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Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

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Episode 5 - White Rabbit

30 March 2012

Present: Jack tries to save a woman who is drowning but can only save Boone, who tried to save her. The camp is running out of water and someone steals the remaining bottles. Jack heads off into the jungle in search of his father who he keeps seeing walking around. Kate and Sayid try to find the thief which turns out to be Boone, trying to be responsible. Locke finds Jack and encourages him to follow his visions and become the leader which the camp needs. Jack discovers fresh water and his father’s empty casket.

Flashback: We see Jack as a child getting beaten up. His father tells him that he shouldn’t try and help everyone because unlike him, he doesn’t have what it takes. As an adult Jack’s mother asks her to go after his father who has fled to Australia. There he has been drinking himself to death and Jack has to fly the body home where he is desperate to bury him.

The Good: It’s another character heavy episode from Lost and they deserve credit for not trying to cram unnecessary action into this episode. Once more the simplicity and logic of the plot drives all the developments between the survivors. Here their diminishing water supply is an obvious source of tension and without Jack they begin to turn on one another.

Jack’s acting is really strong throughout. In the space of fourty  minutes he has to be tired, stressed, frustrated, indignant, in mourning, desperate and statesmanlike. He very much looks the part of the leader and his “live together” or “die alone” speech seems convincing and not at all cheesy. Once more the flashbacks supply us with the explanation for his on island behaviour. Growing up in the shadow of his seemingly demanding and high achieving father is clearly the driving force behind Jack’s impressive skills. The grief over his father’s death and the unresolved tension between them is a good explanation for Jack’s tense and withdrawn posture on the island. His laughter when Locke pulls him up from the cliff is also a nice touch and a great release of tension.

Meanwhile it is Locke who tells what we assume is the real story going on here. He tells Jack that this island is special and that perhaps his visions are real after all. The fact that his father leads him to the much needed fresh water certainly supports Locke’s theory. The writers furnish Locke with some excellent lines (see Best Moment) and he seems at peace in a way he clearly wasn’t in his flashbacks (104). This supernatural element goes on behind the scenes, allowing the other survivors to see only their survival. It’s a clever storytelling device as it looks like each of the survivors will slowly learn what the island really is or can do for them.

The characterisation of the survivors is very good again. Logically Sayid and Kate follow Sawyer when they suspect a thief is at work. Sawyer’s easy going sarcasm allows us to get to know his point of view better and see a bit of flirtation between him and Kate. Jin and Sun also share a nice moment when he gets her water. It’s one of the few signs that Jin is not a complete asshole which adds depth to their relationship.

Boone again plays a big role. We have seen him try to be helpful and fail on many occasions now. Here his failure to save the drowning girl creates both a dramatic opening scene and an interesting reaction for him. He takes his failure out on Jack, clearly embarrassed and angry about his inability to save her. Again I think it is an original take to show someone trying to be a hero but not measuring up.

The Bad: Jack’s near death at the edge of the cliff is a little clichéd. We don’t really believe that he will die, so it is an action movie scene which we probably didn’t leave. At least it puts him in a position to take Locke seriously.

Jack’s father lays down a pretty extraordinary speech. Jack has been beaten up for trying to help his friend. Jack’s father makes it all about him. He talks about how impressive it is that he can handle difficult surgeries. He then tells Jack that he shouldn’t try and help people because he doesn’t have what it takes to deal with failure. The scene seems to be an attempt to link Jack’s refusal to lead the survivors to his relationship with his father. Essentially though Jack’s father comes across as arrogant and demeaning. Is that really what they intended to convey? His father basically tells him, at age ten or so, that he shouldn’t try to help people because he will fail. But more than that, he says that unlike his son, he has what it takes. It’s such an unkind and discouraging thing to say that it makes it difficult to believe the writers really meant it to come across like that. Hopefully we will discover more about their relationship. But I suspect that in the attempt to link flashback to the present the dialogue was botched.

The Unknown: Where is Jack’s father’s body? Who or what led Jack to the water?

Best Moment: Having saved Jack from falling off a cliff, Locke suggests he go back to the camp and be the leader. Jack says he isn’t a leader. Locke simply says “and yet they all treat you like one.” Locke asks him why he is out here.
J: “I think I’m going crazy.”
L: “Well, you’re not going crazy.”
J: “No?”
L: “No, crazy people don’t know they’re going crazy, they think they’re getting saner.”
Jack admits that he is following someone who can’t really be there. Locke asks him to imagine if it is real. He says that something about the island is special. “What if everything that happened here, happened for a reason?” he asks. It feels like the first real conversation we have seen about what the island really is. “I have looked into the eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful” says Locke. It feels like an important conversation to see and with hindsight that becomes even more true.

The Bottom Line: Lost is exploring its characters in interesting and engaging ways while the logical survival stories play out in the background. It’s a formula which produces stellar television.

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