Lost's Last Call: The Other Side of the Mirror
The island is Wonderland and Jack has been Alice, chasing after the unreliable white rabbit (Christian), which he can never quite catch. And in "sideways" world, where the characters are forced to take a good look at themselves and be conscious and aware of their flaws, it's only fitting that Jack be surrounded by mirrors in this episode.
“Lighthouse” starts with "sideways" Jack coming home from work to his apartment, and it’s a very different apartment than the one island Jack inhabited. In previous views of Jack’s place, we’ve often seen him pouring himself a stiff drink after getting home from work. But in sideways Jack’s apartment, the writers make the views of his bicycle, golf clubs and exercise bike very prominent. This is the apartment of an active person, someone who’s interested in living a healthy life.
After changing out of his work clothes, Jack looks in the mirror and spots an appendectomy scar on his torso, something he strangely does not remember. This seems to be another example of the writers winking at us, giving a sideways character a déjà vu experience. This Jack is somewhat aware of his life in Wonderland, on the other side of the mirror, just as Kate seemed to recognize Jack as she escaped from LAX.
And in case we still weren’t sure who the white rabbit is, the writers put a photo, front and center, of a younger Jack posing with his parents at the beginning of the episode, and Christian is noticeably dressed in an all-white tuxedo. As if his white hair wasn’t enough of a tip-off.
But it’s strange to see Jack repeating his father’s mistakes in this episode, becoming his son’s own white rabbit. Let's take a look at his angsty son, David (yet another Biblical name, by the way, and this David sure does have a "Goliath" of family history to overcome). David lives a double life just like his father does, although his double life is a bit more commonplace than Jack’s (considering that Jack's double life involves time travel, course correction and crashing onto a mysterious island).
It can hardly be denied that one part of Lost that really draws in viewers is the father issues each character has. When a person develops an estranged relationship with his father, he often has a harder time finding his own identity in relation to the rest of the world. Jack hasn’t had an easy time of it by any means. And his son hasn’t either.
Although he seems totally unaware of it early in this episode, Jack has passed down some of his issues to his son, a pretty common occurrence, and his son lives in two worlds — his time with his mother and his time with his dad.
And the time with his dad is something he just wants to “get through." I loved the scene with the headphones. David wears them so he doesn't have to listen. Then Jack gets a call on his cell phone and he can't talk to David. Talk about a modern lack of communication.
It was nice to watch Jack grow a bit on this episode, to say something to his son that he always wanted to hear himself. He tells him that he loves him no matter what he does, and that in his eyes, he can never fail.
In this new, altered reality, Jack’s pain can finally make sense to him because he is “making it right” as a father — he is making it so his son doesn’t have to go through the same thing he did. He is ending the cycle.
But back on the island, the version of Jack we are most familiar with still has much to learn.
Hurley provides a great deal of comic relief in this episode and serves as a major voice box for the audience — one of the things he does best. In only a few minutes, he references Indiana Jones, samurais and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Jack had been sitting around, pensive and despondent, ever since the castaways showed up back in present day (2008) on the island. He seems to feel responsible for lives lost, for failing at exploding the Swan station. He is acting out his father’s prediction from when he was a young boy: “You don’t have what it takes.”
Island Jack has to prove that he does have what it takes. And that’s what Hurley has to tell him, as a message from Jacob, to get him to go with him to the lighthouse. Jack’s biggest test as a character isn’t his ability to lead the others or take control in a crisis. It’s his ability to rise, like a phoenix, from the ashes. That theme of rebirth is a big one on Lost. Just check out the symbol the writers threw at us last night: an ouroboros.
For some reason, the portal to the secret escape from the temple is labeled with one of them. It's the same symbol from Eloise Hawking’s brooch in previous episodes. This is usually a symbol of cycles (for example, it's a great symbol for Eloise as she's the only one who seems to be living in a time loop), and it's definitely pertinent to the father-son cycles in this episode.
Why do you think Jacob labeled his mirror/scale in the lighthouse with a different name for each degree? At least now we know that's where the numbers come from. Did anyone else see the name Linus at around number 117? It was crossed out. When Hurley turns the mirror, Jack sees a variety of different houses in the reflection — a set of pagodas (reminiscent of where Jin grew up), and a church (reminiscent of the steps where Sawyer sat after his parents’ funeral). Jack finds his name next to number 23 and asks Hurley to stop on that one. Jack's childhood home pops up. Instead of being in awe of this situation (as most of the major Lost fans likely were), Jack goes into a fit of rage. The pressure is too much for him. This is probably the angriest we've ever seen Jack with not a drop of alcohol involved.
He asks Hurley a question he probably wanted to ask about his father his whole life: “What does he want from me?” And then he uses a telescope, something often used for finding things, for a destructive purpose — he breaks the mirrors, ruining Hurley’s (actually Jacob's) mission to help “Number 108” get to the island.
Who do you think 108 is? Desmond? Eloise Hawking? Charles Widmore? Who else could it be? We all know that Desmond owns a boat, and lighthouses help guide boats to the shore … On the screenshot, it looks like the name "Wallace" is next to 108, and it's crossed out. What could that mean?
It’s interesting that Jack chooses to destroy something that is symbolically a helpful guide in this episode. It’s as though he is rejecting Jacob’s guidance because he often ends up in situations he doesn’t understand or can’t fix whenever he lets go of his control and tries to believe in him. It's similar to Ben's issues with Jacob, except Jack is honest about his frustration. He doesn't just lie and lead a group of people based on illusions, as Ben did.
Jacob explains to Hurley after leaving the lighthouse that he needed Jack to be in that situation. It’s the only way Jack could understand how important he is. Jacob's doing a great impression of an all-knowing deity here ...
Back in sideways world, this situation echoes Jack’s break-in at his ex-wife’s house, searching for his son. Anyone notice the house number (23)? Or the rabbit Jack finds the key under? Once in David's bedroom, Jack hears his own voice on the answering machine. How often does a divorced dad have this experience? When he breaks into that house, he is breaking through into another world, his son’s other life, on the other side of the mirror. He can see things from his son’s perspective for once. He can hear his own vulnerable voice on the phone, calling his son to tell him that Christian had died.
After seeing things from his son’s perspective, Jack’s able to see how important he is in David's life and how to rectify the situation. That’s how the sideways world works.
But island Jack seems more filled with doubt than ever. Jacob tells Hurley that there’s something he needs Jack to do. What do you think that will be? He says that he can only reach Jack when he is lost in thought, staring off into the ocean.
Jack is one of these characters that many people like to hate … he seems impulsive and always has a hard time getting past his blurred perspective. But I think, if anything, Jack is one of the most realistic characters on the show and therefore the one we can learn the most from. He is by far the biggest hero, mainly because he doesn’t want to be. What he is most afraid of is what he is going to have to do. That’s how the island world works.
And Matthew Fox does a fantastic job with him. The sheer range of emotions he has to express in a variety of versions of this person … really, each actor on this show has a tremendous feat to accomplish in doing that. They’re never playing just one person.
Did anyone catch the sign outside of David’s audition? It said, “Welcome all Candidates.” If only Jacob or Christian could appear to Jack in a loving, accepting and welcoming way as Jack did with his son after witnessing what his son could accomplish without any pushing from him. We might just see that happen by the season’s end.
As a note from two weeks ago, I must mention that I was mistaken in saying that Jack didn't know he had a sister. He very much knew that Claire was his sister — her mother told him about Claire at his father's funeral when the Oceanic 6 went back home a few seasons ago. Funny how in the sideways world in this episode, Jack's mother finds her name in Christian's will. And what did everyone think of Claire as the new Rousseau? Talk about a creepy surrogate baby!
As usual, all questions, comments and (hopefully) answers are welcome below.
By Laura Carney