Lost in Retrospect: Do No Harm

An episode that’s remarkable for its graphic and emotional intensity, but not much else.

For a refresh on this episode, I suggest you check out Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

The fact of the matter is that almost nothing happens in this episode. It grabs you by the heart and by the guts and squeezes for everything it’s worth, but really, nothing happens.

The word ‘intense’ is probably gonna come up a lot in this post, and it’s entirely appropriate. From the moment that Jack’s makeshift medical team brings Boone into the caves and puts him in that tent, every nerve in my body was being wrung taut like guitar strings. For a network show in a primetime slot, this was bloody graphic. Ramming that… I forget what it was exactly, but it was long and sharp and Jack just rammed it into Boone’s chest and all the blood and the screaming, it’s an experience I couldn’t look away from, no matter how queasy it made me. Matthew Fox, Ian Somerhalder and Yunjin Kim did a brilliant job of portraying everything: the fear, the pain, the frustration, all of it. When Jack staggered out of the tent and Hurley said he looked “gaunt”, it was true, he did, but it was more from Fox’s performance than anything the makeup or lighting people did. I feel drained just from watching the episode.

Am I accurately communicating how intense the episode was?

The birth of Claire’s baby was less intense, and added that spark of heartwarming that the episode needed to make people not want to attempt self-harm once it was over. And for some reason, I especially loved that Jin was a part of things. In the wake of his big moment in “…in Translation”, the character has really been coming out of his shell on the Island and becoming part of the community, and it was very evident here as he sits by Claire, smiling and saying words that sound comforting even though we can’t understand them. We also got some great payoff to the Claire story we saw begin in “Raised by Another” as she questions her initial decision to give up the baby. The moment where she held Aaron for the first time and the others hugged and smiled… well, it just tugged the heartstrings.

The flashbacks had that same intensity, I thought, even though their content wasn’t nearly as graphic. Previous to this episode, we’ve never seen one thing to indicate that Jack had a wife back home, so as the flashbacks got closer and closer to the moment when Jack and Sarah tie the knot, there’s a voice in the back of my mind that’s convinced he won’t go through with it. It’s reinforced by the problems with writing his vows, and dialled up to eleven when Christian Shepherd shows up, and by Frith, even knowing what happens, I’m convinced it’s all gonna go horribly, horribly wrong up ’till the moment where he says “You fixed me” at the altar.

This episode is an exercise in creating a compelling, dramatic hour of television without much in the way of actual plot. And though I think the episode does a brilliant job of keeping us riveted to the screen as the birth, death and marriage unfold, it has little to contribute to the myth-arc. Boone dies–but let’s face it, he was a dead man walking (so to speak) at the end of the previous episode. Claire has the baby, and that’s a huge deal, but it felt like something that didn’t need to be tied to this episode specifically for anything other than a nice thematic bookend. Jack’s flashbacks tie into later flashbacks, sure, but it was about 15 minutes of screentime that boiled down to about 45 seconds of actual important stuff: namely, that Jack got married to a woman he saved and fell in love with. For those reasons, and despite the fact that it’s good, this episode isn’t one that you need to catch if you were to go picking through the series for a “best of the best” list.

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