The Great 'Lost' Debate: Men of science and faith
Ryan McGee: So Rick, thanks for stepping up to go toe-to-toe on a regular basis as "Lost" kicks off its sixth and final season. I've been reading your work here on Zap2it for a while, and though we've never met, I'm not ashamed to say I have a picture of you in my locker. But mostly, I'm excited for the chance to get an additional voice here on the blog. Because if we can't blog together, we're going to die alone. So what's on your mind as the season approaches?
Rick Porter: My pleasure, Ryan -- and it's good to know that the "R + R 4-eva!" doodles in my reporter's notebook haven't been for naught.
So what I've been thinking about mostly as the final season approaches is how "Lost" is going to address, if not resolve, its big issues. I'm not talking about things like "Who put the statue there?" but things more central to the show's themes. Like the whole "man of science, man of faith" thing that's been bubbling along for five seasons now. Jack and Locke were separated, physically and temporally, last season, so what implications does that have for the two would-be leaders now?
RM: I hear you. Sure, it might be nice to learn exactly who put the statue there, but on another level, it would be like learning once and for all who let the dogs out. It's nice, but not important. But getting the core character stuff to a place of resolution: that's completely key, and based on the article you sent my way recently, it looks like Darlton have that as a priority as well.
So let's look at Jack and John, since you've already brought them up. Two things really stood out about them as I went through old episodes in anticipation of Season 6. Firstly: their first big interaction sets up their archetypal perspectives, but their general attitude towards each other betrays a great deal of respect for the other. Secondly: after Season 2, they have almost no face time together at ALL. After a season in which their relationship deteriorated in the Swan, they have only a handful of encounters (the radio tower after they turn off the signal, beside Oceanic 815 before the camps split, The Orchid station before Ben turns the wheel, and in the LA hospital after Locke's car accident).
So my question to you is this: does the phrase "man of science, man of faith" refer to two men, or the idealized fusion of their differing viewpoints?
RP: In a word: Yes.
In more words: I think what we saw with the show last season was that committing completely to one side of the equation and not even admitting that the other side might have something to contribute is a bad way to go. Locke's faith becomes completely shattered after he turns the wheel and ejects himself from the island -- to the point that he wants to end his own life. Jack's devotion to the rational forces him to live a lie -- the Oceanic 6 story feels, for him at least, as much like an attempt to deny what happened there as to come up with a credible cover story -- until it darn near drives him loco.
Once back on the Island, Jack seems to move more toward the center, and maybe even a little too far to the "faith" side of the ledger. And Locke -- well, Locke isn't really himself anymore, is he?
RM: True enough on all fronts. Throughout Seasons 2-4, Jack and Locke just dug even further into their own respective trenches, unable to even perceive that the other person have even the slightest possible correct perception on things. Fanaticism infected both viewpoints: Locke's absolute belief in the Island and Jack's absolute adherence to rationality hindered both.
As such, what we may learn in Season 6 is that "man of science, man of faith" refers to the ideal selves that these two men could have been had they met somewhere in the middle. Jack did try to meet Locke halfway after his death, but without Locke actually there, he went full tilt into Faith Town and ended up overcompensating. Then again, for a man who put the weight of the world on his shoulders for so long, it must have felt nice for a while to feel as it he were simply carried along by destiny.
So here's the final question: Locke isn't himself anymore, but on an Island (and a show) where people stubbornly refuse to stay dead, are we about to see Jack and Locke work together the way they should have from Day One? And if so, how?
RP: Whoa. That's a pretty big question, Ryan. If the bomb works as Faraday intended, and IF the survivors come through with their memories of the Island intact, then I think for a while, at least, Locke might want even less to do with Jack than before. Because while the reset will have made Jack and a good number of the other 48 survivors happy (not to mention the 200 or so nameless folks who won't have died), it's pretty much the worst possible outcome for Locke -- who's back to being a guy in a wheelchair who works at Hurley's box company.
I also think, though, that there's almost no way the show can do a final season without eventually coming around to that question. Surely a reset will have unintended consequences of its own, and my guess is that whatever those are might be what drives Jack and Locke, along with the rest of our gang, to work together.
RM: I tried to look at possible ways in which the reboot/reset might work before, but I didn't think about one in which Oceanic 815 lands with passenger memories of the other version of three years still intact. If Season 6 features a whole lot of scenes involving a Dr. Drew-led support group sessions for "People with Memories of Other Realities," I might train Vincent to turn into an attack dog and go after the "Lost" writing staff.
Personally, I'm just excited to think about the possibilities inherent in finally seeing the roadblocks that have stifled so many relationships finally melt away. And in terms of relationships I can't wait to see finally and fully repair, Jack and John are very high on that list. The upside of seeing five seasons full of interpersonal frustrations is now we have the chance for true catharsis: now that we've made it this far as fans, we will get payoffs the likes of which can only come from well-constructed, long-form narrative.
And speaking of long-form narrative, it looks like we've certainly gone on long enough for this initial edition of our "Lost" debate series. Look forward to getting back in the ring with you next week!
OK, "Lost" fans: what do you think Season 6 has in store for a Jack/John partnership?
Ryan invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group.
Photo credit: ABC