<i>Lost</i>: Pretensions Of Depth

[cross-posted at The 'Verse where comments are enabled]

Wednesday night's season finale of Lost revealed that the full name of the Scottish hatchkeeper known as Desmond till now is actually Desmond David Hume. While the devolution of Lost from one of the best shows on television in its debut season to a poorly written, sloppily executed pulp drama in its sophomore season is tragic, that's another post for another day. The revelation of Desmond's name is representative of another series flaw: pretensions of depth.

The first season featured a paraplegic named John Locke who regained the ability to use his legs upon arriving at the island. It also introduced a character named Danielle Rousseau who had been living on the island for the past 16 years after being shipwrecked during a science expedition. A generous reading of Locke's character could perhaps draw a positive view of the state of nature interpreted by the philosopher who shares his name. Though the other Losties struggled to adjust to life on the island, Locke took it all in stride. Locke's character was independent and proficient, always at ease with his new life on the island. He hunted wild boar, tracked trails, stood up to giant smoke monsters, and generally got along with others. More than anyone else, he saw the island as a character itself, a life-force, a crucial part of his destiny.

Yet Rousseau's character showed no such parallels to the views of her namesake. A scientist in her past life, she was corrupted by the natural life of the island. Believing Sayid to be one of the Others, she did not hesitate to torture him. She had possibly even killed the rest of the expedition crew after they contracted "the sickness". Hoping to get her own daugther back in exchange, she kidnapped Claire's baby to use as barter. She is anything but a noble savage.

And now we get Desmond David Hume. He was discharged dishonorably from Her Majesty's Army after refusing to follow orders and later bribed by his love interest Penny Widmore's father to stay away from her. He also shipwrecked on the island during an around-the-world boat race. Is Desmond a skeptic? Not clearly. Did he ever attempt to explain why the other Losties believe what they believe? Not once. Did he perhaps once imply that just because the sun came up yesterday and today, it won't necessarily come up tomorrow? No. He's just a guy who crashed his boat.

Add in the various classics that Sawyer reads, the references to old psychological experiments, and the psalms periodically read by Mr. Eko, and it's clear that the writers believe they are creating something more cerebral than what actually appears on the screen. They're happy to namedrop Watership Down and The Brothers Karamazov offhandedly to maintain this thin veneer of profundity.

It makes me wonder: have any of the writers actually read anything they allude to? The Hurleys of viewership may proclaim, "Uh... Dude? That's pretty deep," but there's nothing deep here, just cheap thrills aimed at the target demographic that buys action figures.

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