Lost, season 1, episode 11: “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”

In which Claire and Charlie have been kidnapped by the Others and Jack runs frantically after them without knowing where he’s going and then gets Lost and then is a jerk to everyone else that’s trying to help him rescue them.

Jack is interesting, because he’s undoubtedly the intended hero of the show, but he’s simultaneously (1) so righteous and (2) so flawed that sometimes it’s hard to put up with him. I love this episode because I think it really helps understand where that is coming from. Jack is extremely burdened by (1) his perfectionist need for approval and (2) his guilt for his mistakes. It’s interesting to see that both extremes of Jack’s personality stem from his relationship with his father.

Before the island when Jack is faced with the decision to report his father’s malpractice or to help him cover it up, his father finally gives him the approval that Jack has possibly wanted his whole life, although in a backhanded and loveless way. Reversing the insult that he’d given Jack earlier, Jack’s dad tells him that Jack does have what it takes to be a great surgeon, and that he is so great because his dad was hard on him and pushed him so hard and so ruthlessly and withheld his affection from him.

As sickening as it is to agree with him, the proof of what Jack’s father says comes at the end of the episode.

On the island when Jack finds Charlie strung up, we don’t know how long Charlie has already been hanging there. Jack heroically attempts to resuscitate Charlie, but then when it becomes clear that he’s too late to save him, then Jack crosses over from heroics to mania. Kate tries to comfort him but he pushes her away, and she cries for him to just stop and accept the situation, but Jack won’t stop trying. He won’t call it. And in the end, he wins, and Charlie gets revived.

Jack’s dad is right. He has created in Jack a person that has been pushed so hard that he won’t ever be happy or satisfied or possibly even likable, and that is exactly what makes Jack so powerful and such an effective hero.