Well, we have our first mediocre episode in White Rabbit. The subject this time is Jack and his conflictions with leadership. I had my own conflictions while watching. Namely, I'm missing game seven for this?
The episode opens with a flashback. Flashbacks used to be plot devices, but Lost makes them chapter titles. We briefly see a young Jack in the schoolyard, getting tuned up by a group of kids. This wonderful reminiscence is cut short, however, by Charlie who runs up and announces that someone is drowning in the ocean. Since Charlie can't swim, Jack must save whoever it is. Now, it was cute at first, the way Jack, and Jack alone, was the hero in these situations, but this is getting old. Fast.
Jack swims out and saves a floundering Boone. But, it turns out Boone was out there trying to save someone else, a woman. Jack must decide whether to bring Boone back and leave her or let him try and make his way back alone and save her. Jack brings Boone back and goes back to get her. This may remind you of when he was resuscitating Rose in the first episode and Claire and Hurley were under the collapsing wing. Jack did the same thing then: save one and move onto the next. But this time, Jack's efforts aren't enough and the woman, a survivor who'd gone out for an early swim, drowns.
When the dwindling water becomes an issue, Jack is unwilling to decide what to do. He is unsure and scared of being the leader. This is further shown by another flashback. Young Jack goes home and tells his father (John Terry) about the schoolyard fight. He had been trying to help another boy who was outnumbered by bullies. His father disapproves of this, extolling how, as a surgeon, he must make decisions and not worry about the consequences, because he'd fail every time. There is a kernel of truth in his statement, but Jack's father comes across as callous and uncaring. The parallel that the writers are trying to draw between this incident and Jack's decision-making issues on the island seems forced.
The man Jack has been seeing off in the distance appears again and this time Jack takes off after him into the jungle. He catches up and it turns out to be…are you ready?....it's gonna be really good…his dad! His dad? What the fuck? I haven't been this disappointed to see a character's father since Contact. Seriously, where are you taking us, Abrams?
While Jack goes crashing off into the brush after his dad, the others discover that what little water they had left is gone, presumably stolen. Locke decides to go into the jungle alone to fetch some water and/or Jack. What's that? There's forty-some-odd other people on the island and he doesn't need to put his life at risk by going in alone? Well, that's not nearly as dramatic, so take your logic and cage it up for the hour that Lost is on television.
When Jack stumbles after his father and dangles off a cliff like Val Kilmer's career, a mysterious hand and menacing head come over the edge. Is it his father, come to finish off his ungrateful, fruitless son? No. It's Locke, of course, and he pulls him up in one of those Sylvester Stallone one-armed things as if Jack weighed no more than a box of Wheat Thins. Then they have a sweat lodge-like bonding session where Locke says something about white rabbits, the island being a "special place" and everything that happens there having a purpose.
In other words, fate. I despise fate. I don't like thinking my life is pre-determined, but in fiction it really irks me. It's lazy. Good characters breed good plots. Lost has good characters. Every episode, they get deeper. There is no need for this. It seems the greater theme of the island will be how things are inter-connected and purposeful, which is fine. But when Jack's little spiritual journey leads him to a bountiful water source – the one thing the survivors really needed right at that moment – that's fate.
Another turn of events that has me worried is Jack's father. Further flashbacks reveal that Jack was in
Near the water supply, Jack sees the tail section of the plane, and a coffin splayed out, ripe for inspection. He opens it up, and it's empty. So who, or what, is walking around the island in the guise of Jack's dead father? Did his dad pull a Lazarus, his body being healed the same way Locke's legs were? I don't know, but I don't think I like where this is going, regardless of the answer.
- Matt Baker likes to fault others for the limitations of his knowledge.