Predicting “Lost” from the “Buffy” tea leaves
Warning: spoilers up through last night’s episode of “Lost” and the entire series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
For a long time now, my pet theory about the island on “Lost” is that it’s the opening to the Egyptian underworld. The scales that Fake Locke (hereafter known as “Flocke”) showed Sawyer only confirmed my suspicion. But that’s been basically the theory around Casa del Marcotte ever since Marc pointed out that the statue that we see in the flashback was that of Anubis, one of the—you guessed it—two gatekeepers to the underworld in ancient Egyptian mythology. The other was Thoth. Jacob and Flocke probably have something to do with this pair, that were tasked with using a scale to weigh the worthiness of souls going to the underworld. If you were good enough, you were able to be reborn into this other plane. Granted, there wasn’t a good/evil balance that I know of between these two, but more than a few people have raised doubts that the good/evil balance between Jacob and Flocke is so straightforward, either.
Consider then that almost everyone who dies on the show did so after some kind of moral reconciliation. This is most explicit with Charlie, but in general, characters do something right, tip the scales in their favor, and go to the next world.
But what does all this mean? How is this going to resolve itself? Well, for that, I suggest we turn to the fact that the writers of “Lost” have started to borrow heavily from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”‘s end game. And they do this in two major ways.
I See Dead People
This is the development on “Buffy” least beloved by fans—the introduction of the First Evil, who had very little real power but could take the shape of dead people in order to spook and cajole the living. In theory, this should have been awesome, but in practice, it was a failure. Part of the problem was that the Scoobies had seen a lot worse in their time than impotent ghosts of dead friends. And after the trick is revealed about the First Evil, all subsequent spottings are boring, no matter how he/she looks. So, his/her evil power was making boring ass speeches in hope people would kill themselves to relieve themselves of the boredom.
“Lost” is taking the same idea and doing something potentially more interesting with it. Whoever the smoke monster was, he’s able to imitate dead people (though perhaps only under certain circumstances), and he appears to be material and solid. Unlike the First Evil, Flocke apparently is trapped in Locke’s form, as well. But still, just like on “Buffy”, many characters are able to see through the ruse for various reasons, and just like on “Buffy”, the smoke monster/First Evil stops even pretending after awhile. And while the smoke monster has killed people, unlike the impotent First Evil, there’s some impotence built into him somehow. He can’t kill just anyone. He needed Ben to kill both Locke and Jacob, and used the First Evil’s methods to do so.
The Chosen One…..Or Many?
In the last season of “Buffy”, we started to see a stream of potential Slayers pour in to fight this big last battle. And on “Lost”, we’ve discovered that Jacob had a list of potentials for the job of guarding the island, called “candidates”. I offer that potential Slayers and Candidates may have differences in the future, but at the current point in time, they’re basically the same: human beings who have the potential to ascend to a higher plane if they manage to pass some mysterious and possibly unknowable test. However, that ascendancy is hardly some unalloyed good thing. Just like being the Slayer, it seems being a god of the underworld can be a bummer, if we are to believe that Flocke’s irritation with his life is genuine, which I think we are to believe. The loneliness especially seems to be a problem.
And there can only be one. Or can there be? Season 7 of “Buffy” had many ugly problems, but the resolution to the problem of the Slayer is one the coolest things I’ve ever seen on TV. Using a MacGuffin magical item to turn the power of the one Slayer into power shared by all potentials, which managed to pass the power on without passing on the loneliness? Brilliant. If “Lost” is heading in that direction, it means everyone gets to be a god. And having a bunch of gods running around is a lot less lonely than being the one god, staring mournfully into the ocean.
Mouth of the underworld/mouth of a demon dimension? Same thing. Except maybe there were more books at the Hellmouth, especially in the first three seasons. Of course, on “Lost”, they have research equipment, since they have a bigger budget.
Will the writers of “Lost” just rip off the end of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”? Let’s assume, for the sake of this blog post, that the answer is yes. After all, “Buffy” finished out its run on the UPN, a network I’m not even sure exists anymore. (Looking it up, I discover that it doesn’t.) With their home on ABC and enough funding to pay for that over-the-top orchestral score, the producers of “Lost” may figure that they’re so far out of “Buffy”‘s league that only a few grouchy internet people will even fucking notice, and only a quarter of those who notice will actually be angry about it, instead of pleased that they at least found a good way to wrap up the story. So, there’s no downside to this, if that’s the path they choose.
If so, then what will happens is that everyone will become gods, and with their new godlike powers, they will break all the rules and become masters of their own destinies, after being sucked into the island’s gaping maw for so long. In fact, this has already happened, if you’re following the parallel time line. But both realities leave something to be desired, and so they will have to be combined somehow. I suspect there will be a magical MacGuffin involved, and some creative thinking.
But let’s not forget what also happened at the end of “Buffy”.
Yes, they blew up the Hellmouth and the entire town of Sunnydale caved in.
One could, and should point out that they may not do this on “Lost”. And that’s because they already have. But I figure that when both realities are combined, the one with the blown up island is going to be the final product. In part, because of my “yeah, we saw that on ‘Buffy'” theory, but also because it’s the only way to resolve the tension between what Flocke wants and what Jacob wanted—and the basic human rights of the Losties to self-determination. After all, Flocke sees the island as pointless, and Jacob wants to promote a Candidate to the protector role, which would probably make you a god. Why not split the difference, and do both the god thing and the escape thing? And most importantly, why not find a way for the Losties to start to determine their own futures for themselves?
The show is beginning to make a big deal out of free will, and how people have it. But the Losties in the non-explosion timeline are still stuck in this world where their destinies seem chosen for them. To really set things right, they have to engage in a big, symbolic act of self-determination that puts them on the right path.
However, you can’t just tie this off with a big, red bow. You have to kill someone to make the victory bittersweet. (Besides the vast majority of people that have already died, but that was in the prior seasons.) This is where I think “Lost” is going to diverge from “Buffy”. “Buffy” got to enjoy the fruits of her creativity and labor at the end of the show, in that she freed herself from being the Chosen One while hanging on to her powers. She gets to take a vacation now, and boy does she deserve it. But Buffy earned it not only through being a bad ass and a leader, but by being a character who matures and changes. Jack, on the other hand, is stuck on the hamster wheel of his own daddy issues. He’s blown up two marriages, three if you count the parallel universe, and he is still staring out at bodies of water in a troubled, if heroic fashion. He’s a walking, talking tragic flaw. He’s going down in the finale, probably so Kate can live.
Let’s just hope that she doesn’t hook up with Sawyer.