'Lost': Something Nice Back Home
This episode gets a bad rap, and I'm not sure it's justified. It's almost never singled out amidst Season 4's general brilliance, acting somewhat like the Jan Brady of the season. It's not "The Constant," but it sure as heck isn't "Eggtown." While it's easy to pile on Jack for the boneheaded things his future self does in this episode, a second viewing reveals a great deal about the nature of "fate" in the Lost universe.
(Want to read my first take? Want no more!)
Something Nice Back Home
4) In Summary
"'Twas brillig, and the flash forwards/Did Jack and Freckles with Aaron..."
8) On the Island
Jack groggily wakes up thanks to Juliet's continuous requests to get out of bed. She wants him to step in to the fight between the Lostaways and Faraday/Charlotte. Jack tries to establish order, but his health betrays him, and he collapses in front of the entire group.
Jack refuses to stand still, despite everyone's insistence he relax. As he tries to hydrate himself, Juliet asks him what's wrong. He thinks it's food poisoning, but she disagrees. She asks him to lift his shirt up. He pauses, indicating he's made the same diagnosis as she has. After pressing on his side, she tells him what he already knows: his appendix is on the verge of rupturing. Looks like it's time for a little surgery.
In the jungle, Miles hears something strange. That something strange? The last sounds heard in "Meet Kevin Johnson." He asks Sawyer and Claire, "Who's Danielle and Karl?" He starts digging in the dirt, and finds their bodies. All three are terrified, even Miles, who tells them he didn't sign up for this.
Juliet sends Sun to the Staff for medical supplies. Faraday volunteers to help her identify the needs. No one's particularly happy about letting them go, so Juliet tells Jin to shoot him should he try anything. Next up: creating a sterile surface for the surgery. Should it burst, he will die.
Miles is looking at Claire in quite the odd manner. And he's wearing a hoodie that reminds this recapper of a certain dead rocker. Sawyer tells Miles he has a "restraining order" from that point on. Awww, lookie super protective Sawyer.
Back on the beach, Rose is worried: why did Jack get sick? She thinks the timing's pretty odd. She notes that here, people don't get sick: they get better. Or they get appendicitis. Or spinal tumors. Inside his tent, Juliet shaves Jack's stomach as she preps the incision area. Jack wants to watch the procedure as it happens, because apparently Jack likes the grossest things ever. He tells her he wants Kate, and only Kate, to be the one holding the mirror so he can see the procedure as it happens.
Sun and company arrive at the Staff. Faraday offers to go first, to make sure things are safe. In Korean, Jin asks Sun if Charlotte knows Faraday fancies her. Charlotte seems to laugh when Sun replies that women always know. Sun's a bit freaked out upon returning to the scene of her exam, but Jin promises (while keeping one eye on Charlotte) that he will get her off the Island.
After Miles offers to hold Claire, they hear a rustling in the jungle. Out pops Lapidus, who tells them to hide before Keamy appears. Looks like Ben set the monster to "stun," not kill. Wonder if that's why the monster teemed with electricity when storming New Otherton. Keamy senses someone else is near, but Lapidus convinces Keamy to leave right then lest they have to fly off the Island at night.
On the beach, Kate tells Juliet the tent's prepped for surgery. Juliet asks Kate to help, per Jack's instructions. They are less than surprised to see Jack walking himself to the tent. He puts his arm around Kate, who helps him on the way. When Kate tells him she'll be his nurse, he notes this isn't the first time. (Nice shout out to the pilot and "The Moth.")
Upon returning to the beach, Jin tells Charlotte he knows she speaks Korean. He tells her that if she continues to lie, he will break Faraday's fingers, one at a time. THAT gets her attention. He demands that when the helicopter comes, Charlotte must ensure Sun leaves on it. He doesn't care about anyone else.
Inside the tent, everything's prepped and ready to go. Bernard offers one last time to knock Jack out, so he can dream about something nice back home. One last time, Jack says no. And we then head right back into Season 1, with a brutally intense and realistic surgery on the Island. It's Boone's leg all over again, and I'm gonna just type rather than look directly at the GAPING WOUND IN HIS STOMACH. Kate becomes the focal point in the struggle between Juliet and Jack, with Bernard finally assenting to chloroform the good doctor.
In the jungle, Claire wakes up to find Aaron gone. Well, not gone, just nearby in her FATHER'S ARMS. Holy sh$t. And what happened to Christian's blue suit, eh?
Bernard comes out to let Kate know the surgery went successfully. As Juliet stitches Jack back up, the two discuss the surgery, and how it will be difficult to convince Jack to rest in the upcoming days. Kate learns that Jack kissed Juliet, but Juliet thinks he was trying to prove that he wasn't in love with Kate. Kate understands, and thanks Juliet for saving Jack's life. After Kate leaves, Juliet tells Jack, "I know you're awake."
Upon waking up, Sawyer learns from Miles that Claire left in the middle of the night with someone she called "Dad". However, he didn't follow, what with the restraining order and all. Sawyer hears Aaron in the near distance, and soon finds him, but Claire is nowhere to be seen.
15) Off the Island
Jack wakes up, and we see his smooth skin. This is actually an important detail, and not just me drooling over Matthew Fox's fine self. He gets a call from the hospital to tend to a patient. He walks to the shower, notices a pair of female underwear, steps on a toy version of the Millennium Falcon, and curses A-Rod. Sounds like my typical morning. When he gets to the shower, who's there but Kate. Jate shippers, rejoice! Sawyer fans, call dibs!
Later on, Jack reads Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland to a contented Aaron, as Kate watches approvingly. She notes he's a natural with the child, and Jack notes that Kate never seems to wear pants in the future. Jack notes his storytelling abilities probably stem from his father, himself an excellent storyteller. Kate's just happy Jack changed his mind from his position back in "Eggtown." They are in lurve, which means only one thing: pain's comin' soon.
While seeing a patient out of the hospital, Jack sees his father. Before he can follow, he gets a call from Santa Rosa. Looks like Hurley's been acting up, with therapy rendered useless. Looks like Hurley doesn't believe his doctor even exists. The Hurley Jack sees is far different from the one that played HORSE with him earlier. He tells Jack that they never got off the Island; they are all dead. When Jack describes his day (feeding the baby with Kate), Hurley notes that it sounds like heaven.
Hurley tells him he was as happy as Jack once, as well, until he saw Charlie. Looks like he and Mr. Pace have daily conversations, including one yesterday that noted Jack would be coming the following day. Charlie had a message for Jack: "You're not supposed to raise him." Jack is visibly shocked by this message, and leaves the room, telling Hurley to start taking his meds again. As he leaves, Hurley tells Jack someone will be visiting him soon.
Jack takes a long look at Santa Rosa, and Hurley's bench in particular, before driving home. Once home, Jack asks Kate if she really thinks he's good at being a father. She once again says he is, which prompts Jack to propose marriage. He pulls out a ring, much to her happy shock. She says "yes," he slips the ring on her finger, and they hug. Jack's eyes betray something other than joy.
While looking at some X-rays late at night, Jack hears something that sounds an awful lot like the warning sound from the Swan. Turns out it's a smoke alarm (smoke...get it?) with a dying battery. After replacing it, he hears his father call out to him. He's wearing the usual suit and sneaker outfit. It looks as if Christian wants to say something else to his son, but a colleague of Jack's interrupts the proceedings. Shaken from the experience, Jack asks his colleague to write a prescription for clonazepam. And so starts Jack the Pill Popper.
When he gets home, he hears Kate on the phone. She's telling someone on the phone that Jack never gets home before eight, and could stay an hour. She tells him it was Noreen, a mom from the park. Riiiiight. She kisses him and heads to bed, leaving Jack with some quality alone time with his pills and a beer. That's two of the four major food groups, right there.
Something like 43 pills and 18 beers later, Jack's waiting for Kate to come home. He wants to know why the nanny was there late that day. Jack's not having any of Kate's stories, tells her about his visit with Hurley, and demands to know where she was that day. She wants him to trust her, but he presses on. Eventually she tells him she was doing something for Sawyer. Ruh row.
Jack tells her Sawyer decided to "stay," which is a low blow but damn he's so far from his right mind for once I can't pile on Jack. "I'm the one who saved you," says Jack, adding insult to idiocy. Kate fires back, telling Jack he can't be around her son like this. Jack snaps, noting she's not even related to him. (And we know now that he's aware of his own relationship to Aaron.) As Kate tends to a crying Aaron, Jack leaves the house.
16) The Mythology
I've talked a lot here about the light and dark sides at work in the show. They can heal Locke's legs, cure Rose's cancer, stop Michael from dying off the Island, and send ghostly messengers on their behalf. These are some pretty powerful forces. But they are not omnipotent, and this episode really drives that home.
Once again, let's return to the nature of desire as it plays out in the Lost universe. It's not enough for someone to merely do something in this show: they have to WANT to do it. Coercion or trickery only gets a person so far in manipulating a player in this world to enact something meaningful. There has to be legitimate will ensconced in the action as well to make it truly meaningful and lasting. A person such as Ben, or an entity such as the Island, can only push people to a certain point: after that, they are relatively helpless.
It might sound funny to call either Ben or the Island helpless, but I think it's essential to understand Lost by looking at the choices characters make, rather than the situations they find themselves in. The situations are mere litmus tests; the choices are what matters. When the Island gives Ben cancer, or gives Jack appendicitis, all it's doing is presenting these two individuals with a choice. But it's not making that choice for them. This is a crucial notion, especially as it pertains to the notion of fate in the Lost universe.
For some, "fate" means a predestined set of events one cannot escape. I'm not sure that's exactly how fate works in the world of Lost. Given the time-bending nature of the world, "fate" might in fact mean nothing more than the desired outcome of a specific individual/entity. But this individual/entity isn't a puppet master: whatever force that gives Ben his cancer can't stop Jack's arrival on the Island anymore than it can stop Juliet's ability to surgically remove Jack's appendix. Why? As Ben says, it's all in the will: "I want you to want to save my life," he told Jack in the Hydra. It's safe to say Juliet possessed equally strong will in performing her surgery upon Jack.
These choices are what affect fate in Lost, but they are not neat and tidy points plotted along a straight line. Not only are the choices constantly evolving to meet an uncontrollable set of circumstances, but you have the Army of the Light and the Army of the Dark wedging their way into the lives of everyday individuals to achieve competing and antagonistic outcomes. Combine all of this, and you have the power ultimately resting not in unseen forces, but in the choice of an individual. Ultimately, that is the most powerful force in the Lost universe.
23) The Moment
The first appearance of notChristian, a person I'll get to in the next recap.
42) In Retrospect
- Kate's task is clearly tied into the mystery message delivered by Sawyer in the helicopter. The good money's on it involving Sawyer's daughter, and the bad money has it on Kate running off to stock up on $5 footlongs at Subway. (Maybe Juliet can surgically remove that song from my head, now that she's done with Jack's appendix.)
- Does Juliet instinctively realize she's not leaving the Island? Everything between her and Kate suggests not so much that Kate will "win," but that she and Jack will leave the Island without her.
- It's easy to forget now, but it took ten episodes into the season to really bring Claire/Aaron back to the mythological forefront.
108) In Summary
At the time, I liked but didn't love this episode. It's the less-than-interesting meat in a "Shape of Things to Come"/"Cabin Fever" sandwich. But it involves a return to Season 1 realism with the surgery, a huge mythological turn with nonChristian, and one-half of the Oceanic 6 crumbling under the weight of their actions. All this plus Jin at his most awesome. That's a solid episode, people.
Next up: Richard Alpert checks in on John Locke, and the Island needs to hire some movers.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he'll have as many platforms as Future Jack has "prescriptions."