Portrayed by: John Barrowman
Number of episode as a companion: 5
Home Planet: Earth
Doctor(s): 9th and 10th Doctor
There are few characters in Doctor Who that make me smile every time I think of them. Captain Jack Harness pretty much tops that list. From the moment we first meet him and he rescues Rose only to try and sweep her off her feet and con her and the Doctor to the last time we see him on the show and realize he's been around more than we know, it's hard not to fall for the good Captain. His optimist personality is infectious, his flirtatious nature is charming and I love that you are never sure if he's telling the whole truth. In a lot of ways, Captain Jack Harness and River Song from Season 5 are very similar in their demeanors and free spirits.
Jack is one of the few characters I instantly liked because you can't look at the guy while he's smiling on screen and not fall in love. His character intrigued me because he was so charming but you could never tell if he was lying.
The Con Man
I liked that Jack had it all figured out until some blame was shifted on him. Suddenly, he'll tell them everything so they don't think he was the cause. I also found it refreshing that Jack went back and forth from flirting with Rose to the Doctor and other soldiers around. For me, it was a big deal that the show didn't make Jack's bisexuality a huge deal, instead letting him try to charm the pants off whatever person was looking at him minus the usual tropes. Instead of making the fact that Jack's bisexual his defining quality, they make it just a small part of him and I thought it was brilliantly handled. Jack is charming, funny, masculine and attracted to all manner of people and aliens.
Throughout "The Doctor Dances" Jack maintains his innocence though the Doctor repeatedly tells him it is his fault since Jack lead what he believed to be a harmless ship into London. But Jack watches the Doctor and Rose try to fix things and that gets him thinking. When Jack the the oppurtunity to port out, leaving Rose and the Doctor trapped, he could have just left them to die but he works on a solution and gets them out. Seeing the good that the Doctor and Rose does makes Jack want to do good. He ends up making the ultimate sacrifice when he ports a bomb out and it seems like he knows he won't be able to get rid of it so he goes off into space to die.
I thought it was a little strange that Jack turned to the straight and narrow after so short a time with Rose and the Doctor. But I get the feeling that Jack is the type of person that transforms into the people he's around. Since he was around very good people, he became one but I think that this personality stuck because it felt good to be good.
I thought this episode really showed how well these three worked together. Rose and the 9th Doctor were all about fun at this point and Jack's excited demeanor worked well in their group dynamic.
Meeting the Daleks
It makes sense then that Jack gets rewarded for sacrificing himself by being brought back to life. I wondered if this would cheapen the sacrifice he made but instead, I think what edns up happening to Jack makes him even more interesting. When the Doctor and Rose leave Jack behind, I was dying to know why and I'm glad that these questions are addressed when our Captain Jack turns back up.
The Invincible Man
Listening to Jack tell the Doctor about his journies, how he died falling off a cliff, tried starving himself, poison, World War 1 and 2 among other things is sad and I was glad they made Jack human enough to admit that he wasn't sure if he wanted to die. His caring for Rose, going back to her time period and watching her grow up from afar and his concern for her ultimate fate was sweet and reminded me of how wonderful he was as a character. It was refreshing to see that the re-invented Jack, giving him a very fascinating curse because Jack is the type of character that would strive to do something with it. His immortality is just another thing that has been touched by Rose and the Doctor and though the Doctor doesn't like it, it's good to see him come to terms with it over the next few episodes.
The Doctor may not like it but Jack's inviciblity comes in handy in the next few episodes of "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords". Though the Doctor left him behind, Jack never forgot about the wonderful things the Doctor and Rose taught him in his brief time in the Tardis. It is Jack's manipulator that Martha uses to port out of the space ship in "The Sound of Drums" and eventually wins the day for them by being free. Though the Doctor disables that same device later, it was Jack's finesse with technology that created in the first place. At the end of "Last of the Time Lords", Jack lets one more secret slip as he walks away from the 10th Doctor, deciding to remain on earth and defend it. He tells everyone that he used to be called The Face of Boe in his old hometown which delight the Doctor and Martha.
The Face of Boe has been around in three separate episodes and saves many people in the last one before he died. Knowing that Jack will be okay in the future and that he does eventually die is both a relief and also very sad. We witnessed the death of a major character and didn't even know who was really dying. It makes sense then that the Face of Boe tried to contact the Doctor to tell him something before he passed because he and the Doctor were actually old friends all along.
Keep on Keeping On
Jack continues his adventures on earth with a little band of good doers known as Torchwood. Together they fight against alien invasions in a seperate show with the same name Torchwood. Jack does show up several more times in Doctor Who, most notably in "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" when all of the 9th and 10th Doctor's companions team up to defend earth in the Doctor's absence.
Captain Jack's easy smile, acceptance of every kind and race and quick thinking make him one of the greatest characters in Doctor Who. Out of all the characters, I think Jack was definitely the most interesting choice for his own show but I also think he's a bit of a risk too. But all good characters are a little bit risky, a little bit unpredictable or we wouldn't love them that much. Jack doesn't always make the right choice, but when he does he makes it with everything he has and he's willing to put everything on the line to make sure it ends up right. With his infectious smile and undying loyalty, it's hard not to be devoted to Captain Jack Harness.
Want to get the best Captain Jack experience? Check out these episodes:
- The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances
- Bad Wolf and The Parting of Ways
- The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords
- Stolen Earth and Journey's End
- All of Torchwood