/ˈlaɪtˌhaʊs/ [lahyt-hous] –noun
1. a tower or other structure displaying or flashing a very bright light for the guidance of ships in avoiding dangerous areas, in following certain routes, etc.
Jack Shephard’s long been in need of guidance, but often to stubborn to accept it — he’s struggled to find some greater meaning or purpose to his life, filling that void with his stubborn attempts to take control of every situation and “fix” whatever needs fixing. Never able to please the father who told him he didn’t have “what it takes,” Jack’s long been driven to take control and prove to his father and himself that he does. He always had to make sense of seemingly impossible and illogical situations — to find explanations for events that others simply took on faith. Damn the consequences, Jack always had to get his answers. Said consequences over six seasons include a failed marriage, alcoholism, drug addiction, losing Kate, and more than a few Island deaths along the way. All the while he’s had this intense longing for some sort of meaning that can’t be quantified with scientific equations or facts; he’s never been able to give up the control he perceived he had over reality, no matter how much evidence was presented to the contrary. He eventually did give up a measure of that control last season when he endeavored to set off Jughead and reboot the timeline, and we’d never seen him more at peace for that brief period of time. The Man of Science had finally taken something on faith.
Of course, that doesn’t appear to have worked out too well for our characters, still marooned on the Island and one castaway lighter (Juliet). Jack is again a man without faith; again a lost soul looking for meaning to his now sad existence. Once burned by faith, it’s hard to think he’ll be able to take the leap again in order to fulfill whatever purpose Jacob has in mind for him. Then again, perhaps Jack succeeded after all. We’ve continued to see oddities and hints in the 2.0 reality that point to a direct link with the original timeline, Jack’s appendix scar the latest example. Jack seems baffled when he notices the scar in the mirror, and even goes so far as to ask his mother when he had his appendix removed. She indicates he was 7 or 8 when it happened, but it’s clear Jack doesn’t remember it.
In the 1.0 timeline, Jack contracted appendicitis on the Island and required Juliet’s emergency surgery to have it taken out. We later saw the scar in the flash-forwards in season 4. Stuff like this would lead one to think the 1.0 and 2.0 timelines are one and the same; perhaps our castaways had their memories wiped, new memories implanted, and reinserted into society none the wiser (more or less), with new lives. Show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have repeatedly maintained on their weekly podcast that we are not seeing alternate timelines or parallel dimensions – both the 1.0 and 2.0 storylines are taking place in the same universe. Time travel is fact on this show, so the castaways appearance back in 2004 should not be anything we have a hard time with — it’s their lack of memory and the subtle (and not so-subtle) changes in their lives that I have a hard time explaining.
Hurley 2.0 has good luck; Locke still has his wife and apparently has a good relationship with his father (the original Sawyer); Kate, well, she’s still on the run so nevermind her; and we learn tonight Jack has a son, David.
David looks to be in his early teens, placing his birthdate somewhere circa the late 1990’s. My memory of the 1.0 timeline is fuzzy in some parts, so I can’t recall when Jack married Sarah (Julie Bowen), but I think that was somewhere during 2000-2004. Perhaps they met much earlier in the 2.0 timeline and had a kid. It looks like the marriage still ended badly, however, as the Jack and his wife (Sarah or otherwise) are apparently separated or divorced based on what we saw tonight.
Going back to the discussion of Jack and purpose, it looks like he may have found something close to it in the 2.0 world by episode’s end, having made a connection with his estranged son after tracking him down at a piano audition/recital.
So what does all this newfound purpose mean if it’s only in the flash-sidewayses in the 2.0 world? We’ve seen aspects of 1.0 impinge upon 2.0 (Jack’s appendix scar, Claire suddenly coming up with the name Aaron, Desmond on 815, etc.) but can it work the other way? Can one Jack influence the other?