I figured it would be a heck of a lot easier to write about if he was already immortal when he blew up the cave and that only made any sense to me if he was Rambaldi. After all, Rambaldi discovered a way to become immortal. It wouldn’t make much sense for him not to use it on himself. Rambaldi was Jack’s age when he supposedly died and, as we saw with those centuries-old flowers in season two, Rambaldi-induced immortality doesn’t necessarily mean you have to look 500 years old to be 500 years old. Heck, it even explained—in a cracky way—why young!Jack is never actually a younger actor like young!Irina, just Victor Garber with badly dyed hair. There is no such thing as young Jack Bristow because he doesn’t age.
Exhibit A: 50-something Victor Garber as 30-something Jack.
The ending did work pretty well that way: Sloane finally got what he wanted—immortality—but Rambaldi ultimately beat him anyway by trapping him in the cave. So I wrote this, got my team some points and tried to move on. Except I couldn’t. The cursory bits of research I did when I wrote that got me thinking. Nothing I found outright contradicted the Jack-is-Rambaldi theory and most of it seemed to support it way more than I expected.
There were a couple of holes in the theory from what I remembered about the series, so I started rewatching with Jackbaldi in mind. Every last one of those holes turned out to be a hole in my memory instead of a hole in the theory.
First thing’s first. The Eye of Rambaldi flashes on Victor’s name in the first and third season credits.
Exhibit B: The Eye in the credits (Season 1) and Jack surrounded by The Eye on a bunch of monitors (Season 4). I’m not gonna lie, I giggled when I saw it.
Exhibit C: (Season 3) The focus shifts from a vial of living tissue found in a container marked Milo Rambaldi to AN EXTREME CLOSE-UP OF JACK’S FACE. Yeah, I lol’d.
When Irina wondered how Jack never got caught up in the Rambaldi obsession and he said he had something neither Irina or Sloane had, ie Sydney? Yeah, he didn’t say it was Sydney at all like I thought he did, Irina said it. He just lets it hang there and gets up and tries to walk away. (If the commentary is to be believed, they never intended for anyone to say it was Sydney. It was supposed to be even more ambiguous, but a network note asked them for some clarification.) He didn’t even really have her anyway because he pushed her away. What he had was a very good reason not to fall for the Rambaldi obsession: he was Rambaldi and, frankly, he was sick of the hype.
But what about the Irina box? Surely he wouldn’t have married her if he was the one who made the box, andandand—I am an idiot. *facepalm* He didn’t know her name was Irina when he married her. And it is very much canon that his feelings for Irina blinded him to a lot of her more suspicious moments.
OK, and how about the number 47? How could I possibly tie that to Jac—oh. Jack Bristow. Four and seven letters. Heh.
Nadia! Out of everyone, Nadia would know because of her visions and how the heck could she possibly have acted naturally around him if she knew he was, like, 500 years old? Surely, she would have been weird around him, but I don’t remember…
Exhibit D: Nadia’s lingering stares through a good chunk of season 4.
(I personally believe she confronted him about who he really was, probably when he woke her from her coma for information, and their interesting relationship was formed because of whatever understanding they reached. Like, he said he was sorry and he promised to do whatever he could to help her, but Sydney came first. It makes her death even more tragic to me, especially since he was the one who found her. He knew she died because Sloane chose Rambaldi and there was nothing he could do to stop it.)
Exhibit E: (Season 2) Jack turns himself in for setting up Irina only after he finds out Sydney might have caught the Rambaldi sickness from the Mueller device.
Exhibit F: (Season 2) Jack is present when Il Dire is assembled. That stuff just keeps coming back to bite him, lol.
Jack survives extreme levels of radiation (!!!) by hallucinating a doctor who could help him. A doctor with an unusually long-lived rat named Milo. Jack, your subconscious is amusing.
We know nothing about Jack’s family other than an off-hand remark about how his only memories of his father are of him leaving. We know nothing of Jack himself before about 1970, which is interesting. Also, Jack’s canon skill-set coincides quite well with Rambaldi’s.
There isn’t a huge leap between Jack-the-skeptic and Jack-the-cynic, and I can easily see five hundred plus years alive turning Rambaldi into a man like Jack. A man who once sought out immortality but quickly found out it wasn’t such a good thing, who carries around a huge amount of guilt that his own predictions put his daughter’s life at risk. Distancing himself from Sydney makes sense, too. One day, he’s going to have to see her die, even if it’s only from old age. Maybe if he isn’t as close, it won’t hurt as much.
He’s a man who will stop at nothing to keep someone else from putting his immortality puzzle back together. After all, when Arvin Sloane finally managed it, who was there to make sure he never left that cave?
The strangest thing about that is, as far as anyone knew, Sloane was dead at that point. Sydney shot him in the head. Jack used his supposedly dying moments to scrounge around for explosives to blow up a cave with a dead man in it. Why? Because he knew what the liquid would do for Sloane.
"You’ve caused my daughter so much pain. I could have prevented it. I won’t continue to make that mistake."
"I think you’ve overestimated your position, Jack. You can’t hurt me anymore."
"True. But I can keep you down here with me."
Yeah. I kind of love the wording of that line.