I know, I know, it’s hard coming down from the high of "Walkabout." But come down we must from this cloud, no matter what late-90’s hard-rock band Bush might think. We’re only four episodes into the "We Have to Go Back" series; can’t stop now! This episode of Lost features missing water, empty coffins, and important pow-wows. So let’s get to it!
4) In Short
"I see dead, drunk people."
8) On the Island
Jack gets awoken by a panicked Charlie. Turns out someone didn’t wait an hour after eating boar to go swimming. Charlie can’t swim (oh really?), so Jack heads out, only to rescue Boone, not the woman initially need of rescue. While wracked with guilt over her death (from not realizing there were two people in the water), Jack sees a mysterious Man in Blue (MiB). Jack asks Kate if she can see the MiB, but Kate cannot, citing his lack of sleep as a possible cause of his vision.
We see various scenes from the beach: Jin insists he and Sun stay separate from the group, as she stares at Michael wondering why the writers never paid off this subplot of sexual tension between them. Shannon tries to barter some sun-tan lotion from Sawyer, only to be disgusted by the bargain he proposes. (Hint: it involves more than footsie.) Hurley and Charlie then inform Jack that there’s only one suitcase of water bottles left. Boone comes to give Jack grief about saving him, but Jack espies MiB in the distance, gives chase, and he realizes it’s his deceased father. As Joey Lawrence would say, whoa.
As if the woman’s death wasn’t enough to freak out the survivors, they learn the remaining water supply mysteriously disappeared, leaving a collapsed Claire with nothing to parch her thirst. Locke, flush with confidence and feeling in his lower extremities, volunteers to go looking for water. While Locke looks for aqua vitae, Jack goes looking for pater madidus.
Jack’s in the jungle, looking for Papa Shephard, replete with the now ominous Typewriter of Death sound effects pursuing him as well. Just as Jack’s about to finally catch the MiB/SOB (depending on your perspective), he nearly pulls a Wile E Coyote, only to catch himself before plunging to the depths of a mountainous chasm. Luckily, Locke just so happens to be nearby, and pulls Jack up to safety. Thank god there was a water supply at the edge of a mountain, eh?
Charlie and Claire share a moment, and I don’t want to discuss it too much, since I know where this goes and now I’m sad. Thanks, Lost. Suspicions for the water theft falls on Sawyer, after Kate and Sayid find a bottle in Sun’s possession. Turns out she obtained it via trade with Sawyer, so, dead end there. Least we got a little Sawyer/Kate wrestling in this scene, so there’s that.
Next up: the first of approximately 483 scenes in the history of Lost in which Locke and Jack stand in for the two diametrically opposed ways in which one could potentially view the actions on the Island. In summary:
Locke: Santa Claus is real.
Jack: If by "Santa" you mean "my drunk Dad who woke me up on Christmas Eve night because he couldn’t figure out how to read the assembly directions for my tricycle after ten Scotch and sodas," then yes, John, Santa is real.
Later than evening, in the jungle, Jack’s awoken by a strange sound in the woods. (Think ice cubes in a glass, rattling about.) Following it, he comes across a cave filled with fresh water. Also in the Cave of Convenience? Debris from the plane, including his dad’s coffin: now with 100% less Dad! Creeptastic. Hope Christian’s not busy decomposing in the newly found water supply.
Back on the beach, it’s revealed that God’s friggin’ gift to humanity, Boone, stole the water supply in a misguided effort at rationing it out on an as-needed basis. Jack finally assumes the mantle of leadership, after days of resisting its call, by asserting that the survivors could either live together, or die alone. Everyone’s impressed by the speech, except Jin, thanks to a pesky lack of English-speaking ability. And so was a beach hierarchy, as well as the name of a future episode, born.
15) Off the Island
A young Jack has his hat handed to him by some schoolyard bullies, thanks to trying to stop them from beating up a schoolmate. Jack’s dad, Christian, wouldn’t win any Father of the year awards for his reaction to the story. It essentially boils down to, "If we could have sent you back from whence you came, we would have. Try not to get hit by too many bricks before you die."
Many years (and an unknown quantity of bricks) later, Jack’s mother insists that he retrieve his father from Australia, where he’s gone under mysterious circumstances. Jack doesn’t want to go, but his mother heavily hints that something Jack recently did sent him towards the land down under. Jack has trouble locating his father initially, only to find him in a local morgue. Turns out Christian was found in an alley, dead of an apparent heart attack due to high blood alcohol levels.
In the airport, the ticket agent won’t let Jack bring the coffin on the plane without the proper documentation. Jack, wearing the suit in which he crashed landed on the island, makes a plea to bring the coffin aboard so Jack can fulfill his mother’s wish. In other words, had Jack gone through the proper channels, he never would have been aboard Oceanic 815. D’oh.
16) The Mythology
We learned that the dead are, like Westley in The Princess Bride, only MOSTLY dead. (Or something like that.) We heard the monster (just a little) as Jack chased his father. And while you can’t always get what you want, if you try sometimes, the Island might just give you what you need.
23) The Moment
The empty coffin, coupled with Christian’s mysterious appearances, freaked more than a few people out. Not as many there were freaked out by Hurley’s cannonball in Season 4, but plenty all the same.
42) In Retrospect
- The whole Charlie "I can’t swim" thing—did they retcon this whole thing for "Greatest Hits" in Season 3, or should we be reading a level of cowardice in Charlie’s character at this point in the show? I can see arguments on both sides.
- Locke appearing in the nick of time for Jack reeks not only of Island kharma, but upon second viewing, it’s almost as if he KNEW Jack would end up in this situation. This, coupled with the mobisode "So It Begins," coupled with how things end up in Season 4, suggest more than ever that from the outset, the show believed in the Darlton Theorem (Jack+Locke=Happy Island).
- We never learned exactly what Jack did to incur such anger from his mother until "A Tale of Two Cities," the first episode of Season 3. But this scene steals feels completely consistent with the later explanation. (You can’t always say that about every eventual reason.)
- I can’t believe I didn’t make the "monster might be the dead peeps on the Island" connection from the get-go. Then again, we didn’t even know the basic form of the monster until the end of Season 1, and even then, very few of us actually thought we saw what we saw. The point? Oh, none, really, except to say that at least the show seemed to know a connection between the monster and the ghosts of various peoples’ pasts from the outset.
- "A leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going." My favorite line of the night, spoken by John Locke, who really, really should have followed his own advice in Season 4.
108) In Summary
I give Jack a lot of grief in my latter day recaps, but I’ve never once faulted Matthew Fox for the way Jack is portrayed on the show. This episode is not only about Jack’s ascension from doctor to Lostaway Leader, but also Matthew Fox’s ascension as the hero protagonist of the show. And he delivers on the Island and off in spectacular fashion. If anything, his later shortcomings can be readily explained by the background offered in this episode: a man initially uncomfortable in a leadership position who consistently doubts his own worth in that position. The introduction of spectral figures haunting the Lostaways added a layer to the show that is still being explored to this very day. A top notch episode, a worthy successor to "Walkabout," and one of the stronger Jack-centric eps the show ever produced.
Leave your thoughts about this episode below!
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.