Friday, November 9, 2012

A Companion's Guide: Captain Jack Harness

Name: Captain Jack Harness
Portrayed by: John Barrowman
Number of episode as a companion: 5
Home Planet: Earth
Doctor(s): 9th and 10th Doctor

First Impressions
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
Jack first shows up in his lifted space ship in the twofer "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" as a dashing soldier in a "lifted" space ship when he resuces Rose from falling to her doom. There he swepts her off her feet, flirting with her amd trying to talk business at the same time. He tells her there is a warship on London and he is perpared to offer the location for a price. Every time he talks price or business, he offers her more liquor or dances with her. She agrees to take him to the Doctor and then tells the Doctor all the details he didn't think she noticed. He admits it's all a con when the Doctor blames him for what is turning all the people.

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.

Learning From The Best
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.

Fitting In
In "Boom Town" we learn that not only is Jack good with words but he's also pretty handy at making things. He is the one who gets that alien technology to work and hooks it up to the Tardis. We also see how close he's grown to the Doctor and Rose when Rose is taken hostage and he is willing to give up his extrapolator to make sure Rose isn't hurt.

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
Captain Jack's role in "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways" is a lot different than Rose and the Doctor's. They all have their own journeys to take and I think Jack's is probably the worst. While the Doctor and Rose haul themselves up in the main room to work on an invention to save the day, Jack rallies the other people aborad the spaceship to fight the Daleks even though he knows that they will be over run. He watches as everyone he convinced to fight gets slaughtered by the Daleks and eventually gives his own life to by the Doctor and Rose a few more minutes. The most heroic part is he knows the Doctor doesn't believe he can save them because he finds out that the Doctor sent Rose back to her own time.

This was a turning point for me and Jack. I'd always liked him and found him charming but this made me love the man. That he was willing to give his life for the Doctor and a lose cause without a blink of an eye made Jack a turn hero. It is the battles we know we can't win that define us and Jack made the ultimate sacrifice to give humanity a chance. He's always looked the part of the dashing hero but in this scene more than any other in the series, he is a hero through and through.

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
When we meet Jack next we find out that not only did Rose Tyler give Jack his life back as the Bad Wolf but she made him invicible. He is unable to die though he does seem to age very slowly. We find this out in the episode "Utopia" with the 10th Doctor and Martha on a planet in the very far future. The 10th Doctor stops off at the Rift they found in "Boomtown" and sees Jack on screen and tries to get away before Jack catches them. But Jack grabs onto the Tardis and rides it from the outside to wherever the Doctor lands, falling off dead when the Tardis shuts down. Martha believes he's dead until he snaps up and begins flirting with her. We see Jack do several other death defying things throughout the episode and during one Jack asks the Doctor why he left. The Doctor explains that because Jack is immortal, he's now a fixed point in time and it is hard for the doctor to look at Jack because he shouldn't be that way. He's just wrong. Then he explains that it was Rose who made him that way and that she saved the day.

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.

Full of Surprises
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.

Jack continues to use his ingenuity and everything else in his disposal to achieve safety for the world. Unlike the Doctor, he is okay with using lethal force to get his way and is willing to use looks, charm, his ability to die and come back to life and lies to get what he needs to accomplish his goals. He's interesting because he changes a lot in a very little amount of time and seems to mold into whatever surroundings he's in.

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
  • Boomtown
  • Bad Wolf and The Parting of Ways
  • Utopia
  • The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords
  • Stolen Earth and Journey's End
  • All of Torchwood
What did you guys think of the devilishly good looking Captain?


  1. I love Jack! He is just so confident and funny :)

    1. Right? He is crazy cool. I really need to start watching Torchwood.

  2. Wait, did Captain Jack's character did a crossover to Dr. Who? I abruptly stopped at S3 of Dr. Who and I haven't been finished S1 of Torchwood. Argh better re-prioritize hahaha. Btw, did you know that John Barrowman is in "Arrow" TV series too? :D


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