Season 3 Episode 9

Stranger in a Strange Land

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Feb 21, 2007 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (152)

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  • Great episode which provides further valuable insight into Jack's head and heart...part of the mystery of his tattoo is explained

    Apparently, many Lost fans didn't like this episode much...granted, Lost is a plot-driven show and people like to see things happen. And things did happen in that episode, maybe not mystery-related things, but things happened: Kate and Sawyer get back to their island, even though Kate repeatedly tries to get Sawyer to turn back for Jack who explains to her that Jack is on his own now. Something that Kate has much trouble accepting. A crucial dialogue between Kate and Sawyer reveals Kate's guilt over sleeping with Sawyer and provides much insight into Kate's head and heart. Juliet's trial or rather the canceling thereof through Jack is another event that marks the episode.

    However, I believe what makes Lost so unique and worthy is that as much as it is plot-driven, it is the characters that make this show truly great. The psychological aspects are almost always mind-blowing, and without the characters the island wouldn't be much. It is the whys and the hows of those characters' behavior in the context of the island that makes this show so great; and one of, to me the most intriguing, special character is Jack.

    Often the really good ones are also the really boring ones. Not so with Jack. While he undoubtedly has a truly good and kind heart, he is a very complex man and I'm always happy to learn more about him and get into his head.
    The issues with his father obviously run very deep. He is constantly struggling to prove to his father, to the world, but above all to himself that he has what it takes, that he has the will to make it work. This constant struggle with himself, his lack of faith in himself combined with his unique commitment and sense of responsibility, and with his truly good heart lead to a troubled and complex man, or as Kate called it, "damaged goods". The fact that he always tries to move beyond anything any other person could bear, that he always wants what is good for the individual people he cares about and the group he's responsible for demonstrates immense strength. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of others, something that is perfectly expressed by his credo: "Live together, Die alone" (unlike Sawyer's which is "Every man for himself"). There is an altruism there paired with human fallacy that make him such a complex, intriguing and appealing character. He needs to fix things and people so much that he is often blind to the things that are whole. His commitment and his fear of not having what it takes never allow him to let go. And while that can lead to a self-destructive path, it is this very attitude that enabled him to save many people, many lives, among these Charlie's. Unlike many other men of science, Jack is anything but cold or unfeeling. Rather the very opposite: while he believes in reason he does not lack the ability to believe and has immense ability to love. He puts his faith in people and is guided by his heart, as his father said about him: "He always does what's in his heart". The fact that he doesn't deny anyone his help, not even his enemy, that his integrity is so comprehensive that he will stick out his neck, not only to ensure the safety of his friends, but that of Juliet who is in trouble, that he never abandons his principles, is stressed in this episode…and if you ask me, these points cannot be stressed enough. He's also very contradictory, or surprising. Next to his bedside manner, which from a guy like Jack we'd expect to be impeccable but really isn't, the probably most unexpected or contradictory aspects about Jack are his tattoos, and his master skill in poker. That particular skill, not only enabled him to get back the medicine for the people he's responsible for, but also provided some hilarious scenes between him and Sawyer :) In this episode the background of both those aspects is finally explained. Jack's quest for himself after his divorce lead him to Thailand, where an admittedly horribly acting Bai Ling, not only "sees" who Jack is, but because of Jack's insistence also marks her words forever on him. Those words, words that directly contradict his father's accusation that he doesn't have what it takes to make decisions, have a kind of liberating, maybe even redemptive effect upon Jack who forces his "gifted" acquaintance to brand him with them forever. Jack defies Achara's warning who is reluctant to mark him since he's not one of her people, because he never wants to forget who he is again. While the tattoo may not use the words Jack heard from Achara it carries their very meaning to him. However, only a part of his tattoo is explained through his encounter with Achara. The rest has yet to be revealed…and I can't wait for that to happen.
    Interestingly enough, Juliet is given a mark that identifies her as well, thereby providing a link between Jack and Juliet

    A truly great episode which was brilliantly written throughout, very well executed by Matthew Fox and which provided further valuable insight into Jack's psyche.