SEPTEMBER 25, 2010
AIRED: OCTOBER 20, 2004
I never noticed, but the actor playing Jack's dad in "Walkabout" was clearly not John Terry. "White Rabbit" was the actor's first appearance on the show, and over time he'd come to be one of the show's most interesting supporting characters, popping up in just about every Jack episode and even in a few others. Just about every character on the show had father issues of some sort (Michael being one exception, because he himself was a dad), but none of the others came as close to being full fledged regulars as Christian Shephard (how did it take them 6 seasons to finally make a joke about this name?).
Of course, here he's just a ghost, we only see him as a living character in the opening flashback, when he gives the least encouraging father-son talk of all time (it practically makes "It should have been you" from Stand By Me look loving), and then it's a kid playing young Jack. Matthew Fox and Terry had terrific chemistry, but it wouldn't be exploited until future episodes came along. But like the last few episodes, it sets up another character mystery (why him and Jack weren't speaking), and explaining how Jack ended up on the plane.
What it DOESN'T explain is where the body goes, and I can't remember if we ever got a satisfying answer for that. (SERIES SPOILERS!) We saw Locke's body even when he became a ghost/monster/whatever, but did we ever see Christian's? Part of the problem with season 6 is that it became so uninvolving with regards to the characters, I think I started missing minor reveals in the later half of the season, because I'd be too busy tweeting "Where the hell is Desmond?" or something.
One interesting thing about this episode is that for the most part it seems like Jack is truly thinking about these events in his life as they flash back (most of which are sans the "whorrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmm" sound). I remember it was a debate among fans at first, though after a while it didn't matter (especially once they started doing flash-forwards). But here, we see Jack "snap out" of his flashbacks on a couple occasions, and the final one, detailing when he identified his father's body at the morgue, resulted in him breaking down and crying on the island. I can't remember too many other instances of this precise tie between the island and the flashback stories.
As for the island stuff, they were still going out of their way to include every character, even if they weren't up to anything interesting or involved in the main "B-story", which in this case was the disappearance of their few remaining bottles of water (note: fellow geek phenomenon Battlestar Galactica had an early episode revolving around the need for water, and it remained one of the series' all time best hours). So you get a nice little moment with Walt using the "toothpaste" that Sun showed him, or a rare instance of Sawyer actually explaining one of his nicknames (I wish that had continued throughout the show; he called Jack "Dr Giggles" at one point. "It was a slasher movie from 1992 with the guy from LA Law!").
They also finally start to turn Locke into his actual character. After he saves Jack (the first of the episode's two fairly annoying conveniences), the two have a nice talk, and Locke delivers the first of what will be 116 "The island is special" speeches, instead of just being creepy for no reason. One of the things I hated about the way Locke's character was "resolved" was that he and Jack never got to repair their friendship face to face; it was just a bunch of "Now that the other guy is gone maybe he was right" type things, so it's nice to go back to when the men had a bond.
The other annoyance was Jack finding the cave. Perhaps it's just the way that the show was edited, but it seems like he was camped about 17 feet away from it. It's like in Halloween when Loomis sees his/Michael's car across the street after waiting around all night and never noticing. Of course, there is a very strong "Everything happens for a reason" theme on the show (the words are actually said in this episode, in fact), but these two things seemed more like convenient "let's move things along" writing than any sort of mystical/thematic occurrence. The distance between locations would continue to be a problem on the show, with people taking longer/shorter a time to get from A to B depending on the needs of the show. It may be nitpicky, but this is the double-edged sword of writing great characters - you start to buy in the reality of everything. I never cared much on 24 that everything was never more than 5 minutes away or no one went to the bathroom - the characters/story were so ludicrous to begin with, it seemingly existed in some sort of fantasy world anyway.
I haven't mentioned Michael Giacchino's score yet, and this is a good place to start, as this episode has the first appearance of the melancholy "Life and Death" theme that usually accompanies someone dying or other sort of emotional scenes. It's one of the finest pieces of music I've ever heard on a TV show (this is the first show where I've actually sought to obtain a score CD), and using it over an already sad scene would practically guarantee the rare opening of BC Waterworks, Inc. Hence, I put it below in lieu of my usual obscure video related to the episode title.
Oh, and this one introduces "Live together, die alone", an overused and eventually mocked mantra of Jack's. But those who stuck with the show til the end can now look at it as a sort of foreshadowing. Chalk another up for the "they had it planned all along" team.
Where are we?