So how did I do on my last (and first) set of predictions? The one where I guessed that, now that the survivors have their food and water situation under control, they’d move on to shelter?

Pretty terrible! In “White Rabbit,” it turns out they don’t have so much water after all. In fact, they’re down to 17-odd bottles of water. And they’ve eaten most of the boar Locke caught, too.

Faced with the water-based version of starvation, the group turns to Jack for leadership. He wants nothing of it. He’s haunted by memories of his father, who told him he couldn’t handle the pressure of being a hero–unlike himself, a mighty surgeon who saves and fails to save lives every day–a point hammered home to Jack after the events of the morning, when a woman’s drowning out to sea. He tried to save her, but could only bring in the lifeguard kid who’d gone out first, who denies that he was drowning and blames Jack for the loss of the woman. Not a terribly fair accusation, that. Psychologically sound, though–the kid no doubt feels guilt about his own failure to save her. That and he’s a teenager, and teenagers aren’t good at much except getting mad at people who are older than them.

Between this and the possibly hallucinatory visions Jack’s been having of a man in a suit, he’s got no interest in leading. Instead, he goes off to find about the man.

The others, meanwhile, discover the water’s been stolen. Hurley and Charlie, the ones who were supposed to keep watch on it, naturally suspect Sawyer. They bring Kate into the fold, who discovers Sawyer’s stash of black market goods. (His little market was established nicely earlier in the episode, when the lifeguard’s sister (I’ll learn all their names eventually!) tries to buy some bug spray from her and learns that unlike Charlie, Sawyer’s too canny to fall victim to her good looks.) But Sawyer’s not behind it: water, he points out, is worthless. It just falls right out of the sky.

Jack continues to search for the man in the suit. In flashbacks, we learn that his dad succumbed to the pressure on a regular basis, disappearing for days on end to go on drunken benders. When he disappeared again, Jack’s mom browbeat a reluctant Jack into tracking him down in Australia. There, Jack found he’d died of an alcohol-related heart attack. Jack was bringing his body back to the States when the plane crashed.

And the man in the suit in the jungle, it turns out, is his father. Or a vision of him. In chasing him down, Jack falls off a cliff, catching hold of the vines . Locke hauls him up to safety. After learning what’s going on, Locke convinces him the island is somehow magical (he infers he saw the Monster), and that Jack needs to continue his search.

Continuing on, Jack finds his father’s coffin. It’s empty. But he finds fresh water, too. When he returns to the camp (where it’s been discovered the lifeguard boy stole the water), Jack takes on the mantle of leadership. They might be stuck on this island for a long time. If they don’t start working together, people are going to continue to die.

Jack’s dad was wrong. About himself and about Jack. He was the one who couldn’t handle the demands of being a hero. Jack might well be what he never could.

I was surprised the group hadn’t already secured a source of water, or started collecting rain or whatever. Water, after all, is the kind of thing you need. Like, lots of, every day. Could be they’re still in denial over the crash, which is reasonable enough, or they just lack the leadership to organize them, which is, well, the whole point of “White Rabbit,” I suppose. Still, it seems crazy, especially that none of the 47 people alive at episode’s start had done anything about it for six whole days. Does this seem insane because I’m the kind of person who would go mad if I didn’t immediately start trying to solve the problems in front of me? Or am I coming at this from a skewed perspective, aware they’re gonna be out there for 120 episodes, so get your dumb asses in gear already? Or is it more because I’m forgetting about how they might be sticking to the beach because of the crazy tree-thrashing, people-eating monster that lives out in the jungle?

Some of all, I’d wager! Still, Lost is sticking to its dozen-odd main characters pretty tight so far, leaving the others to be Red Shirts who don’t do much besides whatever the important characters tell them and also die every few episodes. Dramatically, it makes sense to keep the focus on your main characters–and Lost has a ton of them already, leaving precious little screen time to go around–but it would be nice for a previously unseen character to do something important soon, just to show that they can.

Now: onto the island and its unfolding mysteries. Jack’s seeing his dad, who’s dead, and whose body is missing. What does this mean? Does this mean the survivors actually de-survived the crash, and they’re also dead in the afterlife? Stuck in a purgatory of sorts, or some strange heaven or hell? Maybe it’s none of the above, and the island is just toying with them the same way an insane, supernaturally-powered cat plays with a group of 48 (now 46) shipwrecked mice. Or was Jack just hallucinating from stress, trauma, and lack of sleep? Which explanation best fits the evidence?

You know what? I can’t say. The fact is, you can cherry-pick all the evidence you want, but at this point in the show–and given its length, probably much, much deeper into the series–we have no idea where this is going. All we know is the writers have a plan, and they’re cluing us into it tidbit by tidbit. Or they have a plan, and they’re deliberately misleading us, planting red herrings and puzzles and contradictions while sliding in the truth too stealthily for us to notice. Or they don’t have a plan, not a real one, anyway, maybe just an idea of the starting conditions on the island, and they’re feeling it out as they go along, knowing they can cobble together something that explains it all (more or less) over the course of time.

Jack could be seeing his dead dad. Jack could be hallucinating. The island could be forcing Jack to hallucinate his dead dad because the island is a big green jerk. With the rules of normality clearly suspended, there’s no real way for us to know anything right now. It all depends on who’s telling the story, how good they are at it and what they’re trying to achieve at this moment in time. I’m currently enjoying the ambiguity of these supernatural elements, but if some hard, fast rules aren’t laid down now and then, I wonder how I’ll be feeling about it in a season or two.

On the storytelling side of things, it looks like Lost is likely to continue to be heavy on the flashbacks. I like that. As they’ve done already, it’ll help parcel out the characters’ back story and help to contrast who they were with what they’re becoming. It’s good to get off the island once in a while, too. It’s claustrophobic. The claustrophobia is part of the point, but still. 80+ hours of jungle, beach, and waves would probably get kinda boring after a while.

Despite my screed about how it’s impossible for us to know what’s going on right now, I’m going to go on making predictions, if for no other reason than to maintain a record of what I was thinking and what the show seemed to be wanting me to think. So: clearly Jack’s going to try to get things organized, which means he’s going to face hardships and resistance. Sawyer’s likely to be involved in that. The island’s paranormal what-have-yous will definitely be involved in making things harder for the tribe to weave their huts and such.

As for the particulars of that paranormal activity.. if I had to forward a theory right now, it’s that they died in the crash and are in the afterlife. It’s just the most logical explanation. And the inherent hilarity of that last sentence is exactly why such speculation is so pointless–and so much fun.

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