Lost and Doctor Who: A Comparative Essay

8 03 2013

Because there is so much going on in my actual life and my emotional health (I’m way less emo, you guys), but I can’t seem to find the time – well, actually, the energy – to write about it. So let’s nerd out instead, mkay?

Season 5 of Lost is eerily relevant to Doctor Who. I’m sure a lot of that is the whole time travel thing. Certain plot lines, complications, and literary devices are particularly inclined to time travel stories. And, of course, both shows contain intricately-developed characters which lends itself to having similarities in that aspect, too. But what these two ingredients amount to is an insane overuse of caps lock by yours truly. Let’s examine this.

Earlier in the season we have Some Like it Hoth/Father’s Day in which Miles = Rose and we have the emotionalness of going back in time to meet your dead father for the first time in your memory. And also meeting your baby self. But in only one of these stories does the TARDIS stop working and weird gargoyley-buggish things come to “clean the wound”. In Lost there are pretty much no physical ramifications of messing around with time. Except possibly getting shot by your mother while she’s still pregnant with you. But I mean “physical” in the sense of the universe, not individual people.

And, of course, there are characters that exhibit similar traits. For instance Locke (whose name I just typed as “Jocke” which will become funny to you in a minute) has, from day one, taken it upon himself to imagine he knows what’s best for people, without actually considering or listening to their personal opinions. For instance, early in the show Locke sent Boone on a trippy trip by dosing him with hallucinogenic… plants or some shit with the goal of helping Boone… like… see his point of view or something? Most people choose to do such things using archaic tactics such as “having a conversation”. But Locke is highly evolved. Or an asshole. Hard to say.

The Doctor tends to do this sort of thing, too. While I think the Doctor is slightly more justified than Locke since he’s usually operating on limited time and generally acts to save lives rather than to just give people island-made LSD, I also think he’s generally wrong for assuming he always knows best. I haven’t forgiven him for, among other things, what he did to Donna. When we meet Donna she’s fairly aimless. She’s rooted in the world. She senses that there is more out there, but she isn’t able to figure out how to reach for that so she flounders in her life, never really going anywhere. Just waiting. And then she meets the Doctor and travels with him and finds her path. She becomes this wild, wise, strong goddess. And then the Doctor takes all that away from her. He thinks that living a vapid life is better than death for her. In reality what he fears (beyond merely adding another loved one’s demise to his conscience) is his own death. Despite her begging him not to send her back to empty ignorance, he does what his own fears tell him is best and erases all her wisdom and knowledge.

At this point in Lost, Jack “Emo Jack” Shepherd has evolved as a character from the Man of Science who worked against Locke. He’s now reached the point in his personal growth where he becomes Locke’s disciple and is acting now entirely on Faith. Hence “Jocke” giving me the giggles. You, too? No? *ahem*

Jack is following through on Daniel’s plan to reset time back to before Flight 815 crashed. Before Charlie got clean and fell in love with Claire. Before Claire got to meet her baby and decide to keep him. Before Desmond found Penny again. Before Sawyer found peace (um, through, you know, murder). Before Eko found his brother. Before Shannon found… sunscreen? Before Kate didn’t change or grow even one little bit. Sorry. I got nothing there. Every single person was effected massively by that plane crash (excepting, of course, Kate). Every single one of them made some emotional growth. And Jack wants to undo all that in the name of “saving” them. Define “save”. Because, honestly, River being locked up in some computer FOR FUCKING EVER AND EVER AND EVER WITH NO END EVER EVER is not my idea of being saved. And taking away all my emotional growth that I worked really fucking hard for? Also not my idea of being saved.

I just got a little verklempt. The Cleveland National Forest is neither in Cleveland nor is it a forest. Talk amongst yourselves. Also: Buttah.

You’re lucky I steered away from that Dumbledore reference earlier. This post is positively swampy with the fandoms.

Arguing against Emo Jack we have Sawyer trying to explain that Flight 815 was a fixed point in time and shouldn’t be changed. He’d considered the idea of going back to change his own history. To save his mother and father. Just as the Doctor talks about wanting to save his family, his species, his planet. But there is always a consequence. Loss of wisdom, imbalance in time, a Universe ruled by Daleks. The wisdom is to know which is the righter answer. And that doesn’t come easily nor without consequences of its own. Pain, guilt, self-hate.

At some point, though, the reason for which I may have missed because I was busy tweeting all this in caps lock, Sawyer jumps on the Jocke wagon. So they scamper off to detonate the bomb that will reboot the Universe. I mean. The bomb to try turning it off and on again. I mean. The bomb that will create The Incident which will (no it won’t) cause the Dharma people to never build the Hatch (they totally will) so Desmond won’t ever crash the plane (he still does). What seems futile (because, for their goal, it actually was) does, in fact, get them back to present day with smart phones and Google, so it’s not a total loss. Except that Sawyer doesn’t suddenly have parents and he can’t just remember Juliet back into existence (the plus side, of course, being that she never becomes a plastic Auton with guns for hands). Otherwise it’s pretty much exactly the same.

So I don’t know if it’s just that I’m too wrapped up in fantasy worlds, or if this is the Truth of Literature (where Literature = television), but this seems, as I said above, eerily relevant. I don’t think the writers were specifically inspired by/plagiarizing each other, I guess I feel it’s just the magic of story. But dear god how I love the magic of story. And being nerdy. Being nerdy is great fun.




One response

9 03 2013

Nerding out IS writing about it. Love that you’re less emo. Don’t keep going to zero, though.

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