LOST: My Epic Rant

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A few of you probably know that I am a LOST nerd. I wrote a rather facetious post about the show back when the elections were going on, if you have a burning desire to check that out.

In general, I don’t talk about LOST a lot here on the blog because, well, I know it won’t be widely read. Shallow of me, right? But hey, we all like to post things that we know people will enjoy and relate to. Sue me.

That said, this blog has always been a place where I blurt out whatever is burning my heart at the moment – even if it’s random or irrelevant or controversial. I’ve talked about myself, I’ve shouted my unpopular opinions, I’ve written the weirdest reviews imaginable, and sometimes I shout about sports and other randomness. (Okay, I actually deleted that post. You can’t find it.)

So whether or not anyone reads this post… I need it. I need to get my thoughts out of my own head and out in open air where I and everyone else can see them.

That’s another reason I’ve been holding off on publishing this post – I needed time to sort my feelings. Because LOST is a character-oriented show, there are Major Feels. Or I least I had Major Feels. Maybe I’m not normal. Don’t know.

After just about every episode, I turned to my journal and ranted for pages on end about my feelings. And I couldn’t exactly dump all of that on you. But I do think that some of it – not the part where I flailed about Jack, in other words – is worth talking about. Maybe it will make you want to give this show a try, maybe it won’t. That’s okay.

I just want to start a discussion.

LOST is rampant with twisting and overlapping ideas and cultures and themes and questions.

That was something I loved about it, actually. It includes a wide array of people from around the world and somehow it manages to treat them all with kindness. They are human and make horrible mistakes certainly, but no one is mocked.

The fact that they are all capable of making horrible mistakes might just be the thing that unites them, in the end.

You know what shocked me? Christianity was treated kindly in this show. Maybe I don’t watch the right sort of shows – I definitely don’t watch many shows – but this is a rare thing for me. There are Christian movies and shows and there are secular movies and shows and the favorite pastime of the secular ones is to mock people who take religion seriously. But not if you’re Muslim, because that’s hateful and intolerant and not if you’re Jewish because that’s just plain racist. Christians, however, are so lame that everyone can pick on them and nobody calls foul.

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That said… an equal amount of time is spent distorting Christianity.

It wasn’t malicious. It was, however, deliberate. Maybe in a good way.

The truth is that LOST is such a twisted web of metaphor and science-fiction that it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins most of the time.

Locke claims to believe in God. But as the show goes on, you realize that “the island” is God to Locke. Eko, on the other hand, thinks the island is demonic in nature, actually using the 23rd Psalm to “rebuke” it at one point.  Rose is openly Christian and when Charlie comes to her for help, she kindly redirects him and they pray together. Multiple characters become priests or monks and Catholicism is always treated with the utmost respect. But Charlie believes that he needs to “save” baby Aaron by baptizing him in the ocean and in the final episodes, Rose and her husband seem to depend a little too much on the island and believe a bit too much that everything will magically work out without their participation.

My point is simply this – there are many mystical, warped, pagan religions on display here. But I don’t think that this show ever points to any of them as good or right. Still, LOST might just be the most intense exercise in discernment your brain has ever gone through.

One thing that I struggled with was the faith-versus-science rivalry that permeated the show. Because in any other setting, I’d say that faith was better. But in LOST… Jack represents science, Locke represents faith. And I so desperately want Jack to be right.

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Jack is a self-proclaimed “man of science.” He never says he doesn’t believe in God, but it is a logical conclusion to make when he admits that he doesn’t believe in miracles or fate.

Locke does horrible things for the “greater good,” – that’s how he justifies it, anyway. Locke is farseeing – he only ever does what he thinks he is “supposed” to do, what he was “meant” to do. Jack lives in the moment – if someone is hurt or dying, he saves them. Because that is, obviously, the right thing to do. Or maybe Jack is just as farseeing as Locke, but isn’t willing to sacrifice someone’s trust, or safety, or life, to get there.

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And yet Locke is portrayed as the Ultimate Hero. Jack himself confesses that Locke was right and converts to the same frustrating passivity.

I said before that LOST is a character-oriented show. And as such, it can’t really help but be about family, too.

Unfortunately for the characters, most of the families are falling apart or headed that way. My brothers and I called it the “bad dad syndrome.” Let’s just take a little stroll down Character Lane… Kate’s father is an alcoholic and physically abusive, Jack’s is alcoholic and was a horrible role model, Hurley’s walked out on him and his mother, Sun’s is evil and controlling, Claire grew up without a father, Penny’s tries to murder her husband, Walt’s father loves him but doesn’t know how to show it, Sawyer’s murdered his wife and then committed suicide in front of his young son, Locke’s father lied to him, used him, and then tried to kill him, Ben’s was alcoholic and verbally abusive, and Ben himself grows up to be a rather controlling father himself – he puts his daughter’s boyfriend in a cage. The only truly good examples of fatherhood is Charlie’s dad and Kate’s stepfather.

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I thought this was sad, of course. But it was also important. Because our culture wants to ignore the fact that dads are important and without them, the family unit falls apart. LOST is not going along with that. It recognizes that divorce is painful and often related to the destructive patterns the child follows. It also shows that children who are abused are more likely to get into abusive relationships. I love that about LOST – it is so unflinching.

I did, however, disagree with their definition of the word “family,” at times.  Alex repeatedly tells Ben that he isn’t her father and Rousseau repeats the sentiment that Alex does not belong to him. I’ve always believed that your family is whoever raises you and loves you and is there for you and Ben’s love for his daughter is obvious. Rousseau, on the other hand, can’t make a real claim to the title “mother,” even if she didn’t choose to be separated from her daughter.

Speaking of family, LOST doesn’t flinch away from supporting a rather open pro-life message. Ben says this: “It’s not an ‘it’ — it’s a baby!” 

LOST backs that up in other scenarios as well. When Claire finds out that she is pregnant and her boyfriend decides to bail, she decides to put her baby up for adoption. Never once does she appear to consider any other option – it is a matter of keeping the baby or letting a more stable couple raise her baby for her. Claire also cares deeply that her child goes to a good home; she is a good mother even when she is giving her child away.

Similarly, Jack congratulates Sun when she becomes pregnant and never suggests ending  the pregnancy – even in light of the fact that they are on a desert island… Not the most ideal place to give birth to or raise a baby. Sun and Jin both seem excited about the news, too.

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The show is undeniably gritty, however, and there were scenes that we opted to fast-forward right to the end of. Sawyer, for example, has sex with just about every girl on the island. Okay, slight exaggeration. But not by much – Sawyer is responsible for most of the skippable scenes in the show.

And while the scenes themselves were completely unnecessary, I did find the stark contrast between Jack and Sawyer interesting.

Sawyer is a masculine dude – he has the abs and the hair and a flock of women following him around. That’s what makes you a man, right? Maybe not. Jack is a practical dude – instead of pursuing romantic entanglements on the island, he focuses on finding a clean water source, using his skills as a doctor to handle any injuries that arise, and keeping everyone unified and alive. How boring, right? Again, maybe not.

You may disagree, but I think that Jack’s restraint makes him more of a man than Sawyer will ever be. Sawyer might be the “typical guy,” but Jack is never weak or feminine because he is a good verbal communicator, highly emotional, and doesn’t have sex on his mind every second of every day.

Beneath that calm, controlled, even gentle surface is a lot of reined-in passion and power.

To my chagrin, Jack does lead on two women at the same time. Alas, there is a love triangle here. Or a love square or maybe an octagon? It’s hard to tell. Plenty of angst to go with it. Good times.

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I understand being torn, but what good could possibly come of Jack telling Kate that he loves her when she has so obviously chosen Sawyer over him, causing her to reevaluate her own feelings, when they were both better off before? In other words… I hate Kate and Jack deserves so much better. I’m more than happy to let Sawyer have Kate and I kept wishing that Jack would just move on. He never did, though. It was destiny…

Due in part to the boring Kate-pendulum, I had several “stallouts” while watching the show. The first was during the beginning of Season 3. At first I wondered if it was just me, but then it grabbed my interest again. And lost it again toward the end of Season 4. Maybe a TV show just can’t hold my interest for a sustained period of time? I can’t explain it except to say that I became lethargic – I didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them… I saw no reason to continue watching the show.

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You know what got me hooked again both times?

Penny and Desmond. 

Favorite ship in this show, hands down. Unless we’re counting Sarah and Jack because I will never be over them.

Penny is by far my favorite female character – don’t get me wrong, I loved Rose and Claire, but they faded out of the show after a while. I do like Juliet, but Penny is cooler. As opposed to Kate, who is always playing the part of whiny tagalong little sister, Penny understands what Desmond is going through and tries her hardest to be whatever it is that he needs right then. She never gives up on him, even when he broke up with her and then went missing for three years. That’s dedication.

I love that she and Desmond work as a team. That she doesn’t just get fed up with him and his wild stories or get her feelings hurt by some perceived slight like Kate is always doing. She chooses to believe him. Even at his weirdest.

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My one disappointment with Desmond was that I wanted someone – just one character – to be a time traveler as an occupation. They just travel through time, never coming to rest at one particular time. The transients of time time and space, the homeless people. I theorized that the creepy snowyhaired grandma was one and that Richard Alpert used this technique to stay young or at least to always appear young. I also suspected Daniel. Sadly, I was wrong all three times.

Seriously, does no one else see the potential here? Grr. Why am I not the one making this show…

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My rant is almost over and then we can chat in the comments about masculinity and what family means and faith versus science and how awesome Jack is, okay? I promise.

I believe that everything we do – every breath we breathe, every word that is spoken, every step we take – affects the future. Daniel says that there are rules to time travel – namely, that you can’t go back and do things differently. But just going to the past changes things… changes the future.

My nerd brain just had to tell you that.