It’s time for another installment of “Getting Lost,” where John S takes you through all the salient questions from last night’s episode of Lost:
So, do you think Jack “has what it takes”? Well, I’ve never been one of the many Lost fans who hates Jack. For the first two or three seasons, he was my favorite character on the show, since he often struck me as the only person on the Island who was rational, prudent, and not totally self-involved. Granted, he’s given to frustrating fits of stubbornness, like when he shattered Jacob’s mirror in last night’s episode, as opposed to waiting patiently to see what exactly the mission he and Hurley had been sent on was all about. But more often, Jack has done what it takes to keep survivors alive. It was Jack, after all, who coined “Live Together, Die Alone,” and it was Jack who found the drinking water, and it was Jack who saved Charlie, and it was Jack who helped spring Sawyer and Kate from the Others, etc. He fails just as often as he succeeds, and his failings are more memorable—like in his unyielding but doomed efforts to save Boone in Season One—but he always goes down swinging. This is what makes Jack both tragic and noble.
In later seasons, though, as the focus of the show drifted away from Jack the leader trying to keep the survivors alive, Jack’s role was de-emphasized. He ceased to be the “main character” in any real way. As a result, the character sometimes seems kind of lost (no pun intended…ya see what I did there?) on the same show he is ostensibly the main character of. The show has tried to solve this by putting him in a plethora of love triangles, involving Kate, Juliet, Sawyer, Ana Lucia, Sarah, his own father, etc. This has generally done more harm than good.
What’s so frustrating about these storylines is that they’ve been so needless. Jack’s hero complex, within the right story (such as him trying to save Boone) has always been the most compelling thing about him, but, like so many character stories on Lost, it got repetitive. Ever since the finale of Season Three, in which we watched a broken down Jack listen to In Utero, wear a massive beard, and try to jump of bridges, that hero complex has been almost inverted. He now feels compelled to stay on the sidelines, do what he’s told, and let people make their own decisions. Unfortunately, this change has kind of gotten the short end of the stick on the show, when it really has been a fundamental shift of a primary character.
Primary character? Jack? I don’t think so. At this point, I’d have to agree. If you had told me at the end of Season One or the beginning of Season Two that Jack would become the 4th or 5th most interesting character on the show, then I would have assumed the show had failed. But that’s what’s happened, and the show is probably as good as it’s ever been. As the show has drifted away from the Jack-as-leader focus, it’s delved deeper into Island mythology and, as a result, gotten much stronger.
Still, I thought this episode was a nice return to form for Jack-centric episodes. We weren’t forced to rehash feelings about Kate or Juliet. When Jack did run into Kate, the scene was thankfully brief, and it actually showcased their current relationship well: They were on good terms, but living independent lives, with different priorities.
The show did go back to the well of Jack’s father issues, but it did so with some novelty. I had assumed that Jack would still be married in the alt-2004 timeline, but I was wrong. Instead, he has a son and, like Jack and his own dad, they don’t get along so well. The divorced-father-struggles-to-stay-close-with-his-son story wasn’t all that original (it was very reminiscent of a Season One flashback), but it lent enough to the on-Island story to make it interesting. Jack’s doubts about his own ability to take care of his son mirrored his doubts about his ability to take care of those left on the Island, particularly the fear of being too controlling/putting too much pressure on those in his charge.
But did Jack REALLY have to smash that mirror? Yeah, that was annoying.
What was so bad about what he saw, anyway? Well, when we first saw the Lighthouse, I assumed that the mirror was going to provide a window onto the alternate timeline. And, theoretically, that still could have been what it was—correct me if I’m wrong, but the house Jack identifies as the house he grew up in was the same house he went to in order to help his mother find the will. But since Jack smashed it before any other details were shown, we’ll never know. (Well, we will at least have to wait a week to know.)
Nevertheless, I can understand why he smashed it, even if I wouldn’t have reacted so strongly. Finding out you’ve been spied on since you were a kid is fucking creepy and, as I pointed out last week, manipulative.
But Jacob explained himself this week! Sometimes you have to let people find their own way by “staring at the ocean for a while”! Yes, once again I liked Mark Pellegrino as Jacob, and the guidance he gave to Hurley was fleshed out both characters (I particularly liked the “you’re probably going to need a pen” line). I still don’t think his explanation holds weight—he seems awfully selective about whom he chooses to tell what, and when. This episode did do a good job, though, of portraying Jacob sympathetically. His interaction with Hurley, in which he declares that Hurley hasn’t let him down, mirrored Jack’s speech to his son perfectly: Like a good dad, you can’t fail in Jacob’s eyes.
Are you finally coming around to Jacob’s side then? I don’t take sides. As Hurley’s precious Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” But the nefarious nature of Locke 2.0 (who STILL doesn’t have a fucking name, unless you count “my friend”) was made much more explicit. The long-awaited return of Claire was last night. Unfortunately, she didn’t interact with Jack in the alternative-2004 plot, although her mention in Christian’s will showed how the cast may reunite in that timeline, and her appearance on the Island was depressing. Claire really was abandoned by the rest of the survivors, and the fact that she doesn’t know what happened to Aaron is legitimately sad. She’s let herself been influenced by Locke 2.0 to the point where she’s killing the Others in cold blood and threatening Kate’s life.
Speaking of which, good call by Jin on keeping that from Claire. Yeah, I was wondering why Jin was lying, but he obviously read Claire’s anger pretty well.
Any other observations? One thing I didn’t realize until this episode: Locke’s body was still in the coffin, implying that the new Locke is not really him. But Christian’s body was missing. Does this mean that Christian is not affiliated with the Man in Black? Claire did imply that she was still talking to her dad.
Predictions for next week? It’s worth pointing out that the episode chronology of this season has exactly mirrored Season One’s: Two hour premiere, Kate episode, Locke episode, Jack episode. This indicates that next week’s episode will be a Sun/Jin story, especially given its title: “Sundown” (I should point out that an Entertainment Weekly article divulged the order of episodes, so I already know whether I’m right or wrong on this prediction, but I had this thought first). I would predict that Locke 2.0, Jin, and Claire end up being the threatening force that goes to the Temple next week, and that Jin and Sun would be reunited as the Smoke Monster kills most of the Temple’s inhabitants. I don’t think we’ll see the deaths of any important characters, though, meaning Miles, Jin, Sun, and Dogen will get away.