[Lost spoilers, obviously]
For many years, I was one of those types of Lost fans. You know, the ones who read Lost forums for hours and talked incessantly about it around the proverbial and literal water coolers. I scoured those fake Dharma websites for clues and played the fake Dharma commercials in slow motion to catch every detail. Why did that statue have four toes? What made Walt special? Who were those two dashing Lost-ies in the background—the blonde and that guy with the silent "a" in his name? I wanted to see more of them. (Not really.) I wanted more mystery, but mostly I wanted answers, dammit. This all happened right around the time of Seasons 2 and 3. So fast-forward to this past Sunday: I'd just finished watching a Lost finale that was universally regarded as answer-free; as a friend of mine put it, the episode was deeply emotionally satisfying, not intellectually satisfying. But a funny thing happened after years of Lost answer fervor: I was alright with it. Nay, I enjoyed it.
I know what you're thinking, but the next sentence is not going to be, "Lost is about the characters, and seeing their stories resolve was enough." It wasn't. Certainly, characters are central to Lost—and every TV show, for that matter—but the show's intriguing world has always been a constant (hey-o!) in my enjoyment of this rich show. No, I still wanted answers. But in a weird roundabout (walkabout?) way, I got them.
So there's this glowing light in the middle of the island that has magical properties. No one knows where it came from, and no one knows what it's capable of. All they know—or at least, all they've been told—is that if it ever goes out, something truly bad will happen in the world. So they have to protect it at all costs. It's always been that way, and for generations, people like Jacob and CJ Cregg have blindly guarded the light without question, witnessing its mysterious power first-hand. People have been miraculously healed. Some live forever. Others have been hurt by its power, wandering aimlessly for eternity as a lost soul, or tormenting island-dwellers as a billowing smoke monster that sounds like, as comedian Nick Vatterott once put it, a taxi cab receipt printer. People don't understand the light, but have found ways to worship it nonetheless. In ancient times, some disciples built Egyptian-like temples and statutes. More recent explorers, called the Dharma Initiative, attempted to scientifically explain this mystical phenomenon, and failed.
I should point out, without getting too into it, that I'm one of the least religious/spiritual people out there. But I realize now that Jack's journey from a man of science and logic to a man of faith is one I went on as well—at least when it comes to Lost. I still don't understand how the castaways created their version of purgatory or how it's actually set up. I still don't understand the intricacies of the light and Jacob's search for "candidates." And I certainly still don't understand what made Walt so special. But neither do any of the characters on the show. The island has come to represent faith, and because Jack found answers through faith, so too did I. In the world of Lost, I'm at spiritual peace in TV land.
I do have one question, though: In episode 03.05, "The Cost Of Living"…