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Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the LOST episode “Do No Harm", which originally aired on April 6th, 2005.
Previously on LOST: Locke leads Boone to a crashed twin-engine airplane, and when Boone goes inside to investigate the plane falls off a cliff. Locke carries the gravely-injured Boone back to the caves so Jack can attend to his wounds, leaving before he can offer any explanation.
At this point we’ve seen so much magic happen on the island that it’s become difficult to believe that the characters we’ve fallen in love with are in any mortal danger. That all changes this week as we see the fallout of last week’s climax, as poor Boone teeters on the edge of death from the moment the opening credits roll. The fact that John Locke, the one man that can provide insight into the nature of Boone’s injuries, vanishes further adds tension to the situation, while also setting the stage for a larger conflict between Locke and Jack Shephard.
In addition to losing a lot of blood the incoherent Boone has also suffers a collapsed lung, as well as a broken leg that is drawing what blood he has left into it. Even though he knows how dire the situation is Jack refuses to give up, promising Boone that he will save him, but both the audience and the characters realize what a long shot that would be even if Jack had access to proper medical facilities. But with no operating room available Jack is forced to make do with what he has, and as he is prone to do he takes charge of the situation. After barking orders to Sun and Hurley he sends Kate off to retrieve all the alcohol in Sawyer’s stash.
Assisted by Sun, Jack gets to working on Boone’s many injuries. In a rather gruesome sequence he sets the leg, and it’s impossible not to wince at the sickening crush Boone’s bones make as they’re realigned. Despite his delirious state Sun is able to coax Boone into revealing that his blood type is A-negative, but unsurprisingly none of the other survivors know theirs. At this point Jack has slipped into obsession and decides to inject Boone with some of his own blood, which happens to be the universal donor O-negative. While we’ve seen Jack get carried away several times before he takes it to a new level here, as Sun’s concerned observations of Jack’s behavior act as a voice expressing the audience's anxiety.
The attempts to save Boone are crosscut with another medical emergency, as poor Claire finds herself in labor while walking through the jungle. Kate discovers her as she’s returning to the caves with the alcohol, and while Claire remains in denial of the situation Kate realizes that one way or another the baby is coming. Jin overhears Claire’s cries while working on the raft and soon joins the two women, and after receiving the alcohol from Kate he heads to the caves. Claire confides in Kate that she’s afraid to have the baby because it will resent her for trying to give it up for adoption, revealing that her denial of the situation is fueled more by guilt than fear.
Jin arrives at the caves and tells the group about Claire’s labor, but Jack is not only drunk on his need to save Boone but also too weak from donating blood to deliver the baby. He sends Jin and Charlie to help Claire, along with some instructions they are to pass onto Kate. Jack then turns his attention back to Boone, and now believing that the leg injury is killing the young man he makes the call to amputate it. Jack is barely recognizable at this point, his pale and sweaty appearance providing a visual representation of his dark mentality. Michael helps him rig up a cargo container to use as a makeshift guillotine, and despite Sun’s cries of protest he positions Boone’s leg underneath the blade. It isn’t until Boone regains consciousness and asks Jack to let him go that the camp’s doctor is able to stop himself, and there’s no mistaking the relief on Jack’s face. The attempt to save Boone’s life was a lost cause from the start and everyone involved knew it, but it’s hard not to be disturbed by just how far Jack was willing to go. Boone mutters “Tell Shannon…” before death mercifully takes him, and just like the characters we’re left wondering what exactly the young man wanted his stepsister to know.
Meanwhile Claire delivers a healthy baby boy, with the child’s arrival providing a beautifully tragic contrast to the loss of Boone. One life ends and another begins, a literal representation of the circle of life. The following morning everyone gets to meet Claire’s baby on the beach, and we get a rare glimpse of the entire camp in a state of bliss. Babies have the unique ability to unify, to cause everyone they encounter to put aside their petty squabbles for a moment. The newborn child provides a symbol of hope for the survivors that even if rescue should never arrive that perhaps they can carve out a life on this mysterious island.
Throughout all this Shannon has been on an overnight date with Sayid on a different part of the island, and as the couple returns Jack has to deliver that bad news. I’ve never been a big fan of the somewhat-forced love triangle between Shannon, Boone, and Sayid, but watching Shannon grieve for her stepbrother is tough to watch. She clearly regrets missing the opportunity to be present for Boone’s death, confirming that her often-prickly personality was more facade than fact. The on-island events close with Jack heading off to find Locke, who he now believes to have murdered Boone.
The flashbacks in “Do No Harm” shed light on Jack’s wedding, revealing that he was married to a woman whose life he once saved. Through comments made by both parties it’s obvious this is a relationship fueled more by gratitude than love, and even before the vows are exchanged we get a sense the marriage is doomed. Sarah, the bride-to-be, delivers a rather telling speech at the rehearsal dinner where she preaches the virtues of Jack’s ability to fix her, referring to him as her hero. Noticeably absent from her speech is the word love, which further gives their impending union a dark tone.
Later on Jack and his father share a conversation regarding Jack’s struggles to compose his vows, with Jack revealing that he may only be marrying Sarah out of obligation. Christian Shephard is never one to sugarcoat things and he pulls no punches here, telling his son that while Jack is good at commitment he struggles with letting go. For all of his faults Christian is a man that understands the difference between commitment and obsession, something that his son remains blind to in both the past and present. Later at the ceremony Jack tells Sarah that she has it backwards, that it’s her that fixed him and not the other way around, but the audience knows that Jack remains broken on the island.
So we say goodbye to our first main character as we lose poor Boone, who depending on how you view the situation was both victim and sacrifice. While Boone was never able to elevate himself to the A-list level of characters, he played a huge role in season one. He was there from the start, helping Jack save people on the beach even if he did come across as a bit ditzy. But even though he didn’t get an opportunity to carve out a bigger place in the LOST narrative we can see that his death will serve as a catalyst, fueling a conflict between Jack Shephard and John Locke. Boone was used as a narrative device to expose the obsession that both men are prone to, as Locke’s need to open the hatch resulted in Boone’s injuries. This contrasts well against Jack’s reckless attempt to save his life, which only prolong his suffering. So in a way the writers sacrificed Boone in the name of advancing the story, just like Locke offered him to the island.
Next week on LOST: “The Greater Good”, which once again puts the emphasis on Sayid.