“When I was a kid, living in the Boeshane peninsula, I was the first one ever to be signed up for the Time Agency. They were so proud of me. The Face of Boe they called me…”
And with that, the jaws of a nation dropped.
Could Captain Jack Harkness be the Face of Boe? Really?! That heavy hint was thrown in, seemingly last-minute, into the 2007 finale, Last of the Time Lords, perhaps to clear up some questions, or more likely just to put the cat amongst the pigeons. We officially met Jack in The Empty Child, but we might’ve already seen him in The End of the World. How? Why? Is it even possible?
Okay, so Jack was brought back to life by Rose Tyler as the Bad Wolf, but, as stated in Utopia, she couldn’t control it. She brought him back forever. This would explain why the big old boat race is alive and well in the year 5.5/Apple/26, and had knowledge of the Doctor’s future: “You Are Not Alone.”
But actually, this poses more questions than it answered. Because the Face of Boe was always a little mysterious, capable of contacting the Doctor via great distances over time and space on the psychic paper. It was feasible he’d know about Professor Yana: he spoke telepathically and had lived for thousands of years, after all. Since Yana was found as a child on the edge of the Silver Devastation, where Boe supposedly came from. That the two met and that Boe quietly found out the truth by, I don’t know, telepathically scanning the fob watch, works. That’s the link. It seems this “the Face of Boe they called me” thing was just to set fandom alight. It worked. I think that’s partly what grates me about this situation. It makes very little sense, but was flung in there because… Well, because. That’s why.
Ignoring this, let’s examine the evidence for and against.
For: he said so. Jack could live that long, and something must happen to him in order to become a huge head. He admitted that he still ages, so his body might wither, but he’d still carry on. Cheers, Rose.
Movie Pilot pondered over this science, noting that the Lady Cassandra was also basically only a face (splattered onto stretched skin), with her brain remaining in a jar. Maybe, in the future, science has perfected a way of getting rid of all those fussy excess parts we’re all dependent on – the heart, the lungs, the digestive system, et al., and the Face of Boe and Cassandra are just different examples of these extremes. The article also mentions a favourite fan theory: that the Headless Monks were involved. Or perhaps…
“As is so often suggested in other sci-fi franchises, radiation of the gamma, beta or otherwise harmful kind is rumoured to be able to alter DNA. It’s not hard to imagine the sometimes stupid and often risky antics that Jack could get up to in his spare time, and if one of them happened to expose him to radiation? WHAM, he’s just got zapped into a giant. What the heck he did with the rest of his body I have no idea. Donated it to medical science? A modern art installation called ‘The Body of Boe’?
Another option is that the natural process of ageing turned Boe into an immobile blob. Maybe all humans would melt into an overly-huge head if we got past the age of one million? Perhaps the dude got so many wrinkles he seized up, only speaking with his mouth for special occasions such as telling the Doctor “You are not alone”- as he speaks telepathically, if at all, before his final appearance.”
And so we turn to the argument against this startling coincidence. I call this argument: “Coincidence.” Yep, so they called him the Face of Boe during his Time Agent years. So what? In The End of the World, he shows very little interest in the Time Lord, and yet you’d think there’d be some want to converse with the Northern bloke he first ran away with. At the very least we’d see him looking at Rose’s bum. But this seems a bit of RTD retconning. People liked Boe, so Russell rightly brought him back in New Earth. Even in Gridlock, he shows no sign of recalling the Doctor back in his TARDIS-travelling days.
Oh yeah, and he died. If Rose brought him back forever, how the heck did he die?
And finally: he gave birth. Just look at The Long Game. He gave birth to Boeminas. I don’t know how a giant face does that, but it’s probably best not to go into details like that. Children may be reading, and I’m eating a Wispa bar. Nonetheless, I’m not sure how his reproductive system could alter so much so that it’s located solely in his head.
Of course, some mind transfer could be involved – similar to that seen in New Earth – but then again, this would be the equivalent of killing the original Face. Would Jack do that? I’m not sure. He took extreme measures in Torchwood: Children of Earth, but he doesn’t seem that desperate to live even longer either…
Hmm. This is a confusing one.
And so I turn this over to you, dear readers. Is Captain Jack the Face of Boe? Why? How? And if he’s not, what do you think happens to Jack when his body reaches a ripe old age. Let us know below.