Home > Lost, Reviews, TV > Lost, Season 1, Episode 11: All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

Lost, Season 1, Episode 11: All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode 11: “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”

Overall Episode Grade: B+

It’s well documented among Lostologists that the series, to a degree, bookends itself. Season 1 and Season 6 have common refrains, the herky-jerky Season 5 and bizarro Season 2 have common themes, etc. Whether or not this is a wide-scale match I’ll leave to those with more free time, but one thing is for certain: Neither Season 1 or Season 6 clicks unless Jack is at the center of the action.

This episode–which hands down wins “Best Episode Title” for Season 1–begins Lost down a path of narrative action that won’t really end until Season 2 nears its midway point. And Jack, the focal character for the third time in 11 episodes, is the only protagonist the producers really have an idea for.

The situation: Claire and Charlie have just been captured, and Jack is hurtling off into the jungle to find them. Boone, Locke and Kate join him, but it become very clear very quickly that Ethan (the stone-jawed Other who took the pair) has eluded them. But Jack stubbornly presses on.

WHOOSH! Flashback time, and for the first time we have back story building on back story, which is a most welcome turn of events. Jack and his father were estranged, this we knew, but now we get an idea of just how deep their discord was. Dear old Christian Shepherd (played by John Terry with a loathsome, bonafide god complex) has a drinking problem, and one day he brings it into the OR (“How many drinks did you have at lunch, Dad?”). A woman dies.

Much of the flashback is spent listening to Christian attempt to justify to Jack why he should say nothing. He goes so far as to attempt to explain away his pathos as a father: “That’s why you are the most gifted neurosurgeon in this city. I’ve had to sacrifice certain aspects of my relationship with you so that thousands and thousands of patients will live… because of your extraordinary skills.” He ends with the oh-so-endearing line: “This is not just my career, Jack. It’s my life.” Thanks, Pops!

Jack is swayed, until he finds out the woman was pregnant. Then Jack spills the beans, and Christian loses his license. I truly can’t remember if this was the incident that drove Christian to Australia or not–I rather think now, though I’m sure Christian and Jack‘s Lostpedia pages can tell you for certain.

All of this is a backdrop for Jack’s dogged pursuit of Ethan, back in Island-ville. He splits off with Kate (Boone and Locke, fatefully, go the other way). One group is following a decoy trail, and it’s not Jack and Kate. They catch up to Ethan, who attacks Jack. And in the first of many Lost fights staged in the rain (I’m sure there’s a photographic reason why this is done so often), Ethan kicks the living crap of of Dr. Shepherd the Younger. “Quit following me, or I will kill one of them.”

Jack, of course, doesn’t quit (by now he’s seeing his father… again) and he and Kate find Charlie hanging by a noose from a tree. They cut him down, and in one of Season 1’s most emotional scenes, Jack attempts to resuscitate Charlie. Giacchino’s “Life and Death” theme plays, Kate cries… very well done. Charlie lives. Did I mention it’s a powerful scene WITH Evangeline Lilly? I KNOW!

Jack is a hero, but the episode does little to quell his own growing god complex. The apple ne’er falls far from the tree.

(Fantasy geek aside: Charlie’s near death by hanging reminds me of the story of Mat Cauthon in the Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan. Too bad Charlie didn’t come back with a bad-ass weapon and a load of other men’s memories.)

Quick summation of the rest of the charaters’ story lines, one important, most not.

Locke: The early part of this episode features some nice back and forth between Jack and Locke, foreshadowing the animosity that will boil over late this season.

Sawyer: He confronts Sayid; they seem to be back to mere hatred rather than attempted murder.

Michael and Walt: Still don’t understand each other.

The final major moment: At the end of the episode, as Boone decides to call it a night and Locke tosses him a flashlight. It falls to the ground and “ka-thunk!” hits something that sounds like metal. Hmm? Part of the plane? No. An ancient, buried space ship in homage to Stephen King? Nuh-uh. What is it?!

It’s a cliffhanger!

Episode: “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”
Director: Stephan Williams
Best Scene: The one where Jack tries (and tries, and tries) to resuscitate Charlie. The music, the acting, the timing of the whole scene are just superb. Kudos, also, to the endearing conversation between Locke and Boone when Boone points out the irony of using a torn-up red shirt as a trail marker. Only in retrospect do we see the irony in Boone bringing up the idea of a “redshirt,” so called because of all the Star Trek flunkies who inevitably die whenever they go on a mission with Captain Kirk. (Locke’s uncanny response: “Sounds like a piss-poor captain.”)
Best Line: There’s a wonderful exchange between Sawyer and Walt when Walt fills him in on the happenings.

SAWYER: Who got taken by what?

WALT: Charlie and Claire, they think Ethan took them.

SAWYER: Ethan took them, huh?

WALT: Yeah.

SAWYER: Took them why? And who the hell is Ethan?

WALT: I don’t know. He wasn’t on the list thing, the manifest.

SAWYER: Ever think he might have lied about his name?

WALT: It’s stupid to lie about your name.

SAWYER: Alrighty, Tattoo, where do you think Ethan came from?

WALT: Maybe he was already on the Island, before we were.

SAWYER: You got yourself one hell of an imagination, kid.

WALT: There could be lots of other people on the Island.

SAWYER: So a tribe of evil natives planted a ringer in the camp to kidnap a pregnant girl and a reject from VH-1 has-beens? Yeah, fiendishly clever. And why am I getting the evening news from a 6 year old?

WALT: I’m 10.

SAWYER: Okay, then it must be true.

Worst Line: Couldn’t come up with a bad line, so I’ll give a nod to Boone who–after Locke predicts the start of a rainstorm–shouts “Did they teach you how to predict the weather at the box company?”
Best Throwaway Moment: Hurley is charged with watching Walt, who insists to his dad that Locke is a “warrior,” Hurley deadpans: “Back home I’m known as something of a warrior myself.”
Ethan is deadly violent; Charlie is rescued and taken back to camp, hurt but alive (and despondent); there’s something buried in the jungle, and Locke and Boone are going to dig to figure out what it is.

Next Episode: “Whatever the Case May Be”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV
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