So, if you ask anybody who has played Borderlands 2 what they think of Handsome Jack, they’d probably let you know just how much they hate him. They’d tell you things like “He’s a monster,” “He’s a terrible parent,” and “He really doesn’t know what a hero is.” At least, that’s what people who have played Borderlands 2 will tell you. But ask the same question to someone who has played the newest addition to the series, Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, and you might get a more mixed reaction. Just warning you now, there will be spoilers for Borderlands 2 and Borderlands the Pre-Sequel in the coming paragraphs.
Now, the first time you see Jack actually kill someone in the chronological form of the story is when he kills the Meriff of Concordia in Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, which i will now address as BL1.5 to save time and space. However, this kill doesn’t start out as one. In fact, if you chose to play as Wilhelm, Jack actually tells you that he doesn’t plan to kill the Meriff, just get the information he has. However, not everything goes according to plan. When Jack and the player(s) actually pay the Meriff a visit, he surrenders the information he has and then Jack turns to leave. And it is when Jack’s back is turned, the Meriff draws a pistol, a Jakobs revolver if I remember correctly, and fires three shots at Jack. It is only after the Meriff tries this little stunt (Which wouldn’t have worked even if the Meriff had shot Jack because then the player most likely would have shot him) that Jack fires a series of five shots from his plasma wrist gun thingies, three of which actually hit the Meriff before he falls. Now, this seems morally justifiable, but the problem really comes with what Jack says next: “Woooooah, that was… invigorating!” So, he did kill in self-defense, but was it bad that he enjoyed it?
Next example is also from BL1.5, and it involves when Jack and the player(s) return to Helios. The player has just helped the four scientists in R&D and you’ve met with Jack, Lilith, and Roland in Jack’s office. You’re just about to go down to fight Zarpedon when Jack says he has one thing left to do. He has the player turn a switch and his bookcase slides away to reveal the scientists you just rescued, including Dr. Gladstone, in an airlock. Jack explains that Gladstone told him that one of the scientists might be working as a mole for Zarpedon. As Gladstone begs Jack to spare them, Jack opens the airlock and the scientists are all sucked out into space, Gladstone being the last to go as he clings to the side of the venting chamber, only losing his grip when the pressure change makes his head explode. When this happens, Lilith is outraged by Jack’s actions, while Roland at least acts like he’s ignoring it, and Wilhelm actually says that it seemed like the right thing to do. What do you think? Was the chance of an enemy mole worth the cost of five people’s lives?
Now, there are several other deaths at Jack’s hands as the story goes on, but I’m not going to get into all of them right now. Maybe in a followup post I will though. What really gets me is that when I first started playing BL1.5, I still saw Handsome Jack as the villain of Borderlands 2. But as I played through BL1.5, I started to see him more as Jack, the lowly Hyperion tech nerd who just wanted to prove he was right. And boy did he, the proof being the final scene where Jack strangles, not chokes because he explains that there is a difference, his boss Tassiter with his watch chain. Be careful, pocket watch chains can be dangerous. So, tell me what you think, even if you haven’t played all the Borderlands games. Was what Jack did to the scientists, to the Meriff, to the Vault hunters, even to his daughter, his attempt at trying to reach a greater good? Comment your opinion on this and the games themselves if you want. And keep an eye out for more Borderlands posts in the future.
Jack (not the handsome one)