Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lost In What Way?

When the ABC television series Lost first began back in September 22 2004, we thought the show was about survivors of a plane crash being lost on a mysterious island, and of course it is that. Since the story continued, we learned that even when some of them made it back 'home' they were still lost souls in a world that confuses and confounds them. These characters seem to be lost no matter where they are, and for some the Island has become a sort of home. By the end of season five we see that Rose, Bernard, and Vincent appear to have found peace with themselves and in the company of one another. Being stranded on a mysterious island doesn't seem to bother them anymore. Whereas, our featured characters in this story have become so lost, they get to a point where they agree to activate a nuclear bomb on the belief that such a paradox would result in resetting space-time entirely.

This of course doesn't work, as I already know, and the rest of you will learn in 2010. I've discussed this at length in previous blog posts and hesitate to elaborate again on it here because this is a tangent from the point I'm wanting to make this time, but I urge you again to watch the end of the season five finale and convince me that the white out at the very end looks like a nuclear explosion and not yet another "time hop" as we had seen the characters experience many times throughout season five. I'm going with time hop. The bomb never goes off, because the bomb never did go off, because whatever happened happened.

The use of the word "Lost" as the name of this series has always perplexed me. It seems an entire oversimplification of the series as a whole. It's like calling Around the World In Eighty Days a "trip," Moby Dick a "whale," or The Rise And Fall of The Roman Empire an "oops." However, it's plain that the writers and producers of the series are endeavoring to use the word "lost" in as many different ways as possible. Not only are these characters physically removed from their comfort zone and the lifestyles to which they had grown accustomed their entire lives, but these souls also appear lost in more emotional or psychological ways. They're all deeply disturbed and long before the crash most of them lived in various states of quiet desperation; strangers in their own skin.

Jack's frenzied tale about his tattoos for example reveal a man who appears on the surface to be together and reasonable, but deep down he's rebellious, selfish, has no respect for the cultures of others, and kinda spoiled and unable to properly love another in a meaningful way. What all has Jack lost? He saved a woman who later became his wife, only to lose her later on. He also lost his father. Jack even lost his half-sister, and didn't even know he had one until long after Claire was gone.

Other characters show signs of instability as well. Hurley has been in an insane asylum twice. He insists he's not crazy in season two, but by season four he comes to a decision that he's safer locked up in an institution than he is roaming freely about the world. However, Hurley first lost his sanity after an accident on a platform that broke which killed many people and due to his weight he felt it was his fault. This depression led to his mother having him committed. Hurley later lost his grandfather, friends, and others, when he won the lottery.

Kate's a murderer. She killed her stepfather in cold blood. She tells her mother she did it for her, but we also learn that Kate learned her stepfather (whom she despised) was really her father by blood and the man she thought was her real father was only a friend of the family. Kate lost her best friend as she tried to escape her mother's hospital, and his death was indirectly her fault. She's essentially lost everything, because whenever things get difficult her first instinct is always to run. If Kate's not psychopathic, she's surely sociopathic. She's constantly reinventing herself, has gone by many aliases, and loses one identity after another when each one becomes too complicated for her to continue to wear. She's even lost a husband whom she loved dearly, but had to leave him to maintain her freedom. Finally, she lost her freedom when she was captured in Australia, and was going to jail to answer for her crimes when the plane crashed.

Desmond lost his freedom when he was trapped in The Swan Hatch for three years. Before that he lost the boat race. Before that he lost his Penny. He's since gained his Penny, gained a child, gained a semblance of freedom where he and those he loves can travel around the world in their boat but along the way he lost his innocence and also a belief that his actions are his own. He's still haunted by Mrs. Hawking's words that time has a way of course correcting, and the Island is not done with him.

Shannon lost her father in the same auto accident where Jack found his future fiance. He chose to save her over Shannon's father, because he couldn't save them both and made a decision to save the woman he was confident he could save rather than divert his attention in trying to save and ultimately losing them both. That decision on Jack's part left Shannon essentially devastated. Without her father's presence, suddenly Shannon's lifestyle was in jeopardy. Her stepmother took control of the family finances and stopped paying Shannon's bills and credit cards.

Sayid lost Shannon when Ana Lucia shot her accidently. Sayid has also lost a confidence him himself, believing now he is little more than a ruthless monster capable of killing a child on the off chance that doing so would keep that child from turning into a pain in the ass like Ben. Sayid also lost Nadia after spending most of his adult life searching for her. He finally found her upon his return to his life after the Island, but she was run over by a car.

Juliet's estranged husband was ran over by a bus. She also feared losing her sister, but she saved her just before being taken to the Island, at which point Juliet slowly realized that by taking the job on the island, she lost access to her sister and her entire life back home. Juliet lost everything. Later on, Juliet thought she found a kindred spirit in Jack, but he left the Island with Kate. Over time (and time travel) Juliet fell in love with Sawyer, but also lost him to Kate. Then she fell in a hole. Juliet's lost a lot, and if there's anyone on the island who deserves living up to the old adage that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it's Juliet.

Charlie lost Drive Shaft. He lost his fame. His drug addiction essentially caused him to lose his lifestyle, except for the drug addiction part. When Claire found out he was a recovering addict, he lost her respect for him and had to earn it back. And of course Charlie lost his own life. As have many people, from Frogurt to Boone.

Locke lost his parents when he was very young. He found them again but lost them when his father stole his kidney. Locke was then thrown out a building by his father and lost his life. It was given back to him by Jacob, but he lost the use of his legs. Locke lost Helen, and after the accident began losing a tangible hold on sanity, opting instead to escape into fantasies at every opportunity. Ultimately he took Abadon's advice and went to Australia to join in a walkabout. He was denied this because of his immobility (can't walkabout if you can't walk, apparently) and that led him to Oceanic 815. Locke had throughout his life invested this emptiness inside to various causes or co-ops or belief structures and repeatedly he lost his faith in them, only to embrace another possibility outside himself later. When the Island appeared to give him back his ability to walk, he responded by behaving as if he were some sort of servant of the Island. Ultimately however, he lost faith even in that, when he was alone in the hotel room having failed to bring any of them back. He was going to kill himself. Ironically, this act would give Ben what he needed to convince Jack to return to the island. Locke has literally lost everything, including his identity. However, he's gained a mysterious impostor.

Sawyer lost both his parents when he was very young. Ben lost his mother at a young age, and his innocence when Sayid shot him and Richard saved him. Hurley lost Libby. Penny lost Desmond but got him back. Faraday lost Lewis. Claire lost Aaron. Kate's also lost Aaron by giving him to Claire's mom. Ana Lucia lost her unborn baby. Ekko lost his brother three times. Jin and Sun have lost each other. Miles lost his fish taco.

So considering how much all the characters on Lost have lost, it's now difficult to think of a more fitting word to call it.

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