room without a plan, and shooting at the glass, it was just embarrassing.

All shows have plotholes, and you can get away with lots of them, but given this was a plot lifted from another show, with a few other ideas thrown in from films, especially Contact, you would think they would have had some time to get it right. If so dead set on killing Ianto, well make it meaningful and believable.

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fide_et_spe From: fide_et_spe Date: July 25th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh and by the way, Jack and Ianto do use the contacts, Ianto says so to Gwen when she mentions it.
ceindreadh From: ceindreadh Date: July 26th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
From the way Ianto said it, I sort of got the impression that he hadn't actually ever thought about using the contacts for smutty purposes and was lying because he didn't want to admit that Gwen and Rhys were kinkier than he and Jack ;-)
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