Monday, August 3

All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (S1, ep. 11)

All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (S1, ep. 11)

Best Lost episode title ever? I say yes.

We’re back in Jack-Attack territory, with our favorite thick-skulled, well-intentioned spinal surgeon. As the episode title suggests, we spend this hour knee-deep in Jack’s crippling Pater-angst. Those looking for easy moral lessons should look elsewhere. About the only hardline capital-T Truth we can derive about the moral outlook of this episode's flashbacks is ‘don’t drink and perform complicated surgery,’ which, while helpful, is also kind of obvious for us non-alcoholics.

It’s not so obvious to Christian, whose boozing culminates in an inglorious dismissal from his hospital, aided by Jack’s damning testimony. Christian spends his confrontations with Jack surly and defensive and clearly covering for himself from the start. Jack spends his confrontations with Christian resentful and aggressive and clearly using a moment of fundamental weakness on his father’s part to take out a lifetime of pentup anger on the old man. No one wins – everyone just goes home sad.

On the Island, Charlie and Claire (hereafter called “C&C” for brevity’s sake, and because it evokes the eponymous Music Factory) have been taken by Ethan. Thanks to our own future knowledge as an audience, we know now that Ethan has taken her to run tests and (I think) help to save mother and child from certain death at the hands of the unseen Pregnant-Women-Gotta-Die malady that’s beset the Island.

This future knowledge on the part of the audience is a wonderful, and by now obviously intentional, bit of narrative magic/meta on the part of the show. We’re now observing the characters from a vantage point similar to the one that Ben, Jacob, (assumedly) the MiB and (assumedly) Widmore have observed them from – with knowledge, however limited by circumstance, of how their pasts inform their futures. This is doubly the case when we count the flashbacks. Nice job, Lost.

Jack, Kate, Locke and Boone all take off trying to track the two kidnappees, and Jack makes an interesting remark: How can one man drag two people (one of them verrrrry pregnant) off into the jungle that quickly by himself? There’s been theorizing to suggest that this strength, and Ethan’s obvious fighting skills, implies that ‘Others’ have been upgraded or augmented in some way. This seems borne out by what we’ll see of Juliet in future episodes – never has a female fertility doctor kicked so much literal ass so effectively. But since there’s no confirmation of any of this in the narrative we can (and probably should) assume that Ethan simply had help from his fellow Others when it came to carting C&C off.

Jack is already exhibiting signs of Terminal Jack Syndrome – wherein the subject becomes exponentially pissier and more difficult – more and more sure of himself and less and less interested in what’s motivating others. We might also call this “GWB Syndrome,” and I’m somewhat convinced that Jack’s hotheaded drive and daddy issues are subtley commenting on our last President, given the show’s War on Terror subtext.

Great Walt Line #1: (to Sawyer/Ford/LeFleur) “It’s stupid to lie about your name.”

Interesting Kate Line: (referring to her real father, and how he taught her to track) “Being in the woods was like – it was like his religion.”

That doesn’t sound dissimilar to Locke’s religion on the Island. Nor is being in the woods ‘like’ a religion to some. It is a religion. Since the show tends to circle around Judeo-Christian and Eastern concepts more than outright paganism/wicca/alternate, I’ll suggest that this reverence for naturalism echoes Walt Whitman’s conception of religion, and that Whitman’s conception of religion (a Deism shared by quite a few folks in his day and which is beomcing more popular again now) seems to mirror a certain book title glimpsed in the Season 5 finale.

Here are Whitman’s words:

A vast similitude interlocks all, All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large,
suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids, All distances, however wide, All
distances of time - all inanimate forms, All Souls - all living bodies, though
they be ever so different, or in different worlds, All gaseous, watery,
vegetable, mineral processes - the fishes, the brutes, All men and women - me
also, All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages, All identities
that have existed, or may exist, on this globe or any globe, All lives and
deaths - all of past, present and future, This vast similitude spans them, and
always has spanned, and shall forever span them, and compactly hold them.

The Season Five finale book title in question, taken from a sermon emphasizing the eventual Unity of mankind with the divine?: “Everything that rises must converge.”

Jacob’s apparent philosophy makes a return visit tonight, this time in the words of Christian Shepard (previously, it was Locke in The Moth): “I know I have been hard on you – but that is how you make a soft metal into steel.”

That may be true, but it sure screwed Jack up something fierce.We see the outline of the good man Sawyer is capable of being when he tells Sayid that he kept the signal fire burning in the Iraqi’s absence.

Interesting Walt Line: “My dad said I was the luckiest person he ever knew.”

That line will come to have real significance soon, and it indicates that what is special about Walt is his ability to mentally influence the physical world.

Interesting Locke Line: “It’s going to start raining. Two minutes.”

Two minutes later, it starts to pour.

Interesting point: Jack hears Claire screaming in the jungle, but Kate clearly does not. Is this a clue, or just weird writing?

When our favorite Juliet-delivered Other, Ethan, kidnaps Claire and Charlie and takes them into the jungle, Charlie's subsequent 'near'-death experience raises a few questions in light of what we know now. In no order:

1) Did Ethan attempt to kill Charlie because he/the Others had future knowledge of Charlie being the one to open a channel for Widmore's boat?

2) Is this the original death intended for Charlie? The one that fate then attempts to 'course-correct' in Season Three? Was Charlie 'meant to/supposed to' die there and then? Because...

3) Jack's chest-pounding, and the sheer length of time Charlie is shown not moving/breathing, indicate that Charlie was d-e-a-d. The protracted attempt to revive him, while commenting nicely on Jack's off-Island flashback, also highlights what appears to be a quasi-miracle.

Did the Island 'heal' Charlie away from the brink of real death? Did the MiB/Smokey 'assist' Charlie in order to assure that he'd be alive to enter the code? Of course, this is pure speculation. I'm no doctor, and my understanding is that brain death typically begins after 6 minutes without oxygen to the brain (the scene doesn't go on this long), so it's medically possible, if apparently unlikely, to have revived Charlie.

What’s interesting on a character level about this moment is how it draws Jack’s issues full-circle. It shows how the same dogged impulses drive his worst behavior (destroying his father’s reputation, career and life because he couldn’t let it go) and his best behavior (pounding on Charlie’s chest far past the point of apparent viability because he couldn’t let it go). It illustrates the complications in any heroic figure or impulse, and it does this through character action and dialogue, not through moralizing or speechifying. Jack's not Superman. Like Mike Patton he is just a man, with all the contradictory values and ideals that come with being human.

This episode marks the beginning of Boone and Locke’s strange relationship.

Interesting Locke Line 2: “Don’t you feel it?”
Boone: “What?”
Locke: “IT!”

And as an episode jam-packed with hints, tidbits and great character work is juuuust about to end, we get the revelation that will propel so much of the rest of this season and the next: The Hatch.

No comments:

Post a Comment