With the final season of Lost just around the corner, a lot of the writers at Christ and Pop Culture have finally found a television show they can agree on. From it’s beginning, it’s dealt head on with issues of morality, spirituality and faith. Most importantly, it’s a show that is thoughtfully and artfully produced, presenting us with a unique plot and real, empathetic characters. Naturally, it’s a perfect show for CaPC writers to discuss in our Water Cooler series.

Leading up to the season premier, we’ll discuss the show so far, and what we might expect in the coming weeks and months. Once the show starts, you can expect regular updates, in which we discuss each episode and its implications.

Read Last Tuesday’s discussion, Lost’s Biggest Question.

Warning! If you are not completely caught up with Lost, you won’t want to read any further.

Richard writes,

David, you asked whether it seemed like Jack had become the “man of faith” in this season, and I think you’re absolutely right. One thing I think is fascinating (and I mentioned this on last week’s podcast) is the way Jack and John are being forced to go outside their default positions. We see a pretty realistic extreme shift to the other assumption, and in this season I think we will see both Jack and John come to similar places emotionally and spiritually when they finally find a nice middle ground between the two. In other words, they’re going to find a kind of peace.

This kind of addresses Alan’s concern, that Lost was relying too much on a Faith vs. Reason dichotomy. I think they’re demonstrating the failure of both extremes, only to bring us to a place where we accept a more helpful position. The question is whether they do it well.

Of course, as we head toward the big premiere this Tuesday, the big question the show intended to present before us is whether or not they will be able to change the past/present/future. I think they probably will, but they will still retain all of their memories and the things they learned from the experiences they had. The conflict between Kate and Jack was that Jack wanted to erase the past completely, while Kate wanted to keep living within it. Neither will get their wish, but in my opinion, they’ll get something much better, and something we all pine for: A chance to start over with 20/20 hindsight. A chance to do it all again. A chance to make it right. In other words, a chance at redemption. That’s what I predict will open up the season.

Of course, we know that were we given a chance to do it all again (and were adam and eve given another garden), we’d just find another, more creative way to screw it all up. I think you’ll see that conflict hanging over our character’s heads throughout the season.

Alan writes,

Rich, this talk of redemption and changing the past finally brings us to the big question of Season 6: what the heck is going to happen? Did the bomb work? If it did, what are we going to be watching this season?

More importantly though is the question of whether or not the show’s producers will allow for the possibility of free will. In Season 5 Daniel Faraday dies trying to alter the course of “what happened.” Despite the fact that we had been previously told (by Faraday) that no one can change history, Faraday tries to prevent the explosion of electromagnetic energy at the Swan station, thus changing the events that led to the original plane crash. However, as we know, his mother kills him before he can go through with his plans. I loved Faraday’s character and was sad when his mother killed him, especially when I realized that his “present day” mother sent him back to the island knowing that she would kill him in the past (Is it possible to talk about time-travel without sounding ridiculous?). But what was even more potentially troubling about his death was the fact that it seemed to suggest, symbolically if nothing else, that free will was doomed. Faraday literally dies striving to exert his will against history in order to save lives.

So what does this mean for the other survivors? Are they merely trapped in a deterministic world, unable to act according to their will? If so, does this mean that all they can do is try to enjoy their lives in the past, knowing that if they tried to alter any event in history to save anyone they will be unsuccessful? Perhaps it is the Calvinist in me coming out, but I think I’d like it if the characters were unable to alter history on their own, but needed some sort of miraculous intervention. In other words, I’m neither comfortable with the idea that they are trapped in a completely closed-system (determinism) or that they are able to alter history according to their free will. I’m curious to hear what other viewers have to say about this theme in the series.

Since Rich gave us his prediction for Season 6, I’ll go on record a guess that the bomb was successful, but not in the way Faraday intended.

Richard writes,

Well, Alan, since you brought up Calvinism and free will, and since I talked about how impossible it must be to redeem oneself, even if given the explicit chance, let’s point out what Calvinism’s answer to free will officially is: Total Depravity, or the belief that man is completely incapable of doing or choosing good (or God) on his own. Isn’t it interesting that the series seems so incredibly focused on the same old faults for its’ ensemble? This is the sort of thing that would be incredibly frustrating if the show only had two or three key players, but because individual stories are spaced out so much, we don’t get quite as frustrated that Jack is always falling off the wagon, Kate is always running away, Hurley is always indulging himself, Locke is always lying to himself, Sayid keeps killing and/or torturing people, and Ben is always manipulating people.

And over and over, there are hints that the best thing the characters could do is to “let go,” dangerous advice for a lazy person who doesn’t care, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. We’re dealing with characters who are in fact obsessed with controlling their own destiny and righting their own wrongs. They think that they have the will to do this. This season, it’s likely we’ll see if their will is strong enough.


  1. I have some interesting questions (I think), and am interested in your opinions, Richard and Alan.

    1) Can we truly still talk about Locke as if he is actually the John Locke from earlier in the series? John Locke was killed by Ben Linus, and the figure that ended up with Ben and Jacob in a cave doesn’t seem to be the real John Locke at all. Rather, it seems that Locke’s body is possessed, for lack of a better term, by the Man in Black, or that the Man in Black is making himself appear as John Locke for some reason. The Locke of season 6 is not the same man of faith from previous seasons, in my opinion. What does that do to the faith v. reason argument?

    2) The key conflict between Locke and Jack early on was not exactly faith v. reason, but faith v. science. From Locke’s point of view, his faith was entirely reasonable. From Jack’s pov, his science was the reasonable position. If we take ‘reason’ as meaning simply ‘a thoughtfully defensible position’, is it possible that ‘reason’ is the middle ground between Locke and Jack, between science and faith?

    3) I just wanted to chime in with my dream ending for LOST – From the very beginning of the show, the Island has represented, for me, a place or time of decision that each of us come to at some point(s) in our lives. Each of the main characters has a flaw or past sin that their experience on the Island gives them the opportunity to either reinforce or overcome. The fact that several of them escaped the Island but were inexplicably drawn back to it shows that we cannot avoid these times/decisions in our lives. We have to face them head-on. Ideally, I’d like to see the characters avert disaster, find redemption and reconciliation, but have it all happen through some event that is completely outside of their control, and also seemingly intentional on the part of some greater being or power. That would show that, when we come to that decision in our lives, it is ultimately divine intervention and our response to that intervention that determines how our lives turn out. I think it would be difficult to accomplish that with a scenario where all the events of the show were erased, and the characters got to start over, but retained their knowledge and memories of what happened. As you stated, it would be too easy/likely that some other choice or decision would lead events down a similar, or even worse, path. I’d like to see the show end with the characters redeemed, but the Island continuing on as a symbol that the important character-shaping choices we face in life will always be there.

  2. Joseph, sorry for taking so long to respond…

    1. You bring up a good point, and that reality means my brain is all muddled in terms of who said what. But one thing that I’ve noticed now that I think about it is that The Man in Black (let’s call him Esau) seems to be entirely on the side of reason, or at least against faith. He seems entirely uncomfortable with the idea of mystery, and I found it telling that in the premiere he declared “the saddest thing you’ve ever heard” to be the revelation that Locke died saying “I don’t understand.” He encouraged Ben to demand answers from Jacob and goaded him into killing Jacob because the whole thing was just so mysterious.

    2. I’ve been using science and reason interchangeably when I discuss Lost’s conflict but I suppose you could be right…

    3. “That would show that, when we come to that decision in our lives, it is ultimately divine intervention and our response to that intervention that determines how our lives turn out.” Ooh, I like that. I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that the nuclear blast never actually happened, and that instead there was a sort of divine intervention that spawned whatever that was in the season premiere. Neither realities seem to be perfect for the survivors, so it’s very possible that their happiness and contentment may be based around their response to the intervention… how this happens or what this means is anyone’s guess.

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