“Do No Harm”
Originally aired April 6, 2005
Some confessions: This won’t surprise you, but I love doing this blog. I find that it’s a fantastic mental exercise, and I’m always so excited to see what y’all, the best commenters out there, have to add to the conversation. So often, you offer something that not only I missed, but adds so much to the discussion, and a new perspective on the show. But. The one thing I HATE about writing this blog is that sometimes I miss something so huge and the entry has already posted, and I just walk around wanting to strangle my past self. The entry for “Deus ex Machina?” One of those moments.
So, you know how the minor plots somehow fit into the larger one in a significant way? Yeah. I missed the ball on this one, and only had my head-slapping moment a couple days after writing the entry. Dig: Sawyer has a medical issue, and Jack runs some tests. At the end of the tests, it is determined that Sawyer is fine, other than his eyes: he needs glasses to help him see. Locke also is being tested: the island runs him through a series of tests, and although at first he is unable to see what the point was, eventually he is rewarded with a new perspective when the light goes on in the hatch. Sawyer can now see: Locke can now see. Ta-da!
AND HERE’S WHAT MAKES ME ANGRY: I had in my notes — “eyes,” “tests,” “seeing.” But I totally didn’t put it together. Until a couple days later. Ugh.
Anyway. On to “Do No Harm.” And I promise, I will think harder about how the minor stories fit in with the larger one before I post anything.
Jack’s going to the chapel and Jack’s gonna get marrrrrried. But first, he and his best man, Marc, need to have their tuxedos fitted. Jack teases Marc about his rehearsal dinner speech and assures him that he can back out if need be. But Marc promises that he’ll be fine after 8 or so beers and that he’ll make Jack proud. And then he adds that Jack can back out, too.
Lost note: Marc Silverman. Marc, you might remember, is the boy that young Jack saved from bullies in “White Rabbit.” It is no coincidence that he serves as the best man to Jack “I can’t break a commitment and if I save you once, you will be in my life forever” Shephard.
And sure enough, Marc does manage to get through the rehearsal dinner toast with the assistance of a few tallboys, but hey. I’m in no position to judge. He passes the microphone off to the bride-to-be, Sarah, who tells the story of how two years ago, she blew a tire and jumped a highway median, crashing head-on into an SUV and broke her back. Jack, as we know from “Man of Science, Man of Faith,” promised her that he would “fix” her, and he did. Jack is the most committed man she knows, and he is her hero and cheers! Bottoms up!
Jack noodles around on the hotel bar piano as an appreciative audience of young women watch. And let me just say, get in line, ladies.
Sarah comes down into the bar in her pajamas and joins Jack in a round of Heart and Soul. Sarah tries to assure Jack that he doesn’t have to write his own vows if he doesn’t want to, and that “he” will show up …
And “he” does: Jack is hanging out with a bottle of vodka at the pool, which is where his father finds him. Christian plops down beside Jack, and questions why Jack is out here when his beautiful fiancee is in there … and Jack begins pouring out all of his doubts: what if he can’t be the husband and father he wants to be? what if he only asked her to marry him because he saved her life? should he marry her?? But Christian doesn’t exactly answer, but instead tells Jack that commitment is what makes Jack tick — he’s just not good at letting go …
So, the wedding. It’s outside. It appears to be in Hawaii. It’s gorgeous. Sarah finishes her vows, and it’s Jack’s turn. And there’s this moment when you begin to worry that Jack is about to not go through with the ceremony, because he starts in on how he couldn’t write his vows, and he couldn’t write anything as lovely as she had anyway, and meow, but then he adds that Sarah was wrong at the rehearsal dinner — he didn’t fix her, she fixed him. And he loves her and always will. Kiss the bride! It was such a gorgeous wedding, I’m sure everything is going to work out great for these two kids in love!
Right, so last time we were on the island, Locke had dumped Boone’s body off at the caves and then bolted, leaving chaos in his wake. And, before we move on, I should probably mention that I’m a HUGE BABY when it comes to gross medical stuff, which, as I’m sure you’re well aware, this episode has IN SPADES. So, the long and short of it is I watched a lot of this episode through my fingers which, as you might imagine, isn’t the most effective way to do a recap. Apologies in advance.
Jack is REALLY shouty with everyone, ordering them to lower Boone onto the ground. He shouts at Kate to go back to the beach and gather up all Sawyer’s booze, he shouts at Sun to get him supplies, he shouts at Hurley to not pass out. Lots of shouting. More shouting at Kate, in fact. And that’s when Boone starts making these terrible gurgling noises, and Jack realizes that Boone’s lung has collapsed, and so Jack STABS HIM IN THE CHEST WITH A KNITTING NEEDLE AND OH MY GOD, I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT THROUGH THIS EPISODE. For reals. Boone’s breathing better, and so Jack goes back to shouting at Kate. GO! TO THE BEACH! NOW!
Jack realizes that Boone has A. lost a lot of blood, and B. has a closed fracture in his leg. Boone isn’t looking good, but Jack’s going to SAVE HIM, DABNADBIT! He’s going to fix Boone! Boone’s not going to die! Hooray!
Now. About that blood loss. Looks like Jack’s going to have to, somehow, on this weird tropical island full of polar bears and crazy people, do a blood transfusion, which under the best circumstances is a tricky thing to do. Jack’s all crazy, and Sun tells him to step off for a minute and get some fresh air. When he does, he is confronted by Charlie who starts asking Jack where Locke and Shannon are. HEY! HOBBIT! I DON’T KNOW! I’VE BEEN A LITTLE BUSY SAVING BOONE’S LIFE. WHY DON’T YOU GO LOOK FOR THEM IN THE SHIRE AND GET BACK TO ME. KTHNXBAI.
So, now that his one moment of self-collection was ruined by an inquisitive gnome, Jack heads back to Boone to set his leg, which involves a stick in Boone’s mouth and a sickening snap and Boone shrieking and seriously, y’all, I can barely handle this.
And now that Boone’s leg has been set, Jack can start worrying about the transfusion. Sun tries to ask Boone for his blood type, and since he’s only barely conscious, it’s a little difficult. Jack, being a typical surgeon, begins screaming at Sun. As if it’s her fault. Cool it, McScreamy.
Boone manages to whisper “A Negative” before passing out, which, you know, bravo for him! Mr. T, for instance, has no idea what his blood type even is, which has resulted in yours truly receiving TWO GIANT SHOTS IN MY BEHINEY-HONEY during my pregnancies to prevent Hemolytic disease, something that could be PREVENTED if someone wasn’t a baby about getting his blood typed to find out if I even NEED the shots. BUT I DIGRESS. Armed with Boone’s blood type, Jack sends Charlie to go find out everyone’s blood type, and find Shannon.
Charlie? Comes back with squat. Seems most people don’t know their blood types, and those that do aren’t compatible with Boone. No one except Jack: he’s O-, the “universal donor.” Hey! So am I! Sun hands Jack a sea urchin spine, with which he can create a needle to drain some of his blood. The only remaining problem is that Jack and Boone don’t match up exactly, which means that something could still go wrong, and Jack’s blood could kill Boone. Stop his heart. But it’s not gunna!
Alright, but back to Kate and her mission to retrieve Sawyer’s booze stash. Sawyer and Michael are chillaxin’ as the
dorks “kids” say today, eating some fish and watching as Jin busts his hump working on the raft. Claire approaches and asks when they think the raft will be done before she wanders into the jungle with a funny look on her face. Hey! Claire! Try not to go into labor on the long hike between the beach and caves, mmm’kay?
Kate arrives and screams at Sawyer for the booze, and, surprisingly, he complies minus a witticism. Kate runs back through the jungle and trips, breaking some of the precious precious alcohol … and that’s when Kate hears the groaning, and finds Claire alone, in labor, in the jungle. Which, in case you didn’t know, is a sucky place to be in labor, I imagine.
Kate begins freaking, understandably, and tries to convince Claire to head back to camp for help. But Claire just yells at Kate to leave her alone (BEEN THERE, honey!). Jin, fortuitously, happens to wander into the jungle and hears Kate screaming, and after a lot of shots of him running around in the woods, he finds the lady folk, and immediately understands what’s happening. Kate sends him back with the backpack o’ broken alcohol bottles, and orders him to bring Jack back with him. Well, that’ll be a trick!
Indeed. When Jin arrives in the caves, he blah blah blahs in Korean, and Sun translates for him that Claire is in labor. Charlie overhears and begins freaking out himself, and is ready to go help her! Let’s go! Jack explains how to deliver a baby, and informs Charlie that Kate’s going to have to do it herself — he’s not going anywhere … Which? Isn’t unlike my own experience in childbirth, when my doctor couldn’t make it in time for my delivery either. Except replace “saving someone’s life by performing a blood transfusion using his own blood,” as the reason for not making the delivery with “was at dinner at Mark’s.” No. I’m not kidding.
So Jin and Charlie head back into the jungle and inform Kate that she’ll be the doula this evening. Kate doesn’t think that’s very funny, and explains to Charlie that she can’t do this. In the meantime, Claire is burbling to Jin that she’s worried that the Others did something to the baby while she was with them, and she’s frightened. Not to mention she’s in the middle of a HAUNTED JUNGLE about to give birth WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL. Poor Claire.
Later, when it’s time to push, Claire begins to tell Kate about how she’s concerned that the baby will know that she wanted to give him up and that in return, the baby won’t want her. Kate assures her that not only is Claire not alone in this, but the baby will also be all of theirs. NOW PUSH! 1! 2! 3! PUSH!
And! It’s a boy! HOORAY!
But what about the other boy, in the cave, who is undergoing his own medical crisis? Well, as Jack is pumping his own blood into him, Boone begins to wake up, and he’s got a lot to say, like how it was a plane that fell on him, and it was all because of the hatch, and Locke had told him not to tell anyone about it, all of which is news to Jack. But before he can pump Boone for any more information, Boone slips back out of consciousness again, muttering Shannon’s name …
And when Boone slips away again, Jack realizes that the problem is with Boone’s leg — a little something called compartment syndrome. Basically, all the blood is pooling there. Sun, growing more alarmed with Jack’s behavior, removes the transfusion tube from Jack’s arm, and tells Jack that he’s given him enough. That’s fine — Jack’s got a new plan. And it involves chopping Boone’s bad leg off in the cargo hold of the plane (which just happened to be near the caves? That’s convenient!) Jack and Michael do a test run on a piece of wood, and yep! It slices! It dices! It will make quick work of Boone’s leg!
Michael and Jack lift Boone up to move him to the cargo container while Sun yells at Jack that he can’t do this. And Jack? Still shouty. DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO.
O.K., then! Jack sends Michael away, and is juuuuust about to slam the container door when Boone wakes up. He urges Jack to wait. He tells Jack that he’s a mess on the insides and that he really doesn’t have a chance out here in the jungle. Jack, as we all well know, doesn’t give up, though, and tells Boone that. But Boone? Assures Jack that while he knows that Jack promised to save him, he’s letting Jack off the hook. And he asks Jack to let him go …
And, for once, Jack does. He places Boone back on the ground where Boone asks Jack to tell Shannon … but he does not finish his thought and OH MY CHRISTMAS AM I CRYING.
But not as much as I will be in a moment. See, the next morning, Claire brings the baby down to the beach, and she’s swarmed by a bunch of redshirts who come to admire the little guy. Everyone is really happy, and that’s when Jack sees Shannon and Sayid coming up the beach completely unaware of all that has transpired. Why? They were off on a secluded beach having a “picnic,” and apparently spent the night. RRWOR! (And yes, I know, Shannon told Sayid that she wanted to take things slowly, but come on. We’re all grown-ups here. What do you think happened?) Jack delivers the bad news to Shannon, and we then cut to Shannon weeping over her step-brother’s body, which is where I really lost it. I’m not made of stone, people. (Obviously.)
And then Jack informs Kate that Boone was murdered, and he’s going to go find himself one John Locke. RUH-ROH, Locke! You best hide!
So what to say about this episode? It’s a curious one for a couple reasons: on the one hand, the flashback is a pure character sketch, an exploration of who Jack is, and has little to do with any sort of larger mythology, like “Special,” or “Numbers,” say. On the other hand, the island events are purely about moving the plot forward, while playing HARD on our emotions: killing Boone, the birth of Aaron, and the revelation of the hatch. There’s not a lot to really say here in terms of allusions or symbolism.
First things first: in case you didn’t know, “do no harm” is from the Latin expression Primum non nocere which translates “First, do no harm.” It is not from the Hippocratic Oath, despite the common misconception. The phrase is a tricky one for doctors. What does it mean to “do no harm” first and foremost? And what it boils down to is an expression of Utilitarianism — the doctor must determine what is the “greater good” ultimately will be (something I’ve been blathering about a lot this week). Should she treat the patient? Should she stop treatment that has begun? Should she let or even help the patient die (painlessly, of course)? And these decisions are not cut and dry. Sometimes “treating” a condition will only make the situation worse: for instance, giving antibiotics for a cold will ultimately do nothing for the cold sufferer, but will compound the bacterial resistance problem that we are experiencing.
More personal disclosure: (You’ve learned a lot about me this week. Sorry.) my father is a surgeon, and in his particular specialty he often treats much older people. Sometimes the issue is whether or not operating on someone in their 80s with cancer will cure them, or merely cause them more problems, if not actually kill them. These are real ethical dilemmas. And then, of course, is the whole euthanasia debate. I’ve discussed it with my father a number of times, and while he says he could not perform euthanasia, and believes it to be unethical for any doctor to do so, he does think we engage in too many “every last measure” treatments on folks who are not going to make it, which is also unethical. Where to draw the line? And where is the euthanasia line drawn between actively aiding in someone’s death, and passively not treating them?
And this, of course, is Jack’s big problem in this episode. Jack is incapable of letting go, a point that his father makes in this episode, and repeats in “A Tale of Two Cities.” Jack is willing to do anything and everything to save Boone, but at what expense? Boone, even in his delirium and pain, recognizes that he’s not going to make it, regardless of what Jack does to him. But Jack is so blinded by his desperation to save Boone that he’s not considering the consequences: the best-case scenario is that Boone will have to attempt to live on this crazy island minus a leg, the worst-case scenario is that Boone loses his leg and lives a few more days in tremendous pain and agony until he succumbs to inevitable infection.
And that’s not taking into consideration the consequences that the rest of the survivors would have to bear if Jack managed to keep Boone alive longer. It would end up being a repeat of the marshal situation: someone, amongst them, suffering excruciating pain — which has its own psychological effects on others. It’s one thing when the person suffering is a stranger, but how would Shannon take watching Boone die a slow painful death? The survivors are stuck here together: what is the best thing, the greater good, psychologically for the group as a whole? To let Boone go, or to continue to have him live and struggle a while longer? Not to mention all the antibiotics it would take to prevent Boone from getting an infection of some sort. They might need those down the road…
What’s interesting is the way they juxtapose Jack’s single-mindedness in regard to Boone with his single-mindedness toward Sarah. And, if I’m not mistaken, at this point we’re not aware that Jack’s divorced (Right? There haven’t been any clues to that, except for the lack of a wedding ring and his flirtations with Kate. Sarah, for all we know at this point, could be dead.). There is a moment, in this episode, when Jack allows himself self-doubt regarding his motivations for marrying her: is he marrying her because he saved her life? (Yes.) But once he has married her, just like with his friendship with Marc and just like with Boone’s injury, he can’t let go. He won’t let her go. So, of course, the Boone incident follows Jack’s excruciating divorce and meltdown, and apparently, he has learned from his inability to let go back then because he lets go now. (Not that he’s really internalized this lesson, as per the flashforward in “Through the Looking Glass,” in which Jack is desperate to return to the island, presumably to fix something — seems he still can’t let go in the future.) Which is interesting in its own right: this episode isn’t about Jack’s wedding, really, but rather his divorce, which is never mentioned in this episode. I love it.
Also fun is the connection between Sarah and Boone, Jack and Shannon. Lookee: few years back Sarah happens to have a blow-out, which causes her to drive into an oncoming vehicle driven by Shannon’s father Adam Rutherford. Both car crash victims come into Jack’s emergency room, and Jack, in a split-second decision, opts to work on Sarah. This moment, this instant decision changes everyone’s life and eventually leads Jack, Sarah, and Boone to the island.
Adam Rutherford dies.
Shannon is then cut off financially by her step-mother.
Shannon, hurt and broke, resorts to conning Boone and her step-mother for cash.
Her con leads her to Australia, where Boone follows to retrieve her.
They get on flight 815.
Jack saves Sarah.
Jack marries Sarah.
Jack and Sarah split up, because she says she’s seeing someone else.
Jack jumps to the conclusion that it is his father.
His father goes back to drinking.
His father kills the pregnant patient and then heads to Australia.
Jack follows to retrieve him.
They get on flight 815.
Now, I won’t be surprised if there are some missing pieces in there: I may be getting some details wrong regarding the timing of Jack’s divorce, and won’t be surprised if some loops are thrown at us later regarding what happened between Jack, Sarah, and Christian. But, in general, there seems to be this chain reaction that stems from Jack making this one decision: to save this person over that one, that ultimately leads Shannon, Boone, Jack, and Christian to the island. But then, perhaps, Ms. Hawking might argue that this was always meant to be and that every choice along these paths led to their fates, which were predetermined by the universe.
Was it predetermined that Aaron be born on the island for some reason? If so, why? It’s curious, Aaron’s birth here on this island where women die mid-term in their pregnancies. Kate tells Claire “You are not alone in this. We are all here for you. This baby is all of ours,” which, curiously, seems to be the attitude of the Others in their single-mindedness to have babies. Sabine gave up her life to attempt to have a child on the island, presumably for the collective Others. And we’re back to the whole “live together, die alone” thang.
And I’d be remiss to not mention the whole Boone dies: Aaron is born: Circle of Life business. There’s an obvious connection between the two events, probably merely for thematic or symbolic effect, but maybe not. Locke will later note that Boone was the sacrifice the island demanded, and what Locke means is that the island required the death of Boone to access the hatch.
But what if Locke is half wrong? What if Boone was, indeed, the sacrifice that the island demanded, but the island gives Aaron in exchange. Babies are not allowed to be carried to term on the island, right? So what if it’s a balance thing? What if Aaron is only allowed to safely come to term on the island in exchange for another life? Now, this doesn’t explain why the island doesn’t take the life of say Pickett or Tom in exchange for allowing Sabine to carry to term. But, perhaps because he was conceived off-island, this was the sacrifice that the island required. Life can be given on the island, but only if another is taken. I’m not entirely sold on the idea, frankly. I don’t know why it would be so important to prevent someone from being born on the island, but it’s fine for a plane load of folks to arrive and survive there. But I can’t get away from the theme of balance, yin and yang (on Jack’s shirt in this episode, no less) …
… life and death on the island, and wonder if Aaron’s life isn’t contingent on Boone’s death.
Or maybe the writers just killed Boone to let us all know they were serious.
Oh! And per my opening paragraphs this week: the minor storyline and it’s overall relation with the major one. I think that Claire’s labor is actually nearly as important as the Jack/Boone story, but since it’s Jack’s flashback, we’ll call his story the Major major one, Claire’s the Minor major one and the Shannon and Sayid story the Minor minor one. Make sense? ‘Kay.
So here’s the deal: all three stories are about letting go of the past and moving forward. Jack must let go of Boone, and he must let go of his wife and marriage, as we discussed. Claire is letting go, herself. Consumed with worry about the decisions that she had made about her child, she initially refuses to accept that she was going into labor. Just as Jack has to accept the inevitability of Boone’s death — it’s a physical fact, Claire is suffering her own physical inevitability: birth. The baby is going to come out one way or another. And through her birth pangs, Claire is able to come to terms with the inevitability of motherhood.
Shannon and Sayid don’t undergo anything painful on their picnic, but it is a watershed moment for Shannon. She confesses her complicated relationship with Boone to Sayid, and then lets it go. Sayid asks her: “Maybe we should go back?” And Shannon, in direct contrast with what she says in “Hearts and Minds,” when she tells Boone that they should just go back to how it was, tells Sayid: “I don’t want to go back.” She has moved forward and accepted that her relationship with Boone is over. (She just doesn’t know how over … ) She’s let it go on her own, before she learns that she didn’t really have much choice in the matter.
And, yep. I think that’s about it. Don’t have much else to say, kids. It’s not that this isn’t a wonderful episode, it’s just that despite A LOT of stuff happening, nothing much happens, you know?
Or did I miss something?
For those of you who haven’t caught up on the Lost “Missing Pieces,” I am
embedding linking to “The Watch” here as it goes along with this episode:
Some things to consider:
1. What’s up with Jack’s grandfather?
2. Is this the first hint that Christian has the hots for Sarah? He notes that she’s beautiful in the pool scene in the above episode. Is this what sets off Jack’s jealousy?
3. Where’s Jack’s Mom? She’s still in the picture at the time of Christian’s death, so where is she at the wedding?
4. Is the pressure to be a good father what keeps Jack and Sarah from having children? Remember, in “The Hunting Party,” Sarah tells Jack that she’s taken a pregnancy test, and then says “Don’t worry, it’s negative.” Why would Jack worry that it would be positive? Could his refusal to have children be the thing that makes Sarah leave him?
5. Another watch. I could go on about the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and his watch and Christian as Jack’s “white rabbit,” but I think you see where that’s headed. But I think the watch here is more of an albatross around Jack’s neck, not unlike the watch that Mr. Paik gives Jin. It represents an obligation, a duty and promise that Christian is asking Jack to keep. How does this all fit in with the time issues on the island? Is time itself an albatross, a burden that weighs everyone down, and prevents them from letting go and moving forward?
Also, both sides are talking in the Writers’ Strike, and things are looking good. But today’s the real test. Interestingly enough, what you watched above represents the possible future. The Lost writers received extra compensation for “Missing Pieces,” material that is made exclusively for multi-media. And some are hoping the terms of their deal with ABC will be along the lines of what writers will receive when negotiations are said and done. Anywho. Let’s all just cross our fingers and hope that both sides will be reasonable and END THIS STRIKE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!! Ahem. Sorry for the screaming.
Hey! What do you think? Can’t wait to read it in the comments!
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.