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'Lost': Your mythology-free review: Jack's heroic agony, and an axe to the gut

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My favorite moment from last night’s Lost? That lovely, funny little speech Hugo delivers while walking with Jack: “This is kinda old-school: you and me, trekkin’ through the jungle, on our way to do somethin’ we don’t quite understand; good times.”

Good times, indeed. And written by show-runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, so you know every word was weighted with the entire history of the show. In the pattern of this season, this was a Jack-themed episode, and Cuse and Lindelof did right by Dr. Shephard, bringing in at least three generations. Jack’s scenes with his son were filled with the fearful doubt that Jack stated specifically to Hugo — that he’d make “a terrible father.”

What we saw of Jack’s fathering looked like the best kind of modern-dad worrying and concern, filtered through shame: That moment when Jack is shocked to realize he didn’t even know his son was such an accomplished pianist.

Of all the Lost characters, Jack is closest to a “type” — a couple of types, actually. He’s the Handsome Hero, of course; throughout the series, he’s had his moments of dashing rescues and selfless sacrifices. But going one layer deeper, he’s the Wounded Hero; he’s — well, he said it himself, using a word a therapist might employ — “damaged.” He had a father of whom he was (again, Jack said it last night, always self-analytical) “terrified,” which has had its effect on most of the relationships he’s had, or run away from, throughout his life. And it all boils down to five words from his dad that damaged him irrevocably, that made him a lost Lost soul: his father telling Jack he “didn’t have what it takes.” That is, to be a man.

The great thing about Lost is that it can dramatize a damaged psyche in exciting visual ways that are utterly unlike any other sort of TV or movie depiction of father-son dysfunction. Jack gets to have mystical experiences mixed with Freudian flukes, such as losing his dead (“dead”?) father’s coffin. Jack can go up to the lighthouse that gave this episode its title, look in its old mirrors and see an image of the house he grew up in… and become so panicked and emotional about the sight, he smashes those mirrors.

It’s an act of destruction that both furthers the plot (and prompted another great Hurley line: “Mission un-accomplished!”) and summarizes Jack’s dilemma throughout the history of Lost: “I was broken and stupid enough to think this place could fix me.”

That is almost unbearably sad, yet so satisfying as drama.

And, to be sure, I thoroughly enjoyed all the scenes withe the new, wild-jungle-cat Claire; how the disappearance of her baby seemed to have driven her a bit mad; the axe-through-the-gut moment. (One thing you can say for sure about Lost this season: They aren’t messing around: If someone brandishes an axe, you know it’s gonna get used.)

What did you think of Jack’s journey this week?

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