"If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone."
"This place is different. It's special. ... We all know it. We all feel it. ... What if everything that happened here happened for a reason? ... I've looked into the eye of this island and what I saw... was beautiful."
LOST, Season One, Episode 5, White Rabbit is aptly titled particularly with its literary allusions to Jack chasing visions of his father Christian into the jungle and down a proverbial rabbit hole a la Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1865). The allusion also speaks to entering a world of the surreal. The island like Alice's Wonderland is similarly a mysterious, mystery-laden, mythology woven world for the survivors.
Why Jack is haunted by the memory of his father will become clearer in Episode 11, All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues and in Episode 16, Outlaws within Sawyer's flashback sequence.
Further, Sawyer is reading a copy of the wonderful Richard Adams classic Watership Down (1972) surrounding a wayward warren of rabbits seeking to find a home much like our castaways. That book also delves into the concepts of good and evil and in many respects echoes many of the themes and events forthcoming in the LOST series.
White Rabbit may even elude to the spiritual rabbit guide of the Watership Down book in El-ahrairah. The protagonist that is El-ahrairah was a kind of rabbit folk hero known for his smarts, cunning and sly ways, but who cared about the well being of other rabbits. Given Sawyer is holding the book, could the allusion be one intended to mirror the character of Sawyer to come? This, of course, along with the rich mythology of the book clearly echoes the mythology-building of the LOST series.
This writer remains a big fan Watership Down and especially of its accompanying film which was reviewed here. For those unaware, Watership Down was given a loving Criterion Collection restoration in 2015 and is perhaps one of my very personal favorites from the Criterion collection.
Highlights: In White Rabbit, Jack has a kind of awakening to leadership and guidance a la, albeit flawed, a leader like Hazel in Watership Down. In many respects the spirit or ghost of his father, a kind of El-ahrairah, leads him to a water source for the survivors and guided Jack to lead those around him. Jack's final speech is inspired and affecting. It is indeed a highlight in White Rabbit.
The basic ideas of survival are always important in the early going of any good survival series. Stargate Universe (2009-2011) handled such problems meticulously. LOST weaves them into the proceedings nicely but they are not the main focus above and beyond mystery or character.
There are two affecting soliloquies delivered here by two of LOST's key figures. The aforementioned piece by Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard the clear focus of White Rabbit.
The second is actually between John Locke and Jack. Both Jack and Locke are on very different paths on the island.
White Rabbit moves the thrilling story of LOST forward with a moving dialogue between Jack and Locke that is beautifully penned for the episode. There is a connection here between these two men, but they are indeed very different in their philosophical approaches to life and the island. That opposition is essentially established eloquently here in White Rabbit.
The many differences in unique characters and personalities here in LOST indeed echo the depth and variety of character writing established in Richard Adams' own ensemble literary work, the beautiful Watership Down.
White Rabbit is a densely packed Jack entry with loads of literary allusion for the survivors that will reverberate well into the future for LOST. But then most episodes do.
These episodes work on two levels as entertainment and as intelligent mythology. On first viewing this writer can assure you it was purely entertainment. Much can be missed in LOST if you aren't paying careful attention.
Writer: Christian Taylor (Six Feet Under).
Director: Kevin Hooks (Prison Break).