Do YOU Think Captain Jack Is The Face of Boe?

“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.

Rose Tyler Jack Harkness The Empty Child

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.

Face of Boe - The End of the World

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.


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30 Responses

  1. Andy Frankham-Allen says:

    All fine, except Yana was ‘born’ at the end of the universe, a very long time after Boe died on New Earth. And the only reason he could know that Yana was the Master is because he was there when he was a hell of a lot younger and had a body. Over complicating something that is, actually, pretty straight forward. And I seem to recall in an interview that Russell T said that Jack’s revelation was the end of season answer to the question of how Boe knew. Hardly a throw-away line, really. It was set up in a couple of episodes, and then answered neatly in the final episode.

    • Andy Frankham-Allen says:

      Oh yes, and Jack gave birth before. So him giving birth after evolving into the Face of Boe is not that much of a stretch. As for him not giving the Doctor any hints of his origins in those early episodes, simple… he’d lived long enough to understand the way the web of time works.

      • James McLean says:

        I think age gives a good get out clause for nearly every issue with Jack being the Face of Boe. We have no idea what factors could be generated between Jack and Boe, or what changes to his mental state. Boe has the essence of purity; a creature that has lived so long it has long passed its more earthly personality, desires, and whims. Boe wouldn’t look at Rose’s arse as Jack would have long gone beyond that stage of his life. How he becomes a large head, well isn’t that just a story for another day? Or maybe a 1,000 stories. That’s the beauty of Boe, his lifespan gives so much opportunity you don’t need to pigeon hole answers into it.

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Jack was there with the Doctor and Martha when they met Yana. Jack would have remembered this in his far future when he became the Face Of Boe. Simples.

  2. Alex Tye says:

    I reckon he might be and why not? RTD gets knocked quite a bit for some of his Who but I used to enjoy his season finales. Considering the nature of the Doctor Who narrative across time, a being living for millions of years and changing his physiology is not beyond possibility. The Master was a slug thing once.

  3. Dr. Moo says:

    The Pandorica Opens features River purchasing a Vortex Manipulator “Fresh off the wrist of handsome time agent. I said OFF the wrist!” Could be a reference to Jack? It would suggest he had something unpleasant happen to him which could be why he’s only a head. When he gets old enough he wrinkles up and there we have The Face of Boe.

    • Andy Frankham-Allen says:

      Yeah, I put that one in my Companions book. I mean, obviously, it is not necessarily a reference to Jack, but it nicely follows that River ends up with Jack’s manipulator. Just like she ends up with his squareness gun. Just the kind of linking Moffat would do. 🙂

  4. bar says:

    I’d prefer not. that clip about Boekind makes it sound like a race, not a family.
    In an infinite universe co-incidence is guaranteed.
    And if ‘Jack’ (we still don’t know his real name) changes so much from a human origin why would what he becomes name itself after a brief modelling career millennia ago?

    • Andy Frankham-Allen says:

      Boekind… Rex. The other ‘immortal’?

    • James McLean says:

      I would suspect it was a chosen last vestiage of the man he was, or a hint for the Doctor, knowing he had once told him his past name (and knowing at what point in the Doctor’s timeline he’d done it, too). Whether its canon will depend on future custodians of the franchise I guess.

      • Dr. Moo says:

        I’d go with it being a hint. Jack knows of The Face Of Boe’s prophecy in advance since the Doctor mentions it to him, by name, in Utopia.

  5. McJohnson says:

    Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The evidence most strongly supports the argument that he is but it’s still left open to individual interpretation. That’s good, right? Why does everything have to be known? Can’t some things be left secret?

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Exactly. If you want Boe to be jack then go for it. If you don’t like the idea then ignore it as a coincidence. The fact that it has (so far) been left up to an individual’s interpretation is great. Deal with that line in any way you want to!

  6. Individual of Doom says:

    He says he is and that’s good enough for me.

  7. WarDoctor says:

    Really not sure how I feel about this. It seemed strange at the time and it seems strange now. It feels like Russell put that in at the last moment because he had to fill another minute of the episode’s airtime. It’s out of nowhere and just plain odd.

  8. Peter Czarnezki says:

    Hey, is it really such a stretch?

  9. Kiera DeCanio says:

    About the Face of Boe giving birth, I got the impression that the satellite 5 was straight up fabricating stories at that point. Wasn’t there something Simon Pegg’s character said about controlling the news, or something to that effect?

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