Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Lost » Season 1 » All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.


Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010


Episode 11 - All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

8 January 2017

Present: Jack races after Claire and Charlie, ignoring Locke’s suggestion of a search party. Locke, Kate and Boone catch up with him and they split up to follow the tracks. Jack is beaten up by Ethan but ignores his warnings and continues to follow him. He and Kate find Charlie hung from a tree and revive him. Meanwhile Locke and Boone discover some sort of metal plate in the jungle.

Flashback: Jack is operating on a patient who dies. It turns out he had to take over surgery from his father who was under the influence. Christian convinces Jack to sign off on a report which absolves him of blame. But Jack sees Christian manipulating the husband of the dead woman and then discovers that she was pregnant. He finally speaks up and tells the higher ups at the hospital that his father was drunk and is responsible for the woman’s death.

The Good: We get a really heavy look at Jack’s character, both good and bad. Plus we get two major developments with the mysteries of the island.

Let’s start with Jack. This episode shows a really impressive range of emotions for him and helps us see the kind of person he is. It’s a far more thorough exploration of a character than most television shows would provide. On the island he takes Claire’s kidnapping very personally and refuses to let anyone talk him out of tearing after her. There’s a selfishness to his determination when he refuses to heed Locke’s warning that as the only surgeon they have he ought to protect himself. Jack then lashes out at Kate while frustrated, implying that she lies to him after he told her it didn’t matter who they used to be (103). He is so blindly determined that Ethan kicking him in the face and Charlie being completely unresponsive can’t stop him from pushing ever onwards toward redemption.

Yes, redemption. That’s what the flashbacks are so effective at showing. In the flashback we see Jack refuse to lie to save his father after Christian made a mistake which cost a woman and a child their lives. Christian made a great play of having what it takes to be a great surgeon (105) and he clearly passed that on to Jack. And for Jack it is more important to do the right thing than it is to be loyal to his father. It’s a hugely courageous thing to do and it underscores how seriously Jack takes his role as a healer. So on the island he can’t live with himself if it is his mistake which allows Claire and Charlie to come to harm. After all if he held his own father to those standards, then he must follow them too.

What the flashback also hints at is that Jack may feel responsible for his father’s death. His mother clearly blamed him for his father’s trip to Australia and we now know why he was off drinking himself to death. Or at least we know part of the reason. So inside Jack now is the fear that he caused his father to die, which explains why he was so determined to get on the plane, bury his father and get it all over with. It was that guilt which made him insist on getting on flight 815 and ultimately to the island.

Jack, Kate and Christian all have tremendous moments of acting. Kate is so convincing when weeping at Charlie’s death. Crying and looking so broken and trying to comfort Jack at the same time can’t be easy to pull off. Jack’s best moment comes when he tells the truth about his father. He manages to convey his guilt and his fear so well and even brings tears to his eyes which is also impressive. Finally Christian, who manages to slime his way through every scene, convinces Jack to sign off on his report with emotional manipulation of the highest order (see Best Moment).

The fight scene between Ethan and Jack is suitably brutal and dramatic. Charlie’s miraculous resuscitation stays just on the right side of dramatic overkill. It’s interesting that Sawyer forgives Sayid for what he did to him; perhaps he recognises that he brought it on himself.

Finally Locke and Boone’s discovery is yet another excellent cliff-hanger to demand that viewers tune back in for more revelations. The existence of Ethan and maybe more like him is big enough but the discovery of some other structure buried in the island could be huge.

The Bad: Jack’s demand to Kate: “Give me something real” seems out of place. I suppose we can assume she has been evasive at times about her past. But on screen she has been relentlessly affectionate and helpful to Jack. He reacts as if she didn’t offer to tell him what her crimes were (103), but she did. I don’t think the writers meant to make Jack seem unreasonable because she answers him as if he were right. However I don’t think they got their portrayal right on this occasion.

Strangely enough Claire’s abduction is overshadowed by Jack’s story. For the survivors, the fact that one of them has been taken, presumably by inhabitants of the island should be a much bigger deal. They should all be watching the trees with suspicion and panicking about whether they will be next to be snatched. They should all be speculating about where they are and who the kidnappers are and why they can’t see any evidence of civilisation on the island. But instead in one scene Michael is bitching about how Locke treated him, rather than worrying about Walt being taken by psychotic tree dwellers. For the first time the shows format of flashbacks works against logic in this way. What is a tremendous episode about Jack rather forgets that Claire should be the focus.

The Unknown: How exactly can Locke predict the weather? Where has Claire been taken and who is Ethan? Why can’t Charlie remember anything? What does Ethan want with Claire? What is the metal in the jungle?

Best Moment: Christian asks Jack to sign off on his report. Christian manipulates him son so well. He points out that they were a team and that Jack was in charge when she dies. He adds that accidents happen in surgery all the time (which is true). Jack refuses to budge and so Christian makes it personal. “I know I have been hard on you. But that is how you make a soft metal into steel. That is why you are the most gifted young surgeon in this city.” Clearly that meant a lot to Jack. Then Christian makes the case that he has sacrificed closeness to Jack in order to make him a better surgeon and he puts his hand on Jack’s shoulder. He says what happened will never happen again. Then he makes his final plea “And after all I’ve given…this is not just about my career Jack. It’s my life.” Jack signs. What is so masterful is that if we didn’t know that he ends up drinking himself to death, it’s an argument with a lot of merit to it.

The Bottom Line: A powerful episode in terms of character development. For the first time we see Jack as a flawed person. He is as much a hero as he is a son desperately seeking his father’s approval. It’s a very well told story and the drama and excitement of what’s going on, on the island compliments it beautifully. Unfortunately it slightly misses the point, which should be that the existence of kidnappers on the island ought to stir up a huge hornet’s nest of discussion, debate, fear and panic. It’s a misstep but it can easily be saved by some proper follow up.



Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment


  • This was a wonderful episode for me.

    I really enjoyed Jack's story as it makes him an excellently flawed hero. The flashback works on so many levels as it reveals a ton about Jack's relationship with his father and John Terry did great as Christian. Every flashback scene was brilliantly done and it told one of the best stories thus far: Jack betraying his father because of his own morals. This was definitely the best character episode Jack ever received by a mile.

    The on-island story was excellent as well. With Ethan revealed as an Other, there was a lot of tension throughout the episode. The mystery of Charlie and Claire is gripping and Jack is excellent as the angry and desperate hero. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jack doing everything he could to get to Ethan. I especially loved Jack attempting to resuscitate Charlie as it fit with his character to never give up. It was small scenes like this that made me enjoy Lost so much.

    As if that wasn't enough, Locke and Boone discover the hatch in this episode, adding another layer of mystery and creating the main focus for the second half of this season.

    Overall, this episode was one of the strongest Lost has offered. Jack's story was excellent and I finished the episode completely satisfied with the content I had seen.

    Viewer score: 82 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 05/01/2017 11:26pm (4 years ago)

  • Good to see you watching Lost at last :-) I agree that they got a little cute with that scene.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 01/09/2011 10:40am (9 years ago)

  • I agree the scene where they find Charlie strung up in the tree and try to revive him was excellent - I was completely drawn in by the shock, tension and emotion of it. Right up until Charlie draws breath again. I know this is TV and it's all about the drama, but Charlie waking up fine after so long not breathing was just a step too far for me. We don't know how long he had been hanging before Jack and Kate found him, and they took a while to get him down and try to revive him - it's just so unlikely that he suffered no brain damage at all through lack of oxygen. Not to mention the fact that Jack's thumps to try to restart his heart would surely have cracked several ribs and left Charlie with severe bruising and a lot of pain. But no, he just gasps a bit and gets up just fine. Maybe we're meant to put it down to the island's supernatural powers where lots of weird stuff happens, but I thought it just felt more like lazy writing.

    The rest of the episode was very strong, and I know my points might sound nit-picking - but in an otherwise excellent episode, that bit really stood out for me as weak.

    Posted by Kay, 31/08/2011 8:59pm (9 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments