For about two weeks I have watched Lost with a friend of mine. He suggested it after I complained about wanting a television show to watch. When I asked him to sell it to me and not just say it was awesome (like so many have done before him) he began listing off very favorable qualities, in my eyes. Character development was his first high point, and to a girl who loves the Russians and any novel that delves into the human psyche, this was a rather important selling point. The next was the religious allusions. I was a religious studies major in college (though I am not sure he knew that) and any type of religious inference in novels or movies or music hook, line and sink me, so to speak. The next was how highly symbolic it was. Even having just watched the first season, it is easy to understand why so many people discuss the show. With relatively few visuals (let’s face it, they are on an island and you can either see the ocean or the jungle) the show still manages to intrigue because of the characters and their interactions. I am beginning to believe that who you choose to love on the show reflects a deeper sense of who you are and what is important to you. Though there are plenty of secrets, the rounding out of the characters has a heartwarming effect. I am sure that when the show went off the air people felt a great loss. It’s similar to having a favorite member of the Friends clan, but on a more intellectual level. And the last selling point: it’s a great mystery. A suspense definitely builds throughout the episodes that carries over to entire seasons. I have kept joking about how it is King Kong fighting a dinosaur or some other terribly elusive beast (I believe my latest theory is Predator due to its invisible black wisp appearance), but the truth is that no matter what it is, it has me hooked. (I call this “The Village” effect; remember M. Night Shyamalan’s massive flop and how once you figured it out the movie just SUCKED? Well, I liked the movie, even though I knew the ending. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I already know it doesn’t have the “Jeepers Creepers” syndrome, because I have seen it and it hasn’t detracted from its mystery and/or fear factor.)
One of the things that I absolutely love in Lost is the symbolism. I already discussed the moment where John Locke is in the first rain and how it was this moment of rebirth. Sawyer is another character who had a highly symbolic moment in terms of new self. There is a moment where he is sitting in the hulk of the plane reading a letter. The jungle is behind him, along with the setting sun, and he is leaning into the curve of the hulk. It is a womb if I ever saw one. The difference between Locke’s rebirth and Sawyer’s is the metaphorical implications, as well as time. Locke has his pain, his anger, his old life washed away in the rain. The island baptizes him, which is why he feels such a connection to the place. He is the one character who does not want to leave. Sawyer’s is a matter of gestation. He is literally in the womb and growing into a new person. He is still a self-centered, redneck ass, but he is slowly changing and developing. This type of character mutation occurs with others on the island. Another of my favorite moments comes when we begin to learn more about Charlie and his heroin addiction. In the episode Locke tells Charlie about how a moth emerges from a cocoon and how the only way that the moth can survive is if he goes through the process of fighting his way through the hard shell. The act strengthens the moth giving him a higher chance of survival. I remember seeing that moment and just having it hit me full force in the chest. It was simple and brilliant. I identified with not only Charlie, but the moth (obviously, because it was clear that Charlie identified with the moth).
An emerging theme in the latest episodes (that I have seen, so please no spoilers!) is the idea of faith versus science. Locke versus Jack. Do we trust the unknown or do we look for answers no matter the cost? It is remarkable that I see these episodes a few days after discussing my basis of religion and spirituality. I believe science and faith have a symbiotic relationship. Faith always produces questions which produce science and research which then produces more questions. One of my favorite song lyrics comes from “For The Best” by Straylight Run and hits upon this concept: “And now faith is replaced with a logic so cold, I disregarded what I was now that I’m older. And I know much more than I did back then, but the more I learn, the more I can’t understand.” This song has always spoken so eloquently to me on the concept of understanding spirituality and self. It’s a heartbreaking song, to be sure, but the words echo some of my deepest and darkest thoughts.
This brings me back to thoughts on destiny, fate, and the mystical. Coincidence in its empirical form is non-existent. The understanding of numbers and repetition teaches us that there is no such thing as coincidence. However, without that information, without the research, coincidence becomes something of a mystery, a fascinating concept that sparks interest and thought on the nature of the things (the world, ourselves, others, etc.). What is more important? Knowing everything and taking away the excitement, the hope, or moving through life with faith that something good is always around the corner? Optimism, in laymen’s terms, or pessimism? I am not sure that these thoughts can ever be fully ironed out, though. I am a pessimist through and through. I honestly believe that the negative will happen long before the positive. However, I do have hope that the positive will come, that the right will always win out, that Vader will not kill Luke. It really begs to question how cynicism and pessimism differ. These themes are ones that appear in many forms of art and entertainment. However, I think Lost did a better job of depicting it. Rather than burying them in overlong dialogue or action sequences, they put them out there in stark contrast. Especially this idea of faith versus science and where it develops into relying on cold, hard facts or hope. Imagine if you were a character on Lost, where would you fall? And out of the characters on Lost who do you love? Think about it.