Hearing a few friends discussing the latest Lost episode I made the joke that it sounded like it was the audience who was lost. However, I had to admit that it sounded like the kind of crazy story I would totally fall in love with. One of those friends recently lent me the 1st season on DVD and having totally fallen in love with the series I wanted to make a few observations.
My initial joke was in a sense not far from the truth. Lost employs a somewhat unique plot structure in which we know almost nothing about what is actually happening. The show presents a series of strange events and synchronicities. Everything becomes more and more interconnected, and because of this everything that happens begins to seem meaningful. It’s a wonderful effect that generates great discussion.
The characters in Lost are experiencing the same mystery and lack of concrete information as we are, which leads Locke to conclude that “everything happens for a reason,” evoking a sense of destiny and meaningfulness to their predicament. This is in sharp contrast to the seemingly arbitrary demise of various characters. The schoolteacher being blown up by dynamite is a great dramatic example, and of course all the people who didn’t survive the crash. And it is this that drives the counterpoint in which Jack declares that he doesn’t believe in destiny.
Because we do not fully comprehend the events themselves, the show becomes about how the characters deal with the mystery. It asks the question, how do we deal with mystery in life? Few people claim to fully understand the meaning of life, but there are hints everywhere that there is some greater meaning, some great mystery. I think this is why it is so easy to relate to the characters in Lost, even though they are in an extraordinary circumstance. In a way, we are all in an extraordinary circumstance, and there is mystery all around us.
I’ve found it an intriguing idea to think that in some metaphorical way I am on that island, that I am lost. Think about it. How would you respond? What type of character would you be? What stories would your flashbacks tell?