Before I make a meal out of “Lighthouse”, I present to you an internet gift.
That was a pivotal scene from the fifth episode of Lost‘s first season, entitled “White Rabbit”. It’s with that stellar episode in mind that I am able to truly appreciate this, the fifth episode of the show’s sixth season.
I suspect that that is not an accident on a part of the writing staff. There were many nods to “White Rabbit”, with Jack’s recollection of smashing his father’s casket only to find it empty and his heated reaction to being told he “has what it takes” chief among them. Jack Shephard has, to some degree, become a pretty polarizing character at this point in the show’s run. Some find him whiny, wishy-washy and annoying, while others still cling to his alpha dog status from the show’s heyday and identify with the ebbing and flowing of his fragile psyche as the group’s de facto leader.
If you’re in the latter group, like myself, you most likely found “Lighthouse” thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re not really on board with the good doctor, then there was probably a lot of eye-rolling and yawning on your end by the time this was over. And, seeing as how we’re entering the stretch run, if you’ve made up your mind about Jack, there’s likely not a whole lot I’ll be able to say to sway you. Nevertheless, here are my very pro-Jack thoughts.
The Doctor is in
The early internet reaction to “Lighthouse” had a good amount of fanboys/girls shouting “filler!”. Well, not shouting as much as typing in capital letters with exclamation points. Admittedly, there was not a lot of new information to be gleaned from this hour, but that doesn’t mean the plot is not advancing.
You see, even though we all found out last week that the A-Team of castaways are “candidates” to replace Jacob, the dramatic irony in play is that nobody, save for Sawyer, is aware of this. If you’re willing to concede that Jack is going to play a pivotal role in the show’s endgame (duh), then the revealing of that piece of information to Jack is extremely critical.
The reveal came courtesy of what I perceived to be the episode’s strongest arc, Jack and Hurley’s “old school” trek across the jungle, culminating with a truly chaotic exchange in the titular edifice on the Island’s shore. Hurley was tasked with bringing Jack along by Jacob. I thought the notion of Jack catching the image of his childhood home in the lighthouse mirror was a clever, not overly on the nose way of exposing the scope of Jacob’s plan to Jack. And, as always, Matty Fox crushed it. Well, he crushed the scene from an acting standpoint, and later went on to crush the actual mirror itself.
This turn of events marks the tipping point of Jack’s arc from last season to this season. In his own words, Jack returned the Island because he was “broken”. Last season saw many instances of the man of science taking on many of the characteristics of the local man of faith, Locke. It was a nice little turn for the series protagonist, and particularly well-executed over such a short amount of time.
But Jack has begun to doubt his purpose again, no doubt embittered by what he perceives as the complete failure of his leap of faith detonation of the Jughead. I suspect that last night we saw Jack hit rock bottom, and Jacob’s words indicate that these are all necessary steps to fulfilling his true Island destiny: ”Jack is here because he has to do something. He can’t be told what that is. He’s got to find it himself. Sometimes, you can just hop in the back of someone’s cab and tell them what they’re supposed to do. Other times, you have to let him look out at the ocean for a while.”
Father of the Year
I think it’s safe to say that “The Substitute” set the standard for the manner in which the parallel timeline stories ought to be handled. I also suspect that the clues we’re being given to the timeline’s relevance are hidden in plain sight and that these adventures will strike a much deeper resonance with us with future viewings, when the entirety of the plan has been made clear to us. The discrepancy over Jack’s appendectomy scar, the continuous popping up of relevant Island personalities (this week was Dogen’s turn) and other things of that nature have me resting easy that this is not all for naught.
In the meantime, we got what I thought was a pretty nice little glimpse of Jack as a father. This is a fascinating story to tell, considering all we know of Jack’s myriad father issues, and the flash-sideways narrative scheme gives the powers that be the opportunity to explore that notion.
Shockingly, Jack didn’t make a great dad. But there were hints all around that he used to be pretty okay at it. He used to encourage David’s piano playing (perhaps too much, even) and he fondly recalled reading him “Alice in Wonderland”. This is, by the way, the same book we saw him reading Aaron when he was playing Dad in season 4. The flash-sideways was filled with all types of easter eggs for careful viewers, including the sign at David’s audition reading “Welcome all candidates” to Jack’s retrieval of a house key under, you guessed it, a white rabbit.
Not unlike Locke’s sideways adventure, Jack’s pseudo-redemption as a good guy in his son’s eyes provided a nice counterpoint to all his Island strife.
I was spitballing with a co-worker of mine that we could be in for an interesting reveal as to who David’s mother is. It’s entirely likely that it’s Jack’s original timeline wife, Sarah. But I’ve got another possibility for you. Can you say “Juliet”? It might not even be a big deal, but it sure is fun to speculate, no?
And now for something completely different
Amidst all of this introspective character contemplation, we had that delightful vignette inside Claimed Claire’s shanty. You know you’ve really delved into some weird territory where a dude taking an axe to the solar plexus seems relatively normal. On the page, I’m sure this seemed great, and I’m actually totally okay with the way things unfolded from a story perspective. Sides are being chosen, Claire is on the bad side, as his Christian, and she’s been manipulated into thinking some things that just aren’t so. For instance, her claims that the Others swiped her baby struck me as odd, considering that she was the one who abandoned her baby in the middle of the jungle at Christian’s behest. And any way you can shoehorn the Locke-ness Monster into the show’s cliffhanger, you’re doing something right.
What fell short for me here was largely on the acting of Emilie de Ravin. She’s been on hiatus from the show for some time, and I think she may be a bit rusty. I get trying to maintain some of that innate Claire cuteness while still trying to appear as if she’s gone completely off the rails, but there were some line readings here that just befuddled me. Here’s hoping she grows into it.
On the other hand, I thought Daniel Dae Kim as Jin was moving mountains with very little help. He conveyed, in a mostly non-verbal manner, Jin’s process of putting together the notion that the Claire he spent over 100 days with on the Island is gone for good.
So, there you have it. Where do you stand on “Lighthouse”. Do feel free to chime in as usual, particularly on the things I overlooked. If you’re feeling a little “meh” about the episode, go ahead and give “White Rabbit” a watch again. It will help, trust me.