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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, May 15, 2010


One hopes that with the airing of the next to the next to last LOST episode, no one will again fret about the creators of the show suddenly turning the show into a LORD OF THE RINGS-style good vs. evil contest.

At most, "Across the Sea" gives viewers a vision of the powers behind the island-happenings as being pretty much like the castaways themselves: intermixed with elements of good and evil. All three of the characters-- Jacob, the Man in Black, and the woman I'll call the "Unmother"-- perform acts of evil for reasons that can be viewed as partially good. The Unmother commits murder and deceives her adopted sons in order to protect a treasure from impious mankind. The MIB ends up killing her, but only because she foils his plans to escape the island. Jacob assaults his brother and consigns him to a living death, because of MIB's murder of their mother.

But then, this vision of interwoven good and evil was pretty much the same as what the creators presented through the main characters, so I never quite understood this Tolkien-phobia. Or maybe it's a King-phobia, since I've seen various sources cite Stephen King's THE STAND as an influence on LOST.

I haven't read THE STAND for years, so offhand I don't know what aspects of the show the novel is supposed to have affected. But although THE STAND's moral opposition is fairly simple-- much simpler than what one finds in the worlds of Tolkien or, for that matter, J.K. Rowling-- I can't see why some fans of LOST had so little confidence in the creators who gave them such a complex new playground.

Maybe that's the disadvantage of their not being-- "men of faith?"

Or at the very least, being people a little too afraid of being considered "suckers."


Charles Reece said...

Why? (1) Because Hollywood loves good vs. evil. So does most fantasy. And particularly Hollywood fantasy. And (2) because the writers have constantly toyed with black/white symbolism since the beginning of the show.

The reason why I doubted the show would be reduced to such a simplicity was not because of faith, but skepticism. I never trusted the just-below-the-surface subtext of the show, which is always there to mislead. It's all about the sub-sub-text, man.

Gene Phillips said...

If Hollywood "loves" good vs. evil, it's because audiences do too. But most people who creates a franchise has a pretty good idea if they're going to go that narrative route or not, and I'd venture you can usually tell whether or not that's the intent from the start of the feature/series.

Now if a creator is succeeded by another creator, the first creator's thematic intentions may well be thrown out the window. But that didn't happen on LOST.

I hope you're not saying that the "skepticism" comprises this "sub-sub-text," since in "Candidate" Sawyer's boneheaded rationality causes the deaths of three people.

As it happens I don't think that when the LOSTies talk about "faith" they mean it in our culture's Judeo-Christian sense. Jack is using his "faith" in what he's seen as an intuitive guide that helps him look beneath the surface of events, not as some recitation of received doctrine. As I've said before, the LOST producers are shooting for something BETWEEN faith and skepticism.

Charles Reece said...

3 1/2 hours of LOST this week (well, including the commercials).

Jack was applying rationality to, not just Sawyer. Faith and rationality get mixed in fantastic settings. And I'm not sure that Sawyer did cause their deaths. But I was just referring to my own skepticism about inferring the show's intent.

Charles Reece said...


Charles Reece said...

One final thing: it's hard not to see some psychoanalysis in all of this. Everyone's trying to figure out the Law of the Father when dad is missing, with Jacob and MIB's origin being the latest example of the absent father. I expect a Lacanians will have an endless supply of essays on the show in the future.