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All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

January 25, 2010

This is quite possibly in the top five most important episodes in the series. Locke’s discovery and ongoing obsession with the hatch, both in this season and in the next, is introduced here, as is the pivotal moment that eventually leads to Jack’s being on the flight in the first place.

In this centric Jack episode, he feels guilt over not believing in Claire’s nightmares, which is paralleled in the flashback when Christian tells him that it’s not just his career that Jack would be ruining if he didn’t sign the statement, but his life. And this is borne out by Christian’s subsequent trip to Australia where he meets Claire and eventually drinks himself to death. It also calls back to the previous Jack episode in his conversation with his mother, where she blames him for what happened to Christian. And it’s clear that Jack is still harboring guilt, even though he had a small resolution in White Rabbit.

Smaller character moments here are also well done. Walt supporting Locke against his father’s wishes by calling him a warrior, and the continued butting of heads between Michael and Locke furthers Michael’s animosity toward Locke. And Sawyer confronting an injured Sayid, and leaving with “I kept your signal fire burning,” and without incident shows some growth on his part as well. Unfortunately, this is the first real “Kate’s always crying or on the verge of crying” episode since the pilot where she hides in the trees. It’s unfortunate in that Evangeline Lilly cannot act these scenes well at all, and the writers continue to use Kate’s crying as a crutch. And finally, another small conflict between Jack and Locke again shows Jack acting on emotion, while Locke takes the logical route in wanting to return to camp to get supplies and others to help the search operation.

It’s funny…now that I’m typing this, I’m just coming to see that Jack’s overarching philosophy is in direct contrast to his actions, and Locke’s is as well. Jack is “man of science,” which again usually indicates some sort of grounding in logic and reason. However, in both running off into the jungle after Claire by himself and retracting his statement at the hearing in the flashback, he is acting on pure emotion, without taking the time to think about the consequences of either action.

And with Locke, his overaching philosophy is “man of faith,” which usually is defined by acting purely on a belief system without questioning the actions undertaken. Instead, faith in something bigger than yourself is supposed to lead you on the right path. However, in Locke’s case, even though he has belief in the island, he still uses rationality, reason, and logic to help make his decisions. It’s a strange juxaposition for both characters.

Island mythology: 8 out of 10. Even though this episode does not clarify that what Locke has discovered is the Swan Station (or, for this season, the hatch), it is major enough to warrant a high score here. In addition, there is more talk of others being on the island (with Charlie specifically mentioning his captors in the plural).

Philosophical concepts/themes: 5 out of 10. Some underlying character themes are enumerated above, with hints toward future conflicts about the same, but this is not a major episode in terms of dealing with overarching philosophies or thmatic elements.

Character development: 9 out of 10. Jack’s continued self-doubt soon brings him into direct conflict with other survivors, and the flashback has major bearing on Jack’s character, now and later. The other smaller moments help this episode as well.

Importance of episode to series: 10 out of 10. This might be one of the very few that deserve this score, but it is earned. As described above, the flashback has major implications for Jack’s character. It’s also the episode where Boone follows Locke which eventually leads to his death. And in that as well, of course, is the discovery of the hatch, which Season 2 is based entirely around. And outward from there, the entire story and backstory of the Dharma Initiative unfolds. There is no question in my mind that possibly aside from a scene in Season 5 where Ben confronts Widmore about Alex (which directly leads to Widmore’s banishment), this episode is the most important in the entire series so far.

Personal enjoyment of episode: 9 out of 10. I’ve never been big on Jack flashbacks, but on this rewatch, I realized just how important this one is. I also gained more insight into Jack’s impetuous nature, and continued to see how wrong I had Sawyer pegged.

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