Lost S1E5: White Rabbit

by thethreepennyguignol

Before we go on with this recap, I have a few demands.

Because the title of this week’s episode is White Rabbit, which gives me a chance to get on my soapbox about the topic about which I am perhaps more passionate than any in the world: TV and movie writers using Alice in Wonderland metaphors in their stories. Look, I get it – The Matrix did it, and look how much everyone (except me) liked that, right? But frankly, at this point, unless you’re going to be creating another installment of the American McGee’s Alice series, you are hereby banned from even having one of your characters murmur the words “through the looking glass”. Read one other book! I’m begging you! I’m pleading with you!

This episode, I suppose, came out more than ten years ago, so I will not hunt writer Damon Lindelof for sport (though his latest movie might just be encouraging that, now I think of it). And the fact that it’s actually pretty good might just give it a pass, too.

When Wh*te R*bbit opened on a flashback of Jack as a child, I got a doomed feeling in my chest. Yes, after last week, I suppose I have been warming a little to the idea of him as a character, but that didn’t mean I was ready for this. Take a girl out to dinner before you unleash waves of childhood trauma on her, you know?

But, for all that I might find Matthew Fox to be the most offensively bland person on the planet, and at least on this island, this carried the show on to an actual good streak after Walkabout last week. Buckling under the pressure of the responsibility placed on him, Jack starts seeing visions of his deceased father (and, oof, they’re some of the most strikingly unsettling shots of the show so far – the incongruity of his be-suited dad against the wild backdrop of the island for those brief moments is truly dissonant), whose disappearance and death were the reasons he was on the doomed flight in the first place. Basically, we’re in primo existential mind journey territory here, and you know how much I love me a deep-dive into some tortured psyches.

As a violently type-A person myself, I really appreciate anything that picks apart the sheer stress of applying this much pressure to yourself, and having that piled-on by the people around you; Jack claims that he didn’t want this role, but he sought out control from the beginning, and it’s natural that people reacted to that by looking to him for guidance. There’s a compulsion to putting yourself in that position, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. If Jack’s going to be our leading man, in more ways than one, then I want to see what that conflict does to him. How can you balance caring for a group of almost fifty people, while trying to work through your own personal trauma in the process? As Jack heads off into the woods to follow the vision of his father, it’s unclear whether these are the machinations of the island or his own psyche; frankly, I hope it’s the latter, as the battle between what he needs to do and what he wants for himself grow more pronounced.

Elsewhere, the show trundles on in relatively pleasing fashion; Daniel Dae Kim and Naveen Andrews have a sexy confrontation, Ian Somherhalder develops a brief hint of personality as he tries to rescue a drowning woman but fails, Sawyer comments lecherously on various women for fun while I think longingly about tossing him into the ocean. I’m really enjoying Evangeline Lilly’s upper arms performance as Kate, as she takes more control and defines herself in a more strident leadership role – it seems like she works best as a supporting pillar to someone else’s story more than the center of her own, and I’m happy with that until the show actually gives us a fuller backstory for her as a whole. I haven’t spoken about this yet, but it needs to be said, so here we are: I’m so happy to see Harold Perrineau in this show, because Baz Lurhman’s Romeo + Juliet is one of my favourite movies of all time and he is, without a doubt, the most iconic and ineffably perfect Mercutio in history, and every time he pops up on screen, I want to punch the air with delight, because I feel like I don’t see him in anything and he is reason alone for me to stick it out with Lost.

Dominic Monaghan is starting to grate, as Charlie just wanders in to frame to announce some new problem that has arisen like a video game quest-giver, and because he wears sleeveless shirts that show off his awful Beatles lyric tattoo that reminds me aggressively of the existence of that band when all I’m trying to do is forget, okay? The shaky-cam still needs to Calm the Fuck Down, but maybe I’m getting used to it by now, because some of it actually seemed – whisper it – effective this week, as a depiction of Jack’s unsettled mental state. Sometimes, it just sent characters spiralling wildly out of frame, but hey, can’t win ’em all, right?

I love an existential mind journey, even one that uses Alice in Wonderland as a thematic touchstone, and so this episode just landed for me: the more time we spend with Matthew Fox and Jack, the more I’m intrigued by his character and everything that he might have to offer. The show is settled in to a comfortable groove at this point, and seems to be carving out some time for its characters instead of more Spooky Island Doings. And what are we here for, at the end of the day, but the people we’re spending this season with, anyway?

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book,Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via Reddit)