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Old 06-22-2010, 10:59 PM   #6204
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Now, let's discuss the things that Lost does talk about, because this is not by any means an intellectually bankrupt show (and I apologize in advance for being very general. I can get specific in discussion later but I don't feel enthused enough to elaborately detail things):

Free will vs Fate/Determinism is one of the hallmark themes of the show. So many, many times is "free will" invoked on this show. Characters are constantly having to make choices... but oftentimes the result ends up being the same no matter what. Or the choices are so lopsided in favor of one that there isn't really a choice at all. A great example is how Man in Black is always telling people that he isn't going to make them do anything they don't want to do. Of course, those that don't "willingly choose" to do as he says are murdered. So the question is - is there really choice involved in that? The manipulations set up under the guise of providing choices is often cruel; the very idea of a choice in the matter often illusory. Moreover, it is the nature of the island as a mystical controlling body that props up a system of determinism. People can't die until the island is finished with them; people are only brought to the island for a purpose. They can't leave (for very long anyway) without having to go back and fulfill that purpose. Faraday proposes that only big events are enough to shake up time, that free will is still mathematically possible. He was wrong; detonating the nuke only sent our heroes forward in time so that they could fulfill their purpose. I sort of dig the brazenness of the show landing so in favor of determinism. Part of me balks, of course, because it is so un-American. This show is about individuals making their own choices that don't matter because they'll end up in the place they are supposed to, one way or another. It is sad and despairing stuff, really, to be trapped into a fated series of events, only being able to let go of it all in death.

Re-creation is a minor theme related to determinism. It seemed awfully important in this show that certain moments be re-created as best as possible. The Ajira flight could only get to the island if it re-created the Oceanic flight (needed as many of the same passengers as possible, needed artifacts like a guitar case and a coffin) serves as a big example. In the flash-sideways/purgatory, characters would only remember their lived lives after important moments from them were re-created (Charlie's palm while drowning, Ben getting punched by Desmond, Hurley and Libbey kissing, Kate acting as midwife to Claire, etc). All this re-creation makes for a cyclical feel, which ties in to the Fate/Determinism side of things.

Togetherness was important since the first use of the catchphrase "Save the Cheerlead," er, wrong show, I mean "Live together [or] die alone." When the individual making choices for him or her self doesn't matter, then all you have is the group to consider, how each person's fated path works within the group unit. The characters seemed only to make headway on their problems when they came together; almost all of the bad things that happened to these characters came as a result of the factioning going on, all the separate groups with different means to different ends. Everyone needed each other in the end. Hell, they couldn't even move on after death until they all came together one last time. Man, this show gets really un-American at times, doesn't it?

Power & Leadership are always desired on this show. But they are also shown, time and time again, to be folly. The leaders are constantly making bad decisions and no one really has the power. We think Ben has a lot of power as leader of the Others? Nope. He's lying his ass off all the time because he has no power; he leads with smoke and mirrors and lies because that is all that he has. It is a conventional treatment of the ills of power - hungry, self-centered men desire it but the one person who has it (Jacob) is selfless - but not an ineffective one.

Information drives much of the show - chiefly who is lying about things or who is refusing to talk about things. Lying is huge in this show. Ben does it. Sawyer does it. People lie to protect others. People lie to distance themselves from others. People lie to work angles. The nature of the "con man" lives in the fiber of the series. Ultimately, lying doesn't even get people anywhere positive. It merely delays and frustrates and makes things worse. Almost every bad occurrence in the whole series comes as a result of either a lie or of keeping information from someone. There are countless instances where bad events could have been avoided had people simply talked with each other and told them what they know. This problem reaches as far back as the thing that drove Man in Black away from Jacob and fake-mommy/Protector. If there is a single applicable life lesson from Lost it is that you should just be open and tell the truth for Chrissake. In an ironic twist, the show itself was very adept at keeping information from its viewers and by lying to them with all of the red herrings and unresolved plot points. And the show's flaws mostly stem from those. See, kids? Tell the truth.

Parents - mommy & daddy issues - are the core of most character motivations on this show. We've got parents that aren't their for their kids (the parents of Locke, Sawyer, Shannon), parents who are really bad at parenting (the parents of Jack, Kate, Daniel, Miles, Sun), parents-in-law who are antagonistic towards their sons-in-law (Desmond, Jin), etc. Michael was trying and failing at being a father. Jacob was sort of an absentee father for Ben and the other leaders of the Others. Of course, Claire raises a kid on the island and Sun & Kate take care of kids off the island. It is a strong motif but I am unsure of what the show wants to say beyond "raise your kids better, folks." I suppose that the bad/lack of parenting contributes to the cyclical nature of behavior represented on the show.
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