Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LOST -- Episode 6.5 -- "Lighthouse"

One of my favorite episodes from season 1 is “White Rabbit.” Jack’s character, despite how many fans have felt about him since at least season 3, has always been one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because I relate to his specific father issues.

I, too, was raised by a dad who always questioned my abilities and backhand complimented me. My dad also died before his time. Like Christian, my dad was a functional alcoholic. In a lot of ways, I’m like Jack: strong-willed, emotional, insecure. And, like Jack, I never give up due to a need to constantly prove myself.

“Lighthouse” was my favorite episode of this season so far. This is no doubt because it struck an emotional chord in me unlike the previous episodes. The Jack we see in this episode is the Jack I connected with back in season 1. He is haunted by his memories, seeking answers, and ultimately having a catharsis. In addition, the symmetry between this episode and “White Rabbit” is remarkable.

I’m going to make side-by-side comparisons between the two episodes. WH will represent “White Rabbit” and LH will represent “Lighthouse.”

On the Island

WR: A ghost Christian calls Jack on a journey while the survivors need water.
LH: A ghost Jacob uses Hurley to call Jack on a journey while the castaways need answers.

WR: Jack discovers the caves.
LH: Jack discovers the Lighthouse.

WR: In the caves, Jack discovers his father’s empty coffin.
LH: In the Lighthouse, Jack discovers Jacob’s magic wheel.

WR: As an act of catharsis, Jack destroys his father’s coffin.
LH: As an act of catharsis, Jack destroys the Lighthouse mirrors.

WR: Jack accepts the call of leadership and gives his “Live together, die alone” speech.
LH: Jack stares out at the ocean as Jacob explains to Hurley that Jack has a specific purpose.

Flashback vs. Flash-sideways

WR: Jack is told by Christian that he doesn’t “have what it takes.”
LH: Jack is reminded by Jacob (via Hurley) that he doesn’t “have what it takes.”

WR: Jack has a conversation with his mother about his father’s trip to Australia. They discuss Jack’s relationship with his father.
LH: Jack has a conversation with his mother about his father’s will. They discuss Jack’s relationship with David, his son.

WR: Jack goes to Australia, searching for his father.
LH: Jack goes to David’s mysterious mother’s house, searching for his son.

WR: Jack finds his father in the morgue. A medical examiner helps him identify the body, causing Jack to reflect on his relationship with his father.
LH: Jack finds his son at the Williams Conservatory, auditioning for a slot. Dogen appears, oddly, complimenting Jack’s son’s enormous talent, causing Jack to reflect on his relationship with his son.

Jack’s Redemption

While Jack did not redeem himself on the Island (yet), in his flash-sideways he redeems himself in a way we have not seen for any other character. Here he is honest and open with his son, recognizing how much like his father he has become. It is in this moment, near the conclusion of the episode that he begins to the process of bridging the divide between father and son. This is a symbolic moment for the series, showing that healing can be had. While it is not perfect – there are no hugs and tears shed – it is a beginning. And that is what the flash-sideways have been about thus far in this season: new beginnings.

Sidenote: after the episode concluded, my son and I were talking about it, and he was also touched by the episode. Now, I believe we have a close relationship. Even though I am divorced from his mother, I still am actively involved in his life, and feel like we have a strong bond. Yet, in our conversation, he found identification with David, who withheld important information from his father out of fear of Jack seeing him fail. My son confessed the same thing to me, which broke my heart because, (once again) like Jack, I could never see my son as a failure. I am proud of him, no matter what.

This is what LOST is about, you know – why we became addicted to it in the first place. Our ability to identify with these very believable characters has defined this show, which bucked the tradition of using character archetypes by infusing them with traits and conflicts deeper than anything we’ve seen on television.

New Mysteries

In Jack’s flash-sideways, there were two very intriguing mysteries:

Who is the mother of his son? We immediately want to assume Sarah, since that was the woman he married in the original timeline. One thing we know about LOST, though, is that it has continually made us believe something, only to pull the rug from under us and provide an alternate answer. For all we know, the woman he had a kid with is Ana-Lucia, or Juliet.

The second mystery involves the funeral that Jack and his mother talk about while looking for Christian’s will. She mentions that David was really shaken up at the funeral, and Jack hardly seemed to notice. Whose funeral was it? We know it wasn’t Christian’s, because Jack just returned from LAX. There was no time to arrange the funeral services (unless this flash-sideways is a couple weeks after Jack arrived home). I have a theory about this, and it’s as outlandish as they come, but it might just make sense.

The funeral was for Jacob.

Somehow, in this flash-sideways, Jacob is related to Jack. I’m not sure in what way, but it might explain why David was so torn up during the funeral. Jacob dies in both realities, causing Jack to make serious leadership decisions. He is at a crossroads here. In the flash-sideways, he is learning the role he must play as a father. In the Island timeline, Jack’s crossroads involves doing what Jacob needs him to do. I’m wondering, if Jacob is indeed the family member who died, did he ask Jack to perform a specific task in the flash-sideways? Just an idea, albeit a very “out there” one.

Audience Reaction

Lastly, I want to address some of the resentment audience members have had towards Jack for breaking the mirrors in the Lighthouse. Many people are pissed because they wanted to see what images popped up in the mirrors for other characters on the dial. I get that. I wanted to see more, too. But what Jack did makes perfect sense for his character. In his anger at feeling manipulated, at feeling lost in the middle of the unexplainable, he did not react rationally and destroyed the one thing that could give him some answers.

Jack’s emotions have always bested him to a certain extent – we saw this when he accused his father of having an affair with Sarah. We saw this when he intentionally botched Ben’s surgery to save Kate and Sawyer. And we saw it when he attempted to detonate Jughead. Since being on the Island, Jack has been forced to confront the darkest emotions within himself, and this has resulted in his erratic, and extremely frustrating behavior.

We want answers, though, and that is the one thing that has frustrated the LOST audience the most this season. First, Kate’s episode didn’t provide much, and now Jack’s episode didn’t provide as much as it potentially could have. My response to this is: SO WHAT? At this point in the series, the answers are not as important as the characters. I want to know how they will achieve redemption, if they do. I trust the writers unequivocally, and will go down every rabbit hole they show us.

That’s the fun of this show, isn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. This:
    This is what LOST is about, you know – why we became addicted to it in the first place. Our ability to identify with these very believable characters has defined this show, which bucked the tradition of using character archetypes by infusing them with traits and conflicts deeper than anything we’ve seen on television.

    While it took me a few episodes to get into the series I truly feel that this is the reason why I keep watching. I even found myself wanting to skip ahead episodes to those centered on the characters I most related to while watching the entire series before this season's premiere.
    I know your review of this episode was centered on Jack and the comparision between the two episodes, but what are your thoughts on Claire and her "friend." What does this say about Claire in your opinion?