Posted by Marc Oromaner on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 12:23 am - filed under Lost In Myth - (35) Comments
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Lost episode 6.4, “The Substitute,” has so many parallels with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory , I am convinced that the movie can be used to reveal Lost’s endgame. While I’m sure those parallels also exist within the actual Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book, since I am more familiar with the 1971 Gene Wilder movie (having seen it dozens of times), I will make my comparisons there.  Sure, this may turn out to be nothing more than stuff and nonsense, but in the words of Wonka, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” So, let’s get to it because we have so much time and so little to do. Strike that…reverse it.

In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka chooses five children from around the world to partake in a tour of his glorious and magical candy factory. While each child believes that his or her prize will include a lifetime supply of Wonka chocolate, in truth, Wonka is looking for a candidate to replace him as custodian of the phantasmagorical factory. Sounding familiar yet? If not, no worries because we’re just getting started.

Wonka’s nemesis is a rival candy maker known as Slugworth, who, we are led to believe, tempts each of the children with riches should they bring him Wonka’s newest secret candy, The Everlasting Gobstopper. This shouldn’t be too difficult because all of the children, save one, are spoiled, greedy, brats. The only one who isn’t, is Charlie Bucket who has had a rough life, but is a good kid. Helping Wonka run his factory is a group of strange helpers known as the Oompa Loomas. Despite never helping the children get out of life-threatening danger, the Oompa Loompas consider themselves to be the good guys by singing preachy songs about proper behavior.

So, plugging in our Lost proxies, we can imagine that the mystical candy factory is the mysterious island, Wonka is Jacob and Slugworth is the Man in Black. The Oompa Loompas are the Others and the children are the Losties. Which children they are depend upon which formula you use to plug in. If we were to go purely by archetype, then Shannon is the spoiled brat Veruca Salt, Hurley is the greedy Augustus Gloop, Ana Lucia is the loudmouth Violet Beauregarde, Sawyer is the sheriff wannabe Mike Teevee and Locke is the loveable loser, Charlie Bucket. For our purposes though, let’s just say rich girl Sun could also be Veruca and tomboy Kate could also be Violet. Poor little Desmond could also be Charlie Bucket, but we won’t give up on Locke just yet.

Okay, so I’ve now compared Lost to Willy Wonka, just as easily as I could’ve with say, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, or Star Wars. True, but we’ve already heard about those. And the new information we received in “The Substitute” really gives us a big clue that we can use Willy Wonka as a key to decode. The clue, is that of the concept of a candidate.

The idea of using a series of tests to pick a candidate to replace someone in a very important (and magical) position exists in many stories other than Willy Wonka. For example, after passing a series of tests in the final scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy is asked to replace the knight guarding Christ’s Holy Grail. Doing so would allow him to become immortal so that he could, say, later survive an atom bomb explosion by hiding in a refrigerator.

On Lost, we are led to believe that Jacob and his nemesis have been given eternal life so that they too can guard something of vast importance—an island that seems to defy the laws of the universe. Why are two people needed in this version of the myth? Well, Lost has set up that precedent numerous times, as explained by the button-pushing chore performed in the Swan Station. It’s basically to prevent you from going crazy. While it didn’t work for Radzinsky, (who killed himself leaving behind only a blood stain on the wall according to his partner Kelvin) perhaps the reason was because Radzinsky, as we have seen, was not up to the challenge. Radzinsky was impatient and angry and hadn’t grown enough to take on the challenge of sitting in a contained place and pushing a button every 108 minutes. What if the whole button-pushing thing was actually a test to see who could take on the responsibilities of the island? A test he failed. A test Kelvin failed. And a test that Desmond failed, but came closer than anyone else. Sorta like Charlie Bucket, who also failed by stealing Fizzy-Lifting drinks with his Grandpa Joe. But “so shines a good deed in a weary world…” Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself.

In “The Substitue” the Man in Black tells Sawyer that he was once a man. Perhaps then, Jacob was too, and both died on the island to be resurrected as its protectors. Much like Locke not believing the button has to be pushed, the Man in Black has lost his faith that the island needs to be protected. And much like Locke, he is wrong, as we see in the parallel timeline with the island being underwater. A timeline where the Man In Black seemingly wins.

As I’ve written in my previous two columns from this season (“What the LA X Refers To” and “Tale of Two Kates”) , I still believe the events of the parallel 2004 timeline are really happening after the events we are seeing on the island in 2007—after Man In Black attacks the temple with Sawyer (and possibly Claire, Christian, and Sayid from the inside). Dogen has already said that the Man in Black will be coming to the temple. Why? Well, why build a temple to begin with? Why was Solomon’s Temple built and later, the Dome of the Rock in its place? Because both sit on hallowed ground where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac (the Biblical Jacob’s father) and Muhammad ascended to heaven. So the temple on the island also likely sits on hallowed ground or must contain a sacred treasure (something akin to the Ark of the Covenant?) that would allow the Man In Black passage back into our world. Perhaps it is the rejuvenating pool. Maybe Man In Black must kill Sawyer and resurrect him in the pool. Maybe his plan is to trick Sawyer into taking his place so that he can finally leave (just as Sayid the torturer is being tortured, Sawyer the conman is being conned). And what might this Man In Black do once he returns home? The end of the episode gives us a clue.

The Man in Black says he wants to get the “hell off” the island. Does Sawyer? “Hell ya.” Ladies and gentleman, should the Man In Black escape the island he will bring with him Hell on Earth. Perhaps not personally or even purposely. Perhaps in that parallel timeline, the changes in the Losties’ lives lead to a butterfly effect that alters the course of history and brings about the destruction of the world. Whether purposeful or accidental however, it all seems to be put into action by the Man In Black. And who, pray tell can stop him? Only the Christ. And who is the Christ? Well, there are many Christ archetypes on Lost: Locke, Desmond, and Jacob just to name a few. And all have good arguments to be the savior. Desmond was told by Eloise Hawking that the island wasn’t through with him yet, and he also sacrificed himself on the island only to be reborn naked (without sin). Locke has suffered in his life and also brought back from the dead (by Jacob and later physically by Man In Black). Jacob has been sacrificed, yet, we see what could be a young apparition or resurrection of him (much like the young Spock who is regenerated in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock) warning his nemesis about the rules.

As I mention in The Myth of Lost, in mythology, whenever we see ghosts, they usually speak the truth, and ghosts of children nearly always speak the truth. When Man In Black first sees what could be Jacob, the young boy is barefoot and has his arms spread out in a crucified Christ pose revealing bloody hands. He shows up first as his nemesis tries to recruit Richard and then as he begins to recruit Sawyer, seemingly to remind him that he cannot kill either one of them. Those are the rules. They must make the choice of their own freewill. Of course, this theme is right out of the Bible, which also teaches that we are given the freewill to make choices on our own. Despite Man In Black’s insistence to the contrary (as he explains to Sawyer in the cave), it is becoming increasingly clear that Jacob is the one who represents freedom of choice, though, much like the Man In Black, does offer little nudges here and there to fit his own agenda.

So, of Desmond, Locke, and Jacob, who do I think will save the world? Who do I think will most likely take on the role of the Messianic figure and sacrifice himself for the good of humanity? While I think all three characters will have a role, I believe it will be Locke. There are two clues as to why I believe this. The first was in the much talked about Lost Supper promo pictures taken of the cast. In all three pictures, Locke is sitting in the middle of the table in Jesus’ seat. When I first saw the picture, I thought that since Locke was dead, the image was actually of the Man In Black in Locke’s body. Having been given a taste of this season though, I now feel that it is actually Locke in that position. Yes, Locke who has been buried on the island and beaten down in his parallel life. Either way, I think he will rise to save the day. Why? Once again, we turn to our friend, mythology.

If there is one thing Lost teaches us, it is that we should not underestimate the power of a proxy. A proxy is basically a metaphor, or yes, a substitute, for a particular character—one that can be replaced for another because it has similar qualities (See “‘He’s Our You’—How Proxies Play a Role In Our Lives” for more). Through the character names it has given us, the allusions to books and movies, and its own storyline, Lost has taught us that stories tend to repeat themselves, and themes set up by one story are likely to show up again in another. While Lost does break the rules and surprise us every once in awhile, I highly doubt that they will go against one theme that they’ve spent their entire six seasons reinforcing: Suffering characters who rise against their challenges are, in the end, redeemed. On Lost, the redemption oddly seems to be death, but that’s an argument for a different column. The point is, they overcome their issues and can be at peace.

This theme exists throughout mythology—a hero is someone who suffers. And the more he suffers, the more he grows. The old adage is whatever doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. One only has to look to The Odyssey, Clash of the Titans, Star Wars, The Ten Commandments, The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, and your own life to see that this is true. And who does Lost go out of its way to show us has suffered more than any other character? John Locke. “Chin up, “Hugo tells him in the parallel timeline, “things are gonna work out.”

Cut To: Dead Locke on the beach.

The juxtaposition is humorous, but the message wasn’t really for Locke at all, it was for us. The writers know what they are doing, and things aren’t as they appear—both in the show, and in our lives during these trying times. Suffering will help make Locke, and us, stronger.

In any dimension, Locke’s life is hard mostly because he makes it hard. He became a paraplegic because he continued to harass his father who he knew was a deranged criminal. He stayed in a crappy job that had a crappy boss that no one was forcing him to stay at. Even in his parallel life, couldn’t he have asked his fiancée to pick him up from the airport? If not, he at least could’ve asked someone for help when the wheelchair platform got stuck. But no, he was too proud. He was also too proud to park in a handicap spot. And too headstrong to admit he couldn’t do a walkabout or work on a construction site. Quite simply, Locke’s ego gets him in trouble and is responsible for much of his misfortune. Locke’s handicap is the universe’s way of teaching him not to be too proud—to reduce his ego. Pride is Locke’s real handicap.

As mentioned in The Myth of Lost, Locke needs to learn to accept his paraplegic state. Insisting to Helen that he won’t call Jack and her ripping up his card is a first step, but it wasn’t for the right reasons. At that time, Locke doesn’t want to attempt to get help because he doesn’t have faith, not because he’s cool with his situation. Like island Locke before he lost his faith, Locke needs to believe in miracles as Helen tries to convince him of. Helen is good for Locke. Just like Helen of Troy, she may be the inspiration he needs to go to war with his ego, which he’ll need to do if he’s going to live up to his potential.

As with all the characters on Lost, life is hard. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be a challenge and we’d find ourselves pretty bored. In The Matrix, Agent Smith echoes this truism when he tells Morpheus that humans rejected the first matrix program where everything was perfect. We are here to be challenged and to grow.

On Lost, Man In Black tells Sawyer that candidates have three choices. First, they can do nothing. This would make them the metaphorical zombies of our world, just going through their daily lives without growing until they die. The second choice is to accept the job, using the rules of society to rise to the top. Unfortunately, this choice often leaves one blind to the hidden truths of our world, and one is often left following rules, religions, or subconscious patterns without daring to go beyond and ask the deeper question—what lies beyond? The third choice is to leave the rat race behind and seek your own truth. While this option is often the toughest and the most ideal for one’s destiny, it is often taken on prematurely, before one has grown using the challenges of society.

The trick then, is to start out playing by the rules and growing as they challenge you so that you can later break them and seek your own truth and meaning. On Lost, Jack begins as a man of science, playing by the rules, but has slowly taken on the qualities of a man of faith. Locke became a man of faith on the island, but is now retracing his steps in a parallel life to relearn the rules he always dismissed so that his faith can become even stronger later in the game. It is very difficult to find someone who excels in both the material rules and the spiritual seeking, and perhaps that is why the island’s candidacy requires two people. Two people who can keep each other balanced on the metaphorical scale—or, the real scale seen in Jacob’s cave…or, was that really the Man In Black’s cave? It is more fitting of the dark energy to be underground. Usually light energy is high up, in say, a lighthouse. But I’ll leave that until next week’s episode to discuss. For now, let’s just take the Man In Black’s words with a grain of salt.

In order to become the highest version of one’s self then, it would seem that there is a sequence to reaching enlightenment. First, one needs to follow the rules of the game. Then, one needs to be challenged while playing the game. This makes the player stronger and able to overcome increasingly more difficult challenges. Continually being beaten down by life must cause one to lose his ego, but if one is not completely beaten by life, he or she will grow their faith. This makes the player bigger than the sum of his parts. Only then can he break the rules of the game for a purpose greater than the self. This is redemption. This is destiny. This, is Locke’s destiny. And I’m not telling anyone what the Locke character can or can’t do, I’m just saying that this is how it goes according to the myth that Lost, up until now, seems to be following.

Like most “bad” guys, i.e. Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, etc., the Man In Black underestimates the power of faith—in this case, Locke’s. Man In Black and many Lost fans believe Locke’s story is over. He’s dead and buried and was scared and confused when he died. Even in his other dimension, Locke the substitute teacher doesn’t offer much of a threat to the Man in Black’s dastardly plans. Yet, did little Frodo offer much of a threat? What about the “pitiful rebellion” in Jedi? Did anyone ever think that poor little Charlie Bucket stood a chance at winning a golden ticket, let alone inheriting the entire Wonka empire? In the end, Charlie’s challenges that had beaten him down and crushed his ego enabled him to shine much like a little candle in a dark room. Charlie’s inner peace gave him the strength to resist the temptation of riches from the Everlasting Gobstopper, and so he returned it to Wonka. Wonka, in turn, soon reveals that it had all been a ruse. That Mr. Slugworth really worked for him and that it was all a test. A test concocted to find the perfect candidate to take over for him and look after the chocolate factory and the Oompa Loompas. The curtain had been pulled back at last.

Much like Charlie Bucket, Locke must make up for failing his test. All it takes is one act that can redeem him and thereby, redeem everyone.  Perhaps Jack faces a similar challenge, and he and Locke will take the place of the Man In Black and Jacob. Or, maybe Locke will arrive on the island with Helen back in 1977 and die there, becoming Adam and Eve to be reborn and start a new world.

Even if any of these scenarios are even close, there are still so many questions. If Locke is still close to his dad in the parallel world, are we to believe that he became handicapped from some other reason? When Locke was wheeling down the halls in the high school, was that young kid he spoke with supposed to be Walt from 2004 who obviously had to be recast? Why wasn’t Kate one of the numbers? Is it a men’s only club? If so, does that mean that the 42 is Jin and not Sun? Were the numbers the Losties all along, or was Jacob just keeping track of them by their seat numbers on Oceanic 815? Either way, why do they show up everywhere? Do they signify markers where each Lostie has to go, i.e., the Swan Station? Are the whispers the dead souls on the island, and the reason bodies had to be buried was because the souls would possess them? If so, has the ghost of Rousseau possessed Claire? Is the reason why Claire seemed to recognize Jin because she is actually Rousseau? If the show is ultimately about finding a candidate, what really was the purpose of DHARMA on the show? Is there still something else going on or a major twist planned?

There are still many, many questions left on Lost, and while some will be answered, much as with life, I expect most will not be.  But more importantly, I think the show has played a greater part in helping us solve our own mysteries and co-create our own lives. We may never get to fully understand exactly why the numbers appeared everywhere, why everyone was connected, or what a snozzberry is, but who cares? We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams.


Marc Oromaner
is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.

The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

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35 Responses to “Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: Why LOST Can Be A Substitute For “Willy Wonka””


  1. Jalocke says:

    I actually quite enjoyed this article, despite usually finding Marc’s columns to be a bit too zealous in their use of combing life and myth. However, I still have one issue with this piece, and with numerous other comments and articles from around the LOST blogosphere. I simply do not understand this continued fascination with Locke as a heroic character who deserves to be the ultimate hero of this show.

    Like nearly every LOST fan, in season 1, Locke was my favorite character. He seemed in tune with the viewer and with the island. He sought out the answers, and seemed to truly have a purpose there. However, I began to have my doubts when Boone died. Not only did Locke contribute to Boone’s death by selfishly leading him to go up into a plane precariously balanced on the side of a cliff, but when he brought Boone back to Jack, he lied about the cause, and promptly ran off to go pause. Later on we see him hammering on the hatch door screaming something like, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” Well excuse me Locke, but nothing happened to you. Something happened to a man who was supposed to be your friend, and instead of trying to help him you have gotten caught up in your own heroic narrative.

    Still, I chalked it up as a low point in the heroism of Locke and pressed forward. However, over the next couple of seasons Locke went on to murder and indirectly cause the death of numerous island inhabitants. Let us not forget that he murdered Naomi. You can say whatever you want about being told by the Island, but let us consider some real world context for a moment. Locke, being so far removed from human reality that he would allow himself to follow the commands of an impossible ghostly visage of a young boy named Walt, killed a woman for absolutely no concrete reason. Later he asked the survivors to follow him and not Jack, in trying to find refuge on the island from the freighter folk. What happened to those people? Well aside from Sawyer, Aaron, maybe Claire, Miles, Locke, and noted mass murderer Ben, they pretty much were allow rather humorously killed in a Sawyer action sequence involving sub machine guns and rocket launchers.

    Left and right Locke has murdered, blown up, killed, and been an indirect factor in the deaths of many characters. In fact, its possible to say that Jack has done the same. However, I say the circumstances are completely different. When Jack leads people and asks them to follow him, he invariably is doing so because he ultimately believes that his path will lead to the best possible outcome for all the castaways. He led them to the Hatch trying to find safety from a possible attack by the Others. He led them to the radio tower to try and find a way home, he led them back to the island when he discovered how much they were needed there. Jack is a flawed man who has made many mistakes but never can you point and say it was because of his selfishness, his belief that he was the most important person in the world.

    The Man in Black was right, Locke was a sad and pathetic creature. Sure there was faith and belief, but that faith was in himself, that belief was that he was the savior and prophet. If we know anything about mythology at all, its that the real heroes are those who do not want the job. Odysseus, John McClane, and Jack Shephard come to mind. Not John Locke.

    • Twitchy says:

      Very well said, Jalo! I add: Locke was a TERRORIST. Johnsama Bin Locke.
      Naomi’s murder is something many Locke (and Lost) fans have deeply removed from their unconscious. And so have the characters on the show: one of the poorly written scenes of Lost is after Naomi has been stabbed and lays on the ground and nobody – not even Jack, for God’s sake! – is caring! Jack is verbally copulating with Kate and the other people are celebrating the rescue message from the freighter. Yet this young and brave (and superhottt, btw) lady is left bleeding!
      Therefore is incorrect to assume Locke as a substitute for Christ. He was more a kind of a mystic prophet.. yet ready to harm the other people rather than himself. And usually that’s what terrorist do; Christ-like figures (e.g. St.Peter) harm their own selves. They become martyrs rather then harm the next.
      And Jacob, peacefully letting his heart be speared by Ben’s knife as it was made of butter, was the only Christ-like figure we’ve seen so far.

      • Jalocke says:

        Exactly Twitchy- I understand the want to believe that Locke is the ultimate hero of the show, but personally I would find that to be a bit of a disappointment… however, as I do see that possibility arising what I think would be a good way to navigate this from a writer’s perspective is to leave the heroic heavy lifting, and the true heroes journey to someone like Sawyer or Jack, but give Locke some of that payoff.

        For instance, requiring Jack, Saywer or one of the others to fulfil some Herculean task to bring the true Locke from the grave in order that he might take the role of Jacob. Giving us the emotional payoff for the real hero and slotting Locke nicely into the place of one who has finally seen what it takes to be the prophet and that is the ability to think of others and to make personal sacrifice.

        • whateverhappenedhappened says:

          I like the Locke stuff, but Jack… not so much. JUGHEAD, anyone?

          • Jalocke says:

            Jughead is actually the perfect example. Why did Jack set off Jughead? Because it could reset all the terrible things that had happened. How is that not an admirable thing to want? Boone, Charlie, Shannon and countless others still alive. The plane never crashes, pilots aren’t killed. Sons and fathers are not seperated. Sure we can say that it was also partially because maybe he wanted to erase the misery that was his relationship with Kate, but I don’t think so. Here was an opportunity to save countless lives. And thats ultimately why his friends helped him. Numerous people called into question why Sawyer, Kate, Juliet, etc. suddenly changed their minds when trying to stop Jack. Well I thought it was quite clear. In the end, it felt comfortable to follow Jack. He had sometimes made mistakes but he had always had the best intentions and everyone knew that. From the beginning, they could follow Jack because well, he was ultimately a good guy and amidst the craziness of time travel, wacky others, and nuclear bombs, here was a guy who was just trying to do the right thing, and even if it was a total screw up well, that was at least worth dying for.

            Locke? Well as Rose so nicely put it, (roughly), “I’m not going anywhere with that madman.”

          • Fox says:

            JUGHEAD was supposed to spare everyone on the plane from their respective misery (and joy! think of sun and jin) on the island. Yet, at the same time, many were killed by it (inhabitants of the island) and others were prevented from ever arriving (or being born). It wasn’t 0 kill, but it was definitely convenient to the 815 people.

      • naultz says:

        John locke killed naomi to try to prevent the frieghter people from killing everyone on the island not for sport or personal gain. i think you have forgotten what happened to all the islanders after keamy and his gang came to the island. killing everyone in there path until ben and locke were forced to move the island to protect the people that were still left alive. if locke had succeeded in killing naomi, the sat phone would have not been fixed and maybe the losties could have prevented ever having to move the island. unfortunately no one believed Locke and all of the craziness insued including the first time jump when most of the 815’s died from flaming arrows. that is jacks fault, not lockes

        • Twitchy says:

          Yes, i don’t question Locke’s intentions: i know his reasons to kill Naomi are related to the safety of the Losties. I do question Locke’s means.
          What I was arguing is the point of Locke possibly being a Christ-like figure, who makes sacrifices for the common good. Again: Locke doesn’t sacrifice himself at all, he sacrifices other people’s lives and will! He makes violence to people.

          What about the submarine, for instance? Jack could have well left the island hadn’t Locke blown it up.

          • Jack's Sidekick says:

            As much as we’ve all enjoyed Locke’s character, I’ve always believed that he was really there to inspire Jack to believe. Think about it, before his death he wrote the note for Jack, “I wish you had believed me.” Locke tried for five seasons to make Jack a believer and that was the last thing he did. Maybe that’s his redemption. Though, I’m sure that if he doesn’t come back, then he’ll appear with one final message for Jack. Keep in mind there are two people on the show who can communicate with the dead: Hurley and Miles. I also think that MIB is going to be burdened with Locke’s essence. The way he screamed to the kid, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” made me wonder if Locke’s form is affecting him. I’m not saying real Locke is taking over but if the smoke monster was always able to observe a person’s memories and take their form when they’re dead, then now that he’s stuck in Locke’s form, these memories are going to overflow and affect his judgment.

        • Jalocke says:

          While thats all well and good, its hindsight. At the time Locke made a decision based on the apparation of a young boy. And Jack made a decision based off the good intentions of all the survivors. Locke doesn’t care for any of those people and he didn’t kill Naomi because of it. Why the hell should they have listened to Locke? He was only looking out for what he perceived to be his destiny. Maybe he was right? Who knows? But ultimately Keamy started killing people only after Locke decided to protect Ben Linus…. Ben? Psychopathic mass murderer Ben? Oh and if we want to use hindsight, Ben also turns out to be that guy who killed Jacob. So let’s put this all together. Locke kills Naomi because the island told him that the freighter folk were bad. Then creates a situation, by protecting Ben, where this prophecy comes true. Had they all just co-operated, they would have stood a much better chance of safely going home.

      • Jennifer says:

        Naomi as “young and brave”? I got the impression, rather, that she was the only one of the non-military freightees who was fully informed about the purpose and intent of Keamy’s group – and therefore a party to murder herself. Anyone who knows about Keamy’s nature and still volunteers for a mission to bring him onto an island pretty much is asking for some karmic retribution.

        I think that’s the actual reason people didn’t care about Naomi’s death. Because she didn’t care about their death or really about the other freightees who also met unfortunate ends after she recruited them.

    • Chad Geri says:

      I agree that Locke has often acted selfishly. I disagreed with a lot of what he did in late season 2 and season 3. But he’s also suffered in the most profound ways and been robbed of the deepest human needs: a secure love (raised in foster care and his dad used him to get his kidney then cast him aside) and a significant purpose (a completely insignificant life made worse by the fact that he’s stuck in a wheelchair). The island seemingly gives him these two things, then constantly teases him with the possibility that they could be taken away. He’s so horribly afraid of this that it sometimes leads to selfish behavior. But if anyone has an “excuse” to act selfishly, it’s Locke. I think that because of his INTENSELY traumatic background, he should be cut more than a little slack.

      On the topic of Boone, Boone chose to go up into that plane. And when the plane started to shift Locke was crying out for Boone to get out but Boone ignored him. Boone’s death was NOT Locke’s fault.

      Also, in Season 5, it seemed to me that Locke was trying to act in the interests of others. He checked on Walt and said, “the boy’s been through enough.” He wasn’t going to visit Sun because he had promised Jin he wouldn’t, even though he would be violating what he was told to do. And finally he was prepared to die because he thought that might convince everyone to go back.

      So in conclusion, I don’t think Locke is a great, heroic guy. But I think he’s been dealt a very raw deal, I think he’s tried to do the best he can given this, and I pity him and want to see him redeemed.

      • Jalocke says:

        Whether or not it was Boone’s decision to go up there, why did Locke lie about the cause of death? Why did Locke run off in a guilt ridden stupor? Locke felt responsible and yet wasn’t there to answer questions or provide any help. It’s entirely possible Jack could have saved Boone’s life had he known what was actually wrong with his patient. He may not have pulled the trigger, but Locke’s actions directly led to the death of Boone, and when confronted with this, resorted to the excuse of, “a sacrifice the island demanded.” Excuse me? Who told him that? Thats his own faith coming in to excuse away a death which occurred on his hands.

        Also I don’t buy this stuff about having the best interests of everyone in mind. Sayid seemed happy enough to me, volunteering and doing his part. Locke had no reason to think Kate wasn’t happy, and while Hurley was in a mental hospital he seemed to be doing okay. Locke selfishly wanted to bring them back because he felt that without them he could not complete his destiny. And do you want to know why no one went with him? Because he’s a poor leader and a poor friend. Never has he put the best interests of another in front of his own. Losing Helen was his fault, as he couldn’t “let go” even when he finally had someone who loved him.

        You know maybe Locke himself put it best. Let’s remember a conversation between Boone and Locke all the way back from Season 1

        BOONE: Red shirt.
        LOCKE: Huh?
        BOONE: Ever watch Star Trek?
        LOCKE: Nah, not really.
        BOONE: The crew guys that would go down to the planet with the main guys, the captain and the guy with the pointy ears, they always wore red shirts. And they always got killed.
        LOCKE: Yeah?
        BOONE: Yeah.
        LOCKE: Sounds like a piss-poor captain.*

        *courtesy Lostpedia

    • Glad people finally agreeing with me. Locke is a loser. But worry not all you Locke-nuts, Locke will be redeemed in the sideways reality©.

      Now, if I could only convince others Ben Bad Bad Ben!!!!

  2. Melon Monster says:

    Really enjoyed that marc however (and normally I am not one to pick faults on these sort of things.)

    “was that young kid he spoke with supposed to be Walt from 2004 who obviously had to be recast?”

    This is you joking yes ?

  3. bulldogmi says:

    Re Wonka…Yes! Yes! Yes!… I live in Prague and I get very few chances to discuss my Wonka Lost Theory…This is all spot on.

    In fact…after episode 1 I tweeted the following…

    #LOST is really the great, glass Wonkavator…It goes frontways, backways…..Sideways…. http://bit.ly/aNOwqL

    Understanding the Wonkavator can help us solve the mysteries of LOST :)

    So, yes LOST secrets can be found in the 1971 version of Willy Wonka….which happen to be just a 100 minute ad for the introduction of Wonka bars (and why the named was changed from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory)…but that’s another story….

  4. Kevin James John says:

    The black kid from the school was exactly that, a black kid.

  5. Agreed.
    I hope that if bring Michael back, they will just explain Walt and he not being on the plane because his mom never died or something. I would hate for them to stoop to recasting an important character like Walt.

  6. DanielleB says:

    Enjoyed your perspective. The end of Willy Wonka (book and both movies) has Willy blasting off in a glass elevator and a complete feel good warm fuzzy ending. Is that what we what for the end of LOST? Dancing around the fire with Obi-Wan/Anakin (the young or old one?)& Yoda. I sure didn’t get the sense from Dogan that he has a feel good role as the temple head. The end I foresee will have satifing wrap up to many of the questions yet there will be darkness. Like the end of King Arther – The kingdom has been restored, yet his best friend, Lancelot, has betrayed him, his wife, Guinevere, has gone to the convent, he has to give his sword back to the Lady of the Lake and so on.

  7. Great article, Marc. As always, good food for thought.

    I’d like to chime in on the Locke debate here in the comments section. While I think with our outside perspective it’s easy to see Locke as a selfish character, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t see himself the same way. In his own mind, he’s doing the will of the Island. At this time, then, it’s easy to see him as a terrorist (which was brought up earlier). Certainly his behavior leads us to this conclusion. At the same time, as the nature of the Island is slowly revealed, we will develop a different perspective on the matter. Locke may still be a savior; maybe he was legitimately doing the Island’s will, whatever that may be. In a sense, he was protecting it already by destroying every last form of communication with the outside world.

    I’m not going to say that Locke is the savior, though. I’m still banking on Jack as our ultimate hero, especially as he’s beginning to embrace being a man of faith in the Temple. After all, Jack was the character we were first introduced to, which in most heroic tales indicates who our hero is. Perhaps “LOST’s” biggest red herring was giving us enough characters that we lose sight of Jack’s role as savior. He definitely fits the bill: accepts the call, faces the trials, and most recently has entered the innermost cave. He has come out of the trials with renewed perspective and vigor. He’s confused, yes, but stronger.

    Once again, great article. Only the good ones spark this much debate.

    • Jalocke says:

      And Darth Vader thought he was restoring order to a galaxy in chaos. Bernie Madoff was just trying to earn some extra money for his family. Hell Jafar just wanted to understand the greater mysteries of the universe. Real bad guys never think they are doing evil. It’s always for the greater good. But how many have died in the name of the greater good, where in fact they were dying for the confused ramblings of one man. I personally can’t see a single situation where Locke’s leadership has led to anything but death and destruction.

      From the perspective of the Losties, and from those of us who live in real life, its actually fairly reasonable to question the mysticism of the island. I mean honestly, if we are in that situation if any of us starts being mystically in tune with the island we crashed on, and talks about island sacrifices… well that man is crazy in my books. Whether or not he ends up being right is irrelevant. In that case its an outlier. And even if Locke is right about the island, as it appears to be, his leadership and his method of handling those issues was nothing short of a catastrophic failure.

  8. Benmanben says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m so glad someone mentioned this!
    I had thought of it after hearing about the candidates, and remembered the Oceanic Gold Passes. I was like “It’s Willy Wonka!”

    I told the idea to my brother, who thought I was crazy.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed.

    However, I don’t think MIB is slugworth. Slugworth got along with Wonka in the movie. However, in the book, Slugworth really was evil… I think.

  9. HansM says:

    Since Jalocke brough up the Star Trek reference , i got another that probably got overlooked by all the action. It just came to me after a very relaxing bath that when Locke enters the teacher´s lounge and meets with Ben Linus asking for some tea that there used to another bald guy about Locke´s age who spent an awful lot of time sitting in a chair and whose favourite qoute at the time seemed to be “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot”. That guy was of course Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E in StarTrek: The Next Generation and subsequent Motion Pictures StarTrek 6-10.
    Would that suggest that there still is some leadership quality in ALT-Locke yet to unravel?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JeanLucPicard.jpg

  10. kaptan36 says:

    Oh man, I love the show, but you could write a whole book about all the continuity errors and errors from dropped plotlines and such. Someone should put up a post of the top 20 mistakes/errors in Lost continuity history. The whole Michael off island stuff and Ethan’s timeline would def have to be at the top of the list.

  11. kaptan36 says:

    Where to begin…. 1.) Jack’s beard timeline in season 4-5: Minor, I know, but when Locke visits Jack off island in the hospital, Jack has roughly 2 weeks worth of facial hair. Locke is killed roughly a few days after this, and then his funeral must be within a few days after that. When Jack goes to the funeral parlor he has 6 months worth of beard if not more, not to mention that the week in between he some how manages to take quite a few flights hoping to crash, becomes addicted to pills and booze, loses his job, tries suicide, saves a crash victim, gets visited by his ex wife, etc., etc….. There is just way too much of a problem with this timeline for me to explain here, but if you go back and watch this, you will agree major timeline screw up.

    2.) ETHAN’s timeline. They reveal in season 5 Ethan was born in 1977. Flight 815 crashes in 2004. You mean to tell me that when he infiltrates the camp, that Ethan is only 27??? Really? C’mon man! And where did he get all of this medical experience if no one is allowed to leave the island? In a deleted scene, Ethan even tells Jack that he had a wife who died during childbirth; while this could’ve been a lie, I don’t think that was the intent, what with him working to cure the fertility problem and all. The only reasonable explanation for this would be some kind of off island accidental time travel and he aged when returned sorta thing, but that’s a huge stretch.

    3.) Michael & Walt’s off island adventures: The timeline between when they leave and when Michael returns is absolutely absurd, not to mention all the stuff that happens in between. So if you do the math, only 2 weeks, maybe 3, pass between when Michael & Walt leave and when Naomi parachutes onto the island from the freighter, which Michael is on. Now keep in mind that it probably would have taken a week for the freighter to even get to the vicinity of the island from California, where I am guessing they must have left from; not to mention the day of flying Michael would’ve had to do to get there, because I believe he lived in New York. Anyways… In that time frame, Michael & Walt steer their crappy little boat to rescue(which they never explain), or if you find it more plausible, let’s say in a day’s time they manage to hit another island. Okay, then how with no money or passports do they get home? They couldn’t have taken a flight or any legitimate means of travel without the red flag of flight 815 survivors going up. So you would assume that unless there was some help from the Others(which would be totally contrary to the story), then they would have probably had to have stowed away on a freighter or something just to get back to the states undetected. Which in itself is ironic, because the best way to have explained the whole thing would have been for them to have been picked up by Widmore’s freighter, Michael just simply tells them he’s a flight 815 survivor and about the island, they hold him against his will onboard to help them find the island and take Walt (via helicopter) off the freighter and to the nearest island (since the actor was now a teenager and couldn’t be on camera). Maybe even the boat Michael had taken off the island had instructions from Ben about the freighter and what he would have to do and say when they picked him up, and I’m sure the writers could have found some way Ben could’ve connived him into doing it. I am an amateur writer, and that is a way better explanation and would have also been easier and cheaper to film, but this is what we got; In 3 weeks Michael & Walt manage their implausible journey back to the states undetected. Michael drops Walt off with his mom, and manages to get a job, an apartment, and car, without accessing his own bank account(once again, red flag) and tries to kill himself a few times, and is visited by Mr. Friendly, who also if you do the math out, should have been killed at this point by Sawyer. There is no way, Mr. Friendly could have left the island, met up w/ Michael, and gotten back in time to be killed by Sawyer. Ugh… Man I’m getting exhausted just thinking of every angle in which this plotline was god awful. Once again if you wanted to see what I’m talking about watch seasons 3 & 4, do out the math of the days, and everything that happens and you’ll see what I mean.

    There are many other huge plotholes and problems with the continuity; some which are the faults of the writers (like the setup of Pierre Chang to be the Montand who is missing an arm Rousseau talks about in season 1, and he shows up w/ a prostetic arm in season 2, but never actually loses an arm and the 2 are never connected?!?!); and some which weren’t the fault of the writers, sorta(like most of the religious overtones and the church that never gets built, because at the height of his fame the actor who plays Eko, decides to leave the show to make and star in an autobiographical movie about his own life which then becomes a straight to dvd movie released only in select countries, mostly 3rd world. Way to go with the career choice there buddy).
    Now I know it sounds like I’m bashing the show and the writers, and maybe I’m bashing the writers a bit, but for a show that relies so heavy on continuity and purposely has the audience looking for little things that tie the story together, these things that I’ve mentioned are just major plotholes that could’ve been easily avoided if more care was taken. Having said that, I still love the show, and I will even go as far as saying I think it is the best sci-fi show and primetime drama of all time, with an amazing cast; but you take the good w/ the bad, and this is just me pointing out the bad.

  12. […] I mentioned in “Why LOST Can Be A Substitute For ‘Willy Wonka’” it’s like that scene in The Matrix when agent Smith tells Morpheus that humans rejected the first […]

  13. Usagi says:

    Pretty long-winded, but overall not bad. However…

    “Are the whispers the dead souls on the island, and the reason bodies had to be buried was because the souls would possess them?”

    Huuuuuuh???? That makes no sense at all… Bodies are buried out of respect, among other reasons. Also Season 1’s “Adam and Eve” were not buried, but left in the cave. No one’s been possessed before, and I am not sure that Sayid is. If he is possessed,he would be the first that we know of. Not sure where this idea came from.

    “If so, has the ghost of Rousseau possessed Claire?”

    Claire isn’t dead.

    “Is the reason why Claire seemed to recognize Jin because she is actually Rousseau?”

    Why wouldn’t Claire know Jin? They were on the plane together, on the beach together, etc. Don’t know why claire wouldn’t know him. Rousseau had very little contact with Jin anyway. So this is also a very strange and unnecessary question.

    I am confused why you would pad an otherwise decent blog with irrelevant questions. LOST has so many better questions to draw from, there is no reason to make up such silliness.

  14. […] I compared Lost to the Willy Wonka film because of the similarities with the candidate process (see “Lost In Myth: Why LOST Can Be A Substitute For ‘Willy Wonka’”). Each child/Lostie is tempted with their own personal issue to see which one would overcome it and […]

  15. […] I compared Lost to the Willy Wonka film because of the similarities with the candidate process (see “Lost In Myth: Why LOST Can Be A Substitute For ‘Willy Wonka’”). Each child/Lostie is tempted with their own personal issue to see which one would overcome it and […]

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