Friday, April 24, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Episode 20, Do No Harm

Events: As Jack tries to triage Boone in the caves, the survivors scramble to assist where they can. Jack ends up donating his own blood to Boone and becomes exhausted from the effort. While this is happening, Claire goes into labor in the jungle with Kate.

Flashbacks show Jack preparing to marry Sarah, a woman who had formerly been his surgical patient, with some trepidations he discusses with Christian the night before the wedding. When Jack suggests that he asked Sarah to marry him simply because he saved her, Christian assures him that commitment is what makes him tick, he agrees that Jack is not good at letting go. Unable to write any of his own vows for the wedding, Jack counters Sarah's vows with what seems to be a heartfelt, honest explanation: "I didn't fix you, you fixed me."

On the island, Jack considers amputating Boone's leg but allows Boone to talk him out of it. As Boone breathes his last breaths, Kate assists Claire in delivering a healthy baby boy. Later, after giving Shannon the news about Boone's death, Jack tells Kate that Boone was murdered by John Locke and vows to find him.

Greater Meaning: As Jack has more or less been appointed leader of the survivors, it's concerning how he puts his own health at risk in order to save Boone. Jack's flashbacks seem at first to be simply backstory to his marriage (which he's already disclosed has ended) but as he continues caring for Boone and stubbornly trying to save him despite knowing his medical situation is hopeless, the flashbacks suggest Jack married Sarah because he continued to feel responsible for her and couldn't let go, just as he feels as Boone's doctor.

Putting this situation into philosophical terms, we'd expect a leader to operate as a utilitarian, basing decisions on what benefits the greatest number of people. This would also make sense for a doctor on a deserted island (saving or rationing medicine for the living, quarantining the sick to keep illness from spreading, delegating triage, etc.), and Jack does this to a point. Where his actions get ethically blurry are in refusing to let go, as he's done with both Sarah and Boone, he is in fact, doing harm. Jack believes in his ability to save others, to fix them, but seems unable to give up. This makes Jack a very unique doctor, and suggests he'd sacrifice pretty much anything for a patient's care--a very noble character trait but one that could also bring about exploitation and division moving forward. While it's true that Boone's death was facilitated by John's actions, John Locke did not murder Boone. Jack is so concerned about having based medical treatment on a mistake and blaming Locke that he doesn't take the time to consider what making such an accusation toward another of the island's most important people might do in the long run. Locke was reckless but not murderous; despite the suspicious way Locke behaved by leaving Boone in the caves, Jack is still starting a big issue before he has all the facts.

Hurley did not factor in as a major player in this episode but worth mentioning is the fact that as the entire beach is celebrating Claire and the new baby, it's Hurley who draws Jack's attention to Shannon as she returns with Sayid. Hurley's empathy continues to be a major presence among the survivors.

Further Questions:

1. What will Claire name her son?
2. How will Shannon cope with losing Boone?
3. Will Shannon's relationship with Sayid change?
4. What has Locke been doing all this time?
5. What eventually ended Jack and Sarah's marriage?