Jarvik

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Character
Name: Jarvik
Occupation: Construction worker/Federation officer
Title/Rank: briefly Federation Space Major, previously Federation Space Captain
Location: Servalan's flagship
Status: dead by the end of the episode
Relationships: Servalan (lover), Del Tarrant (ex-subordinate/ex-friend?)
Fandom: Blake's 7
Other: Played by Andrew Burt
Jarvik.jpg
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Jarvik is a one-off character from unloved Blake's 7 episode 'Harvest of Kairos'. HoK was the first of three episodes written by Ben Steed, who would go onto write two equally if not more misogynistic episodes of the show, 'Moloch' and 'Power'.

A former Space Captain, Jarvik has resigned his commission in order to become a construction worker because he hates machines, believing only in the power of men. He throws Servalan around (his first action is to grab her and kiss her after uttering the famous line "Woman, you are beautiful!") and rather than angering her to the point that she kills him, this behaviour intrigues Servalan to the extent that she promotes him and it is implied that they sleep together. He seems to respect Tarrant, based on their past experiences together - it has been suggested that Tarrant's role in this episode (and therefore the respect) was intended for Blake[1]. Tarrant, in turn, calls Jarvik "a special sort of man", while Avon dismisses him as "just another Federation thug".[2]

Jarvik wears his shirt unbuttoned to the waist and stands in a manly pose. He is either (depending on your viewpoint) a scathing satire or a Marty Stu.

Fan Reaction

Fan reaction seems to largely be split into two camps - neither of which are flattering to Steed's vision.

The first camp are horrified:

Annoying Origin: Highflying young Terran Federation Officer who resigned his commission and re-enlisted as an enlisted man because the officer corps weren't macho enough for him. Allegedly a sometime friend of regular character Tarrant, although their ages don't match.

Annoying Way of Ruining the Story: Turns Madam President Servalan, the coolest, most intelligent, most self-disciplined, least libido-influenced Evil Overlady in pulp SF, into a masochistic, submissive porn-fantasy who gets off on being throttled.

Annoying Special Abilities: Able to take on a bunch of armed guards with his bare hands and subdue them all without a scratch. Comes up with crappy plans that only work because the writer makes the regular characters behave incredibly stupidly so they can succeed.

Miscellaneous Reasons The Sue Should Not Exist: Preaches about honour and machismo while sending other men to fight his battles and deliberately getting them killed. Gets killed by Servalan for trying to stop her making a disastrous mistake, so the writer can hammer home the lesson that testosterone-filled Real Men can beat any uppity bitch or faggot with book learning and brains.

Redeeming Qualities: (Reasons the Sue might not be annoying to someone else). None whatsoever. Doesn't even have the grace to die slowly so we can enjoy it. (LondonKdS posting on Canon_Sues)[3]
The ep might have been fun without the sheer offensiveness of Jarvik who was the focus. That made me so sick and angry it coloured my view of the rest. (Vilakins)[4]
Jarvik the Barbarian is a [insert expletive of your choice here] of the first order. The most insulting thing is that Servalan is supposed to find him sexy, instead of having "War isn't about honour, it's about winning!" tattooed on his forehead and pushing him out an airlock. (eledonecirrhosa)[5]

Other's view him as an ironic character, possibly a satire:

I find Jarvik to be such an utterly ridiculous character that I cannot for the life of me take him seriously enough to be offended. And as I think I can detect similar wtf-responses (or at least successfully project my own) in the reactions of the regulars, I don't have much of a problem with that, either. I like to imagine that Tarrant's "sadness" at the end is more like pity, and that the unspoken counterpart of that "No, that's not what he was" would have been something like "He was a bit funny in the head. I felt sorry for him." I also think that Servalan's (no doubt brief) attraction to Jarvik is out of sheer disbelieving novelty value, and by the time she is sending him downplanet to prove he is ~man enough~ for her, she already has tired of him and is really just trying to get rid of him as entertainingly as possible. (corvuscornix)[6]
I try to read Jarvik as an ironic character, but ironic sexism is still sexism, so even then this whole mess is pretty intolerable. I can take Servalan as being amused at someone acting so ridiculously, and I can even excuse her not-killing-him-immediately-for-being-Jarvik-on-the-flight-deck (she'll probably just off everyone who saw that display anyway, might as well have fun with the caveman until then), but the fact that Jarvik got the sentimental "he was so much more than that!" violins at the end?! Yeah, I think they wanted him to be a serious character. Which is... pretty sad. And it's not like the misogyny is limited to Jarvik--they even had that scene pulling Cally around in the middle of Avon and Tarrant's argument. Sigh. (RedConverse)[7]

History in Fanworks

Amusingly, the fic that is reputedly the first slash story in Blake's 7 fandom ('Licence') by Oriole AlmaThrockmorton features Jarvik paired with another man (Tarrant). Hermit.org's list of all-known pairings records another three Tarrant/Jarvik fics.[8]

Jarvik has also featured in various other fics, generally as a figure of fun. His canonical lines about being a 'real man' are usually turned into a catch phrase.

Jarvik has also featured in numerous comedy Photoshops.

Links and Resources

References

  1. For example, in Big Gay Long Cat's review of 'Harvest of Kairos'
  2. Transcript of 'Harvest of Kairos' at Hermit.org
  3. LondonKdS posting on Livejournal comm Canon_Sues
  4. Vilakins posting in B7Rewatch
  5. eledonecirrhosa posting in B7Rewatch
  6. corvuscornix posting in B7Rewatch
  7. RedConverse posting in B7Rewatch
  8. Tarrant/Other on Hermit's list of all-known pairings