Time to go down the rabbit hole, into an odd Wonderland. But what kind of hole, what kind of Wonderland? The kind we’ve been set up for, in the pilot, with a tabula rasa, a walkabout.
Jack goes out to save a drowning woman, finds Boone, who has already gone out to try to save her. Boone is having trouble of his own in the water, and Jack brings him back to shore, even though he says they have to go back for her. By the time Boone is safe, it’s now too late to save the woman. Jack tries, but he can’t get to her in time. He wrestles with this, the loss. But what was he to do, let Boone die as he tries to save the woman? The doctor in him found something he could fix, and he did. He then tried to fix the second thing, and he couldn’t. Better fix one than risk nobody surviving, that seems to be what Jack thought. Perhaps reasonable? Kate: “You tried.” Jack: “No, I didn’t.” He says he decided not to go after her. When he acknowledges this to Kate, he sees his father in the water at the beach. In confronting something he doesn’t like about his own thought process, his past appears before him.
Michael tells Walt not to swallow the ocean water. Walt: “Why?” Because it’ll make you thirsty. “Why?” “Just don’t swallow it, Man.” More “because I said so” parenting, authoritarian, no reason given.
Sun wants to try harder to communicate. Jin says they’ll be fine — and he will tell Sun what to do. Does Jin fear connection because it might cause him to lose power over Sun?
Claire talks about astrology to Kate, says that people think it’s meaningless, and that’s only because they don’t get it. Just as Locke will eventually contrast with Jack, man of faith vs. man of science, Claire, Jack’s half-sister, seems to have a similar contrast, more apt to have faith than question with logic.
Jack blows off Hurley and Charlie who seeks his advice about rationing resources. “I’m not deciding anything.” “Why not?” Jack gives no answer, but it’s because he feels badly about losing the drowned woman. He lets a bad result get in the way of his using his natural talent for leadership — he hampers his own ability to lead because he can’t do it perfectly, thereby ensuring that he will continue to do it more poorly than he would like. A vicious cycle.
Flashback: Jack’s father talks about how he can come home and have a calm evening even when he loses a patient. “Even when I fail, how do I do that? Because I have what it takes.” He advises Jack to not be a hero, don’t try to save everyone, because when Jack fails, he just doesn’t have what it takes. Is it true? Jack has internalized the message. But it seems far more plausible that it’s not true at all, that Jack’s father needs to have Jack see himself that way in order to feel superior to Jack. Jack’s father attempts to hide his own insecurities but just ends up passing them on.
Boone in Jack’s face, questioning his decision, questioning who made him boss. Jack sees his Dad again, follows him into the jungle. He is following the rabbit down the hole. Interestingly, there seems to be a reference to The Empire Strikes Back, Luke going into the jungle to face his father.
Claire needs attention. Jack is not there to help, to fix. He is wandering the jungle, following the image of his father. But it’s probably good that he isn’t there to fix — he must confront something from his past in order to better know how to make things work well in the present.
He constantly sees his father’s back, as if he is following in his father’s footsteps, as if his father is leading him somewhere. Jack needs to get in front of his father, to put his father behind him so that he can lead his own life, literally. When he tries to lunge after his dad, he falls down a hill, hanging on for dear life at the top of a cliff. Only saved because Locke arrives. Significance: He cannot fight his father anymore than he can flee his father. He must resolve his past. Locke, who is more in harmony than the others, is there to save him, symbolically communicating this message — it is through harmony, not fight or flight, that he will be saved.
As Charlie talks to Claire, We see clearly on Charlie’s left arm a tattoo: “Living is easy with eyes closed,” a lyric from Strawberry Fields Forever. Claire talks about how the others don’t seem to look at her, a pregnant woman being a time bomb that’s going to go off at any time. She reinforces the notion that people live with eyes closed, denying what there is to see right in front of them.
Kate comes after Sawyer for the stolen water. Sawyer: “Seeing as you’re the new sheriff in town, might as well make it official.” He tosses her the marshal’s badge, as if she’s on the police force — the “wild” man critiques someone for acting the role of a civilized, force-wielding, order-preserving institution. But is this fair? Is she really the same as the police, or is that only true from the point of view of someone with Sawyer’s past, Sawyer’s mindset?
Locke tells Jack, this place is special — the others don’t want to talk about it, because it scares them. But what if everything that happened here happened for a reason? Jack says he’ll come with Locke, but Locke says no, he must finish what he started, because a leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going. This brings to mind the previous images of Jack’s farther facing away from Jack. Also worth noting the Internal Family Systems model of the psyche, which poses that the Self must lead the psyche and help organize and guide other internal parts of one’s personality. The leader must possess confidence in order to lead others who may not be as confident, who must have confidence in their leader, their organizer. Locke has helped Jack stay on his own personal walkabout.
Following his father’s image, Jack is led to a waterfall. He finds fresh water despite not even having been around to know that the camp has run out of it — kismet, coincidence, providence. He also finds part of the wreckage, the cargo hold. There is a casket. He flashes back to the airport, being held up because of improper documentation for his father’s body. He says, “I need it to be done. I need it to be over. I just… I need to bury my father.” He is talk literally, but he far more profoundly needs it symbolically. But on the island, he checks the casket, and it is empty. Jack flies into a rage and destroys the casket. Is he angry that the body isn’t there and can’t receive a proper burial? Is he just acting out all his past anger at his father? Either way, it is a catharsis for him.
Jack returns to the beach, just as things are getting very heated as a result of Boone apparently having taken the last fresh water. He tells everyone that rescue may not come. “We have to stop waiting. We need to start figuring things out.” He’s saying that they can no longer hide themselves, no longer deny, must face what is there before them. “Every man for himself is not gonna work. It’s time to start organizing. We need to figure out how we’re gonna survive here.” He says that those who don’t want to come get water with him can find another way to contribute. “If we can’t live together, we’re gonna die alone.” He has had some kind of resolution inside, has integrated aspects that were once separate. He is now more keenly aware that the same thing must happen socially, that the group must come together, organize, because, on this island, no man is an island.
Sun tells Jin, “Thank you for getting me water today.” Jin: “That’s what husbands go.” Whatever else is between them, they care for each other — i.e., they have positive regard for each, and they tend to each other’s needs. They will need to learn how to care for each other in less easy, less obvious ways as well, so that they actually both feel cared for and loved in general, not only in isolated instances.
Jack tells Kate, “My father died in Sydney.” Kate: “I’m sorry.” Jack: “Yeah, I’m sorry, too.” Even this early in the series, we’ve seen enough to know he has good reason to have dislike for his father. Much more will be revealed later. And yet, despite all this, he doesn’t hate hi father. He is capable of missing his father and regretting his father’s absence, his father’s death. In that sense, his father is still there in a positive way, despite dying. That, indeed, is something that will shed some light on Locke’s situation much later in the series — will Lock’s father’s death really let Locke move on? Will it really be sufficient? It seems doubtful. Moving on happen inside, as has started to happen for Jack.