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Thoughts about Jack and Drinking

I have a few thoughts regarding Jack and drinking, post episode 2.12. 

We know from DW that Jack drinks-  he drank in The Doctor Dances. But ever since Torchwood started, we've seen him continuously drink water only, except for  a few special occasions. I've been wondering about this for a while, and in someone's review of 2.12 they've come up with a theory that I support: After Jack drunkenly told strangers about The Doctor and who knows what, he probably realized it's more prudent to keep sober.

Which made me rethink about Jack on the show. I mean it must have been torture for Jack, being abandoned in a time and place he doesn't belong, surrounded by dead bodies and Dalek dust. Arriving in 1869 instead of 2000+ and having to live on the slow path again in a time and place he doesn't belong. Then it took him about 23 years to realize he couldn't die (didn't he notice the not aging bit?) and in 1892 he had so many more questions for the Doctor. Why was he the way he was, could the Doctor cure him, etc. Life must have been so angsty for Jack, losing people he cared about, wanting the relase of death at times and never being granted it. So he drowns his sorrows in alcohol and finds release by telling strangers all his angsty stories and problems. Only to have that little released turned against him when Torchwood compiled a whole file on him and the Doctor- putting the Doctor in danger and forcing him to work for Torchwood.
  I could definitely see how Jack would quit drinking after that and also be a bit more secretive- you never know what the other person will do with that information and Jack can't just use his Vortex Manipulator to make a quick exit. I'm guessing Jack also has major trust issues, and considering Suzie and Owen both killed him and his entire team turned on him, he might have good reasons.

    There were two moments in the whole series that I remember Jack drinking, though I haven't rewatched it all, so I'm sure I missed a few. One moment that stuck with me of Jack NOT drinking, was KKBB, when John suggested they grab a drink, Jack picks up the bottle- but never drinks. I think that speaks volumes of the amount of mistrust there. The first time I remembered Jack drinking was CJH, when he and Tosh were toasting to the Real Jack and the Second was SB, at the wedding. Now one could say that Jack felt comfortable enough with Tosh and later the whole team, to let his guard down. 

  But those were also emotional moments for him, when he probably couldn't cope without some help. He just met and lost the Real Captain Jack, got reminded of the person he used to be, the moment he met the Doctor and Rose, his best friend being tortured- not to mention the fact that he really fell hard for the idea of Captain Jack and had less than an evening with him before he died. Jack was emotionally vulnerable when he toasted with Tosh. In SB we learn that Jack was married once, and it adds a new layer to how he acted at the wedding. Gwen getting married probably reminded him of his own marriage and he felt like he was losing her- to Rhys, to a marriage and steady life that wouldn't have a place for him and Torchwood in it. So Jack was very mellow at the wedding and later in the hub when he looked at the old photographs.

[ETA- apparently Jack drank in 1.05 after that whole bit with Estelle- another emotionally traumatic experience- so once I rewatch that episode I'll be able to comment on that moment and what it says about his relationship with Gwen.]

  Is Jack getting more comfortable around his teammates and ready to let his guard down, or when he's emotionally vulnerable he turns to alcohol? I'm not sure, but it's an interesting thought to ponder. Of course this is simply my musings and I'm open to other opinions.

On a side note- now that I know about Tosh's recruitment into Torchwood, I understand better something. Tosh found out Jack was a conman by his own admission in CJH and Gwen found out via John in KKBB. They both reacted quite differently- Tosh seemed to take it in stride and Gwen seemed surprised and almost indignant. Considering what Tosh did, I could see her being more accepting of, shall we say, un-lawful behavior and willing to think there are mitigating circumstances. Where as Gwen's a cop and also pretty morally self-rightous at times, so her startled and disbelief makes a lot more sense.

Am I just reading too much into things? Probably, but this Fandom is eating my brain! First I review about episode 12 and now I'm actually analizing characters and posting my own thoughts, rather than just replying in other people's post. Two weeks is too long and what will I do after it? Well there's always DW season 4....


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
In the commentary for Captain Jack Harkness JB says that Jack drinks only when very very upset about something. Otherwise he doesn't because he might have to travel at a moment's notice. He doesn't know when the Doctor might show up.
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Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
See that's what I get for not watching the commentaries, lol.

Oh you have to! The one for Cyberwoman is bizarrely hilarious. Listening to GDL laughing himself silly over a couple of different things in that episode is one of the best things on the box set.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
Any place that has it online? Although I might consider getting the Torchwood season 2 DVD- this season was so much better than last... I think some episodes just demand a funny commentary, Cyberwoman is one of them. Although so many people hated it, I really didn't. I kinda liked it even.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's online anywhere. Too bad because all of the episodes have commentary tracks and they're very good. JB does the last two eps. GDL does Cyberwoman and Countrycide. Cyberwoman wasn't my favoruite ep but I liked it and I like it even more with the commentary. You know the scene up in the tourist office where Ianto is basically batshit insane at the point and Jack is not far behind? GDL said he asked the director (I think the director) something about how Ianto would be at the point and got back "Well I imagine he's a bit upset." bwhahaha!!!
Mar. 23rd, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
I LOVED that scene! It was so crazy and intense, lol. A bit upset? Well that's an understatement! Thank God the Director was there! Sometimes I really think the quality of the episodes depends on the Directors- some get great acting from their actors (especially JB, bless his over acting) and some get meh.

I don't think I'll get the season 1 DVD, but I'm definitely consdiering the season 2 one...
Mar. 23rd, 2008 07:17 am (UTC)
It wasn't a slam to the director (he was on the commentary too), it may have even been the writer or whatever, but they just laughed and laughed over that and then kept referring back to it.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
I wasn't logged in earlier. I watch the show online, so I've never seen the commentaries. I guess JB beat me to it, lol.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Well that all made sense to me.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
Makes sense to me too.

The only other time I can think of that Jack drank was after Estelle was killed by the faeries (Small Worlds ep5). He was quite shaken and he drank with Gwen in his office and talked about his time with Estelle.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Ah, another episode I have failed to rewatch yet. It's on my list though, so that's another instance Jack drank when emotionally upset.
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Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
Ah it was mentioned in CJH- that he convinced his best friend it would be fun to join a war, they got captured and his friend was tortured to death in front of him and he was released. Jack described his captors the same way he later describes the creatures that invaded Boeshane, but who knows if they're one and the same.
Mar. 23rd, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
On the dvd boxset there's an alternate take of the scene in 'Everything Changes' where Jack and Gwen talk in the bar. In this version, Jack gets their drinks from the bar and takes them over to Gwen waiting at a table. She notes his glass of water and comments he's a cheap date. Jack replies (as JB says in the commentary) that he never knows when he might have to travel and he likes to make sure he's hydrated. Something like that anyway. It makes sense in terms of him wanted to be able to take off immediately if the Doctor turns up. However, I have always considered his 'tee-total' habit as part his desire to hold on to his secrets. As you've noted, his drunken babblings certainly got him in trouble early in his Earthly life.

One thing also...because Jack doesn't/rarely drinks, you tend to notice how much the rest of the team does. I'm not saying they are all boozers, but in this series in particular, there seems to be a lot of alcohol around the Hub, especially considering the kind workplace it is. 'Meat' is a good example of this. Not only are Owen, Tosh and Ianto tucking into the drinks while waiting for Gwen and Rhys, but there's a scene at the end during to Jack/Gwen retcon confrontation, where there's what looks like a fair stash of empty beer bottles on a cabinet behind Ianto (at least I think it's that ep).
Mar. 23rd, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, apparently I'm missing out on a lot with not watching the commentaries and JB commented on it. I figured it had something to do with waiting for the Doctor, but after watching 2.12 I just thought it added a whole new layer to it. It's funny that Jack likes to keep his secrets, but he does tell them personal stuff, in his mysterious way. I mean he almost told Gwen out straight in 2.01 that he was tortured- dying so many times, being dragged back to life and how he described it?

LOL about noticing the others drinking. It really stood out for me in Meat when they were drinking DURING WORK. But I don't live in the UK, so I don't know what's costumary or not. Maybe alcohol is the only way they manage to cope? Unlike Gwen- Owen, Tosh and Ianto don't really have that stable and grounding relationship. Although you could argue that Jack is filling that spot for Ianto now, but you catch my drift.
Mar. 23rd, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
didn't he notice the not aging bit?

I have a feeling that Jack was always quite a bit older than we think. It's possible that in 3,000 years, people will live to be much older. It's also possible that science has created a way to make cell degradation that much slower... though, yeah. Not again at ALL in over 20 years should've been a clue.

Also, the only time we see him drink in the series is when he is just THAT upset, and around people who can be trusted.
Mar. 23rd, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
I guess that's one possibility- we really don't know anything about the 51st century and how they age. For all we know Jack has some magic cream from the future that keeps his skin looking young. *shrugs* Or he didn't look in a mirror for 20 odd years, but seeing as how it's Jack I doubt it. ;)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )