Everybody's been suffering a lot of stress ever since the crash, but of all the castaways, Jack has never been able to take a breath. He's had to be the doctor, the lifesaver, the leader, and a hero. But, outside of comic books, no man can be a hero all the time, and this is never more obvious then the way we see Jack during this episode. It's also clear that while all the pressure is killing him, the biggest amount of strain has always come from within
The irony is that Jack has always been like this, as we can tell when he flashes back to his engagement to Sarah, a former patient whose life he saved in a car accident. (We're going to learn more about her in other episodes.) Now, you would think that remembering the day you got married would be pleasant, but like almost every other flashback, there's definitely a lot of pain here. What's going on with Sarah is probably a case of transference, and Jack should know far better than to take it to this length. But as his father tells him, "You have a problem letting go." This could be considered more poison from Christian, but by now we know it's the god's truth. That's why he became a doctor, that's why he got married, that's why he expects so much of other people, and is infuriated when they do not come through for him.
All of this is tested when he tries to save Boone's life. From the beginning, Jack has to know that it would take a miracle for him to save Boone. But unlike Locke (where the hell is he, anyway?) Jack doesn't believe in miracles. He keeps promising everybody that he will, and is willing to literally shed his blood for Boone, but it's not going to be enough, and deep down he knows it. But just like when the marshal dying, he can not bring himself to pull away from this. Boone has to tell him that he knows it's hopeless before Jack nearly does something far nastier.
What aggravates this crisis is that one is playing across the beach simultaneously- Claire has begun to go into labor. With Jack unable to help, he turns to Kate to try and help get her through it. This is unusual, as Kate and Claire have had little to do with each other up until now, but she comes through like the champ she is. Both women are obviously terrified by this, and Claire is even more fragile because she's convinced that this baby somehow senses that she didn't want it, along with the obvious fears that about having to raise it here. The scenes with the two are very strong.
Out of these emergencies, a couple of heroes arise. As Boone continues to weaken Sun serves as Jack's unofficial nurse. Right now, her work with herbal remedies have been very helpful, but she doesn't flinch from either the blood that's being shed or the worsening of the situation. On the contrary, she actually butts heads with Jack over a couple of decisions, including his unilateral one to try an amputation. We've known Sun is stronger than she looks, but this is the first episode where she demonstrates that there is steel in her spine.
Meanwhile, Jin tries to overcome the language barrier, and help aid with Claire's labor. He hears her cries, and runs like mad to get Jack's help. And even though it's clear that he doesn't like having to have Sun translate for him, he is more than willing to do so in order to keep Claire safe. Furthermore, when the actual labor begins, and Charlie, who is understandably concerned wants to assist, he holds him back, wordlessly telling him that this is a moment that he should not interfere. (And kudos to the writers for having Jin and Sun where they are; any others would have reversed it.) The episode also brings out some of the others. Charlie is willing to do everything he can to help Jack get the blood he needs, only to be faced with the unhappy truth that most people don't know their own blood type. Sawyer, who was such a son of a jerk about giving over his supplies in earlier episodes, is willing to give all the alcohol he has over to Kate with no questions asked. (Then again, maybe Kate had to remind him of carte blanche) And Michael, who could never imagine that his work of engineering who lead him into a situation like this, is willing to help Jack figure out how to amputate. However, the two other men who have been the most help in these kinds of problems are nowhere to be found. We're not sure where Locke is (and by the end of the episode, it's pretty clear he'd do well not to run into Jack) but Sayid is off in the beaches on a date with Shannon. This is the one part of the episode that I have a problem with. I know that this was mostly dramatic license to keep Shannon offstage until the episode ended, but really, Boone's is in such a bad way, it didn't occur to anybody that maybe someone should try and find her and tell her that her brother's dying? I realize that two crisis hit simultaneously, but you'd think that maybe Hurley or Rose would have made an effort. And Sayed surely had to deal with similar situations during the Gulf War, no one thought to try and find him? There's probably not much that he could've done, but still… (I'll bring up my problems with Shannon and Sayid's relationship when we get there) Then there's the problem where Shannon tells Syed that Boone is her stepbrother, and that he is in love with her (but mercifully doesn't go into detail) but that she wants them to work around him if they're going to have a relationship. Newsflash, that won't be an obstacle (not that'll make much difference either)
In the end, Boone finally succumbs from his injuries, and we all feel a little tug. This is the first major character on the show to die, and you can't help but feel a little tug when he dies, unable to finish whatever he wanted to tell Shannon (and it's telling that his last thoughts were of her) Shannon didn't think that she needed Boone, but she does. Whenever he's gone, she's a different person, dependent and paranoid (not that she's much nicer when he was alive) Now he's gone forever, and she feels utterly lost. The silent sequence where Jack tells her what happened to her brother was probably Maggie Grace's finest hour on the series, as she just silently collapses. IT might have been more interesting to follow her character and see how she deals with out him, but unfortunately, the island won't give her much of a chance to mourn.
The episode features some great work, including the usually stalwart performance of Matthew Fox, as a man quietly imploding, as well as fin work from Yunjun Kim, Lilly, and De Ravin (her first real big moment since Claire reappeared a few days ago). It also features good work by Julie Bowen as the future Mrs. Jack Shepherd.
'Do No Harm' is one of the most exhausting and draining episodes mainly because there is so much anguish after Boone dies. Other major characters will die as well, but few would cause as much pain with their deaths And Jack, unlike the rest of the island, doesn't stop to mourn. He's been pissed at Locke for awhile, and now he has a legitimate reason to confront him.
My score: 9.8