We’re the Good Guys, Michael: The Cultural Significance of Benjamin Linus by Pearson Moore

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He lied.

The topic before him had no bearing on his words: he deceived in matters large, in details small.  The consequences of dishonesty figured into his thoughts only to the extent of laying the groundwork for the next deception, which in turn would provide the foundation for subsequent misdirection.  He manipulated facts and fabricated stories to suit his purpose, to frame conditions to his liking, to cause those he controlled to believe he was advancing their agenda so that he could nefariously implement his own well-engineered plans.

He manipulated, coerced, forced those under him to commit the worst offences.  When lying was insufficient to his ends, he murdered.  He killed with his bare hands or with weapons, with guns, gas, or rope.  He actively participated in mass murder.  A reasonable jury of his peers would be obliged to find him guilty on all charges and pass down the severest of sentences.

Benjamin Linus was arguably the most villainous, hateful character on the Island.  But we found ourselves liking him.  Ilana, who knew his crimes, was never taken in my his tricks, pardoned him.  The man who was his opposite, who endeavoured never to fabricate an untruth, took him on as advisor.   At Ben’s own death he was found worthy to make the voyage to the Church of the Holy Lamp Post, having served well as Hurley’s faithful consigliere.

It is appropriate to ask what might reasonably be considered the greatest unanswered question in the six years of LOST:  Who was Benjamin Linus?

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La Mort et La Vie en Vert: Cultural Faith and Metadrama in LOST by Pearson Moore

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The pill contained enough poison to kill five men.

Jack swallowed the pill and Dogen rushed into action, performing the martial arts equivalent of the Heimlich Manoeuvre, dislodging the green capsule from Jack’s throat and forcing it out of his mouth.  Thank goodness for clear thinking and fast action, you say.  Indeed.  But let us imagine a hypothetical situation in which Jack consumed the pill in private, without Dogen’s knowledge.  What would have happened to Jack?

Nothing.  Jack would have gone about his business, suffering no ill effects whatever.

You read this thinking “Pearson has lost touch with reality–again.  The pill would kill even a person in perfect health.”  I do not argue; the pill would indeed kill a person in good health.  Death would be instant; the person taking the pill might as well have been holding in his hand a stick of dynamite, fuse lit, sparks flying, seconds left…  A person in good health would have been blown to bits, but Jack… not a hair on Jack’s head was harmed.  The green pill could have had no more physical effect on Jack than the dynamite had in the belly of the Black Rock.

But what would have been the effect of the green death on Sayid?

Here is a question worthy of deliberation and thought.  The only valid answer boggles the mind.  The single possible response to this query will bring us to the heart of a new genre of fiction, a radical way of thinking about drama, an audacious expectation of the audience, and the key to understanding LOST.

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Ab Aeterno Ad Aeternum: A Cultural Thesis of LOST by Pearson Moore

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LOST is not a story of good versus evil.  When Kate and Jack killed the Smoke Monster no dramatic music played.  The credits did not roll.  The greater part of the story remained.

LOST is not a story of freedom versus destiny.  Jack “chose” to become Protector of the Island, but only because he recognised the office as his destiny.  The entire story was built on a continuous assumption of ultimate purpose; free will was given short shrift.  But the story was not about fate per se.

LOST is not a story of science versus faith.  Once Locke freed Jack from the shackles of logic, the deepest part of the story remained.  We discovered with Jack his true purpose, the purpose of the Island, our purpose as human beings.

LOST is the story of our humanity and the cultural elements comprising its essential core.  LOST tells us the unceasing perpetuation of civilisation is the source and final goal of all culture, all humanity, all divinity. If we cannot live together, if we die alone, we are lost.  But if we recognise and honour the call to civility, allow the Light inside to guide us, we find our way to each other, and we are not lost.

A simple idea.  A one-hour Hallmark special ought to suffice.  Hell, even a Histori.ca minute oughta do it, right?  No.  Six years were required, and for good reason.  This will not be a short essay.

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Ex Fragilitate Fortis: The Culture and Faith of John Locke by Pearson Moore

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“Psyche profiles said you would be amenable for coercion.”

Deputy Sheriff Eddie Colburn was matter-of-fact in his delivery, and his words were in accord with everything we understood of the man.  He trusted Anthony Cooper and lost a kidney, then his self-respect, and finally his ability to walk.  He trusted Benjamin Linus, and received in payment for his good faith a brutal strangulation by electric power cable.  “Amenable to coercion” was a polite way of stating the obvious:  John Locke was gullible.

He cried tears of frustration and disappointment, shouted and railed against Jack, against Ben, against the Island.  He had faith and courage, but at critical moments doubt and fear overwhelmed him.  When the world was against him, he planned and nearly executed his own demise.  He gave up.


In the ordinary world, John Locke was a nobody.  Not a single person, other than his most vociferous enemy, grieved his passing.  He was a noisy, ignorant, gullible fool.  But that was the reality of the ordinary world, the fragmented, incomplete reality of a world consumed with buying and selling, wealth and power, human creations over divine beings.

The attributes we consider weaknesses were John Locke’s strengths.  The world’s measure of John Locke was flawed, warped, inhuman and insane.  The Island’s measure of the man was true:  Gullibility meant trust; tears meant unwillingness to accept setbacks.  And his greatest failure, his inability to convince even one of the Six to return, proved instead to be his greatest strength.

LOST was about our humanity, and the story’s natural narrator was its strongest and most faithful voice:  Prince of the Island, Man of Faith, John Locke.

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Apologia Pro Vita Fidei: The Cultural and Spiritual Journey of Jack Shephard in LOST by Pearson Moore

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It was preposterous.

Push the “execute” button every 108 minutes.  Why?  Because Marvin Candle commands you to do so.  That is, accept on faith the instructions of a man in a white lab coat–a man of science–to perform a nonsensical task on obsolete equipment in an ancient facility built by a long-dead organisation.

The orientation film’s use of scientific imagery to perpetuate the charade was an assault on the very foundations of reason, logic, and science, an absurdity not worth any thinking person’s indulgence, least of all that of expert spinal surgeon Jack Shephard, M.D.

Jack left the Swan Station after viewing the orientation film with Locke and arguing with him over the significance of the film.  But something drove him back to the station.  Was it the fact that John had saved his life a few weeks before?  Or was something else in play?

LOCKE: You have to [push the button].
JACK: No. It’s not real. Look, you want to push the button, you do it yourself.
LOCKE: If it’s not real, then what are you doing here, Jack? Why did you come back? Why do you find it so hard to believe?
JACK: Why do you find it so easy?
LOCKE: It’s never been easy! …. It’s a leap of faith, Jack.

Jack Shephard, without a word, reached out his right index finger and depressed the execute button.  He had taken the first step on an arduous, lonely, soul-shaking journey.  In just over three years, Jack Shephard, man of science, would be transformed into Locke’s disciple, the Island’s supreme shaman, committed man of faith.

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Final Stand: The Redemption of Katherine Anne Austen in LOST by Pearson Moore

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She ran.  She didn’t need a reason.   She ran from the law, from her lover, from her family.  She ran from Sawyer, from Jack, from anyone who sought her heart.  She murdered.  Not once, but many times.  She burned a house to the ground, assaulted federal agents, left her husband, robbed a bank, used a dozen aliases, endangered others’ lives.  She took advantage of a physically handicapped old man, then almost killed him.

Perhaps someone like her does not deserve a second chance.   But the Island gave her a clean slate.  “It doesn’t matter,” Jack told her, “who we were – what we did… before the crash…. Three days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over.”

She learned to love.  Not from the strong men who yearned for her affection, but from a helpless infant who needed her care.  She gave herself, not to a man’s embrace, but to a mother’s rehabilitation.

She is midwife, surgeon, healer, nurse.  She is daughter, mother, friend, and wife.  “I have always been with you,” she told Jack in his darkest hour.

She is devotion.  She is courage.  She is strength.  She is Kate Austen.

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Humanitas Insulae: The Culture of LOST by Pearson Moore

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A single question fascinated us for six years.

One question, posed over six seasons, in each of 121 episodes, in thousands of scenes, the query was always the same.   Thirty-five characters tried to answer the question; twenty-one of them died in the attempt.

The scope was measured not in years but in millennia, not in lives lost but in the hundreds of souls sacrificed.  Time itself had no meaning, for those asking the question and seeking the answer could move about unrestrained by the forward march of the clock.  Each character formed the question into unique words.  For Pierre Chang, the question centred around the origin of exotic matter.  Charles Widmore wondered how the place might be exploited.   The question in its most essential form was simple:

What is this Island?

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A Long Time, On a Crooked Road: “The End” Recap and Analysis by Chris Kirkman

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Previously, on Lost:

Goodbye to all my friends at home,
Goodbye to people I’ve trusted,
I’ve got to go out and make my way,
I might get rich you know I might get busted,
But my heart keeps calling me backwards,
As I get on the 707,
Riding high I got tears in my eyes,
You know you got to go through hell,
Before you get to heaven,

Big ol’ jet airliner,
Don’t carry me too far away,
Oh big ol’ jet airliner,
Cause it’s here that I’ve got to stay …

This week, on Lost: LA X. Christian Shephard has finally reached his destination – or at least a package with his name in big, bold stencils indicates as such. While his coffin is loaded on board a truck by a pony-tailed baggage handler, AlternaJack sits in his office, going over x-rays. Jack prime washes his face, and ponders his wet, aged hands. AlternaBen steeps some tea with his good arm, while Ben loads a cartridge and ponders how long he’ll have to continue killing people. AlternaLocke takes one last look at his wheelchair as he’s wheeled away on a gurney toward his healing surgery. AlternaSawyer wraps up his day in the police force, as Sawyer takes a seat next to Freckles on a log and checks her gunshot wound. AlternaKate sits in the AlternaCamaro as the Oceanic delivery truck pulls up to a church, and AlternaDesmond meets the pony-tailed delivery guy and signs for the package. The two lift the coffin onto a dolly and Desmond asks pony-tail to wheel it around back. As Desmond heads back to the Camaro, we know it’s time to start. Let’s get to it.
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