LOST Rewatch: “Bad Fathers”

Mr. Kwon, Jin's father, is one of the few 'good dads' in LOST


SINCE Sunday is Father’s Day here in the US, I thought, rather than write about the next episode of the series, I’d discuss how LOST explores the issue of fatherhood. Overall, fathers get a bum rap in LOST, generally portrayed in a negative light. I’m not going to get into deep psychology here, but I will simply list the fathers and comment.

1. Jack’s Father: Christian Shephard is a stern, drunken, overbearing man who claims he’s treating his son like dirt to make him ‘better’. In the end, we learn that Shephard had truly loved his son, but had a strange way of showing it. Shephard becomes, as it were, ‘father to all’ as he leads the dead islanders into the ‘light’.

2. Kate’s Father: Wayne Jannsen is a drunken, wife-beating cowboy type who (it is implied) has tried to rape his ‘step’daughter more than once. It is possible that he actually had an incestual relationship with Kate and that she could no longer ‘take it’. Thus, she simply blew him up. After killing Wayne, Kate visits Sam Austin (whom she had believed to be her bio-dad). Kate had recently learned the truth: that Jannsen, not Austin, was her REAL father. Austin admits that he’d known all along. Neither dad gets high points here.

3. Hurley’s Father: David Reyes is a scheming, absent, ne’r-do-well dad, who returns only because his son has won the lottery. In the end, Reyes is one of the few dads who changes–is redeemed.

4. Claire’s Father: Christian Shephard is also an ‘absent father’. It’s interesting that Claire is told that her child must be raised only by her, while Claire herself was raised by ‘another’ father in Australia. The father of Claire’s baby is also a bit of a rat, which is why she is left alone and pregnant.

5. Sun’s Father: Woo-Jung Paik is a gangster, plain and simple. Though he claimed that Jin wasn’t good enough to marry his daughter, Paik was all too happy to sell his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for an errand boy who’d do anything Paik asked–even kill.

6. Jin’s Father: Mr. Kwon is a pleasant, loving fisherman–a rare ‘good father’, but Jin is ashamed of his humble roots and rarely visits Kwon.

Anthony Cooper, just before being killed by Sawyer.

7. John Locke: Anthony Cooper is a swindler, and he impregnated Locke’s mother as part of one of hundreds of cons he’d employed over many decades, causing Locke’s mother to ‘got nuts’. Cooper even conned his own son, when Locke tried to form a bond with him, stealing away in the middle of the night after stealing his son’s kidney. Later on, Cooper tries to kill Locke by throwing him out a window. Nice guy. He gets it in the end, killed appropriately by Sawyer.

8. Penny: Though Penny doesn’t get major screen time, her character is integral to the plot, as is her meddling dad, Charles Widmore. Widmore lies, schemes, and kills to gain control of Penny and the island. He is a driven man with no scruples. As father-in-law to Desmond (whose ‘father’ we never see, though Desmond had studied to be a priest, which would have made him ‘Father Desmond’), Widmore stays true-to-form and lies his way into using Desmond, even though it could mean Desmond’s death.

9. Sawyer: Mr. Ford has but one small scene, but this one scene is pivotal to the character who later calls himself ‘Sawyer’. Ford learns that his wife has slept with a con man (Anthony Cooper calling himself ‘Sawyer’), who then swindled Ford out of all his money. Ford’s reaction is to shoot his wife, and then himself. James grow up seeking revenge.

10. Shannon: Adam Rutherford is Shannon’s father but not Boone’s (Rutherford is Boone’s stepfather). Shannon is devastated when her father dies in a head-on-collision with a woman named Sarah (soon to become Sarah Shepard when she marries Jack). In a twist of fate, Jack is on duty in the ER that night as both Sarah and Adam are brought in. Jack can only ‘save’ one. He chooses Sarah. Adam dies. We know very little about Adam Rutherford, but we can speculate. Shannon is pretty and believes her sexuality is her only asset. She also has no problem sleeping with her stepbrother Boone to elicit ‘favors’ from him. Did she also have an incestual relationship with her dad? Is that why Shannon was so ‘close’ to him? Is that why Adam’s wife, Sabrina Carlyle, hates Shannon?

11. Daniel Faraday: Charles Widmore is the unknown quantity here. Daniel never knew that Widmore was his father (Widmore impregnated Eloise Hawking on the island). Widmore sponsored Daniel’s research for personal reasons and had no qualms about sending his son to the island, knowing he would most likely die.

Pierre Chang reads a story about polar bears to his ifant son, Miles.

12. Miles: Let’s end with a really great dad! Pierre Chang appears to be another absent father, and Miles grows up with the belief that his father had simply abandoned both his mother and him after Miles’ birth. Traveling back in time allows Miles to meet Chang and learn just how wrong his lifelong belief was: Chang was a wonderful, loving father who sent his wife and child off the island to save them.

I’ve not mentioned everyone…Ben, for instance, isn’t given a ‘father’ in the series, but he IS a dad (well, he pretends to be one) to Alex. He had actually stolen Alex from her mother, when Alex was just a baby. Ben loves Alex in a twisted, possessive way. He orders Carl’s murder to keep Alex from ever getting pregnant. He even feigns indifference toward her as a bluff in the standoff with Widmore’s mercenaries. The bluff fails; Alex dies.

And what about the original father in the tale? Jacob and Smoky’s dad? Their mother arrives on the island in a shipwreck, but the father is never really mentioned. Another ‘absent dad’.

To sum it all up, LOST presents fathers in an overall negative light. Most are thoughtless, selfish, drunken, conniving, men filled with greed and hate, but a few rise to the top and shine. As we celebrate Father’s Day, take a long look at the man you call ‘Dad’ and appreciate him for being a part of your life, for loving you, helping you, laughing with you, crying with you–thank him for ‘shining’.

And to my own dad, Knawha Ferguson, who passed away in 1996, I say: ‘Thanks, Dad. You may not have been perfect, but oh how much you loved me, and that made all the difference. Thanks for singing those silly songs. Thanks for teaching me to fish. Thanks for carrying me to bed when I’d fall asleep in front of the television. Thanks for teaching me to drive a stick. Thanks for going to every play or concert I was in; for being my friend, for believing in me. Thanks for shining. I’ll see you one day soon, when we all meet up in heaven.”

1 Comment

  1. [” It is possible that he actually had an incestual relationship with Kate and that she could no longer ‘take it’. “]

    This is really desperate. Is it really that important to you that Kate had a genuine reason for murdering her father? Guess what? She didn’t. Wayne never touched her. If he had, the series would have made it obvious. Even if Kate had been molested as a child, my first suspect would have been Sam Austen. The nature of Kate’s relationship with her Austen is a prime example of one between an abused child and his/her abuser.

    Kate murdered Wayne Janssen, because she couldn’t accept the idea that a drunken lout was her blood father. It made her feel insecure. And when Kate found out that he was her father, she reacted in the same manner whenever one of her cherished illusions was shattered – with violence.

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