I’m done theorizing about Lost. Gone are the days when I thought the Oceanic passengers were in purgatory or that the whole plot was unfolding in the mind of Hurley. Gone, too, is the search for anagrams and the analyzing of strange warbles on the musical score (one of which occurred when Sun and Jin reconciled … but I’m just not keeping track of that sort of thing anymore … then there was the moment the violins went wonky in the recent flashback to Locke’s birth). The evolving, labyrinthine layers of plot that is Lost have finally, in season four, made theorizing as futile a practice as sending Lindsay Lohan to rehab or voting in Florida.
The magic moment? The time Faraday sent the consciousness of a little white mouse from his cupped hands and into the future. Ever since that episode, the quantum-theory gobbledygook scrawled across Faraday’s chalkboard has come to resemble the way my Lost thought processes cramp into meaningless knots whenever contemplating the big picture that J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof promised they’ve always had in mind. If only I could be like Sponge Bob when he ordered the little minions in his brain to discard all knowledge of everything except fine dining and breathing. If only I could clear some space, sacrifice whole lines from E.T. and the ability to tie my shoes, maybe then I’d have the capacity to figure it all out. Lost, and breathing. That’d be me.
Though the show’s title has clearly become more of a reference to its audience than its characters as season four closes, it is to the creators’ credit that we are still watching. How does one, exactly, continue to string along the increasingly frustrated and confused for four years and counting? It’s in the pacing of little revelations, for one, even if the big revelation of “What the hell’s going on?” looms in the distance.
In the finale, we learn Locke is the man in the box at the Hoffs/Drawlar funeral home (an anagram for “flash foward,” if you care … I don’t). We now know he’d left the island to persuade the Oceanic 6 to go back to patch whatever rift they’d caused by leaving. Ah-hah! Worth the wait of the whole season and the hiatus that preceded it. And we learn as well he’s been traveling under the name of “Jeremy Bentham,” the name of yet another philosopher (Locke, Rousseau). This one is the creator of the Panopticon theory of punishment in which prisoners surround a central all-seeing but unseen prison guard. Just the idea of being watched, Bentham had reasoned, would keep prisoners in check. All six call Locke “Bentham,” even in private conversation, for fear that they’re being observed. Hmm. But this is theory fodder in which I have absolutely no interest.
More importantly, we witnessed the island’s ability to be “moved” by a turn of a wheel in the frozen core etched with primitive symbols, and the same blinding flash we saw when Desmond imploded the hatch and experienced a wardrobe malfunction. Questions are answered, new ones are posed, and this song-and-dance keeps us going.
Then there are the superbly acted, compelling characters you immensely care for or are immensely intrigued by regardless of whether or not the puzzle piece of their situation fits into a greater picture that makes sense. For years we’ve relished in the fragile romance of Sun and Jin knitting itself into permanence, for example, only to watch Jin explode with a ship as Sun looks on from an escaping chopper … to which I can only point to my heart and say “ouch.”
I use a different finger in reaction to the puckered-mouth, mousy evil that is Ben Linus. But, then again, he was egged on to trigger the aforementioned explosion by an equally detestable Keamy describing the death of Ben’s adopted daughter (there’s a reason Russell Crowe stabs that guy with a rusty fork in 3:10 to Yuma). This is what makes Ben so compelling — that sympathy he can elicit from viewers in one moment and make them regret in the next. Not even the Oceanic 6 can be sure about Ben as the season closes with Jack and Ben in cahoots.
Though it makes my head hurt, though all my theories have shriveled into punch lines for my friends, though Jack has grown a Unabomber beard, I’ll be right there when Lost returns, fueled by new revelations and old characters I discuss casually by first name as if real. And if I must make a prediction, well, all right, here it goes: the six take a page from Gilligan and return to the island to open a luxury resort at which the Others play the Harlem Globetrotters … to the death. •