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‘Lost’ faith and speculation

So, we’re getting down to the last few episodes of the season, and last night Lost’s creative team gave us a Locke and Eko centric episode (see background of the show and its story on Wikipedia–which, btw, is in and of itself one of the coolest innovations on the Internet). Truthfully, I was a bit disappointed by the episode, but then I’d probably built up quite a bit of expectation. (Plus, how can you follow-up last week's explosive ending?!)

Titled simply “?”(after the huge question mark in the middle of the ultraviolet map that Locke saw when he was trapped under a door during "Lockdown"), this episode gave us a lot of interaction between these two characters who represent most clearly the faith side of the faith versus science motif in the show (which, coincidently, Locke nicely spells out in an earlier episode). Early on, we watch Locke and Eko go after “Henry Gale”—but not really. Eko is following the instructions of a just-deceased Anna Lucia and his long-dead brother Yemi (whom we got to know in Eko’s flashback episode "The 23rd Psalm") who both came to him in the same dream and told him to help Locke—which means finding the location of Locke’s question mark (nicely done, having Eko and Locke pursue in emblematic form Locke’s own internal quest). They soon find the hatch designated by the question mark—under the plane in which Eko’s brother died.

For Locke, what they discover down in the “Pearl” hatch is devastating (it appears to be a monitoring station for the other hatches, including their own). He discovers his faith in island may have been misplaced, that the button he’s pushed all these days may have been just a game. But Eko sees it differently. Eko sees the button-pushing as more important than ever. Why? Because, among other things, they found the Pearl hatch through prophetic dreams, not to mention it was marked by his dead brother’s crashed plane. Too many coincidences for Eko, but too much doubt for Locke. Locke’s faith is threatened while Eko’s is increased—all by the same event and knowledge.

Not bad for a TV show. I think this is emblematic of how we often experience things in our own faith circles. There’s an event, and for some it precipitates a loss of faith. For others, who witness the same event, it only serves to bolster their faith. It’s not far from how Mel Gibson’s Graham Hess expressed it in Signs, which, I must confess, is one of my all time favorite films (okay, stop laughing):

People break down into two groups when the experience something lucky. Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them.

Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear.

Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope.

See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky?

Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?
One more observation: somewhere I read (but can’t remember for the life of me where) that Locke’s faith is often “pagan” in nature while Eko’s is “Christian.” Whether this strictly follows through in the show or not, it was supported and enhanced by this episode. Locke pointedly refers to the island’s need for a “sacrifice” when telling Eko of Boone’s death. Eko, on the other hand, is surrounded by Christian imagery: he’s dressed in priestly robes, grasps the cross hanging from his neck and his flashbacks illustrate more of his journey towards embracing his childhood Christian faith.

While this episode didn’t really define or shed any new light on their faiths beyond what we already knew, I’m anticipating the writers aren’t through with this motif. It will be interesting to see it develop (especially in light of teaser for the season finale Live Together, Die Alone, ack).

Now a couple of speculations about what we’ll see happening on the island in the coming weeks. First, I think Michael is all about a father doing whatever it takes to get his son back—even killing his friends. Is he leading them into a trap? Definitely. How deeply is he involved with the Others? Not sure. He could be totally on their side (but I doubt it, as he visibly struggles with the evil he’s done). My guess is he’s doing what they told him to in order to get Walt back. (By the way, this type of storyline is one of the reasons I like Lost, which often pushes its characters to their moral limits and then sees what they’ll do—which often is a conflict between faith/ethics and the need/desire for control. And that can generate a ton of God-talk.) Anyway, regarding Michael, apparently we’ll find out by the end of the season. And here’s one more thought that doesn’t really have a God-talk angle (sorry): I’m thinking one of our castaways (perhaps Kate, as she obviously doubts Michael’s description of the Others when he first arrives) gets smart enough to wonder if those cameras that feed to Pearl have recording capability because just maybe that castaway will begin to question what really went down in the hatch whilst Michael was playing with guns. My .02 worth anyway.

(Image: Universal) lostctgy

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