Saturday, June 16, 2007

Top 10 Episodes, #10: 1.05 "White Rabbit"

Quote: "Last week most of us were strangers. But we're all here now. And God knows how long we're gonna be here. But if we can't live together...we're gonna die alone." Rating: 9.0 (not in the Top 50)

Brief synopsis: Jack saves Boone from drowning as Joanna Miller dies after being pulled out into the ocean by a riptide. After blaming himself for not being able to save two people at the same time (typical), Jack sees his father standing at the edge of the water. A moment later, the vision disappears.

He later sees his dad again in the jungle and chases him. Locke goes after Jack and possibly saves his life after he runs off a cliff. Jack has a sit down with Locke, who tells him he needs to catch his "white rabbit" because, like it or not, he's a leader and the people on the beach need him.

Jack follows his father to the water-laden caves where he finds his father's coffin, empty. In a rage, he destroys it and heads back to the beach to tell everyone what he found.

Why it's a classic: A lot of people don't like this episode because it's filled with angsty, "Party of Five" Jackface. But to me, this episode not only establishes Jack as the central hero of the show, it begins the show's pervasive Science vs. Faith theme with a terrific scene between Jack and Locke (thanks to the Lost Hatch for their invaluable episode transcripts):

JackHow are they, the others?
LockeThirsty. Hungry. Waiting to be rescued. And they need someone to tell them what to do.
JackMe? I can't.
LockeWhy can't you?
JackBecause I'm not a leader.
LockeAnd yet they all treat you like one.
JackI don't know how to help them. I'll fail. I don't have what it takes.
LockeWhy are you out here Jack?
JackI think I'm going crazy.
LockeNo. You're not going crazy.
LockeCrazy people don't know they're going crazy. They think they're getting saner. So, why are you out here?
JackI'm chasing something. Someone.
LockeAh. The white rabbit. Alice in Wonderland.
JackYeah, wonderland, because who I'm chasing... he's not there.
LockeBut you see him?
JackYes. But he's not there.
LockeAnd if I came to you and said the same thing, then what would your explanation be, as a doctor.
JackI'd call it a hallucination. A result of dehydration, post traumatic stress, not getting more than 2 hours of sleep a night for the past week. All the above.
LockeAll right, then. You're hallucinating. But what if you're not?
JackThen we're all in a lot of trouble.
LockeI'm an ordinary man Jack, meat and potatoes, I live in the real world. I'm not a big believer in magic. But this place is different. It's special. The others don't want to talk about it because it scares them. But we all know it. We all feel it. Is your white rabbit a hallucination? Probably. But what if everything that happened here, happened for a reason? What if this person that you're chasing is really here?
JackThat's impossible.
LockeEven if it is, let's say it's not.
JackThen what happens when I catch him?
LockeI don't know. But I've looked into the eye of this island. And what I saw was beautiful.
JackWait, wait, where are you going?
LockeTo find some more water.
JackI'll come with you.
LockeNo. You need to finish what you've started.
LockeBecause a leader can't lead until he knows where he's going.

Not only is this the first time Jack and Locke have really squared off, but it the first time we hear Locke describe the Monster as being "beautiful." It's also the start of John's wise man/shaman role that he maintained so well throughout all of first season and subsequently lost when he found the button. I still get goosebumps watching them square off for the first time.

It's also interesting to point out here the parallels between Jack's vision of his father and young Ben's vision of his mother. First of all, remember that Richard considered Ben very special for seeing a vision on the island. I wonder what he would say if he knew Jack saw his dad?

Furthermore, Jack's vision is one of the only true visions seen on the island aside from Ben's. Lostpedia has an excellent list of all the dreams and visions we've seen. Looking through them, the only ones that aren't dreams or otherwise artificially induced (such as Boone and Locke's drug and steam induced hallucinations) are:

1) Jack's Dad
2) Kate's horse
3) Dave
4) Yemi (not in Eko's dream, but right before he was killed)
5) Shannon seeing Walt
6) Locke seeing Walt

Now Kate's horse could be real (the Others have horses), Dave could simply be in Hurley's head, and Yemi was likely the Monster. And if those visions were created by the Monster (like Yemi with Eko), why did it react so violently with him. Was it because he failed to help John and allowed the Swan to implode? Or was it because he refused to admit his sins?

The visions of Walt could actually be Walt himself (remember Bea Klugh's question to Michael: "Has he ever appeared in a place he wasn't supposed to be?") We know Walt has some sort of psychic powers and connections to both Locke and Shannon (remember Shannon was taking care of Vincent at the time). But looking at these objectively, really the only for certain, on-island while awake visions for which we have no other plausible explanation are Jack's dad and Ben's mom.

But it seems reasonable to assume that the same entity created both of their visions given their similarity. Was it the Monster? Was it Jacob? Was it the island itself? And in both cases, their visions seemed to want to help them. Jack's dad led him to his coffin and the fresh water that the camp so desperately needed (this episode also featured Boone stealing the case of water for "safekeeping"). Ben's vision kept him from running away and getting fried by the fence. We know Locke and Ben are special because they can hear Jacob, but the events of White Rabbit make it seem that Jack is just as special as either of them.

This was probably the best series of Jack flashbacks too. We get to see Christian Shepherd telling Jack he hasn't got "what it takes," Jack finding his dad's body in the morgue, and the great scene in the airport that we see again and again where Jack tells Chrissy that he needs his father's coffin to be on this plane because he needs it to be over:

Jack: No! I want you to listen to me, okay. Because I'm asking you a favor, Crissy. I'm standing in front of you in the same suit that I'm wearing to my father's funeral and I'm asking you a favor. In 16 hours I need to land at LAX, and I need that coffin to clear customs because there's going to be a hearse waiting there. And I need that hearse to take me and that coffin to a cemetery. Why? Crissy, why can't I just bring him to a funeral home and make all the arrangements? Why can't I really take my time with it? Because... because I need it to be done. I need it to be over. I just... I need to bury my father.
The disappearance of Christian's corpse is also one of the most debated mysteries of the entire show. There are three primary theories here:

1) Screwed by the airline: The body itself may never have even gotten on the plane, left behind by the airline who couldn't (or didn't want to) honor Jack's impassioned request.

2) Faked Death: Likewise, Jack's dad could have faked his own death. He could have known the mortician and had him fake his records. Jack only took a teary, casual glance at the body. The airline then loaded an empty coffin on the plane.

3) The Island Made It Disappear: Dead bodies have a strange habit of disappearing on the island. We know Yemi's body disappeared for certain. But what about Kelvin (if he's really dead)? And as morbid as it sounds, has anyone ever checked all those graves? This, to me, seems like what the writers want us to think now, given how overt Yemi's body's disappearance was presented.

Lastly, this episode ends with Jack's now classic "live together, die alone" speech.
Jack: It's been 6 days and we're all still waiting. Waiting for someone to come. But what if they don't? We have to stop waiting. We need to start figuring things out. A woman died this morning just going for a swim and he tried to save her, and now you're about to crucify him? We can't do this. Every man for himself is not gonna work. It's time to start organizing. We need to figure out how we're gonna survive here. Now I found water... fresh water up in the valley. I'll take a group in at first light. If you don't want to come then find a way to contribute. Last week most of us were strangers. But we're all here now. And God knows how long we're gonna be here. But if we can't live together...we're gonna die alone.
From here on out, Jack became the leader of the Losties and their scientific, logical center. Despite everything he saw that day, he still remained the Man of Science - refusing to believe anything out of the ordinary happened to him. Think about it, you spend a day chasing a vision of your dead father through a jungle, who happens to lead you not only to his empty coffin, but to the water and shelter everyone needs, and you chalk it all up to dehydration and lack of sleep? Now, of course, that's a completely reasonable explanation, especially taking coincidence into account. But now, given all we've seen on the island, it seems much more plausible that someone or something on the island was leading him to what he was searching for.

This episode makes my Top 10 list because it sets up Jack as the antithesis to Locke, establishing his character not only as the hero of the show, but as its logical, rational center. While this has not served Jack altogether well on the island (and from the finale it looks like it's led him to a disastrous decision too), I believe that both Jack and Locke need each other to balance themselves out.

White Rabbit is one of the foundations of Lost, not only delving into one of its central characters for the first time, but establishing one of the central themes of the show. And, even if you dislike Jack, you can't deny how classic several of the scenes ended up being to the series as a whole.

According to the LOST fans at, White Rabbit is one of the worst episodes in the series. Of course, worst is all relative since it still scored a 9/10, but it certainly didn't compare with many of the other pivotal episodes of Season One to the watchers at large.

So what do you think? Is White Rabbit a LOST classic? Would it make your Top 10 list? Or have I seriously overrated it? :)


someGirl said...

It's rated as one of the worst episodes?!? This episode sealed the deal for me--I was hooked. True that I no longer am a fan of Jack, but it has more to do with his woman troubles than his leadership ability. Jack, like you said, is the logic and practicality of the group. But good is that in a place that defies such things? So glad you pointed that Jack and Locke need each other in order to remain balanced. They’re like the positive and negative sides of a magnet. In hindsight, that conversation between Locke and Jack is even better.....Just want to say again how much I enjoy your site!! You should give your self a pat in the back--or the head--or the bum, whatever makes you feel comfortable...

Bananas said...

I loved that episode.
And that conversation is amazing! I agree that it's much more significant now than it was before. Great Post.

Jay said...

Glad y'all agree.

To me it's very interesting looking at the ratings. Some things there jibe pretty well with my list, especially in the fact that all my least favorite episodes are very low rated (they're all well under 9). But the top rated ones are much more hit-and-miss - Half the Top 10 is the second half of Season Three.

I loved last season as a whole, but I really thought the first two would stand up much better in comparison.

To each his own, I guess. :)