Content warning: This post contains spoilers through season six, episode 14 of Lost, ‘The Candidate.’ You can hop to ‘The Earthquake and the Tin Palace‘ if you want to avoid spoilers (or don’t feel like reading about Lost).
This week on Lost: let’s kill most of the nonwhite people!
No seriously. What the shit was that? The show basically shoved Jin, Sun, and Sayid in a corner and ignored them all season and then just killed them. For no real good reason. Yeah, Lost is a show where people die. No, that is not new. Yes, the show has a habit of coming up with weird death scenes.
Yet, this was, well, it was blatant. They killed the three most obviously nonwhite characters. Who also happened to be among my favourite three. I don’t really care about Jack, Sawyer, or Kate, honestly, and would have been fine with any one of them dying. Or all of them. Please. Put an end to the White Man’s Tears. Especially since the show now is down to two female characters who have been with us from the beginning.
I can’t even. I’m so pissed about this I can’t really bring myself to articulate it. I kind of assume that everyone else is pissed too so I don’t really need to beat this dead horse, but, like seriously? Representation of people of colour on television is, uhm, not so hot. On Lost the show has always revolved around the white characters but at least some of the nonwhite characters got to have story arcs and be people. Now that we’re in the final season, though, it’s back to all white, all the time. This episode really underscored, for me, that the nonwhite characters are set dressing to be eliminated when it’s convenient.
Which sucks because Sayid, Sun, and Jin were all complex characters with interesting storylines. To throw all three of them away at one like that was just…yeah. I’m out of words for ranting here.
Ok, deep breath, moving on to the other thing that pissed me off about this episode, the handling of Locke’s disability in the sideways timeline.
That was some opener; ‘you’re a candidate! To get fixed! Which, of course, you would want, since being a wheelchair user is the worst thing ever.‘ It’s interesting that Locke keeps refusing the surgery and keeps reiterating that he does not want it, and Jack keeps pushing and pushing. Which is, well, rather Jack-like, to be honest, but it also speaks to a common state of affairs when it comes to confronting disability; people want to fix it and they can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to be ‘fixed.’
It’s notable that Jack’s quest to fix Locke also isn’t about Locke himself; it’s about Jack. Jack wants to feel better by performing the surgery. He wants to challenge himself with the procedure and he wants to do something ‘good’ and reward himself for it with a pat on the back. I see the same kind of dynamic playing out when people offer to ‘help’ people with disabilities. It’s more about the helper than the person being helped, to the point that the helper will ignore repeated statements to the effect that no help is desired or needed.
And then we follow this with Jack informing Locke that his living, breathing father is ‘gone.’ His father who is currently shelved away in a long term care facility. Now, we don’t know the nature of his father’s injuries or anything, but given the problematic history with people who are supposedly ‘gone’ and are actually capable of communicating with people who take the time to establish communication, I find this storyline deeply troubling. Locke’s father isn’t ‘gone.’ He’s a person. He’s a human being who is alive. And currently institutionalised.
There are parallels with Locke and his father here. Both are devalued because of their disabilities. Both are treated as less-than. And Jack’s got the solution!
‘I can help you, John,’ he says. ‘I wish you believed me.’
Right. Yeah. If I had a dollar every time someone said they could ‘help’ me with something I don’t want help with, something they don’t understand, something that is not their business, well, I’d be a much wealthier person. This is a theme that plays out over and over. The ‘I’m going to help you whether you like it or not because it’s for your own good’ theme. And I hate it. Oh my stars, how I hate it. I hate that Lost is doing it when they initially seemed like they might do some cool stuff with Locke’s disability, like not making it all tragic and stuff. Way to go, Lost, a doubleheader of what. the. fuck. this week.
What did we learn this week on Lost? We learned that White Dude Knows Best. If only we’d listened to Jack, none of this would have happened. Everyone would still be alive and Locke would be able to walk and there would be fucking kittens shitting rainbows in every household.
I’ve stuck with you this long, Lost, and I’m not giving up this close to the end but oooooh it is getting close let me tell you.
(If you want to read the producers trying to act like what they just did was not incredibly shitty, check out their interview at EW.)