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Aug 2020

Man of Doubt

As you might have inferred from previous posts of mine, I am a huge fan of Lost, and my wife and I have used this Covid quarantine to introduce our three boys to the mythology that is Lost. We are in the middle of season 5 currently, and finished the latest “John Locke” episode: The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham. Just like the first time I watched this series, I find that I relate to John Locke in so many ways. Also, he is the show’s central Christ Figure, Lost’s man of faith. But he’s not, really…not entirely.

Locke certainly has faith, in the Island, in the unexplained, but he also has doubt; his faith is constantly shaken and never as absolute as he wants it to be. When he goes to persuade Jack that he needs to go back to the Island, you can see in his eyes that some part of him also wants to persuade himself that he is special. That his “destiny” is not a mistake, that he’s not being swindled again. It’s funny to think about, but if one character on Lost has reason to have no faith, in anything or anyone, it’s John Locke.

Watching the scene where he gets ready to hang himself, you realize that he’s not going into this calmly, as some sort of stoic sacrifice. He’s been told by Richard Alpert that he must die to save the Island, but he doesn’t entirely believe it, or want to believe it. You can see the despair in his eyes, the fear. He wants to die; he doesn’t want to die. The man of faith is a man of doubt.

I thought briefly how this may undermine the Christ parallels that some have drawn for Locke; but upon further reflection, I believe it makes him MORE Christ-like. Faith for him isn’t some Zen-like impermeable armor. It’s an ill-fitting burial suit. Faith is hard, and this episode shows us that. You can feel every hurt, from the physical pain, to his heartbreak over Helen. I have come to expect that whenever I watch a Locke episode that my heart is going to get kicked around for a while.

Shelby out!


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