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Role Reversals on “Lost”

As promised in all the hype about the season finale of “Lost,” obsessed viewers learned the following: What happens when the “save the world” counter stops at zero… and the buttons aren’t pushed.

At the beginning of Season Two, Locke is still in his born-again phase of faith. He is bright-eyed, open minded, and idealistic. The hatch is his church and everything is part of the grand design of Fate. Shouldering the responsibility of savior, Locke argues for continuing to push the buttons while Jack, the cynical “atheist,” argues against.

Throughout the season, Locke’s faith is tested… and it slowly wanes. His faith is lackluster against Mr. Eko’s religious fanaticism. When Locke meets Henry Gale, Locke becomes a psychologically tortured savior. Henry is Satan on the mountaintop, testing Jesus. When Locke discovers the Pearl (the hatch with TV monitors), he faces the ultimate test of faith: Is the counter a hoax or just another part of the island’s master plan? Having battled against Henry Gale and been temporarily “crucified” under steel doors, Locke decides to abandon his faith in the island. He becomes Jack, the rational man. In his new role, he lets the counter run to zero and enlists Desmond’s help to do so.


After Desmond and Locke force Mr. Eko (the Locke stand-in) outside of the counter room, they wait. When the counter begins winding down to zero, Locke still nurtures his “atheistic” belief that nothing will happen. Meanwhile, as Desmond slowly realizes the counter is real, he searches for the key that will save the hatch, and the world. Even after Desmond scoffs at Locke’s initial ideas of Fate bringing him to the hatch, Desmond assumes the role of world savior and tells Locke: “Now it’s my turn to save you.” For someone who claims to not to believe in Fate, he realizes perhaps too late, that Fate is real.

Locke, meanwhile, is Doubting Thomas, unwilling to believe disaster until he has faced it—and when confronted with it, can only say: “I was wrong.” In the end, the hatch becomes the tomb of multiple saviors—the ultimate savior being Desmond (whose fate is unknown after saving the island), Mr. Eko (who fails trying to stop the countdown), and Locke (who may or may not rise from his faithless stupor and become born-again…again). There is hope for one or all three (a number signifying the trinity) to rise again—and to reconnect with their faith.

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