“I think people are justifiably frustrated about the Walt of it all” – Damon Lindelof
Rewatching LOST has given me an opportunity to revisit some of the great themes and ideas that weave their way through the six seasons. I’ve decided to post my thoughts on one of those themes because I wrote them down because I was procrastinating doing real work.
Here’s the danger, though: first off, for those who haven’t seen LOST, spoiler alert!! Secondly, my notes here are going to partially touch on one of those aspects of the show that left a lot of people frustrated, but that I actually liked.
I’m eager to hear your take on the dramatic arc I’m about to discuss, so by all means leave comments below! But if you disagree, phrase them in an “I don’t feel the same way” kinda way, not in a “I hated how the show ended so I’ma rant about it” kinda way, if you take my meaning.
Are we on the same page? Good.
Let’s talk about Michael and Walt.
If you’ve ever watched LOST with me, you know that I’m not a big fan of Michael. And why IS that, Mike?
Shut it, Michael!
I know, Michael, but –
Fair enough, but here’s the –
The fact that Michael takes Walt away from the island – and from the SHOW – is exactly why, despite my annoyance, I believe their story is one of the
SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!!
Let’s start by thinking in broad narrative terms:
Some characters on LOST decided they wanted to stay on the island. Others fought to get off the island, but in the end found the price was to high for them to pay (they had to protect or find their friends; they made it off but were forced in various ways to return, etc). I’ve always seen Michael as the one character who had the single-minded determination to achieve his end at any cost.
The end: get his boy off that island.
The cost: his soul.
That’s right, Michael is the Faustian legend of LOST.
Jack is the story of a man of science who found his faith, and Locke is a cautionary tale about having blind faith, but Michael is the classic story of a man who sold his soul to achieve his goal, only to realize how empty the reward and unexpected the result such a bargain dealt him.
Michael’s flashbacks show him unable to provide for his son but desperately trying to maintain custody; in the end, he realized that what he thought was best for his son – being with his father – maybe wasn’t best for his son after all.
The island story is a repeat of that, except this time he doesn’t reconsider. He’s made his mind up what’s best for his son, and instead of rethinking it, he allows it to become an obsession that leads him to make bad choices.
There are those who say Walt’s story should have been resolved by the end of the show. While they’re right from a Walt-is-awesome standpoint, I think the very reason that Walt didn’t play a part in the central mythology is what makes the Walt-and-Michael storyline work for me. It seems to me that Walt SHOULD have played a part in the mythology all along, but the fact that he didn’t simply reinforces that Michael forcibly took him out of it. The fact the we miss the Walt of it all drives home the point: Michael screwed Walt’s storyline up by buying Walt passage out of the story; the fact that we are left unresolved is exactly the point.
That is what I get out of the Walt-and-Michael story in LOST: In the end, Michael’s success in getting Walt off the Island was, for all intents and purposes, meaningless: Michael paid for his betrayal and the Island had its way, but Walt sat it all out on the sidelines. If Walt came back to the show and played a grand part in the mythology, it merely would have proven Michael’s attempt futile. The fact that he didn’t makes Michael’s attempt successful, and that, to me at least, is what makes it so powerful that Michael’s victory was so hollow.
That’s kind of a sad way to end the post, so let’s end things with a HURLEY DANCE!!