Sorrow and Light: Reflections on Rewatching Lost - The Problem of Destiny

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 The Problem of John Locke, but you will want to catch up from the beginning before diving into this week’s discussion

The Problem of Destiny

A similar source of disappointment to me was the way the show resolved one of its central themes, the idea of Destiny.

I don’t mean destiny, by the way. I mean Destiny. The capital is important.

The motif of Destiny and miracles has been part of Lost‘s DNA from the moment we saw Locke wake on the beach and wiggle his previously paralyzed toe. It popped up continually as the show went on, voiced most notably in one of the final scenes of “Exodus.” In that scene, a very skeptical Jack calls Locke out on his erratic behavior. Locke’s response is intriguing. It forecasts his character arc and clearly outlines his motivations:

Do you really think all this is an accident? That we, a group of strangers, survived — many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence? Especially this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason. . . . The Island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you’ve seen that, I know you have. But the Island chose you, too, Jack. It’s destiny.

Regardless of how our man of faith’s personal story turned out, this theme had been a part of Lost from the beginning. Nor do we only hear such ideas from Locke. Ben and Richard speak of the Island’s will, and its miraculous healing properties speak for themselves. Even Desmond, a man who wants nothing more than to leave the Island for good, even phrases his time there (albeit ironically) as “saving the world.”

Yet in the end, the story we got in season 6 seemed little more than the final moves in a longstanding personal grudge game. Sure, Jacob wears white and his nameless brother wears black, but there seemed little of dark vs. light (a common motif in Lost, which also built toward the Destiny theme) in their conflict. Interesting though their story was — and it was extremely interesting, don’t get me wrong — it did not feel at the time to be any sort of culmination of the central theme of Destiny.

We were sold, “Let’s save the world from evil and danger, and fulfill our purpose”; what we got instead was “Let’s take sides in a philosophical family squabble.”

Sorrow and Light: Reflections on Rewatching Lost - The Problem of Destiny

Like I said, I don’t feel that way anymore. Five years have passed since the show’s ending, and that time has cleared away most of my feelings about the whole thing, and allowed me to return with a fresh perspective — even while knowing what will happen, being able to hold the entire plot arc in my mind to consider as a finished work.

More importantly, thanks to the podcast Riddles in the Dark (the work of the Mythgard Institute‘s Corey Olsen), I’ve developed quite a different critical approach to thinking about stories than the one I had when I first watched Lost. Without these ideas, I doubt I would have been able to like Lost again as much as I do now, even less be able to keep an open mind as I rewatched it. I think it’s important to touch on a couple of them before going any further.

Next Week…

Tune in next week where M. Lucero will dive into To remember, and to let go.

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