What is Wrong with Jack Harkness?

With his greatcoat that turns people gay for him (his gay-coat, if you will), futuristic wrist strap that can do anything and his general enigmatic manner, one could be forgiven that the character of (Group) Captain Jack Harkness is meant to be a cool character (indeed, there was a line in the most recent Doctor Who Magazine that called him a “Doctor tribute act”).

However, certain observations have led me to start to think that he’s either the most reckless time travelling adventurer this side of Captain Kirk or a rather ingenious reminder by Russell T. Davies that dying repeatedly does in fact damage your brain.

My first example comes from his first appearance in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, in which he is responsible for unleashing a wave of humanity corrupting nanogenes, which was only stopped with the help of the Doctor and Rose. Fair enough, by stopping the incoming bomb and his subsequent story arc up to The Parting Of The Ways, he sort of redeemed himself for that one.

You may remember during Utopia that there was a room that only Jack could enter to make sure the rocket to Utopia would fly, due to being coated in something called ‘Stet’ Radiation. It was established that the radiation only affected clothing, not flesh. Despite this, Jack insists on taking off his gay-coat, even though the Doctor questioned this decision. He promptly enters the room…and burns his hands on the wall. Idiot.

Captain Jack Harkness with the Doctor and Rose TylerIn End Of The Road, the eighth episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, the good Captain comes across a ‘null field’, a device that allows anyone affected by it to die when all others cannot. Rather than confide in his team what exactly it is and why the CIA mustn’t be allowed to find it, he decides to appear mysterious and enigmatic, while at the same time asking them to trust him. Similar idiocy can be found way back in the first season of Torchwood, where partly through being enigmatic he gets his team to commit mutiny and ends up being shot in the face while his little prodigies unleash a great beast upon Cardiff.

For me, he reached the heights of stupidity during Journey’s End when they were taken aboard the Crucible, greets Rose Tyler with nothing more than a hug after not seeing her for two centuries, and proceeds to shoot the Supreme Dalek in its metallic face with his Webley. He deserved the extermination he got, really, and I’m still not sure how he managed to hide the fact that he was still alive from the Daleks – somehow a wink doesn’t explain it. In fact, the last time he saw Rose Tyler, he also tried to shoot a Dalek in the face and that got him nowhere. In fact, it had pretty much exactly the same outcome.

So that’s how I’ve come to the conclusion that Captain Jack is an idiot.

Of course, he does have his moments of awesomeness and attempted awesomeness (I maintain that his decision at the end of Children Of Earth was the best he could’ve made in the circumstances) but overall I have to say that my opinion of him is changing by the day as I think about this more, even if I still do like him as a character.

I would love to know your opinions on this – you know where to put them!




In his spare time, Scott writes for Kasterborous, his personal blog at WordPress and the revived Starburst Magazine. He’s also on Twitter (as @Scott_V_Writer) where he tries to be interesting and verbose in 140 characters.

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