Are you a Lostie? Do you have a fear of certain numbers? Is the term “Other” an insult {or compliment!} to you? If so you will enjoy this new weekly series from M. Lucero about ABC’s Lost. We will release a different section each week…on Wednesdays when the series regularly aired.

Previously on Lost…

Last week we took a look at a very bright light. It was beautiful, but you will want to catch up from the beginning before diving into this week’s discussion.

…From which its beauty chiefly came.

Locke’s story is a sad story, but that may be the very source of its power. There’s a reason we tell sad stories, why tragedy, as a genre, endures through human history.

Sorrow is unique because it is so painfully, immediately real, but universal as well. It connects us all to each other whether we realize it or not. And pain expressed — catharsis — is one of the healthiest, strongest, most transcendent feelings we can have. It is, paradoxically, a wellspring of hope.

Sorrow frees us, when we meet it at the safe distance of fiction. In its wake we are vulnerable, and at peace with our vulnerability. We are loosed from the fetters of mean circumstance that so often choke our lives. And in our suffering, we find meaning. In meaning, comfort.

Locke himself — the real Locke — seems to hold this view after his death, when we again meet him in the flash-sideways. He is wiser, more contented, less scarred by being left behind.

In “The Last Recruit,” the Man in Black contends that Locke was not a man of faith, but a sucker. Is he, though? Sure, he falls victim to the monster’s plan, providing its long-desired loophole. But this view misses everything that is rich and profound in the fabric of Lost.

Reflecting on Locke’s story, writer Pearson Moore asks a revealing question:

What is gullibility? In what meaningful way do we distinguish it from the virtue we call trust? If trust is a virtue, isn’t it a virtue regardless of what others may choose to do with this trust? If Locke trusts openly, isn’t he freely exercising virtue, to an extent most of us would find unthinkable?

(“Impartial Risk: Cultural Musings on the Resurrection of John Locke”)

Locke is ultimately vindicated, after all — both by Lost as a story, and by Jack, his ideological opposite. In the series finale, Jack calls out the Man in Black for presuming to act and talk like Locke: “You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him. Turns out he was right about almost everything. I just wish I could’ve told him that while he was still alive.” Even Ben, Locke’s own killer, reasserts his status as a man of faith, and “a better man than I’ll ever be.”

I contend it doesn’t matter whether the monster uses Locke, or whether he is conned. It’s never the unknown circumstances of our choices that define who we are, or the meaning our stories have; it’s the choices themselves, and our knowledge and frame of mind when we make them.

Locke chooses the Island, and does so continually as the story unfolds — because it has chosen him, apart from any designs the monster may have for him.

 

Sorrow and Light: Reflections on Rewatching Lost - …From which its beauty chiefly came.

We put a lot of stock in the idea of the very first time. We crave the freshness of the new, the unique thrill of discovery. And those things are great — but they’re also incomplete.

You can’t really understand, or even appreciate, a good story if you’ve only read, or watched, or in some way experienced it, only once. As much as it captivates and enchants, the first time only delves a layer or two deep. We have no idea how a story will end, how characters will develop. The not-knowing, the anticipation, are exactly what make this so exciting. The incompleteness is just what we love — but the knowing, too, is a key to a different kind of pleasure, in many ways a richer one, that those who don’t re-read or re-watch will never know.

Once you know a story’s plot, its ending, its character arcs, then the story really opens for you. Seeds planted early on will quicken with life, and hidden things shine with a special glow. Before you had missed them, or missed their significance. Now you see them for what they are. Motifs and themes take on body and dimension, and even structure becomes a thing of beauty.

A story — a good story — is a different beast entirely the second time around.

Hence my worry, when I first started my re-watch of Lost. As deep an experience as the second time can be, it is also a winnow, dividing good stories from the rest. Knowing the whole story, the reasons why Flight 815 was brought to the Island, the part they would play in Jacob’s endgame, would my favorite moments still hold up? Would things I had liked before seem hollow, less meaningful, now that I knew what they really were?

To my relief, the opposite was true. Approaching Lost now on its own terms, and not mine, I found myself enjoying it as much as, and at times more so, than before.

I found myself noticing things I’d missed. About fourteen pages of notes later (only a small fraction of which have made it into this essay), I found that earlier moments in the show were given new significance in retrospect, sometimes dramatically so. One of the clearest places this is seen is in one of the two major plotlines of season 2.

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