THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE
As I was going on the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish to God he'd go away. - Anonymous
It's hard to tell what invisible man Jack was more afraid of in this episode.
The shadow of Han Sawyer.
The father who won't let go, even from beyond the grave.
Or the little voice inside his head that won't stop reminding him what a fraud he is.
Yup, it's a Jack episode, folks.
That's right. Another one.
It wasn't a Jack Back
and it wasn't as far Jack Fro as we've gone before.
It was somewhere in the middle.
This season has featured plot heavily over character. Whether that has been a good thing or not probably depends on your reasons for watching the show. The Lost fandom is not an easy family to please. An episode that sends the myth fans off into an ecstatic orgy of clue parsing might leave the shippers a little unsatisfied. So it only seems fair for the writers to throw a juicy wet fish kiss to the romance fans once in awhile. Romance stories have a different feel to them.
Sometimes it seems people can't get their minds off it even when they're in the middle of a death defying emergency.
OK, so he likes her, but does he like like her? Enquiring minds need to know.
Now, it's not that those all important clues were ignored. Not at all. Jack's BoSox lost a three game sweep to the Yanks,
placing our episode in the timespace of August, 2007. Meaning Aaron is coming up on his third birthday. And we'd be lazy Lost fans if we didn't notice that Aaron's really big stuffed toy was a killer whale,
indigenous to Arctic and Antarctic regions - polar regions - areas where magnetic field lines enter and exit the earth's force field
... and an area hinted at frequently, from Penny's search mission
to Sawyer's Risk win
to Ben's preferred couture for time travel.
See! This stuff isn't hard at all!
Hurley's thousand mile stare is seeing something even farther away than wherever Charlie is...
...and he did leave us with the tantalizing hope that this entire episode was just a bad dream in a dead man's mind.
Charlotte apparently speaks Korean.
No idea what that means, but you know that on Lost, there are no coincidences.
My personal favorite clue was this one.
The Millennium Falcon Jack tripped over using Sawyer's signature curse. Sonuvvabitch! Indeed! Here's Jack, escaped from his marooning on Psycho Island, living large in L.A. , finally got Kate all to himself without that damn hillbilly around and who does he trip over first thing in the morning?
From the very first moments of this episode, to the very end, in true Lost triangle fashion, that redneck son of a bitch was smack in the middle of Jack's connubial bliss. Only fools are enslaved by time and space, buddy.
One thing we learned in this episode is that whatever happened on The Island did NOT stay on The Island. It keeps following them all like a bad dream. It all starts here - with Jack talking to a mystery person inside his shower.
We're intrigued. Who could it be?
No! It's our old friend Monica!
Remember her? One of Kate's all time best impersonations. Just like Monica,
this Kate prefers the lemur style of kissing.
she's very clever in the kitchen.
And like Monica,
she's hooked on serial matrimony.
Only this time Monica has moved it on up. From cop to doctor! That's upward mobility for Monica - she's not eating too many tacos these days. Being one of the fortunate 6 who got off The Island has paid off - a big fancy house, someone else's little son, a nanny and a life of playgroup leisure.
Not to mention her very own Get Out of Jail Free card. Monica is living the ultimate American Dream - wealth through litigation.
Strangely, Jack does not seem to be enjoying the champagne dreams and caviar wishes nearly as much.
How did I get here?
This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful wife. - Talking Heads
Maybe his head is spinning, like ours was, by the way their entire relationship is flying by his eyes in hyperdrive. This was like the quickest life and death of a love story ever! They didn't even have time to show us how they first got together. No first kiss. No first surrender. No first discoveries. We entered this grim little melodrama already in progress.
Jack and Kate are living together!
They have a kid!
They have implied offscreen sex!
Look! Quick! They're getting engaged!
It's all going so well!
Until, that is, the next day...the very next day... when Jack already suspects she is cheating!
Not a second is wasted. Instantly, he's drowning his sorrows and feeling very put upon.
A day or so later, he's moved on to full blown pill popping drunk, getting plowed when he's left alone with the kid.
He's insulting her and letting her know who's boss.
.....Aaaaand he's outta there.
In record time!
This was definitely the Readers Digest condensed version of a relationship. Apparently they didn't want the audience to have to deal with this shit for too long, so they tossed the whole salad into one tidy episode. Virtual marriage and virtual divorce all in one bargain basement fire sale. It was like when the freezer breaks down and you have to eat all the ice cream before it melts. Even if it makes you feel sick afterwards... Since it was inevitable they had to go there with this couple eventually, it was at least merciful of them to tear ass through it like they had a train to catch. Think of it as speed jating. And besides, that wasn't really the point of the episode.
This was a Jack episode, remember. That means we all had to stop and do what Jack does every day - obsess over Jack.
I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I wanna talk abut ME! - Toby Keith
We learned in this episode that Jack's downward spiral wasn't triggered by guilt over those he couldn't save, but by that same old self obsession with dear old dad. Even the mopey little marriage proposal was all about Jack. Once Kate told him she thought he was good at "this", he whipped out the ring. No declarations of love for the wife to be. All he wanted was a Good Housekeeper's stamp of approval on his fatherly talents. It was a weird motivation to marry. And sad. In fact, I don't know if Jack looked more miserable about facing battlefield surgery
or about facing a life of wedded bliss with Monica.
Navel gazing certainly took on new meaning in this episode.
When Jack's appendix flared up, just hours before the imaginary rescue team were due to arrive, Jack couldn't relinquish control to another qualified physician. He had a doctor
and a nurse,
both gallantly trying to save his smug, condescending ass...but he didn't trust them. We saw a level of narcissism in Jack here that was actually scary.
This is a man with such an extravagant opinion of his own powers and such a need to control every aspect of his existence that he actually thought it made more sense for him to micromanage his own gut surgery via mirror.
And in the way of Lost, where every week we watch otherwise intelligent adults toddle after Jack as if he were some kind of deity, Juliet inexplicably caved in to his demands.
Though even Juliet has her limits.
Now it's probably true that obnoxious control freaks like Jack are coming from a place of deeprooted insecurity. They probably all have daddies they can blame their own arrested development on. But most of them probably don't have dads quite as clinging as Christian Shephard. Christian continues to disbelieve in his own non existence.
Cleverly, he let the smoke monster announce his presence in the hospital,
beeping to Jack through a dying battery in the smoke detector.
Christian was much more direct with his daughter Claire, leading her from the smoky campfire into a mysterious jungle walkabout.
The shadow line of life and death was almost visible at times.
Miles, the ghost whisperer, who heard the dying cries of Rousseau and Karl, also saw Claire leave camp with her Dad. The dead are always with us in this story.
As Hurley warned Jack, in Jacob Marleyesque fashion, he would be visited by spirits. On Lost, the men who aren't there...
don't ever seem to go away.
I know we're supposed to all feel really sorry for Jack because he had a drunk dad. Jack learned from his dad that the best way to cope with babysitting is to drink....a LOT.
But he also learned that dads are supposed to read to kids at bedtime.
I think Jack's dad should have explained that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland isn't exactly on the nursery school reading list, but hey! At least he's trying. He's explaining to Aaron that the world is very confusing and sometimes it's hard to know which end is up.
"Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: "Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"
We can see why Jack is concerned with feeling different. He did seem a lot different from the man we'd seen on The Island. For one thing,
his chest went bald!
Or maybe that's why Kate keeps buying him razors.
Because you know this man can go through some razors!
It was a bit of puzzlement to see Jack, the great hero of Lost Island, reduced to a whiny, bullying drunk here on the other side of the looking glass
...while back on the Island, the man who isn't there, the worthless hillbilly,
never looked more the chivalrous knight.
Something has happened to shake Jack's belief in his heroic destiny. We still don't know what. We don't know all the details of how he failed or who he failed. Still, he must learn somehow to cope. He could probably benefit from some kind of self help program.
But, for now Jack has his own method of keeping himself on top of that pedestal he's built for himself. Self righteous bullying still works for him.
As he told Kate, "I'm the one who SAVED YOU!" Possessiveness is another coping strategy. He deserves to know where Kate has been...but he doesn't have to tell her about his night runs to the insane asylum.
In the great grand tradition of addicts the world over,
Mr. Live Together Die Alone still prizes himself as Exceptional. It may look like he's going bananas with zippers on them, but he still knows he's better than Kate.
As he told her in no uncertain terms, she's a fraud pretending to be Aaron's mother. He may only be the nasty drunk uncle, but he's still related to Aaron. Neener neener....As Speed Jate crashed and burned, as their lies and secrets spun out of control, Jack let Kate have it with both barrels. It's to his credit that he walked out before it got physical -
- and to Kate's for realizing that the Waynes of this world come in every economic bracket - but it was still an ugly scene. It did have a certain air of familiarity about it.
Ahhh, felt like old times. That's the Jack and Kate we all know and love.
It turns out that the invisible man Jack is most afraid of
... is Sawyer.
Because It seems Kate didn't leave Sawyer behind on that Island the way we all thought she did. There's something she's doing for him, something mysterious, that she didn't let Jack bully out of her.
She's keeping a Promise. She's keeping a Secret. And she's keeping it between her and Sawyer, even if he will never know.
It's about the purest kind of promise keeping there is.
Kate isn't the only one carrying promises across time and space . Promises were important in this episode. Brave Juliet promised to save Jack's life, and she did.
Noble Jin promised to get Sun off the Island, and we know that he did.
Sawyer, the newly minted White Knight, promised to get Claire and Aaron back to the beach,
and damn, but he was trying. Jack also promised, before collapsing with the appendicitis we already knew he'd survive, that he'd get everyone off the Island - "All of us." And that was the promise, as we know, that was not kept.
A promise distills down to trust. Kate is honoring Sawyer's trust by fulfilling a promise even though he'll probably never know she did. And Kate was trusting Jack to somehow become Aaron's good dad even though he's a domestic nightmare. But Jack doesn't trust. He didn't trust Juliet, who knew she'd always be second best in Jack's heart.
He doesn't trust Kate, who he knows will never let him be first in hers.
At the end of the episode, Kate decided she wasn't going to hold up any more mirrors for Jack's self indulgent inner journeys. It was a good thing too. The last thing Aaron needs is to have the sins of the Family Shephard revisited on his little blond head.
Of course, there's still that inconvenient glitch that apparently being "raised by another" will bring about great cosmic catastrophe of some kind. Aaron is important in the mythology in ways none of us know yet. He is The Ring in this story.
It was important to note which two characters were shown protecting The Precious in the final moments of the story. It's the kind of clue that we romance fans are often better able to decipher, the kind so often lost on the straight up myth boys.
In the future, Aaron is safe with a woman who finally loves someone more than she loves herself.
But the only reason he's there at all is because on the Island there was a man who was learning that same lesson.
There's one thing I do love about Lost and it's clues
(gifs thanks to sabi7)...there's no such thing as coincidence.