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Here's my rewatch review for Episode 5 of Season 1, "White Rabbit", the first of many Jack centrics, and the first episode to start on a flashback. For me, it's always been one of Jack's strongest centrics, only behind the other Alice in Wonderland influenced Jack centric, "Through the Looking Glass." What makes this episode great is how brilliantly the flashbacks and on-island storyline coincide with each other. In both storylines, Jack is chasing after his father. These reviews will attempt to make connections concerning plotlines, images, issues, and themes in this episode to later parts in the show.
Early in the episode Jack is faced with a decision that he has make a lot in his career as a surgeon. He has to decide which person to save. He decides to swim in the struggling Boone and not go after the farther out Joanna. His decision to leave Joanna behind, leading to her death, strongly affects him in this episode. In "Man of Science, Man of Faith," a similar situation arises in one of Jack's flashbacks. There is a car crash with two victims, and Jack decides to operate on his future wife Sarah instead of Adam Rutherford, Shannon's father. Even though in both situations Jack reacted admirably in saving one person's life, he still feels haunted by his decision to not save the other person. As a surgeon, Jack has to learn to live with this. After the Boone and Joanna incident, Jack seems to doubt his abilities as a leader, and runs through the forest for most of the episode. This episode reminded me a lot of "The Cost of Living," Eko's centric in Season 3. Both episodes featured the centric characters running through the forest for most of the episode after apparitions caused by the Man in Black.
Given the Man in Black's reveal to Jack in "The Last Recruit" that he was impersonating Christian Shephard, we need to look back on the events of this episode. He said he only impersonated Christian to help Jack and the survivors find water. I don't buy this for a second. Given that he can't kill candidates like Jack directly, having them die of thirst would certainly help his cause. The Man in Black possibly wanted to lead Jack to his burial place so Jack could find his earthly body, or he wanted Jack to hurt himself in the chase. Jack certainly almost died in this episode when he almost went over the cliff.
The scene where Locke saves Jack from falling over the cliff is the first of many dynamic Jack and Locke scenes. The dynamic of the two of them as a Man of Science and a Man of Faith is started in this scene. Jack explains the appearance of his father as a hallucination brought on by lack of sleep. But Locke takes a more faith-based stance. He says, in one of my favorite quotes of the series, "I'm an ordinary man, Jack, meat and potatoes, I live in the real world. I'm not a big believer in magic. But this place is different. It's special. The others don't want to talk about it because it scares them. But we all know it. We all feel it. Is your white rabbit a hallucination? Probably. But what if everything that happened here, happened for a reason? What if this person that you're chasing is really here?" We know now that Locke was right (as he was about a lot of things) and that Jack's father was really there, however not in the literal sense. Someone else was using his image, but his image was nonetheless there and it was not a hallucination. This exchange also is similarly recreated in the FST afterlife, where Locke believes everything is happening for a reason because Desmond and Jack both told him to let go.
Jack and Locke's exchange is full of other quotes that I love such as,
"Crazy people don't think they're going crazy. They think they're getting sane."
"A leader can't lead until he knows where's he's going."
"I've looked into the eye of this Island, and what I saw was beautiful."
What did Locke really see when he encountered the Monster? He told Eko that he saw a bright light, which could work because a bright, glowing light created the Smoke Monster.
When Jack discovers the caves, we get the first instance of one of the most recognizable musical themes on the show, "Life and Death." In later seasons, this theme came to symbolize death more than life, but a lot of its early appearances, including Jack finding "life" in the caves (aka a source of fresh water) and Aaron's birth, deal with the former word in the title. "Life and Death" has always been my favorite musical theme on Lost, and is all thanks to the genius of Michael Giacchino. Also at the caves, Jack encounters Christian's empty coffin. In the series finale, Jack encounters Christian's empty coffin in the FST, and is the linchpin for the final twist of the show...that the FST was really a created afterlife. By showing Christian's empty coffin in one of the final scenes of the show, it was a fitting conclusion for Jack.
It's interesting to note that Jack's father issues, properly introduced in the 5th episode of the series, wouldn't be resolved until the last episode of the series. They came up again in Season 6's "Lighthouse" when Jacob told Jack he "had what it takes," in order to get him to the lighthouse. Jack knew something special must have been going on because he had last heard that when he was a child, in this episode. I guess it's fitting because Jack is the most important character on LOST, and the final scenes of the show should focus on the resolution of the issues that plagued him most of his life. The finale focused on character resolution more than the answers to the mysteries, so this is why Jack and Christian's scene in the church was so emphasized.
The question of where Christian's body went on the Island remains, however. Why wasn't it in the coffin? My theory is that The Man in Black moved the body out of the coffin so that Jack would think his father was still alive on the Island. Why would this help the Man in Black? One, it keeps Jack's deep-seated father issues alive, which makes him more vulnerable to do dumb, dangerous things. The second, more documented reason can be found when MIB/Christian tells Locke in the wheel chamber to "Say hello to my son." When Locke tells Jack this in the hospital after he leaves the Island, Jack believes there is a chance his father is alive on the Island somewhere because he never found his body. And it brought Jack back to the Island, which helped the Man in Black because Jack was instrumental in bringing Locke's dead body back to the Island.
I also noticed that in the flashback with Jack and his mother, Margo Shephard, the scene opens with Jack looking at his reflection. Characters looking at their reflections was a very recurring image during the afterlife storyline of Season 6, and sometimes brought them closer to their Island lives.
This episode also had the first major Kate and Claire scene, as the two of them sort clothes and discuss astrological signs. The Kate/Claire dynamic would become very important in the final half of the show as Kate raised Claire's son Aaron, and came back to the Island to reunite Claire with her son.
So that's it, thanks for reading. My next review will concern the Sun's first centric, "House of the Rising Sun." Any thoughts, concerns, insults, praise, and theories about this blog and this episode can go into the comments section if you so choose. I'll see you in another life, brother.