“It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything will be just fine, everything will be alright“
– Jimmy Eat World “The Middle”
Whenever I hear that song I just want to dance.
We are entering the middle of Lost. We heard the click-clack of roller coaster tracks as we ratcheted toward the apex of Season One, opened the Hatch and down we went! Opening the Hatch proved to be the end of Act One and the first major turning point for our main characters; Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Locke. For better or worse they’re moving toward their destinies where they’ll discover their true essence. Is Locke special? Does he have a greater purpose? Is Jack everyone’s savior? Or should he just save his self? What about Kate? Will she ever make peace with her self? And Sawyer? He’s part of a community, but is the community part of him?
Before we can answer those questions we have to take a few more steps along the journey. Now that our heroes have crossed the First Threshold and committed to change they must be tested. If change was easy we’d all do it.
Welcome to Season Two, where allies seem to be enemies, and enemies seem to be one step ahead of everyone. Can you say, “Others?”
The main purpose of this stage in every monomyth is that the hero must experiment with various ways of reaching his goal. Often allies seem to be mentors who have gone through the journey before. They offer a glimpse of what the hero may become. Enemies are those who understand what it is the hero is after and intend to stop him by any means possible. It is in step six that we catch our first peak at our hero’s nemesis. And who should raises his battered, bloodied head in Season Two of Lost? Well hello, Benry!
More on that in a second.
If the story has romance then it is also where the object of the hero’s desire becomes clear because they recognize the hero’s true essence. They see their full potential. Now, you know why there are Skaters and Jaters galore. But how do they see each other?
Kate sees in Jack the nobility she wishes to possess and Jack sees in her the freedom he can’t accept. In Sawyer she sees herself as she truly is at this moment; quite selfish, however she also sees someone struggling to change for the better. Sawyer sees in her someone he can put above his own desires, because she seems to put others above her (“There’s always someone to go back for”). If this was a true triangle we would discuss what Jack and Sawyer see in one another, but alas.
Since Lost is not a romance, but has romance in its story, let’s get back to Benry. It is the introduction of these “Others” and their leader that truly begins the test of our heroes.
Locke is forced to question his purpose. Is he just a button pusher? Should he listen to Eko, who believes pushing the button is the most important thing? Or to “Henry Gale,” who tells him nothing happens when you don’t push the button. Who is his ally and who is his enemy?
Sawyer spends the majority of season two with the “Tailies.” He initially sees them as the enemy, but they prove themselves to be allies. He knows who the real enemy is before anyone else seems to. They’re the people who took Walt. Sawyer knows many cons, but he can’t find any excuse for why someone would kidnap a child…at least without a ransom note.
Jack knows who his enemies are, but he gets confused as to who are his allies. Why didn’t he go to Sayid when he wanted to raise an army? He’s so driven by his need for justice that he almost forsakes his role as doctor in pursuit of the “Others” even when he finds Michael. He won’t lower himself to their games…yet. But he will allow them to hang them self. Jack’s judgment is swift and final. You’re either with him or against him.
Kate mostly gets captured by the “Others” (sorry, had to point that out), but it is revealing. Kate is a loner. No one is her enemy or ally. They are whoever she sees them as at that particular moment. Their role is constantly shifting.
Season Two ends with two very significant events orchestrated by Benjamin Linus. There is the obvious kidnapping of three of our four heroes, but wasn’t Ben also the person who pushed Locke’s buttons? Sure, Locke already doubts his purpose as “button pusher” but it’s not until “Lockdown” that Locke becomes obsessed with discovering the true purpose of the Hatch. With the doubts Ben had put in his head he misread the purpose of the “Pearl” and did what will most likely turn out to be what Ben wanted him to do: destroy the Swan station. If there is any doubt in your mind as to who the true antagonist of Lost is, reread this paragraph. Still doubt it? Read it again. Still? Then you’re a bigger fan of Locke than I am, because you totally identify with him.
Once the heroes have been thoroughly tested they approach the point of no return.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave.
This is the midpoint of every story yet the hero is closer to his goal than to he is to where he began. He is either fully committed to his goal, has stronger motivation, or it becomes clear what he must do. Regardless, life as he knew it is over. Inside, he is preparing for a major change; moving toward his essence but still maintaining his identity.
This is Season Three (if you didn’t realize that divide six, the number of promised seasons, in half).
We see Jack, Kate, and Sawyer trapped in Otherville (eventually they make it to Otherton) where they’re each forced to accept the fact that merely surviving on the island is not enough anymore. Is this the result of having passed or failed their tests?
We discover that pushing the button was the most important thing that Desmond would ever do and thereby we may assume that Locke’s failure to push the button means that he failed his test. He wanted a purpose, got it, but didn’t like it. Now Locke spends season three searching for a higher purpose. He’s told to clean up his mess. Once he does he’s back on his way. But is he?
The other three seem to have passed their test and now the consequences are they must face their nemesis. Each of them is dramatically changed as a result.
Sawyer no longer confuses his allies with his enemies. He calls Jack out for supporting Juliet and even shoots an unarmed Tom Friendly. Why? Because he took the boy.
Kate is forced to depend on others. First in her escape, then in her attempt to rescue Jack, then by being handcuffed to Juliet, and finally, when Jack and Sawyer decide that she isn’t to return to rescue Sayid, Jin, or Bernard.
Jack, who was sure who is enemies were, is taken deeper. Oh, he sees Ben for what he is, but does he see Juliet? Right now, she’s an ally, a mentor even. But keep this mind. Everything Juliet has done she has done for herself. Even when she goes back to help Sawyer she’s doing it to help her standing with the new community more than she is to save anyone’s life.
Now, the most important thing about the midpoint of the story is that this is where the author is the cruelest to his hero. In order to prepare him for his greatest test (the final showdown) he must do the one thing to the character that he fears the most: Give him what he wants.
In the Season Three finale we see Jack and Kate are finally given a way off the island. Remember they were the first two to go into the jungle…with Charlie. They’re all doing everything possible to leave, but only Charlie learns, too late, that leaving is not the best thing for them.
Sawyer commits himself to the community by going back to save his friends. He’s a complicated man, remember. Now that he has a community will he discover that he was better off alone?
And of course, Locke has found a higher purpose. In fact, he is introduced to the island’s biggest mystery, Jacob, and even sees “tall Walt,” all before lodging a knife in Naomi’s back. Well, it beats pushing a button.
Thus, with Season Three – the midpoint – behind us, we enter Season Four. The heroes must now deal with the decisions they’ve made. The “Losties” are split in the first episode of Season Four between those who want to leave the island and those who want to stay. Now, those who have gotten what they wanted and had their goals made clear must work to achieve them. But as tough as their initial tests were, these new ones will be even more difficult
8. Ordeal (Crisis).
We’ve yet to reach the major crisis of Lost, but if you haven’t started to recognize a pattern yet then let me just say that it’s going to be the Season Four finale. So yes, from here on out we’re speculating as to how the rest of the story will unfold. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the steps ahead.
The Ordeal, or Crisis, of the story is the lowest point for the hero. Think of Season Four as “The Empire Strikes Back” of Lost. This is the moment when things look most bleak. All is lost, lovers are separated, life and death decisions are made that put everyone in great jeopardy; in general it seems as if there is no way the hero will reach his goal (become his true self). A decision will be made that will lead directly to the stories end and the hero’s ego will be destroyed (sometimes a symbolic death and rebirth occurs, go back to Doc’s article about Locke) and a Big Change will occur.
So let’s speculate.
For Locke this means that he must make a life or death decision based upon the purpose he believes the island has given him. Now, does he continue to listen to Ben? Or does Locke finally step up and become his own leader? Either way, once Locke makes his decision all will appear to be lost. He will seem to be unable to protect the island (his purpose). The “Freighties” will invade it. This seems less like a guess with spoilers for upcoming episodes being leaked, but by this point you didn’t even need the spoilers. In fact, from here out, they’ll only serve to support the theories you and I’ll create based on this monomyth and you’ll ignore the fact that this article is longer than I promised. J
Unlike Locke, Sawyer has yet to experience his symbolic death of ego. Some might say Season Two was his death of ego (bullet, stretcher, watch the DVD and catch up already), but it was not the result of any choice he made to achieve his goal. Therefore, he’s about one step behind Locke. Expect Sawyer to put his life at risk to protect the community he chose. In fact, Sawyer will most likely be left for dead at the end of the season. And when he first appears in Season Five we’ll all be wondering whether he’s really alive or just another “apparition” of the Island. Oh, he’ll seem that way because he’ll be much wiser than he currently is, but that’s only because he’s cast off his former self.
Jack will not experience a “death of ego” moment. At least, not the symbolic one where he looks like he’s dead. However, well all know he’s going to make a decision he’s going to regret because we saw “Through the Looking Glass.” The question as to why he regrets this decision will be revealed in the finale. I’ve not seen any spoilers, but here goes: He wants to save everyone and be noble in doing it, but he doesn’t accomplish that. In fact, he’ll have to lie and betray people in order to get what he wants. Wouldn’t that drive you to drinking? If you began to realize you had become everything you despised, like your alcoholic father, by compromising your principles for your own self preservation. Yeah, now you know why those rumors that the finale is Jack centric could have been guessed during the Season Three finale.
By now, you should be realizing some people will either have a happy ending or a tragic one. I’m going to save my thoughts on the guys until Part Four of the Journey to Redemption, but I’m going to go ahead and give you where I think Kate is heading.
Kate took a life in cold blood. No matter what she thought she was doing, her mother pointed out quite clearly that she murdered her father, not for anyone but her self. Right now, the flash forwards make it appear as if everything is going to work out for Kate. She’s a surrogate mother free from murder charges. If she knew what the island was really about (ask Eko) then there is no way she’d want to go back. She wouldn’t be able to cut a deal. The only way Kate can have any sort of happy ending is to be willing to sacrifice her life for another…and actually do it. For me, as I’ve watched how selfish Kate has become through out the series, this seems like the only way to redeem her character. Her end will be set in motion at the end of this season when she takes Aaron from Claire. Kate and Jack will strike a deal with the “Freighties” and Widmore to take them off the island if they give them Aaron. Again, Kate is taking an innocent life (okay, so Wayne wasn’t exactly innocent, but he was never charged with a crime) and when she returns to the island she’ll have to give up her own.
Those are some big bombshells. I hope you’ll forgive the length (and any missed typos) as a result, but now that I’ve blown your mind put your brains back in and get ready for Act Three. We’ll journey through the last four stages and see how they impact Season’s Five and Six. Here’s a hint, some of you have argued that certain characters should be considered as main characters. Well, in order to be one of the heroes you have to make it to the final showdown. 😮