On Captain Jack Harkness

When last we saw Jack Harkness he’d just gone Gandalf on a Balrog and died, only to return to life after seven days. Then, wandering through the Torchwood Hub, a peculiar wheezing, grinding sound was heard, a wind rushed through the Hub, and Jack Harkness was gone.

Tonight, Captain Jack Harkness returns. And there are two questions that need answering.

How the hell did Jack Harkness get from the year 200,000 to the present day to lead into Torchwood? And , why is Jack Harkness immortal?

Will we get our answers? I don’t know. In the meantime, here’s my working theories.

Wait. I have a third question! Will Jack take a swing at the Doctor?

We’ll start with the first question. How did Jack get from the GameStation in “Parting of the Ways” back to the present day? I think that’s the easy question.

Jack’s a former Time Agent. He’s also a very resourceful person. He’ll find a way back to the 21st century.

What does a Time Agent do if their mission goes horribly wrong and their ride back “home” gets lost? Let’s suppose that the Time Agency left Temporal Escape Pods in various locations throughout space where no one would think to look. They may have gone into the deep past, buried the Escape Pods, and programmed the locations into Time Agents’ minds. If the Time Agent loses his ride, all he has to do is get off planet and make his way to one of the Temporal Escape Pods to get back to the proper time.

Let’s suppose that Jack goes in search of one of these Temporal Escape Pods. He’s got the knowledge in how to use it when he finds it. He may have to find two or three to find enough working parts to make one go. I mean, these things may not have been built to last two thousand centuries. 😉

Jack’s plan is probably this. Get a Temporal Escape Pod working. Reprogram it to take him to early 21st-century Earth. Hang around London, find Mickey if need be, and wait for Rose and the Doctor to turn up.

This may take him a while. It may take Jack a month. It may take Jack five years. At some point Jack is going to realize three things. One, he’s immortal. Two, he no longer ages. And three, he doesn’t need sleep.

Eventually, he’s got his Escape Pod working. He’s ready for his trip.

The technology’s old. Jack’s jerry-rigging may not be as… precise as he might want. He overshoots the mark. He doesn’t land in the early 21st century. He’s a century out, and the time engine is burned out. He’s stuck on the slow path of time. And he has to live out his life until the Doctor and Rose turn up, and that’s decades.

He’s a former Time Agent, he knows some of the things he shouldn’t do. He probably stood atop the Torchwood lift in the cloaking field and watched the TARDIS depart in “Boomtown.”

All Jack can do is wait.

Second question. Why is Jack Harkness immortal?

Let’s look at his resurrection at the end of “Parting of the Ways.” He bought time for the Doctor to implement his plan to destroy the Daleks and was exterminated for his troubles. Then Rose opens the Heart of the TARDIS, fills herself with the energies of the time vortex, and somehow Jack comes back to life.

What did Rose do?

She could have reversed time for Jack, to undo the Daleks’ extermination. But would that make him immortal? It shouldn’t really.

What if Rose didn’t realize what she’d done? What if she didn’t just resurrect Jack, consciously or not, but instead turned him into a living artron energy battery? Artron energy powers the TARDIS, artron energy–in various guises–is what exists in the time vortex. It could be that Jack’s not immortal, per se, and can’t due, but that time rewinds for Jack. (Witness the way he heals in “Everything Changes,” for instance–the bullet wound to his head appears to “rewind.”)

Then Jack fights Abaddon. A giant hulking beast that towers over Cardiff. Jack’s life energy pours out from him, and finally it slays Abaddon, and the monster falls. So, too, does Jack, and he appears to die. But does he really?

I think Jack might be a little like Superman, now. Superman is a living solar battery. Jack is a living artron energy battery. Superman battled Doomsday, expended all of his solar energy stores, appeared to die, and when his body had absorbed enough solar energy to restart functioning he came back. Jack battled Abaddon in “End of Days,” expended all of his artron energy stores, appeared to die, and then he came back to life. But I’d doubt seriously that it was because Gwen wouldn’t leave his side for days. What brought Jack back after his battle with Abaddon?

The Rift. The Rift that runs through Cardiff.

Consider “Boomtown.” The TARDIS lands above the rift. Why? The Doctor wants to recharge the TARDIS’s energy. What does the TARDIS run on? Artron energy. Therefore, the TARDIS landed atop the Rift to soak up the Rift’s artron energy because the Rift must give off artron energy.

Where’s the Torchwood crypt? It’s next to the Rift. If the TARDIS landed soaked up the Rift’s artron energy, Jack too must have been soaking up the Rift’s artron energy. Eventually, Jack’s body would have taken in enough energy from the Rift to “restart,” just as Superman absorbed enough solar energy for his body to restart.

So, no, Gwen sitting up with Jack for days didn’t bring Jack back. The Rift brought Jack back.

Eventually, Jack will have taken in enough artron energy to assure his immortality. In the immediate aftermath of his reawakening he could probably be seriously hurt. After a few days in proximity to the Rift? No chance of being seriously hurt or killed.

And if the rumor I’ve heard about “Utopia” is true–the rumor about Jack taking a ride into the distant future hanging on to the TARDIS exterior–then Jack would soak up a ton of artron energy on that trip.

Jack is going to be immortal. Not because he can’t die, but because time will rewind for him and keep him from ever dying.

Third question. Will Jack Harkness throw a punch, take a swing at the Doctor? First, Jack was abandoned in the 2000th century. Second, Jack sacrificed his life–and every life aboard the station–to buy the Doctor time to complete his doomsday weapon to destroy the Daleks. And then, the Doctor couldn’t pull the trigger. The Doctor was willing to allow the Daleks to conquer the Earth and the universe. Jack threw his life away, basically, for the Doctor to do nothing. If–when–the Doctor reveals how… spineless he was, Jack might take a justifiable swing at the Doctor. Unless a couple of decades on the slow path of time calmed Jack’s nerves. 😉

Still, I’m thinking Jack should throw a punch at the Doctor. The Doctor actually deserves it.

So, are my working theories right or wrong? We’ll find out soon-ish. 🙂

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

One thought on “On Captain Jack Harkness

  1. All true. He I would bash that weevil doctor’s face in. And wtf is up with him abandoning Jack again?

    Anyways, I’m damn sure Jack is the face of boe. The producers are most likely pulling off one of those future episodes where everything becomes clearer.

    Perhaps the face of boe/Jack Harkness told the Doctor in the future to STAY away from him for his own good ?

    Who knows, but I despise the Doctor right now

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