LOST Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 5 “White Rabbit”

Locke tells Jack to follow his 'hallucinations'.

“Live together, die alone.”


ANOTHER EYE opens the episode as Jack remembers a childhood event involving a bully picking on first another student, then Jack. Jack’s choice is to save the fellow student, which results in a major beating.

The flashback ends abruptly when island Jack hears Charlie calling for help. Boone is floundering in the water; Jack swims out to help, but Boone says that another swimmer, a woman, is further out, that Boone had been trying to rescue HER. Jack gets Boone to safety and then tries to reach the woman, but she is too far out and drowns. As Jack bemoans his inability to save everyone, he catches a second glimpse of his dead father.

This, of course, is Jack’s Story, and it begins a constant theme of ‘bad fathers’. Upon seeing Jack’s bruised and battered face (courtesy of the schoolyard bullies), Christian Shepard tells Jack that he shouldn’t try to be a hero because he “doesn’t have what it takes”.

Water is the secondary plot in this episode as the dwindling supplies from the plane force the survivors to find an island source. Jack is busy chasing ghosts, so John tells Sayeed and Charlie that he will find fresh water.

“You two stay here. With the doctor gone, you’re needed here. I’ll go. Besides, I know where to look.”

Now, how would John know where to look? I say again that we must consider the possibility that John is already under the influence of the Man in Black. In fact, he not only ‘knows where to look’ for water, Locke also seems to ‘know where to look’ for Jack, showing up just in the nick of time to rescue Shepard from falling to his death after slipping off a sheer precipice.

Now, since we who’ve seen the entire series know that the MIB could assume any ‘shape’ he chose, and since Smokey sometimes chose John, sometimes chose Christian, it is entirely possible that the ‘Christian’ who lured Jack to his fall also led John to provide a rescue. The ‘White Rabbit’ is Smokey, bobbing up here, disappearing there, leading a curious Jack into danger and discovery. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: “The game is a rabbit’s foot.”

As John and Jack ‘bond’ in the jungle, they discuss the need for a ‘leader’. Jack complains that he doesn’t ‘have what it takes’. John asks, “Why are you out here, Jack?” Jack confesses that he’s chasing a hallucination. Locke calls it a ‘white rabbit’. He convinces Jack to follow and trust the ‘white rabbit’. He should trust it, because the ‘island’ is leading him.

JOHN: All right then, you’re hallucinating. But what if you’re not?….I’m an ordinary man….not a big believer in magic, but this place is different, special…..is your white rabbit a hallucination, probably, but what if everything that happens here, happens for a reason? What if that person you’re chasing is really here?….I’ve looked into the eye of the island, and what I saw was beautiful.”

This little speech contains an interesting tidbit: John has gained inner, secret knowledge about the island. When? How? Is it when Kate saw the ‘monster’ heading for John and assumed Locke was dead? Did Locke ‘die’ or was he ‘possessed’? Or, did Locke look ‘into the eye’ (another EYE) of Smokey as he does in a later episode?

Back to the action: John then leaves to find water, telling Jack that he must follow the ‘white rabbit’, no matter what. “A leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going.”

Jack is, as we know, to become the island’s protector in the end, but John has become the first initiate into the island’s mysteries. Both men are ‘John’. Is it coincidental that ‘John’ is venerated by the Templars? This secret society has been accused of venerating the head of John the Baptist. John, who initiated Christ (in this case, Jack ‘Shepard’) into His ministry through baptism.

Jack, the Christ figure, follows John’s advice and trusts the image of his dead father (Smokey in disguise), who leads him to fresh water…baptism. Rebirth…initiation into the mysteries of the island. The hidden pool and the cave nearby are where Jack finds his father’s ’empty’ coffin (like an empty tomb). Unlike the final season, when Smokey assumes Locke’s shape but John’s body remains in the coffin, Christian is not there. Having seen the end, we know that the real Christian had moved on….he leads the ‘dead’ to the afterlife.

In the final scene, Jack accepts the mantle of leadership (begins his ministry) as he tells the others that they must all work together, introducing a phrase that will echo again and again throughout the series” “Live together, die alone.” While all must pull together and choose sides, each one’s choices accompany him/her in a solitary path toward inevitable death.

Next time: “The House of the Rising Sun”.