Thursday, May 14, 2009

'Lost' Season Finale: The Incident

*Warning: Spoilers from the Lost season finale ahead*

I've just gotta get this out of the way . . . I will never think of the phrase"lock box" quite the same again. (Bad, I know. . .)

I spent a good hour-and-a-half last night vigorously debating with The Spouse about Lost's season finale, specifically about Jacob and his nemesis, and how time travel fits into what now appears to be a TV show about the innate good/evil tendencies in humans, free will versus determinism. Immediately after the screen went white (NOT black, per usual), the debate commenced. Jacob, dressed in white, represents God, The Spouse argued. Jacob's trying to prove that humans can do better than to succumb to their most base, evil temptations. The other guy, dressed in black, The Spouse continued, is the devil who's trying to prove to Jacob/God that people are inherently evil and selfish.

The other guy, let's call him Hal just so I don't have to keep calling him "the other guy," looked out from the island's beach, sitting next to a huge Egyptian statue, and looked at what I can only assume is the 1800s era ship, the Black Rock, that eventually shipwrecked there. Hal said, "How did they find the island? . . . You [Jacob] brought them here. You're trying to prove me wrong aren't you?"

"You are wrong," Jacob said.

"Am I? They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same."

"It only ends once. (?!) Anything that happens before that is just progress," Jacob replied.

Here, watch the opening scene for yourself (link to the main Lost site with the "loophole" video here):

I listened to and pondered The Spouse's arguments and then asked, "Does this mean that the island is like a Garden of Eden, a test site for a meta human nature experiment so that Jacob/God can improve upon his creation and prove to Satan that humans can be forces for good in the world?"

"Let's say I buy that whole good versus evil theme, buy into it as the framework for the remainder of this television series," I continued, "how the hell does time travel fit into it? Isn't time travel a scientific notion? Daniel Faraday, who told Jack Shepherd how to supposedly prevent the crashing of Oceanic 815 in 2004, was a scientist who spent decades studying time travel. He had knowledge of the electromagnetic properties of the island. How does that fit into a purely good versus evil story?"

The Spouse didn't really have an answer and was starting to grow a wee bit cranky as the clock ticked past midnight. (I think I'd had way too much caffeine prior to watching the finale.)

It was true that Jack had to decide whether he had faith in Faraday's scientific certainty, or whether Jack should instead just forge ahead with his own life and not blow up The Swan. He could've wooed Kate back and lived in the Dharma village. But Jack ultimately made the choice that he thought was for the greater good, not just for Jack Shepherd. He was proving a Jacob/God point that humans can be selfless. So there was some degree of faith there, a moral test, I conceded to The Spouse. But that scientific time travel element -- which has so dominated this season -- mucks up a good versus evil theme, muddies the waters, I insisted.

As much as I want to cross my fingers and hope that the writers are actually going to make this all make sense -- and I mean ALL , such as why these particular people, why they ALL had to come back to the island, why certain people are in 1977 and others are in 2007, why Jacob can appear on the island/off the island, what Christian Shepherd's ghost has to do with guiding Sun, how Locke's father wound up in "The Box" last season, why doesn't Richard age, what about Walt and how do the ubiquitous numbers come into play? -- I'm growing fearful that it won't all be tied together into a neat package as I so much want it to be. I want to believe that my own faith in the Lost writers will pay off in the end.

Anyway, onto more episode analysis . . . The issues of "free will" and choices for either the greater good or for selfish reasons, have been explored before, however in the finale they were repeatedly invoked. Sawyer/LaFleur wanted to take the Dharma sub and go away with Juliet to live happily ever after. Kate wanted to go back to help "save" their friends on the island. And while Sawyer, Juliet and Kate were initially going to try to stop Jack from detonating the H-bomb at The Swan because they were afraid they'd all be killed, not saved, they eventually allowed Jack to go forth and drop the bomb, hoping they'd be saving everyone who'd been killed since their plane first crashed in 2004. (Another nod to Jacob/God's selfless choices.)

H-bomb aside, the scene in Jacob's lair -- where Ben was told by the Locke impostor (Locke being supposedly possessed by Satan now) to kill Jacob -- played out more starkly as good versus evil. Jacob looked directly at Ben, who'd once been the "leader" of the island, to whom Jacob had never spoken, whom Jacob had refused to see. The more Ben thought about how he'd been blown off by Jacob, the angrier Ben (who'd been saved as a child by the smoke monster . . . or could it have been disciples of Satan/Hal who saved Ben from death, took his soul and made him evil?) got. "Why him?" Ben asked referring to Jacob allowing Locke to visit as soon as he'd been crowned the island's leader. "What was it that was so wrong about me? What about me?" then, of course, an angry Ben killed Jacob/God, scoring a victory for Hal/Satan. (See the violent scene below.)

When we learned that Locke's body was inside the big metal box being toted around by the latest airline crash survivors, I was totally confused. After all that Jesus/resurrection talk, the Judas and the cross imagery, Locke is actually dead and Hal/Satan has been impersonating him? I'll be frank on this matter; I don't understand this turn of events, despite the "loophole" stuff that Hal and Jacob discussed on the beach in the 1800s. I don't get how there could be two Locke bodies at once, unless of course one Locke body is time traveling, but I didn't get the impression that the Locke who told Ben to kill Jacob was OUR Locke. We're supposed to believe that it was Hal/Satan who'd somehow found a loophole to kill Jacob. How does this so-called loophole work? Could the key be somehow related to time travel?

I have no idea. Seriously. By the time I finished trying to reorient myself to the new Lost reality (Locke's not alive. Locke's not really supposed to be a resurrected Jesus figure even though he did hear Jacob say, "Help me," two seasons ago. Jacob/God visited and touched most of our Oceanic folks -- Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Sawyer, Kate, Sun & Jin, appeared to resurrect a dead Locke after his father pushed him out of the high rise window. Hal/Satan is trying to prove that people are inherently selfish and evil and prone to violence.), it was 12:30 a.m. and The Spouse was telling me to shut up because he had to go to sleep. And now, 15 hours later, I'm still stumped.

I'd love to hear your theories, your reactions to the season finale, particularly how time travel fits into the overall theme of what now appears to be good versus evil. And what's up with Locke?


Anonymous said...

The Spouse telling you to "shut up" was worth reading your useless jibberish. Wait until next season you dumb ass.

Sheila said...

Hey Anonymous, thanks for providing us with your useless, dumb-ass comment. We really love your thoughtful input.

Anonymous said...

What if we moved away from Western thinking and went more towards Egyptian beliefs in determinism. I'm thinking that this whole thing is based on the egyptian game of Senet (which apparently is a predecessor of Backgammon). My husband theorizes that Jacob is a Laplace Demon, by the way...

To read:
Wiki Backgammon
Wiki Senet (which is linked from Backgammon)
Wiki determinism (which is mentioned in the Senet article)
Wiki Laplace Demon (which is mentioned in the Senet article)

Thanks for your interesting article!