Wednesday, November 11, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 11, The Hunting Party

On-Island Events: Jack awakens in the hatch to find Locke knocked out on the floor. Michael, having assaulted Locke, holds Jack at gunpoint and informs him he's going out after Walt, alone. Jack, Locke, Sawyer, and Kate take off on Michael's trail but Jack is adamant that Kate not accompany them. Locke tries to engage Sawyer in a conversation about his alias, stating he discovered his legal name "James Ford," on the airline manifest, but Sawyer refuses to comment on the matter.

While following Michael's trail into the jungle, the men hear gunshots ring out. Against Locke's advice, Jack pursues the sound. As darkness falls and the men discuss their next options, an unfamiliar voice calls Jack out by name. When the man emerges from the jungle, Sawyer recognizes him as the bearded man who took Walt off the raft. The man lectures Jack, Sawyer, and Locke about their disrespectful curiosity toward his home, stating, "This is not your island. This is our island. And the only reason you're living on it is because we let you live on it." When Jack refuses to treat peacefully with the bearded man, the man orders his people to show their presence by lighting up a ring of torches around the group. The bearded man demands the group's weapons, Jack again refuses. In response, the bearded man reveals a bound and gagged Kate, who his people have captured as she followed the men (against Jack's wishes). The men surrender their weapons and return to the beach. 

Kate attempts to make peace with Jack but he remains aloof and standoffish. He later meets Ana Lucia on the beach and asks her advice about training an army.

Flashbacks: As Jack reviews a patient's spinal x-rays with Christian, the patient's daughter suggests Jack might be able to perform a miracle in fixing her father. Jack agrees to try. Later, Jack and Sarah have a polite conversation about Jack's schedule. Sarah reveals she took a pregnancy test that was negative. Jack's surgical patient dies; Jack comforts the patient's daughter, Gabriella. 

Later, Jack returns home and admits what happened to Sarah but expresses a desire to fix their relationship. Sarah announces she's been cheating on Jack and that she's leaving him. "You will always need something to fix," she says in parting.

Greater Meaning: Locke's inability to sway Jack toward a more rational line of thinking early in the episode sets up an ongoing examination of the problems with Jack's leadership: his feelings of responsibility toward the survivors cloud his judgement and often result in stubborn, misguided decisions. As shown in the flashback (and going on what we know about Jack's actions with Sarah and later Boone), Jack won't back down from these challenges or seeks them out, even. Michael left the beach in search of Walt, why can't Jack let it lie? As a father whose son has been taken from him, Michael is not only well within his rights (there are no island laws, are there?) but within rationality itself to try to recover his abducted son. Does Jack feel the same sense of urgency in recovering Walt? Of course not. Michael's his father. Michael wants his son back.

Is Jack's problem with Michael leaving one of control (I'm in charge and I didn't authorize you to leave!) or more of a personal guilt trip (I allowed you and Walt to leave on the raft way back when and shouldn't have therefore I was unable to keep Walt safe and it's my fault he was taken)? Jack has already shown many times just how seriously he takes his position as leader (Boone, Charlie, Claire, Ana Lucia); the philosophy at work in his actions truly seems to value not only the group, but each individual person within it. This is at odds with a utilitarian approach (do what's best for the greatest number of people within the group) which would be fitting for anyone in a leadership position, island or not. Jack doesn't seem to have any awareness at all about why he does what he does, shown in his refusal to consider Locke's point of view in allowing Michael to do as he pleases without intervention. Overall we see a drive in Jack, a near obsession, in saving or in fixing, which seems to be leading the survivors into a dangerous situation with the bearded man and his people. What if they don't want to be in an army? What if they just want to chill on the beach and stay out of trouble? 

Further Questions: 

1. Will Jack trespass the line in the jungle and start a war with "the others?"

2. Who are "the others?" Where do they live?

3. Why did they take Walt?

4. Is Michael safe?