Lost In Myth: Unwrapping “The Package”
In “The Package” Jin is distraught over having his $25,000 confiscated at the airport, Sun is panicked that her lavish bank account was emptied by her father, Widmore is angry that events aren’t going according to plan, and Desmond didn’t seem particularly happy about being drugged, stuffed in a sub, and brought back to the island. But if there’s anything that life and Lost teach us, it’s that our plans aren’t always in our own best interest. They say that man plans and God laughs. The question is, is God laughing with us, or at us?
Before we get to the question of God, I think we first need to explore whether or not the Lost writers are laughing with us or at us. So as to not mislead with questions I don’t plan on answering, I’m going to state upfront that I won’t be answering this very question. However, after sifting through some puzzle pieces that are starting to fit together, hopefully you’ll be able to. Well, I’m not literally looking for an answer to the “laughing at us” question. What I’m hoping is that you will be able to help piece together these ideas because to be honest, I don’t know entirely what to make of them yet.
At the end of the Lost In Myth column last week, tspete posted a comment that I find very intriguing. He stated that he liked the idea of comparing the island to a cork because of its parallels with the whole button pushing exercise in the Swan station. His thought was that just as the button had to be pressed every 108 minutes to reset the system, Jacob and MIB are doing the same thing with people. Not pressing the button would destroy the world, just as letting MIB escape would destroy the world. After Locke lost faith, Desmond turned the failsafe key. This is like Locke’s downfall and Desmond possibly being a key to the island. So, is this all the same sequence of events, only one being through DHARMA and science, and the other being through Jacob and faith? Immediately, I realized he was onto something, and based on what we learned this week, really feel he’s onto something.
While I don’t remember where I heard it, about a month ago, Damon Lindelof (I believe) mentioned that we’ve already seen the scenario that’s now being played out in the final season, we just don’t realize it yet. Lost has been about the dichotomy of science and faith since the beginning. Perhaps it is now beginning to illustrate the point it was making all along—that they are not opposing forces but one and the same. That for every scientific element we can recognize in the world, there is a spiritual one that represents it. As they say in kabblah, “As above so below.” This is exactly the sort of “bigger picture” element that I’m talking about that makes what we’ve been watching so much richer for me. Yes, the bigger picture has always existed within the mythology of the story, but I have really been hoping that at some point a curtain will be revealed on the show and we will finally get to see what has been behind it all along. We now have some solid clues.
Thinking back to the Swan station fiasco, Locke had lost his faith that the button had to be pressed because Ben had hinted that it was all pointless. The two of them then were responsible for causing the system failure that caused the pocket of energy in the island to begin to escape. Specifically, the sequence of six numbers were not entered into the computer after 108 minutes and this is what caused all hell to break loose. In the last moments however, Desmond decides to sacrifice himself by turning a failsafe key, destroying the Swan station and causing him to be reborn. This seems to be the exact same story we are seeing now.
Instead of six numbers preventing the energy of the island from escaping, we now have six people representing those very same numbers. The energy of the island is illustrated as the black smoke monster which has taken the form of Locke. During the Swan station failure, Locke had lost his faith and almost caused the energy of the island to escape. Now, Locke’s image has given Smokey a way to escape from his island prison. Jacob seems to represent the faith of pressing the button—that which had been keeping the energy of the island contained. But the combination of the soulless/fake Locke and Ben kill Jacob, just as the real Locke and Ben brought about the end of the button-pushing. This led to releasing the energy pocket that would’ve destroyed the island had Desmond not stepped in. Desmond did however, using a failsafe key.
Now, we see that just as Eloise Hawking promised, the island isn’t done with Desmond yet. Widmore has brought Desmond back to the island and considers him to be his secret weapon against fake Locke/Smokey. Based on what we’ve already seen then, Desmond will likely once again sacrifice himself to prevent Smokey from escaping the island just as it seems imminent that he will do so. My guess is that just as Desmond destroyed the Swan station, he will somehow destroy the island, leading to it being underwater as we saw at the start of the season. Just as the Swan station had to be destroyed to prevent the energy pocket from destroying the island, now the island must be destroyed to prevent Smokey from destroying the world. But then is that it? Will this be how the series ends? How will this connect to the flash sideways? Hopefully, there is still way more to this. The question though, is what? If you have an idea, feel free to chime in. If we truly are just seeing a different version of a story we’ve already seen, is the joke on us? Or is there a deeper message here? Are the flash-sideways the result of resetting the spiritual story that creates the events of the physical world?
Personally, I really like the idea that there is a spiritual realm that parallels everything that happens in the material realm and I think this could definitely work with what we are seeing in the flash-sideways. Despite what some readers have presumed, I don’t need a simulation resolution to be happy with the ending of the show. I’d just like a resolution that can plug into the mysteries it has given us up to now. Since these mysteries are similar to those we have in our world, once we have that key, we can use it to help unlock the mysteries of our lives. Interpreting the mythology of the show helps, but it would be so much easier if we just had a formula written into the storyline. Of course, life doesn’t usually make things easier for us, and in fact, this was one of the themes of “The Package.”
The package represents all the things we think we want—the material pleasures that include money, sex, jewelry, power, etc. In life, we are often looking for the whole package or the perfect package and more often than not we don’t get it. And that can get us pretty pissed. Most of the time however, getting what we want is not actually in our best interest. For example, Jin was very angry about having his $25,000 confiscated at the airport. But had he gotten it, he’d be dead since it was supposed to be Keamy’s fee for killing him. Had Jin been able to run away with Sun so easily, their relationship would not be built on as solid a foundation. The island (aka, the universe) is making them work to be together. Being a man completely engulfed by materialism, Keamy assumes that Jin and Sun just aren’t meant to be together. My take is that they are, and that’s why they will have to work for it.
Just as a fraternity or sorority makes you jump through hoops to get in, you appreciate things more when you have to work hard to attain them. This is why in love, women often play hard to get while men play it cool. Or why they say everyone wants what they can’t have. Or why you have a better chance of being hired for a new job if you already have one—the recruiter sees you as being more valuable. The difficulty of attaining something is proportional to the worth we assign to having it. Gold and diamonds are hard to get and worth a lot of money. Sand and water are easy to get and worth nothing. Similarly, even in its heyday, nobody spent much time pondering the inner message of a typical episode of Three’s Company, yet a challenging show like Lost inspires quite a bit of discussion.
This is not to say that everyone wants something that’s hard to get. I have no interest in scaling Mount Everest anytime soon. But, I have to say I’d feel pretty damned proud if I had. Similarly, those who are born rich tend to not appreciate it as much as those who had to work hard to get there. And a knight who has to go to the ends of the earth to rescue his love from the clutches of an evil dragon will generally appreciate her more than someone who got a one-night stand. Of course, like any rule, there are exceptions. Arranged marriages might be one, but really, a lot of work goes into making them happen that might lead to their higher-than-average success rates. The point is though, some things just require effort to be truly appreciated. From this perspective, God (the universe, whatever) isn’t making things hard on us because it’s a sadistic SOB. It’s doing it to see how bad we really want something and to make us really understand the value when we get it.
So the next time things don’t seem to be going your way, be grateful. Be grateful that you are being given an opportunity to appreciate what you perhaps had been taking for granted. No matter how crappy you think your life is, there’s always someone who has it worse. And even the person who has it worse than everyone, well, he has nowhere to go but up. In many ways, that’s better than the person at the other end of the scale because they have everything to lose. So, love the struggle. It gives you something to aim for and something to really appreciate once you get it. And once you learn to appreciate something and be grateful for it, the universe has a way of giving you more of it. Okay, so maybe you don’t need to love the struggle that much…just enough to appreciate where it takes you.
Marc Oromaner is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.