LOST Chapter Eleven: All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Directed by Stephen Williams

Jack, Kate, Locke, and Boone try to catch up to Ethan who has kidnapped Claire and Charlie.

Doing the right thing is easier if you also get to stick it to someone you don't like.

 “If there’s anyone on this island your brother is safe with, it’s Locke.”

I must admit that the experience of watching this episode with the ending of the show in mind is about the same as if I didn’t know the ending.  It is an effective character piece with massive amounts of horror thrown in.  I don’t think the smoke monster was ever as creepy as Ethan was in this episode.  There is something so much more effective using the human monster rather than the supernatural monster.

Also emphasized in this episode is the continuing theme of the survivors not knowing each other.  Throughout the series thus far, identities have been teased with a line here or a line there:  Michael’s drawings, Claire’s interest in astrology.  This trend continues in this episode, only added to the mix is the idea that the survivors can’t really know the previous life of fellow survivors because the circumstances dictate character.  Take Locke for instance.  We know from Walkabout that he truly did work for a box company, something Boone finds inconceivable.  However, the circumstances on The Island allow Locke to show the side to his personality that he always wanted to show: the warrior, the hunter.  Locke, while technically an employee of a box company, can now be something else, someone else.  This choice makes his previous life hard to imagine.  Boone seems to think Locke was joking.  And it hardly matters to either of them at this point.  Locke is now engaging in testing Boone.  He is looking for a disciple.

Hurley hints that he is “something of a warrior” and that he can give Walt the twenty thousand dollars he won in the backgammon game.  But also of note is that we get a few hints as to Walt’s story.  He drops the name of his step-father (Brian), and he mentions that he is lucky.  If this episode suffers in any way, it is from the reminder that Walt’s story is never effectively dealt with.  Walt is a season one question that was never answered sufficiently.

But the bulk of this episode deals not with Charlie and Claire, but with Jack’s pursuit of Ethan, Jack’s attempt to put right what went wrong.  This is an outworking of Jack’s guilt.  His father died in Sydney after a drinking binge.  This was the way Christian chose to express his anger and hurt over what we learn about his fall from his vaulted status in this episode.  A woman was in a car wreck.  Christian, as head surgeon, was called back from his lunch break to work on her.  He was intoxicated.  A nurse found Jack, who came in and found that his father was incapable of performing the surgery.  Jack even believed Christian had botched the surgery to the extent that the woman was going to die.  Jack couldn’t save her either.  In the end, the hospital board held and inquiry and Jack chose not to protect his father, he chose to tell his side of the story, which resulted in the dismissal of Christian.  Thus, the trip to Sydney.  This was Jack’s last experience with his father.  This showed just how much Jack loathed the man.

The surgery occurs early in the episode, and toward the end of the episode, Jack must save Charlie from what Ethan had done to him.  Jack, in his own way, is trying to save the woman from the wreck.  In the end he succeeds, but there is a rather prolonged and intense CPR scene.  Typically a scene such as this is a bit cliched.  How many shows have a tense CPR scene which looks as if the subject is going to die, only to have a last-minute resuscitation.  These scenes are done for drama, for emotional manipulation because you know that the subject (who is usually a lead or recurring character) will live.  However, I think LOST gets away with this for two reasons.  First, there is no guarantee that Charlie will live.  Second, the scene is used to further illustrate Jack’s stubbornness and anger.  This scene was a climax to the flashback.  It was not about emotional manipulation, it was about character.

My primary complaint about this episode would be the scene between Sayid and Sawyer.  When Sawyer discovers Sayid has returned to the camp, he decides this is an opportunity to “serve up a whole load of karma.”  Sayid expresses remorse for his torture of Sawyer and then the two discuss the ramblings of Rousseau and the whispers in the jungle.  To the best of my ability to analyze, the whole point of this scene is exposition, and I think it is unnecessary.

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