Thursday, October 26, 2006

Captain Jack's Secrets

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING REPORT CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE OPENING TWO EPISODES OF TORCHWOOD, "EVERYTHING CHANGES" AND "DAY ONE"...

EXPLORING THE ENIGMA OF CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS

Expanding a little on what Kurly's already said, I thought that it would be fun to examine the enigma that is Captain Jack Harkness, now that we've seen him in action in not only five Doctor Who episodes, but now in two Torchwoods on top of that.

Jack is a 51st Century kind of guy, with no sexual orientation. If it's got a pulse, he'll sleep with it! When we first meet him in "The Empty Child" two parter, he's also a bit of a loner - travelling alone with only his faithful ship's computer for computer. It's no wonder that at this time he's a little self absorbed. Wouldn't you be if you had nobody else for company?

The man also likes to dabbles in the past - not only literally, but metaphorically too. During his trip back to 1941, his exploits also cause the downfall of humanity - but Jack's too busy talking about previous conquests (interestingly, a pair of Executioners!) to really care. Even as far forwrd as "Everything Changes" Jack still loves sitting with friends discussing his past - and fabricating elements as a little ego boost. It's understandable though, isn't it, for a man who's lost two years of his memory to want to cherish the memories he's currently got. Of course he's going to want to talk about the memories he's made since his memory-wipe - because if he doesn't; if he stops for one second, the true sadness of his mental-rape will devour him.

What exactly though did happen during those missing two years? We know little information currently - with the promise from Russell T Davies one day revealling the truth to us. In the meantime, we can only speculate that Jack worked for the Time Agency at the time - and possibly saw something he shouldn't have. Perhaps he did something that somebody else didn't agree with? Or was the memory wipe enforced by himself? Did Jack do something so horrible that even he wants to forget? The truth will be known...

One of the most important events in Jack's life happens at the very end of "The Empty Child" - he meets the Doctor; a being who not only grants him access to the TARDIS (and saves his life in the progress) but shows him the right side of humanity. Jack is transformed during his travels with the Doctor and Rose Tyler; from intergalatic conman, to nothing less than a hero. This transformation is never more obvious than in the book "The Deviant Strain". There, Jack has the option of leaving behind an essentially disabled girl, who's never going to live her life properly ever again, when a group of aliens attack. Only he doesn't - because, despite the danger to himself, he carries her to safety; not because the Doctor told him too, but because Jack recognises for the first time that it's the right thing to do, and wants to. Ultimately, it's this newfound humanity which kills Jack Harkness...

Standing before a parade of Daleks, Jack refuses to stop fighting. By "The Parting of the Ways" he's grew to love the Doctor and Rose, and would do anything to protect their lives - including dying to protect them. The pair mean so much more to Jack now than just companions. Having spent time with them, he now feels part f their family; and willingly sacrifices himself for them...

Only he nots granted that right, because bad wolf Rose Tyler brings him back, as Jack would say, from the dead. Jack lives again, but at a cost: his new family within the TARDIS knowingly leave him behind. We learn in last year's Jack-less Children in Need special that the Tenth Doctor knows that Jack is still alive, but simply chose not to return to him. Like he did with his grandaughter Susan before, the Doctor is chosing Jack's destiny for him - and that's one of the reasons why we hear so much about Jack being angry with the Doctor, because Jack doesn't work like that - he's his own man, and makes his own decisions. The next time he comes into contact with the Doctor, you can bet that Jack's going to have a few strong words to say...

The next days (?) weeks (?) years (?) in Jack's life are a complete mystery. John Barrowman has hinted that Jack may have used the "transdimensional surfboard" from "Boomstown" to travel through the rift back to 21st Century Cardiff (ironically, the one place he thinks the Doctor will turn up next) but the big question is: how long did he spend in the year 200,100 before he decided to return?

It's likely that Jack would have tried (at least for a while) to live like the Doctor had prophecised in the Children in Need Special: he would have tried to help re-build Earth following the Dalek invasion, and attempted to settle down (without a time machine for the first time in his life) in one time zone, stuck forever. It's also likely that it's during this time that he learned about his immortality: his lack of death, and lack of any real resolution in his life.

All of this and more may have been enough to push Jack to desperate measures - to use the transdimensional surfboard in the Rift to return him back to Cardiff, 2006. Or perhaps earlier...? We have no idea when Jack arrived in Cardiff, but we learn in "Day One" that his team mates know very little about him - a suggestion that he's worked there much longer than them? After all, he is their boss - and that's not a position one earns ovr night. Especially not in an organisation headed up by the Queen!

We also have no real clue when Torchwood is set. If "Aliens of London" happened 12 months after "Rose" we can place events in March 2006. "Boomtown" is then set six months after, presumably in September 2006 - with the Christmas Invasion happening in Christmas 2006. That means that Doomsday couldn't have happened any earlier than 2007 - and from what Jack said in "Everything Changes" it looks like the Cybermen/Dalek invasion happened a while ago. So, is Torchwood set at the backend of 2007? Or early 2008? More importantly, will we ever find out?!?

So, anyways, back on subject: Jack. He's tuck here on Earth, desperately looking for the Doctor - because (despite his anger) still wants to travel with the man again; and he also wants answers. Who brought him back, and why? Is his eternal life a legacy of the TARDIS...or something more mysterious, like the Time Lords themselves? It never was established who the Bad Wolf was. TARDIS or Time Lord? Either way, they've got a lot to answer for.

And that's why Jack's working at Torchwood. Not only can he act the hero with them, but they can assist him in his attempts to find the Doctor again. Jack can't ever rest now: because with the Doctor he's seen some fantasic things, and he wants a taste of that lifestyle again. Essentially, Jack's in the same boat as Sarah-Jane Smith was in last season's "School Reunion" - clinging onto his past with the Doctor, because he never got a goodbye, and never asked to leave the TARDIS for good in the first place.

And until the Doctor returns, Jack won't stop waiting...

Please, if you feel that you can answer any of the questions I've addressed, get in touch with the site. See you all soon!

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