Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pondering About Lost: Light & Dark May Not Equal Good vs. Evil

A common theme on the show has been black & white, dark & light. Here are just a few examples:

  • the colors of backgammon pieces
  • the white & black stones found beside the “Adam & Eve” skeletons in the caves
  • the keys on a piano, played by several characters in the Lost universe (including Jack & his fiance, Daniel Faraday, and Jack’s alternate timeline son)
  • the colors in the Dharma logo and the Lost title screen
  • Rose & Bernard
  • appearances of animals or stuffed animals that are black & white including: stuffed panda, stuffed whale, polar bears (which have black skin but appear white because of their translucent fur), white rabbits with black numbers on them, etc.
  • the black & white rocks on the scale in Jacob’s seaside cave
  • *numerous* examples of characters in the same scene wearing clothes of opposite colors -- one character in black & another in white or one character wearing something that has both white & black in it

One might automatically assume that this theme implies a conflict of good vs. evil. That is definitely a possibility. However, I have a hard time seeing any character in this show, even Jacob and the Smoke Monster, as being completely good or completely evil.

Some assume that Jacob is the good guy and that Smokey is the bad guy. But, Jacob has also encouraged the Others to do some awfully dark things through his cryptic lists. It’s still unclear whether he sanctioned the Others to commit kidnapping, torture, and murder, but he never stopped them either. When face-to-face with Ben, he totally dismissed Ben’s work & devotion, but if he didn’t approve of Ben’s leadership, why didn’t he ever intervene to expel Ben from power? I’ll agree that Jacob seems to have better intentions and is the lesser of two “evils,” but his hands are *not* clean.

Some assume that the opposite is true, Smokey could be good, Jacob could be bad. Smokey has killed a multitude of people. Even if you could argue that some of his kills were done in self defense or were acts of justice on behalf of others, I keep thinking about his ruthless slaughter of Mr. Eko. Had Mr. Eko committed some atrocities? Yes. But, he had turned his life around. He redeemed himself. So did Sawyer & Sayid, and Smokey hasn’t killed them -- yet. How could Smokey possibly justify killing Eko?

So, what’s the deal with white & black, light vs. dark? I think the theme implies two diametrically opposed philosophies. I don’t think it’s good vs. evil. I think order vs. chaos would be too much of a ripoff of another favorite show of mine. I think fate vs. free will is close but not quite it (I may speak to that in a separate blog entry). Regardless or what it is, I think the colors represent two sides that are equal & opposite, regardless of what their motivations are. But, I don’t think either side is completely good nor completely evil. The conflict is about something...else.

1 comment:

Chris Knight said...

Your post starkly reminds me of something Desmond said last season, inside the Lighthouse: how Jack and the rest were just being used as "pieces" in a "game".

All this time, we haven't even been told what this game is about. Sorta like that other favorite show of yours did for so long :-)

Hope we get some answers soon.

Good thoughts here, man!