Monday, December 18, 2006

LOST = Dark City?

*This post contains spoilers for the 1998 movie Dark City*

Dark City is set in a city/spaceship constructed by aliens in order to, as the film's tagline states, "see what makes us tick." All the inhabitants of the city have been abducted from Earth and, despite the fact that it is always night, have no idea that anything has changed.

Part of the reason the inhabitants of Dark City remain so clueless is that they are routinely given brand new identities -- memories mixed up in a syringe and delivered by Keifer Sutherland's Dr. Schreber. The reason the aliens are pulling us apart and putting us together again is, essentially, to find the human soul.

Dark City, in my opinion, does everything The Matrix tries to do, but does it in a far more successful and entertaining manner. But that, of course is neither here nor there: the real reason for this post is to see what, if anything, Dark City tells us about Lost.

So, the City and the Island. The City has been artificially constructed; might the Island be as well? (Possibly by people with three toes?) It's simpler at this point, I think, to assume the island was formed by natural means and that the Others, the other Others, and Those Who Came Before simply took advantage of the Island's natural properties. Whether artificially created for a specific purpose, or discovered and turned to this purpose, we know one thing, then: the island has a purpose.

And that purpose is…? At this moment -- very, very late at night -- I think the purpose must be to discover the human soul. To discover it and, possibly, to change it.

The lostaways are not unlike the inhabitants of Dark City: each of them has been reborn on the island, and many have been profoundly changed as a result. Each survivor was torn from their pre-crash lives and introduced into a new social situation; more recently Jack, Kate, and Sawyer have been introduced into yet another social situation.

This mixing and matching of experience and personality in order to grow something new is what writers do, anyway. It's what fiction (good fiction, at least) has always done. It's the magic of being able to learn something true from a lie, as we do with fables (and issues of Groo); or being able to learn something about oneself by watching and empathizing with a (fictional) person who is not you.

Is there something more other than the Others lurking within the mysteries of Lost? Most definitely. Will it turn out to be as concrete as the aliens from Dark City? My personal suspicion is no: Lost has always been about human beings, and I think it will continue to be so. We may encounter an older species of human, or even a more highly evolved species of human, or even a differently evolved species of human -- whatever it is, it will be something related to us in some way.

Or not. Maybe in the end I'll be wrong: maybe the ultimate Other on Lost is the Island itself.

(Btw, I totally called the smoke monster thing...)

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