Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, episode 5, White Rabbit

(clink, clink)

White Rabbit

Events: Through young Jack's flashback, we learn that he got beat up after coming to another boy's defense at school, and despite being warned that it would happen, Jack stubbornly did it anyway. As his father relaxes in his den and clinks the ice in his lowball, he shares a story about a child's surgery with Jack and then imparts the following advice on his son: Don't try to save everyone, because when you fail, you just don't have what it takes. Jack's father, in contrast, has what it takes; he washed his hands after the child died on his operating table, came home, watched Carol Burnette, and had a drink, all easily, and with a clear conscience.

On the island, Jack rushes out into the ocean where both Boone and another woman are struggling. He can only save one person at a time; he chooses to save Boone, and the woman dies. As tensions mount over the woman's death, Claire's weakness, and the exhausted water supply, Jack once again catches a glimpse of the man he saw before, (which turns out to be his father) but Kate assures him he's hallucinating from sleep deprivation. After chasing the man into the jungle, Jack stumbles over a cliff and dangles for a moment before being rescued by John Locke, who apparently knew just where to find him. The two have a conversation about what Jack is chasing, which Locke calls "the white rabbit," and before departing, Locke urges Jack to find what he's looking for so he can effectively lead the people. Echoing his father's words from the flashback, Jack says, "I don't know how to help them. I'll fail. I don't have what it takes."

"Crazy people don't think they're crazy."
Through more flashbacks we see that Jack was sent to Sydney by his mother to bring back his father, and that there had been some sort of falling out between the two men, as Jack hadn't spoken to him in two months. As it turns out, the elder Doctor Shephard, in a drugged or drunken condition, suffered a heart attack in Sydney; Jack cries as he identifies the body and then again as he sits alone by a campfire, remembering it. The image of his father doesn't return but through the sounds of ice clinking in a glass, something leads Jack to a water source, where he finds the coffin that should have held his father's body, empty.
Greater Meaning: Isn't it strange, seeing someone with intelligence, status, and leadership abilities, struggling with a confidence problem? The bigger issue here is that Jack is flawed, just like the rest of us! And through having everyone second-guess his choices on the island ("who appointed you our savior?") Jack relives his own father's lack of confidence and suffers for it again and again. The episode is important, not only for what it explains about Jack's history but in that it shows us just how unfair we can be to our leaders, who are human beings, too. Jack's departure from the beach shows that the survivors are lost without him; or as Locke explains in the jungle, "they need someone to tell them what to do." Jack answers back, "I'm not a leader." But he is! Locke, a bit older and clearly more comfortable on the island, suggests that everything that has happened to them has happened for a reason. What is Jack's reason, is he being tested? And how does his father's undervaluing his sensitivities factor into everything else that's happening?
There are overwhelmingly huge references to religion in this episode, and instead of piecing them together in effort to overexplain (or perhaps ruin) future happenings in the narrative, we'll just leave it at that. Should you be interested in the similarities, you can check out Wikipedia and get your geek on over there.

Further Questions:
1. What did Jack do? ("you don't get to say 'I can't,' not after what you did.")
2. Is the man in the suit really Jack's father?
3. What were all those creepy dolls by the water?
4. Why is the coffin empty?
5. Why doesn't "the monster" find Jack in the valley?
6. Does Claire ever find a hairbrush?
And is there more to Sun than meets the eye? Join me next week for House of the Rising Sun.