There’s something very right about writing an article about “Lost” from 30,000 feet I the air, as I’m doing right now on my way from Boston to Los Angeles. But there’s also something quite terrifying about it, as well. I’m not sure there’s any fan of the show that doesn’t treat each flight with some element of dread: after all, the show features one of the more horrific plane crashes ever filmed. Each bump is greeted with a mixture of terror and the hope that Frank Lapidus is going to guide us through any trips through the space-time continuum. (And sure enough, halfway through writing this, the plane shook something fierce. Good. God.)
I write all this not to brag about my flight, but to bring up the type of energy that helped bring down Oceanic 815 and helped pull certain people from Ajira 316 back in time. It’s the energy at the heart of last week’s episode “Across the Sea,” and it’s been on my mind ever since. Just because my initial (and subsequent) reactions to the episode were less than positive doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped looking for meaning in it. In fact, I think there’s a lot of meaning in it. It’s an episode that I find I enjoy thinking about, even if I didn’t actually enjoy watching. That means it failed my test as an hour of entertainment, but still provided a ton of interesting things to ponder going into the final three and a half hours of the show.
Today, I’m going to set aside all semantic designations given by “Across” to the energy inside the Glowy Cave And By Extension Inside Every One of Us. Looking at Mother’s description to Young Jacob and Young Zac in Black as either 1) a parable, or 2) an outright lie doesn’t get us any closer to truly understanding what the heck sits at the core of the Island, but let’s set aside all specifics and look at it for what the shows wants us to see: Something To Be Protected. Brushing aside everything else, that description seems to hold true.
For a long time, I’ve struggled with getting fully onboard with “The Island” as an entity having a direct hand in anything that’s happened on the show. I realize tons of characters have laid the blame/praise on the Island for things, but with the advent of Jacob/The Man in Black, I wondered if what we thought was the Island was in fact the work of these two demigods. Well, they aren’t demigods, or at least they weren’t when first born. They were human, thrust upon an Island that had a long history of people coming to the Island through “accidents” and then waging war against each other. Claudia’s ghost appearing to Zac in Black only serves to confirm that ghostly visitations didn’t start during the heyday of Dharma Initiative.
While I still dislike the language used by Mother to describe “a little bit of this very same light is inside of every man,” it may finally help me understand how “The Island” can bring people there throughout human history. If the energy at the Island’s core is in fact inside us all, then the energy can be seen as a metaphor for temptation buried inside man’s capacity for enlightenment. It’s not that the energy itself is evil any more than man is evil, but in the desire to do good, people often take shortcuts that lead to things such as jealousy, pettiness, violence, and yes, deception.
So, in understanding why The Island keeps bringing people to the Island, we may have to use Mother’s less-than-awesome description to understand the connection, a deep root seated in our DNA connected somehow to The Source, the heartbeat concealed by banyan trees and fauna. Our best and worst impulses bring us occasionally in contact with this transformational setting, a setting whose heart must be constantly protected because throughout the course of human history, temptation has always defeated enlightment. We come, we fight, we destroy, we corrupt… and it always ends the same.
More than ever, the idea that “Lost” will end with this cycle of the Island ending and a new one beginning seems incorrect to me. “Across the Sea” showed the latest way in which one Age of the Island ended (ruled over by Mother), and a new one began (ruled over by an unwilling Jacob with his smoke-tastic brother as constant companion/nemesis). If “Lost” ends with a simple replacement that maintains the status quo, then I’ll cry foul. I won’t reveal the name of this week’s episode here, but if this switcheroo scenario occurs, then to me the answer to that title’s question is, “Nothing.” (Here’s the part where I say “Don’t reveal the episode title’s name in the comments below,” thankee sai.) For “Lost” to have meaning in the end, then the reason for showing this particular part of the Island’s eternal history must be to show the moment at which its perpetual cycle ends. That doesn’t mean evil is defeated indefinitely; it just means that mankind can move onto the next plane of our potential.
And for that to happen, the energy has to either die or be neutralized. If there’s nothing that needs protecting, then Jacob doesn’t need to find a replacement. I don’t know what happens, exactly, if the energy is neutralized. Does the Island simply sink into the ocean, turning into its sideways self? Maybe, although I’m not sure that’s a good thing or not, considering that Mother’s description seems to indicate a symbiotic relationship between that energy and something akin to our souls. (Or, to put it more succinctly: if it sinks, are we sunk?) Does the Island just turn into an ordinary island, stuck in time and geography? It’s unclear. What is clear? Desmond will be part of neutralizing that energy. And that scares the bejesus out of me.
When Zoe talked to Jin after her successful rescue/kidnapping of him, she asked him to point out various hotspots of electromagnetic activity on the Island. After that, Widmore put Des into the Microwave of Mayhem as a test for something yet to come, saying, “…once it’s over I’m going to ask you to make a sacrifice. And I hope for all our sakes you’ll help me.” I don’t think Desmond will literally float down into the Glowing Cave, but I do wonder if his biology allows him to be exposed to the energy in a way that dissipates it, neutralizes it, or, in a third less-likely-but-still-plausible option, passes through it to grab a Grail-like object on the other side. In any scenario, I’m worried Des is going to die in one of these scenarios, which breaks my “Lost” heart.
For those of you crying foul on Des’ death, look: they just killed the mother of Ji Yeon. They will kill ANYONE in service of story, and their story might involve Des and Penny’s journey coming to a close. If Des sacrifices himself so that his wife and children will be guaranteed protection from the evil of The Man in Black, I can see him willfully accepting this death. In fact, his calm demeanor after flashing to the sideways world in “Happily Ever After” may mean he already HAS accepted it. Because it may be happily ever after for only Penny and their son Charlie. However, that knowledge will still make Des happy. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to curl under a blanket and watch Lifetime moves all day to cheer myself up.
What do you think, “Lost” fans? How much will that energy play into the final two episodes of the show? Will it be undone? And if so, how? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Photo credit: ABC