Posted 11 July 2009 in Doctor Who by Catriona
Well, I say no spoilers. I’ll qualify that: nothing here counts as a spoiler if you’ve seen the Doctor Who episodes that have thus far aired on Australian television—which is to say, all of them.
1. If Torchwood were actually a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Captain Jack would definitely be a rogue. Say you’re fighting the boss. Do you think Captain Jack would be standing next to you? Or is he more likely to pop up behind the enemy and stab him in the back for twenty-five points of damage? Sure, my base comparison there is more Puzzle Quest than Dungeons and Dragons, but the analogy still holds.
(If you prefer to play Fallout 3, I don’t think you’d have any trouble seeing Jack as the Mysterious Stranger. As Nick says when he’s playing Fallout 3, the Mysterious Stranger isn’t the most useful bonus you could enable, but when he turns up, it’s always awesome.)
2. And still on a Dungeons and Dragons theme, not only would Captain Jack be a rogue, he would absolutely be Chaotic Good. He’s the sort of character who has a basic good alignment, but is entirely unpredictable in how he manifests that.
As Nick points out, the Doctor is basically Chaotic Good, as well. Lawful Good is always by the book, like The Middleman. (And if you’re not reading that, or haven’t managed to see the excellent television series—now sadly axed—what are you waiting for? Who doesn’t want to watch something in which the hero says to his sidekick, “It’s bad apples like you that put J. Edgar Hoover in a dress”?)
But Chaotic Good has more of a mischievous side. And we’ve seen more of this with the Doctor in the last season or so—I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog that I’ve been disturbed on more than one occasion by the glee that the Doctor takes in chaos and disaster.
He hasn’t always been that way: I would argue that the fifth Doctor, for example, had far more of a Lawful Good alignment.
The touchstone episode, for me, is increasingly becoming “Warriors of the Deep.” I don’t know when this started, but more and more over the last season or two of Doctor Who, I’ve been drawing comparisons in my mind with that story and particularly with that last shot of the fifth Doctor and that last line: “There had to be a better way.” It doesn’t seem to me that the Doctor always looks for that other way, these days.
And Captain Jack doesn’t, either. Watch season two of Torchwood and tell me that he’s always looking for the better way. (Or, for that matter, let’s just think about the time he fed Ianto’s ex-girlfriend to a pterodactyl, shall we?)
3. And that brings me to my final point: Captain Jack is now basically the Doctor. Don’t mistake me on this: I think that’s fabulous. And now that Torchwood is increasingly—in Nick’s words—“grown up” television rather than simply being “adult” television, now that it has found its feet, we’re seeing this more.
True, Captain Jack is a fixed point in time, something that the Doctor fears rather than something that the Doctor is. But he’s directly analogous to a Time Lord, these days: though his regenerations come faster and always bring him back to the same body, he has the same distance from humanity now that the Doctor has always had. Like the Doctor, he will not age or die—at least, not by any means measurable by or conceivable to the human mind.
Captain Jack is the Doctor without a TARDIS.
He’s the Doctor trapped in a single location.
He’s the Doctor who can’t just leave after he’s reduced another planet to chaos.
He’s the Doctor, in short, who has to stay and clean up his own messes.
(Please, feel free to shred my Torchwood/Dungeons and Dragons analogy in the comments, but keep them spoiler free.)