With Season 6 of “Lost” being the final one of the show’s history, there’s lots of concern over how the writers can possibly wrap up a saga this dense in only eighteen hours of television. But in the background of that concern lies a much more varied set of ideas about what it means to truly “wrap up” this story. By the series end, many of the show’s unknowns will be dragged into the light. But clearly, not every lingering question will get answered. And several are better off staying as mysteries. But ask fifty people to break down the show’s conundrums under those three categories and you’ll get fifty wildly different responses.
While we can differ on the merits of certain mysteries, such a discussion is missing the forest for the banyan trees. It’s not a total waste of time to argue if “Lost” is a good show based on whether or not they ever explain The Others’ origins, but that’s more a question of what as viewers want to see versus the type of story that that writers wish to tell. Looking at the former instead of the latter not only helps eliminate the need to worry about unnecessary enigmas, but also allow one to more easily accept the ride upon which the writers have placed us.
“Accepting the ride” is also an apt phrase for something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately when my mind drifts to “Lost.” You could argue, as I myself have, that bringing Jughead to The Swan was one helluva boneheaded move on Jack Shephard’s part. But the motivation behind it is less hard to swallow. For five seasons, our nominal hero has swum against the tide. Salmon Jack took all evidence into account and generally ran away from what “felt right” and headed straight for “what should be done.” It’s not that his decision-making process lacked merit; it just had no place in the particular and peculiar set of circumstances that have surrounded him since Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island.
In other words, work is a necessary component of life, but the cliché of “work smarter, not harder” still applies on an Island powered not by Duracell but by donkey wheel. Sweat for sweat’s sake doesn’t cut it there anymore than here, even if said sweat found glistening from Sawyer’s chest due to chopping wood might make-a da ladies go all swoony. There are two lines in “The Incident” that I believe foreshadow the type of work that not only has to get done by the characters in Season 6, but should have been done from the get-go. And I’m not talking from September 2004. I’m talking from the time four-toed statues were being erected on the Island.
Here are the two lines we should be focusing on when it comes to the work to be done:
Jacob: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.
Rose: We traveled back 30 years in time, and you’re still trying to find ways to shoot each other?
Progression. Regression. Two steps forward, three steps back. Learning lessons then misapplying them, or perhaps forgetting them entirely. These are not just the hallmarks of most characters on the show, but hallmarks of humanity itself. Next time, we’ll look more closely at a few examples of how people have worked themselves to death (sometimes literally) in order to take the path of most, not least, resistance. Why are they so afraid of the path laid before them? And who will finally take the necessary steps in order to provide the singular ending Jacob envisions? Answering those questions will hopefully make many of the unimportant ones fall by the wayside.
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