Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Introduction and Season 1


Themes. That is what you should remember about Lost when you reflect on it, and if you ever rewatch, when you view an episode again. While Lost has given many hard answers, a few answers that could easily be extrapolated, and few huhs, Lost has often used themes to both illuminate the current plot and to allow the viewer to fill in some gaps. Each season actually has its own theme, and I will discuss them in the following sections, but there are two big themes rampart in its run: free will vs. fate and faith vs. science.

The first pairing, free will vs. fate is really about choices. Are the choices we make not really ours to make (epitomized in who becomes the Guardian of the Island. Each Guardian really didn’t volunteer as much was thrust into the role due to circumstance) or can we decide when to fold and walk away? And how does that dichotomy determine if we are good or evil? If we are being pushed towards outcome (as Sayid is often pushed into torturing) how can that make us evil, if everything is out of our control? If we choose to do something, does that make us good, or just lucky, as we can never truly know the outcome of our actions?

The second theme, faith vs. science, is tied to the first one. Faith, in this show, means believing in something higher, something that will guide you. Epitomized by John Locke, yes, but also Jack Shephard at the end of the run. But both characters took faith to a dangerous extreme: Locke let himself be conned into becoming the vessel of the Man in Black, while Jack, at the end of Season 5, believed so much that he had been given a purpose, wanted to detonate an atom bomb. Meanwhile, science wants the cold, hard facts and is willing to wait to get them, or actively pursue these “facts” until they are had. This is as bad a position as faith. The Dharma Initiative was science. But they came to the Island and ransacked it, basically. They made the Natives (aka The Others) into The Hostiles. Yet, their ultimate purpose was not dissimilar to Jacob’s, the “god” of faith. It was only at the end, where Jack, who was once a man of both science and faith, reconciled the two and become the sacrifice the Island wanted. At the end, he believed in the Island, but was not going to wait around and let it dictate what to do.

I am going to go through each season now and touch upon some themes and mysteries and hopefully tell you how it all makes sense. I will try to make it clear what the show actually answered, what the show heavily implied, and what I, under my own thoughts, extrapolate.

Season 1:

Plot: Plane crashes, survivors survive, Boone dies, Walt is taken and the Hatch is blown.

Community – Jack said it best: “Live together, die alone.” Here were flawed people given a new opportunity to present themselves to the world. There was an episode called Tabula Rasa, which means clean slate in Latin. In that episode, Jack even says what happened before doesn’t matter. These survivors (48 in the beginning) needed to work together to survive. But, now, we can see that the needed each other to become better people. “Live together, die alone” should have a bigger impact now that we saw the finale and the church scene. Without each other, these people would never truly find happiness. They would come close, but they would always mess it up. Ironic though that the man who coined the phrase on the Island, Jack, was the last to realize this is the Sideways reality

See also: Sayid and Sawyer’s torturous (pun!) encounters, the discovery of Rousseau (French woman) who never got to have a community on the Island and her subsequent turn to insanity (also, Claire in the future), the arrival of more Others at the end of the season signifying that our ragtag civilization was about to encounter a more organized and possibly more ruthless one.

Fear of the Unknown – From the survivors’ perspective not only what the Island is, what the Monster is, or how they survived but of each other. John Locke was the antagonist in Season 1, mirroring Terry O’Quinn portrayal of the Man in Black as Locke (aka Flocke) in the last season. Locke was this mystic who believed in the Island. He believed it since he was now able to walk on the Island. Yet, he was dogmatic, too dogmatic in his approach. He knocked out Sayid when Sayid was trying to locate Rousseau. He, essentially, led Boone to his death because of a vision, but only after he knocked out Boone and forced him into having a vision of his own. Locke, more than any other character in the first season, represented man’s mistrust of fellow man, even when there is nothing else to lose. The battle of faith vs. science began with faith acting aggressively.

Redemption/Personal Acceptance – Redemption/Acceptance wouldn’t come to the characters in the first season, not all of them at least, but we saw that these characters were flawed and the Island gave them some incentive to grow up, as it were. Charlie battled his heroin addiction and won. Sawyer was the rogue but was still able to tell Jack that he saw his father in a bar and Christian praised Jack.

And then there’s Boone. Boone died not too long after he came to the realization he didn’t need his sister, Shannon. That he could let her go (not sure if that line was actually spoken in that episode, but I will rewatch). So we see here, in a thematic sense, the theme of Season 6 come into play long before Season 6.

Why Did They Survive – Simply put, Jacob selected the survivors as potential candidates and hence, when they came to the Island, they were able to survive the crash. Cruel that the other people had to die, but that was Jacob’s philosophy.

Walt – Perhaps the biggest unanswered question from the first season. Walt was “special” as he could apparently summon animals (polar bears on the Island in Season 1, birds in his flashback in Australia and in a short, online episode between Seasons 3 and 4). In the end, I think Malcolm David Kelly’s growth spurt put a damper on any long term plans for the character. Perhaps he was supposed to be Jacob Jr.

But remember something from the pilot episode: Locke and Walt discuss backgammon. Wherein Locke says this immortal line “Two sides, one white, one black.” Even back then, Lost was setting up Jacob vs. The Man in Black, and what they represented: two sides of an eternal struggle. Black and white is a major visual motif throughout the series. Later in Season 1, Claire has a vision in which Locke has a black and white pair of eyes.

Aaron – Claire was told by a psychic that Aaron was important and shouldn’t be raised by any one other than her. Why? The series finale has a possible answer. The birth of Aaron served to wake up Claire (and Kate) is the Sideways world. Both felt this incredible connection to the birth. Claire felt this way because she was prepared to be the mother of Aaron and not give him away at that time in the real world. The psychic may have saw into this Sideways world (his own daughter died and came back to life in a flashback we saw in an episode in Season 2 concerning Eko) and saw that the only way for Claire’s soul to move on was to feel motherly towards her own son so that his birth in that reality can trigger her. If Claire gave away Aaron and never felt that connection, her soul may have forever slept in the Sideways universe.

The Hatch – Answered in Season 2. Incidentally, Sayid makes reference to weird magnetic properties in Season 1.

The Numbers – 4, 8, 15, 16, 42. What did they mean? In the end, nothing. But that is not to say they didn’t have significance. Jacob assigned these numbers to the final six candidates. It is not unreasonable, in my mind, that the man responsible for Richard’s long life could imbue numbers with some sort of mystic power, even unknowingly. These Numbers were, of course, found in the Hatch, broadcasted by Dharma, and in a game considered part of the story that occurred between Seasons 2 and 3, were part of an equation that could predict the end of the world. They had significance perhaps because the next group of potential candidates, the group that would ultimately have two guardians, were assigned those numbers.

The Monster – Heard but not seen until the season finale, where we see it is made up of smoke. Interestingly enough, it appears first to Locke in his first flashback episode, though we don’t see it. He calls it the eye of the Island. Rousseau later calls it a security system. We now know it is the Man in Black, and he was scouting Locke to be his vessel. Which is why he nearly took Locke in the finale of Season 1.

Christian Shephard’s Empty Casket – No concrete explanation other than Oceanic never put his body into it. The Smoke Monster, while claiming to be Papa Shephard does not need to inhabit an actual body (Locke’s real body was left untouched, Yemi, Eko’s brother who appears to Mr. Eko, is also left in the Beechcraft plane)

The Polar Bears – Refugees from Dharma experiments.

Kidnapping of Claire/Walt – The Others could not have children, so they needed young kids.

The Black Rock – Slaveship that Richard Alpert arrived in, it smashed the statue and landed in the middle of the jungle due to a monsoon.

The Whispers: As seen in Season 6, the Whispers are the dead who can’t leave the Island. One can suppose that they pop up to warn the living of impeding danger and trouble. (They were heard right before Shannon’s death in Season 2. They often accompany The Others’ arrivals).


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4 Responses to “Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Introduction and Season 1”

  1. Analysis: Lost in My Thoughts: A Lost Dissertation – Introduction and Season 1 (via Creative Bender) | Life After LOST Says:

    […] Introduction: Themes. That is what you should remember about Lost when you reflect on it, and if you ever rewatch, when you view an episode again. While Lost has given many hard answers, a few answers that could easily be extrapolated, and few huhs, Lost has often used themes to both illuminate the current plot and to allow the viewer to fill in some gaps. Each season actually has its own theme, and I will discuss them in the following sections, … Read More […]

  2. Doug Says:

    Coincidentally, one of my friends also called out my theory on Christian’s body, so it is definitely an interesting topic of discussion. The reason why I think Oceanic never put the body in the casket is that they were giving Jack a hard time about transporting it back in Sydney (Jack was arguing with the representative at the desk). So, Oceanic “compromised” by sending the casket with the hope that Jack wouldn’t actually open it. They don’t violate corporate rules by not actually transporting a dead body.
    Of course, the flipside is that it makes some sense for the body to be somewhere on the Island. While the Smoke Monster doesn’t inhabit dead bodies, he seems to take on characteristics of the people who have bodies on the Island (Christian, Locke, Yemi. All seemed to closely mimic who they were pretending to be) as opposed to being somewhat a caricature of dead people who are dead and buried off-Island (Ben’s Mom, Isabella when Richard is trapped on the Black Rock)
    Cool. I like your take on the monster having different guises whether it is mimicking people on or off the island. I wonder if the monster can get a better read on people if he scans them personally as opposed to reading the mind of a loved one (like Ben’s mom)?

    I had one other thought on Christian’s body. Later in the series (spoiler if your readers are not to season 5) Eloise Hawking and Ben told Jack to bring Locke’s body back to the island as a substitute for Christian’s body. Does that factor into our theories in any way? It will be fun debating that when we get to that part of the show. Looking forward to your next post.

    • Beerman Says:

      To me, Eloise Hawking is somewhat of a mystery. Was she only working to save Daniel? Or was their someone advising her from the Island. Was it Jacob or MiB? If it was MiB, that would explain why Locke’s body had to go back, MiB needed it for his endgame. If it was Jacob, that explains why all the candidates from the O6 had to return.

      I do believe I talk about why they had to recreate the 815 crash as part of a larger theme, but I don’t think I address the “why” of it and the particulars.

  3. Comic: Hollow Oak University – #10 – Monday Morning « Creative Bender Says:

    […] due to the gridnstone force I am applying to it. In between writing my dissertation (the non-Lost one) and continuing with actual research, there isn’t a whole lot of time not related to my […]

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