Lost has set a suicidally high bar for shock value. And it keeps raising it. Last night was no exception. The big shocks, of course, included moving the island, the revelation of Locke’s death, as well as his nascent command upon the Others, and the (presumed) deaths of several other main characters. Oh yeah, and Walt is like, way old now.
Also added to a list of confirmations was the Dharma Initiative’s involvement in experimentation with time travel, though Ben calls this one of Dharma’s many “silly experiments,” leading us to believe that Dharma’s experiments only began to tap the island’s potential. And of course, the whole moving the island thing seems to confirm that. At one point Locke even says that it’s not an island, before coyly reminding us “it’s a place where miracles happen.”
Now for those of you who can’t stand the fact that you figured out a few of the revelations in last night’s episode, and wish to lord it over Lost‘s writers, please return to your room in your mother’s basement and finish figuring out what “rosebud” means. If the Lost finale last night confirms anything, it’s that there is so much more to the story line than anyone can even begin to figure out.
In one sense, this resolves some of my issues with the show. Revelation becomes the means by which the show functions. Last night’s episode, for example, showed that time was not only in play in the actual storyline, but even in the way the show is edited. The airport scene with Kate and Jack where Jack cries “We have to go back!” is suddenly shown to have a brand new three or four minutes. Yet it feels as if this was the plan the whole time. The narrative, like time, suddenly dilates and allows for a whole new set of circumstances to be introduced. This interesting split between time and narrative (something I talked about in my piece on the death of the avant-garde narrative) seems to be the bread and butter of Lost. Yet this self-awareness on the part of the writers does not typically come off as coy and gimmicky. I’m completely enveloped in the world.
On the other hand, the fact that there is always a new rug to be pulled out seems to devalue the shocks as they come. If these revelations are the bread and butter of the show, what keeps viewers coming back with the same enjoyment one is able to come with to a rerun of the X-Files, another show that was largely compelling through revelation? I sense that deeper character values (which were in full force last night) lend the needed gravitas to keep viewers coming back.
Speaking of gravitas, one other thing the season four finale gave us was the long awaited reunion between Desmond and Penny (could there be two more English-tea-drinking, foo-foo names?) I found myself having flashbacks to Desmond in season two, as a heartsick crazy stuck in the hatch for years. This storyline is, perhaps, the very first one to actually have been “wrapped up,” though they will undoubtedly return and play a part in later episodes. It seems for the time being, however, they are living happily ever after.
And now for the real point of speculation: is John Locke really dead? If he is, will there be some time voodoo to bring him back? Or will he remain in the wooden box, oddly preserved (as the real life Jeremy Bentham is; his “auto-icon” is kept in University College London), dead but as real a presence as any other dead person seems to be on the island. It is interesting to note that Locke goes by the name Jeremy Bentham, who, historically speaking, famously called Locke’s ideas of natural rights “nonsense on stilts.” What sort of transformation could Locke have gone through to undergo such a revolutionary name change?
It’s becoming pretty clear there are always new things to learn in Lost. One wonders if the producers and writers ever intend to put all these issues finally to rest. What if the show ended without ever revealing what the smoke monster was?
Micah Towery is working on his master of fine arts degree at Hunter College in Manhattan. He is the founder and co-editor of The Cartographer Electric.
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