Jarvik began his career as a Federation Space Captain. Amongst his assignments was collecting the harvest of Kairos, where his lieutenant was a young Del Tarrant. However, he grew disgusted with the Federation's reliance on computers and other technology, resigned his commission and worked in the construction grades of Space Command Headquarters.
He was vocally dismissive of Servalan's various attempts to take the Liberator, claiming any idiot could capture it with three pursuit ships - at one point saying only one was necessary, but that this would be an insult to the ship's pilot, Tarrant, whom he respected. Servalan became fascinated by Jarvik, and seeing his ability to predict Tarrant's actions better than her battle computers, granted him the ships he required along with the rank of Acting Major.
Jarvik took the ship by means of a trick, sacrificing the ships - which he had crewed with Mutoids, not wanting to waste the lives of human beings - to lure Tarrant into a false sense of security, then hiding troops within the kairopan shipment the Liberator hijacked. The ship was taken without a fight.
Servalan then offered Jarvik a place at her side as co-ruler of the Federation, on condition he personally defeated Tarrant and recovered the crew's teleport bracelets - they had been exiled to Kairos, which Servalan believed was tantamount to a death sentence. Jarvik obeyed, beating Tarrant in personal combat and taking the bracelets of all but Dayna. He was still fighting her when he was forced to teleport them both to the Liberator.
The Liberator was shortly after approached by a landing module equipped with Avon's sopron analogue, which made it appear to the ship's computers as a much larger and more threatening craft. Only Jarvik refused to believe the detector reports. Servalan ordered the ship abandoned and the captive Dayna killed - Jarvik objected, and in trying to save her was shot and killed by Shad.
Servalan called Jarvik a primitive, and in his contempt for computers and technology he seemed to be one. He was independent-minded and occasionally impulsive to the point of recklessness, and seemed to be virtually fearless - kissing Servalan on first meeting her, and taking on the Liberator crew single-handed, armed only with a knife. He had some regard for honour and did not believe in wasting lives pointlessly.
He respected Tarrant and was attracted to Servalan; the two were possibly briefly lovers. For his part, Tarrant said Jarvik was 'a special sort of man'. Avon disagreed: as far as he was concerned Jarvik was 'just another Federation thug'.