Get Lost 316

Last week Greg suggested that the Island has a will of its own that trumps the will of humans to direct its powers.  According to Greg’s analysis, the Island is essentially a super-natural being, like God, although he admits the possibility that it is a malevolent super-natural force.  And like God, Greg suggests that faith in the Island involves obeying even when the Island’s reasons are mysterious: “If we understood why the Island demands what it demands, there would be no question of faith (remember, John is the “man of faith”). In theology, “faith” doesn’t mean simply believing in certain facts about God, it means trusting and obeying God. And the supreme test of faith is to trust and obey when you don’t understand.”

Upon first seeing this week’s episode, 316, I thought Control-G (the hot-key for agreeing with Greg).  Greg is right so often that we had to develop a hot-key to make our agreement more efficient (in your heart you know he’s right).  It certainly would be novel to have a TV series entirely built around faith in a super-natural power.  Ben’s suggestion that Jack was similar to the Apostle Thomas, Locke’s note wishing that Jack had believed, Lapidus’ presence as the pilot of Ajira 316, and the allusion of the flight number to John 3:16 made me think — at first — that Greg was entirely right — Control G!  In the most recent episode Lost not only seemed like a story of vindicated faith but almost an explicit Christian allegory. 

That’s when I started doubting this interpretation.  Major TV producers would never make a series of a Christian allegory.  The religious references, whether Christian or Island as super-natural power,  have to be a false lead.  The argument between faith and science will be revived.  Faith has only temporarily prevailed.

The original faith/science debate revolved around pushing the button.  The alleged purpose of pushing the button was to save the world from destruction.  Locke had faith that the button must be pushed.  But what seemed like faith may have just been the prescience of time-loops.  The odd coincidences may just be the necessity of time course-correcting.  Is the purpose and direction of events determined simply by Fate, a power without an independent will or consciousness, or is there a super-natural entity choosing the course of events?  Greg’s theory seems to be the later, but I suspect it is the former.

I suspect that Fate has the world being destroyed.  Humans have detected this Fate through the Numbers and time-travel and are struggling to alter that Fate.  What seems like the will of the Island may just be the actions of humans in time loops attempting to steer Fate away from global destruction.  Whether they succeed or not will revolve around whether humans can change Fate, not the will of a super-natural entity.  I just can’t imagine a TV series emphasizing the will of a super-natural being over the primacy of human “agency.”  It would be gutsy and interesting if they did, but I just can’t see it in mainstream TV. 

The video embedded at the top of this post, suggests that human action to prevent destruction of the world is going to be central.  The video comes from Comicon and I found it on Lostpedia, where it is known as the Dharma Booth Video.  In it, Pierre Chang sends a message through time urging whoever sees it to continue the Dharma research to change time.  The different factions will struggle over who will control the potential power to change Fate, but we will discover that who controls it will be less important than using it to avoid total destruction.

7 Responses to Get Lost 316

  1. Jay,

    It seems you have “faith” that the writers have thought these things through. The more I think about it the more I feel like they’re making it up as they go along, and I feel like they cheated with the most recent episode.

    1) I was anticipating a lot of high drama and tension to see how Jack would persuade Kate and the rest to come back. But no, they all suddenly were just there, and they all refused to explain themselves (an all too common occurrence with Lost). Kate’s “never ask me about that again” was the most absurd, though Jack might agree because Aaron gave him the eebie-jeebies and he was about to have sex, but makes no sense in the long run. They will likely show this in flashbacks, but I had been enjoying that the story was moving forward and resolving more mysteries than creating new ones. This episode reverses that.

    2) Daniel’s mother saying “The Island is always moving, that is why no one could rescue you” – is wrong. Did the writers think we hadn’t watched the show before? The Others had no problem traveling back and forth from the island via submarine, and the Darma Initiative had no problem airdropping their packages of supplies which kept Hurley fat. And if the island is always moving, why did Ben have to “move the island”? Wouldn’t that be redundant?

    The island did have defenses, like a lot of electromagnetism that screwed up navigation systems and something to block radio signals. But to suggest it was always moving, and only that pendulum could find it and only for a limited time is inconsistent with previous seasons.

    3) That Jin is alive seems unlikely, that he is on the island after it moved is ridiculous. Remember that Daniel and the people on the Zodiac raft were “within the radius” (in Daniel’s words) of white light when the island moved. The helicopter and everyone on board, which had flown for two minutes from the boat towards the island was outside the radius. Now we expected to believe that Jin was inside the radius, even though he was on the boat when it exploded.

    I liked Lost better when it was killing off characters to advance the plot, not when it was bringing back dead characters like a cheap soap opera.

  2. Nathan, you raise some excellent issues. 1) When they explain in flashbacks why everyone showed up for the plane it will no longer seem absurd. 2) The Island is always moving in time and/or space. Getting to and from the island has been based on knowing when and where it is. If you have people on both sides, it is probably easier to figure this out, so it was easier for Dharma. And when Ben and John “moved” the island they probably changed its course, making it harder to find when and where it is. My guess is that this is also related to changing or trying to change the course of Fate. 3) The seemingly incredible survival of Jin could be explained by the will of the island or his role in Fate course-correcting. Improbable things only seem improbable if they were not destined.

  3. Brian says:

    Jay’s original topic is more interesting than this quibbling about minor details. Jay: I hope you are right, and my hunch is that you are. It’s not just that the Island having a will of its own would not fit into “mainstream tv,” it would simply make an awful story. It wouldn’t be gusty or interesting to give the island super-natural consciousness, it would be falling back to one of the very simplest and overdone 5000 year old storytelling mechanisms.

    One would think we had outgrown that type of plot by now, but I suppose nine (entertaining) hours of a hobbit trying to dispose of a ring that had a will of its own somewhat proves me wrong…honestly I just think New Zealand is pretty.

  4. Patrick says:

    I bet this was staged.

    Anyway, was that Daniel or the asian guy’s (not Jin) voice in the background of the video?

    I also thought the whole purpose of the original survivors was that they started or fathered the people who started the Dharma initiative – or are the ones who started the Others.

    If they didn’t return to the island none of the islands inhabitants ever would have existed.

  5. Yes, I’m sure the “stealing” of the video is staged, but the Pierre Chang message is almost certainly something we will see in the TV show. Similarly, the video of Chnag and the time travelling bunny was also “leaked” at Comicon and later seen on the show.

  6. Greg Forster says:

    Wish I had seen this sooner! I’ve finally seen the episode and then rushed over here to read Jay’s post on it.

    Let me be clear that it was never my intention to suggest that Lost is a “Christian allegory.” I did borrow some language and examples from Christianity to illustrate what “faith” is all about, since John’s faith in the island was the central plot point of the episode I was reviewing. I’ll try to be more clear about my appropriation of such material.

    I don’t think there is any conflict between Jay’s interpretation of the show and mine. I was careful to say that we did not yet know whether the Island’s purposive behavior reflected a transcendant mind or some other possiblity. I suggested that perhaps the Island’s “mind” is really some kind of collective projection of the minds of the people who are on it. Obviously the idea of a “fate” that keeps forcing events back into a certain shape would also fit the bill here without (so far as I can see) coming into conflict with my analysis.

    I think the problem here is that we’re getting caught up in the ambiguous meanings of the words “mind” and “purpose.” If events are being channeled by a blind, mindless force called “fate,” obviously in one sense you could talk about that force as having a “purpose,” but in another sense, being mindless it would be “purposeless.”

    I also didn’t mean to suggest that the faith/reason debate would not be revived. But I don’t think that debate ever required the show to be ambiguous about whether the castaways were experiencing events on the Island that drove them in particular directions (what I mean by “purposive” events). The question was, and still is, whether the direction of events is being driven by a benevolent force.

    Here’s a case in point:

    Jay, you’re incorrect when you say that pushing the button was the “original” locus of the faith v. science conflict. John told Jack “you’re a man of science, I’m a man of faith” in the last episode of season one, before they even got into the hatch. That was when John decided to stop running away from the smoke monster and let it take him, whereupon Jack dropped the dynamite into the hole in the ground to free John from the monster against his will.

    The issue at the time was not whether there was a force on the Island that wanted things to go a certain way. The issue was whether to trust that force. As I said last week, whether you have faith in X is not essentially about whether you believe X exists, but whether you trust it.

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