WARNING: The content of this blog is based entirely on Seasons 1-5 of ABC’s LOST. If you have not watched all 103 episodes and don’t want your fun spoiled,then please do not read this blog until you’ve caught up!
This episode begins with a close-up of a child’s eye and we soon find out that it is none other than Jack’s during a flashback to when he tries to save his friend from a schoolyard bully and gets trounced in the process. Later in the episode his Dad, Christian Shephard, calls him in and while sipping some liquor gives Jack the sage fatherly advice to not try to save them all. Much of this episode revolves around developing Jack’s character an especially beginning the backstory of his strained relationship with his Dad.
For me, two major elements of the episode were compelling:
- Jack’s continued siightings of the apparition of a man in a suit, who we first discover in this episode is none other than his Dad, Christian Shephard.
- John Locke’s rescue of Jack and their subsequent conversation about leadership and the nature of the Island.
Jack Seeing Christian Shephard
I remember these sghtngs being some of the most chilling and intriguing scenes early on in the series. Christian always appeared by himself standing stock-still in the distance in a business suit and white tennis shoes. And until this episode we had no idea who he was. Kinda creepy.
Through the flashbacks we had an “AHA!” moment and realized who the apparition truly was, but stll had no answer as to if it was a hallucination or somethng more. When Jack sees him for a moment in the surf and Kate turns to look and he’s gone she, like most of us probably, assume Jack has been suffering from sleep deprivation and the stress of beginning to lead this fledgling group of survivors (oh and the fact that his rescue attempt of a woman in the water failed earlier that day).
Jack is strongly resisting the leadership that people seem to be expecting of him and when the water shortage is discovered he doesn’t want to make decisions about what to do. Shortly thereafter he sees his father agan and runs into the jungle and almost touches him, but falls backward in shock and fear as he is within feet of his father who he presumes to be dead. Later he again chases the apparition into the jungle and lunges for him. Tripping over a fallen tree, Jack tumbles headlong over a cliff and holds on for dear life to some vines or exposed tree roots.
Knowing what we do now it seems unlikely that this is a hallucination. It is literally the reanimated body of Christian Shephard. But the question remains reanimated by what or who? For awhile it seemed like it was simply a mysterious and miraculous property of the island that brought Christian Shephard back to life. But was it? It seems likely by the end of season 5 that it is n fact Jacob’s nemesis that has reanimated Jack’s father – but for what purpose? Why is he showing himself to Jack? What is Jacob’s nemesis tryng to accomplish?
Looking for Water
When the water shortage comes to a head and Jack is MIA Sayid and Kate go to John for his input. The leadership roles among the survivors are beginning to take shape. John immediately asks “where is the Doctor?” When Kate and Sayid have no answer John volunteers to go look for water. The other two offer to go as well, but John asserts that with Jack gone the other survivors need Sayid and Kate to stick around. Locke is recognizing and reinforcing their developing leadership roles. Almost as an aside he comments that he knows where to look for the water. Is this simply Locke being Locke as we once assumed or after his encounter with Smokey is he privy to some secret Island knowledge?
John Rescues Jack
As Jack dangles from the cliff a hand reaches over the top and I remember assuming that it was Christian Shephard reaching down to save his son. But, no – it was none other than John Locke. This is the second time now that John and Christian have appeared n close proximity to each other already – how intriguing. After this near death experience one of the most amusing scenes of the season takes place (in retrospect) as John and Jack lay on the ground next to each other and Jack begins to laugh uncontrollably. Can you imagine the John and Jack of Season 2 laying on the ground like this?
Their subsequent conversation is so interesting I’ll put it here in it’s entirety (note what Locke says below in Red) :
[Shot of a drop of water coming off a plant into a water bottle. Wider shot shows Locke’s arms.]
JACK: How are they, the others?
LOCKE: Thirsty. Hungry. Waiting to be rescued. And they need someone to tell them what to do.
JACK: Me? I can’t.
LOCKE: Why can’t you?
JACK: Because I’m not a leader.
LOCKE: And yet they all treat you like one.
JACK: I don’t know how to help them. I’ll fail. I don’t have what it takes.
LOCKE: Why are you out here, Jack?
JACK: I think I’m going crazy.
LOCKE: No. You’re not going crazy.
LOCKE: No, crazy people don’t know they’re going crazy. They think they’re getting sane. So, why are you out here?
JACK: I’m chasing something—someone.
LOCKE: Ah. The white rabbit. Alice in Wonderland.
JACK: Yeah, wonderland, because who I’m chasing—he’s not there.
LOCKE: But you see him?
JACK: Yes. But he’s not there.
LOCKE: And if I came to you and said the same thing, then what would your explanation be, as a doctor.
JACK: I’d call it a hallucination. A result of dehydration, post traumatic stress, not getting more than two hours of sleep a night for the past week. All of the above.
LOCKE: All right, then. You’re hallucinating. But what if you’re not?
JACK: Then we’re all in a lot of trouble. (If Jack only knew how true this statement will become!)
LOCKE: I’m an ordinary man, Jack, meat and potatoes, I live in the real world. I’m not a big believer in magic. But this place is different. It’s special. The others don’t want to talk about it because it scares them. But we all know it. We all feel it. Is your white rabbit a hallucination? Probably. But what if everything that happened here, happened for a reason? What if this person that you’re chasing is really here?
JACK: That’s impossible.
LOCKE: Even if it is, let’s say it’s not.
JACK: Then what happens when I catch him?
LOCKE: I don’t know. But I’ve looked into the eye of this island. And what I saw was beautiful.
[Locke gets up to leave.]
JACK: Wait, wait, wait, where are you going?
LOCKE: To find some more water.
JACK: I’ll come with you.
LOCKE: No. You need to finish what’s you’ve started.
LOCKE: Because a leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going.
A couple conclusions I’ve drawn from this conversation:
- John Locke is in some way responsible for pushing Jack towards leadership of the survivors – something that we will soon forget as the two seem to be polar opposites as the series progresses. Why? What was his purpose in doing so?
- What exactly did Locke see when he saw the monster that was so beautiful and compelling? Is Locke operating on his own will or has something already happened to him? Is Jacob’s nemesis influencing him already at this early stage of the game? It certainly seems like a good possibility.
Oh, and . . .
Locke said he new where to look for water to Sayid and Kate but ultimately he shows up in just the right time and place to rescue Jack. When Locke takes his leave of Jack he also says he’s off to look for the water. But in the end it is Jack who finds the cave and the spring. When Jack comes back to the camp with newfound determination. He makes his now famous we have to live together or we’ll die alone speech. But where is Locke? Nowhere to be found.
Locke did know where to find the water. He found Jack who found the water. But where was Mr. Locke when he took his leave of Jack in the jungle supposedly on his way to find water? Where indeed?