I know, I know. I’m behind the times with both. Lost finished ages ago and I’ve been waiting to watch the final four episodes, partly with packing, and then with France getting in the way. Steve summed Lost up with “What??!” though to be honest, it confirmed all the suspicions I had with the first episode. John Locke in himself was the key – with the original John Locke being a philosopher discussing good and evil, I wondered if the island was some kind of ‘proving ground’ or purgatory for people before they died, where they had to prove whether they were good or evil, and work off their sins. When Rousseau appeared, with the whole ‘nature/nurture’ thing, and a few other characters named after philosophers, notably Desmond Hume being a take on the Scottish philosopher David Hume, it seemed to me from an early stage to be about human nature, and proving whether you were good or evil. Mr Eko seemed to add to this later on, with his ‘opposite to’ John Locke – two sides of the same coin, even in skin colour.
I thought a lot of it was about belief, with Desmond just willingly entering the numbers every 108 minutes, and then John Locke. The whole fact that Locke/Hume/Rousseau come together seemed to be far too coincidental – definitely a clue left by the writing team? Perhaps a red herring, perhaps short on names for characters, but definitely a programme about good and evil, reason and belief. I think a lot of my religious philosophy studies gave me a code-breaker that I don’t think many other people had, which would definitely leave them wondering.
It took me back to the ‘watch in the sand’ debate: how we wonder when we see a watch in the sand how it got there, who made it, who the watchmaker is… Paley’s watchmaker analogy picking up the teleological argument… you wonder who made parts of the island, the village, the Dharma Initiative (another of my clues about the purpose of the island… since Dharma is ‘law’ and if you live according to the laws, you work your way to Nirvana) and who put the planes and the Black Pearl there. There’s a whole question of ‘makers’ on the island that parallels humankind’s thoughts about our own divine maker. John Locke, prior to the infestation by the black smoke, seems to be Cleanthes, the empiricist who sees and believes. “It just is.” Philo or Demea, then, would be Jack… the scientist, the pragmatist, the questioner, the non-believer… the one who takes the longest to realise the island’s purpose in the final episode. He’s the one who finally comes to realise it was a proving ground. Then there’s the matter of the ‘miracles’ – John Locke walking, Sun’s pregnancy, Rose’s recovery. It also brings into question the whole free-will debate, since so much of it seems governed by coincidence, especially in the final episodes which bring all the main characters together, such as Desmond, Sayid, Kate and Sawyer in the jail in the ‘alternate’ reality. Coincidental meetings pepper the whole storyline, from Hurley’s numbers to his meeting with Libby.
So… if it takes all this philosophical knowledge to make sense of it, is it any good? To me, it was an excellent ‘playground’ for a whole bunch of theological and philosophical theories, but did that mean it was impossible for the average Joe to make sense of it? Probably. Ending up as a potential unleashing of evil into the world, with the island as a Pandora’s box and Jack/Hurley its keepers was perhaps a bit too deep for most. But then, that’s why I liked it. It was a real puzzle to be solved, and like some piece of abstract art, it allows you to interpret it how you will.
Steve didn’t want to enter into philosophical debate about ‘what it was all about’… which kind of rendered it a bit high-brow and intellectual, though I would dearly love to hear any other philosophical interpretations of it!!
Flash Forward…. oh my word. That’s all I can say.