Jack Harkness – Beyond Torchwood
A fans thought on who Jack might be and his life beyond Torchwood
By Mickie Newton (Toshiko)
If you troll through the thousands of fan-fics on such sites as tumblr and livejournal it is guaranteed you will find stories about Jack and 10. And you may even find something that is much like my own ideas that I am about to share. But if there are any, I haven’t yet found them. But as I said, there’s thousands!
And we, as fans, of both Captain Jack Harkness and Doctor Who have our own thoughts and opinions as to who Jack is, and what may possibly happen to him in the future. The one thing we do know is he isn’t The Face of Boe! Even if RTD hadn’t shared that it was an in-joke, Children of Earth in itself put paid to that idea altogether when Jack survived being blown into tiny bits of Harkness.
So here are my thoughts about this impossible man, who goes by the name of Captain Jack Harkness…
But let's first look at some parallels between Jack and the Doctor.
- Both are time travellers
- Both have lived a very long time. In fact by the end of season 2 of Torchwood Jack is over 2,000 years old making him older than the Doctor
- Both know the pain of loss
- They also know the pain of loneliness. Even when they are with others, they are alone. Jack had Ianto, but he was still alone. He could never tell him he loved him. The moment he did it would become a reality, a truth. For Jack, not speaking the truth some how makes it easier when he knows that one day he will have to leave (how many times do you watch loved ones die?) It was the same for the Doctor with regards to Rose. The difference was that the Doctor never acts upon this unspoken love
- They both have a name that is secret (or I hope so at the end of series/season 7 of Doctor Who *cue worried expression*
- They choose their companions well
- They are always the ones who have to make the most difficult of choices and have sacrificed many in order to save billions.
There has always been this question, much like with the Doctor, on who Jack actually is. But I am not concerned with WHOM he was, but who he became, or will become. The incredible events of, what was, satellite five, when Rose returned to save the Doctor and Jack. When she fetched Jack back to life. I have often thought that Rose got into the TARDIS console too easily. She didn’t have to fight that hard really. This is, after all, the TARDIS. And she doesn’t give herself up that easily.
So here’s my first thought. Who and what Jack is?
Here we have the Doctor; he is the last of the Time Lords, due to the Time War. Yes at this point there is still the Master. But he’s insane and cannot be trusted or relied upon. And I would think that an intelligent being like the TARDIS would have knowledge of this. Also the Doctor’s life is supposed to end after his 13th regeneration, which is only four off at this point. This could be thousands of years, or even only three, depending how careful he is. And more often than not, he isn’t. So once he dies, that’s it. The earth and all her vulnerable inhabitants are exposed to all the horrors and wonders of what is beyond the stars. There would be nobody to stop such horrors, as the Daleks, or Cybermen from destroying mankind.
In walks Captain Harkness, along the corridors of Albion Hospital, in 1941, and shaking the hand of ‘Mr Spock.’ The TARDIS must have thought all her Christmases had come at once. And the more she and the Doctor got to know him, the more she realised HE was perfect. He was a time traveller, even if the Doctor deemed it crude, it was still time travel. He was from a very distant future, but he’d also seen the past. HE also had knowledge of different technologies (I have often thought that Jack knew more than he let on to Toshiko). And he was heroic and very loyal to the Doctor. An ideal companion!
We fast forward to the Game Station/ Satellite 5 and the Doctor and Jack are faced with the Daleks and Rose has been sent back to earth for her own safety. But the reality is she was going to get back to the Doctor and Jack some how. She remembers what the Doctor had said about the TARDIS; how you look in to her and she looks into you. Rose had to get the console open. After failing with the car, they find something bigger and finally get it open…But it wasn’t that hard really when you think about it.
I like to think that the TARDIS needed Rose to fight a little. She needed her to have a certain mindset in order to protect her from the powers of the vortex that was about to fill her mind and body; the vortex that had the power to change the future; of not one, but two people. The TARDIS knew this was something she couldn’t do. She wasn’t able to project her power out to them beyond herself, beyond the doors. She needed a vessel to do this, to spread it where it needed to go and that vessel would be Rose Tyler.
With the vortex flowing through her body, Rose returns to Satellite 5. She destroys the Daleks and their Emperor. The Doctor fears for Roses life, all this incredible power flowing through her could only destroy her. But the TARDIS is keeping her safe whilst Rose does what she can’t. Rose directs the vortex to Jack bringing him back from the dead. Then the Doctor offers the help he feels she needs, as the TARDIS knew he would. He absorbs the vortex from her and Rose falls to her knees. The moment he absorbs it he starts to die. He knows his time is short and Rose cannot fly the TARDIS. He sends the vortex back to the TARDIS and knows he now must leave. He knows Jack has come back to life. He has no idea how or why and he has no one he can ask now. But now is not the time to think about it. He’s dying and must go and hopes Jack can find his way off safely.
And from there we know the rest. Jack uses his Vortex Manipulator and finds himself in Cardiff, which is where he was aiming for. But unfortunately it's not Cardiff 2006, but 1869! A slight 137 years off and 10 years before Queen Victoria creates Torchwood.
To make more sense of my story like ramblings, I believe the TARDIS wanted to protect the earth's future and the Doctors sanity. The earth, the universe could not and should not be left unprotected. And after his 13th and final regeneration, that is ultimately what would happen. So using the power of the Time Vortex she not only resurrects Jack, she changes him. Not only has she changed him so he doesn't stay dead. But she has done something else. She has created a future for the Doctor. A Doctor Who also, like his formally dead companion, cannot die. The regeneration had triggered the change. He'd taken in that very same vortex that had brought Jack back to life. But that's where the similarity ended. Why not also change something else...
Don’t forget that in the future the TARDIS’ vortex power makes the unborn Melody Pond into a Time Lord like being. Like the Doctor she was able to regenerate. So who’s to say this hasn't happened before. I think, in my twisted imagination, that the TARDIS created a new Time Lord through Jack.
Now I can hear you all saying that Owen had done tests proving that although Jack didn’t stay dead, he was human. But what if like the slab, that rose up from the depths of the hub to the Roald Dahl Plass and the TARDIS, his true self lay hidden behind a perception filter put up by the TARDIS herself and underneath it Jack was "still cooking?" He needed to continue as he was because everything, up to a certain point, was a fixed point in time, and so therefore couldn't be changed, no matter how painful it would be.
So no matter how many tests Owen did, nothing would show. You would only see what you expected to see; a seemingly normal human being, except for his unusual ability of not staying dead. No binary vascular system. No alien blood works. I would imagine it may even hide the sight of the golden vortex when his body regenerates (in his own special way). All others see is Jack popping back into life! No big bangs or whistles. Just a sudden sharp intake of breath and there he is.
So what of beyond Torchwood?
Well once again we would see parallels in Jacks and the Doctors lives. Both would continue to allow others into their lives and continue to go through the pain and sorrow of their loss, whether it is through death or simply having to walk away before that happens. Both have been doing this for longer than they care to think. And as much as it pains them, they also know they should never travel alone. They need to have someone in their lives to help them. To keep them grounded. But one day, for the Doctor, something happens. It is one loss too many. Like many before, this companion had sacrificed their own life in order to save others. And once again he suffered the pain and agony of this loss. How many more? How long can he continue like this? Of course, by this point the Doctor is also very aware that this is forever. He has long since passed his 13th regeneration and has died in ways that he would have never regenerated from before. This life is never going to end. And nor is the loss of friends. After the loss he walks back into the TARDIS. He says not a word. But he doesn’t need to. They are linked in such a way that the TARDIS knows what he is thinking. He randomly feeds in coordinates to take him as far from this planet as is possible. But as is the norm, the TARDIS doesn’t take him where he wants to go, but where he NEEDS to go.
She finally lands, but not in the usual way; but in silent mode, which the Doctor finds odd. He opens the doors to find he’s parked in an alcove of a bar. Why on earth is he in this bar? Then he feels something very familiar. He looked around and sat at the bar was someone who looked a bit like Captain Jack Harkness. The reason for this thought was simply that he wasn’t his usual smart self. He looked as though he’d given up. In truth he looked how the Doctor felt. Jacks clothes looked unkempt, almost slept in. If Ianto could see him he’d have a fit. But worst of all was his precious greatcoat was in a heap on the floor. Just dropped with little thought as to how it would land. Jack sat with a glass in hand trying to drink away all the pain he felt. Totally pointless because any effects from the alcohol was ‘healed’ away. So Jack was as sober as he was 5 drinks back. The bar and Jack makes the Doctor realise that he didn’t end up there by accident. The Doctors ‘wife’ had decided this was where he needed to be. He takes a deep breath and hopes that Jack doesn’t take against him in some way. After all, he looks different to the last time Jack had seen him. He walks up to Jack and says nothing. He simply bends down and picks up the coat. Folds it gently and lays it over his left arm. The Doctor puts his hand into his bottomless pocket and pulls out some money and hands it to the barman. He holds out his hand. Jack looks up, shows a slight smile, not his usual dazzle, the one the Doctor knows so well. The Doctor feels a pang of pain. What has happened to him to cause so much pain? Jack’s light has grown dull. Jack takes his hand and willingly, almost like a lost child, follows this apparent stranger. The doors open to a different, but still familiar room. It’s warmth envelopes Jack and draws him in. He knew who this stranger was the moment he stood at his side. He puts it down to being much like being in a darkened room and knowing who is there without seeing him. The Doctor looked different, yet he felt the same as he did the first time he met him at Albion Hospital back in 1941. He’d spent so long going in and out of the Doctors life. Being at his side when he needed him, and when Jack was able. He never really knew when those times where going to happen. But today he was certain. He’d never been more certain in his life. He wasn’t going to leave this time. He couldn’t take losing anyone anymore. He needed stability in his life and he was sure the Doctor felt the same. They were no longer alone. They now had someone in their life that knew how it felt and they wouldn’t lose to death. But most of all; the Doctor now knew who the Face of Boe was speaking of. He wasn’t completely sure how the TARDIS had managed this, but before him stood a Time Lord. He felt so different to how he did when he first met him, and even how he felt after the event. But now he could feel the hearts beating in Jacks chest. He felt like a Time Lord. A feeling he’d not felt in a very long time. How things would go he wasn’t sure! The one thing he did know he always was fond of Jack and still was and all he could do was go with the flow.
Jack never wore the coat again. It hung on that very familiar coat stand of the Doctors. He told the Doctor that it harboured all the pain and loss he’d suffered over the years and worst of all, it was a gift from Ianto. It didn’t matter it came out of Torchwood funds. Ianto had taken the trouble to find it for him. Jack had both a special place and a hole in his heart that Ianto once occupied. Ianto was no blip in time. The memories of their time together were as clear now as it was back in the 21st century. Over time Jack changed a lot. That familiar American accent faded. His choice of clothes also changed. Torchwood was, and always would be in his heart, along with all the incredible people he shared his life with. But he no longer lived for Torchwood. It would now truly become what it was. A kind of legend, folk lore and he was happy to do that. It had been an incredibly long time since he’d done anything under the umbrella of Torchwood. And now he needed to move forward and be what he was destined to be; to be a protector of time and space, along with his oldest of friends, the Doctor.
So there you have it. My thoughts on who Jack might be and his life beyond Torchwood. Now I’ve reached the end I’ve realised it’s a combination between an article and a story. But I guess that’s just how it flows from my fingers to the page, so to speak. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. And please do share your thoughts on what you have read. Don’t be afraid to disagree. As I said, these are my thoughts. And we all have our own. But the one thing we do all share is our love for this impossible man who goes by the name of Jack Harkness and Torchwood.