Friday, February 19, 2010

Lies, Lies, Lies! (LOST 6x4 “The Substitute”)

     Most people lie at some point in their life. Some do so significantly more than others. Those who lie constantly fall into one of the following definitions. (Definitions by com .)

“ Pathological Liar: A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. Pathological lying is often viewed as coping mechanism developed in early childhood and it is often associated with some other type of mental health disorder. A pathological liar is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused - it is done to get one's way). Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. A pathological liar often comes across as being manipulative, cunning and self-centered.”


“Compulsive Liar: A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary. For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (see, Pathological Liar), rather they simply lie out of habit - an automatic response which is hard to break and one that takes its toll on a relationship.”

     Another type of lying is a type everyone suffers from greatly: Self Deception. The Bible tells us the heart is deceitful above all else. We can easily lie to ourselves, considering ourselves to either be greater or less than we are, to fit our preconceived viewpoint, or our prideful wants. Everyone should do a self examination to see who and what we truly are.

     The characters of LOST can fit into ALL of these three categories. After the jump, my analysis of episode 6x4, “The Substitute.”

     A common trait of the characters in LOST is to lie, lie, lie, and yes, lie. It seems all these characters know how to do sometimes is lie. Fans all know we should never trust Ben, but is there any character we can trust? On thinking through all of the different personalities on the show, the only answer I found was Hurly. And even he lies! The difference is that he is such an awful fibber, we can usually tell when he’s falsifying information.

     This tendency to lie is one of the show’s major faults in my opinion. Since all the characters lie, who can the audience trust? In “The Substitute” many answers to the show’s questions were given… but are they true? If none of the characters can give us the whole truth, how can we expect the writers to give us the straight story? Especially since it is the final season, we would really like to know what in the (if there is a straight timeline) world is going on at this island! But, I promise, if you just keep reading, I’ll tell you everything you want to know… NOT!

     The most over used line on LOST is the promise of information from one character, if another character will do X for them, and I’d like to know if there is an episode where a form of that lie does not take place. Since it would take several blog posts to go through all the fibbers inhabiting the show, let’s take a look at just the ones prominently featured last Tuesday night: Smokey , Sawyer, John Locke, and of course, Benjamin Linus.

     First of all, before jumping into tearing apart characters, I must give a nod to the cool POV special effect that opened the island segment of the show last night. Seeing what Smokey sees was very appealing to the fan part of me, even if the effect itself was simple. Why it was exciting, really has to do with what it meant story wise. We were finally going to get information on what this monster (or ex person, as he says) thought about events and his life. Unfortunately, I had to question everything he said. A quick recap through his plot on Lostepedia showed however, that he does not “seem” to have the lying tendencies of the other characters, “yet”. The only real lie he told was of course, pretending to be John Locke before Jacob died. (even then, he answered Alana truthfully that he had just been dead.) He promotes himself as a person who is actually giving the straight answers, and chides Jacob’s followers for believing in an entity that kept secrets from, and manipulated his people. Also, he’s the only one who has fulfilled the “promise”. He really did show Sawyer actual information in the caves! Now, only time will tell if he’s telling the truth about everything else. In defining the supernatural powers of this show, both Jacob and Smokey could be pathological liars, depending on which is telling the truth, which is the good guy, or if they’re both just players trying to win.

     Now, onto a character that fits the profile of a pathological liar: Sawyer. As a con man, he lies for a living, using people to achieve monetary gain. Since he is a professional liar, he can usually pick out the truth better than anyone else. He also knows the dangers of being lied to, shown from his quoting the ending of “Of Mice and Men.” I thought this character was done with any sort of going forward in lie when Juliette died. However, it appears he’s committing himself to the longest con he’s ever played, against the Man in Black. In this case, we may say he’s doing it for a good reason, to find out what is truth, and get ahead in this strange game. He also might be going this course to find reconciliation and answers for his lover’s death. I don’t see him picking the side of white or black. He’s a loner, and will stay that way. (*to Kate, in “What Kate Does* “Some people are meant to be alone.”)

     This next character’s personality drives mainly from his pattern of Self Deception. John Locke is dead in the 815 crash world, but in sideways world, he still has the basic trait as his former self; denying his limitations, and thinking he’s better than he really is. The scene of him ready to tear apart Hurly’s hummer, shows how convinced his mind is that he is not handicapped. While he knows, obviously, he is paralyzed, his actions of a pattern of trying to deny that fact. It’s only when someone who has a disability worse than him, Rose, tells him to get over it, he finally opens up his mind to accepting life without walking. It’s the first step of the redemption process. After acknowledging them to himself, he goes to his fiancée, Helen, and apologizes for his actions. The final step in redemption is moving forward with your new life or views, and we get to see Locke doing just that, finding a career suitable for him: teaching. It seems Sideways Locke has learned what Original Locke failed to realize: he is not the most important or best man, nor does he have to be. His life is meaningful enough on a smaller scale. (Note: sideways Locke still has the problem of not having the strong faith his former self did, and I’m guessing an event will bring him back to being the believer we know and love. In what though?)

     If you are any sort of fan of LOST, you know the number one rule on the show is “NEVER TRUST BEN!” He is basically the essence of all sorts of lying and falsehoods. Even his last name is a mix of “lying” and a derogatory term. Once you figure that out, you’ll realize that name is his character description. This man is surely a Pathological Liar. But, when there appears to be no reason for him to lie, he still does. It’s a shock whenever the truth proceeds from his mouth. He also suffers from the same problem as Locke. He lied to himself, and assured himself of his importance to the island. This is why he was so crushed and willing to kill Jacob when he discovered his view was wrong. Now, he seems to be a man without a plan. He has no followers and no one to follow. Even though he would be better off being honest, he just can’t. (*Ben lies to Alana in The Foot about killing Jacob.*) It’ll be interesting to see if Sideways Ben is as big as a liar as his counterpart.

     Now, some words about the plot. This was a great episode, and glad to see some answers are finally being given! Are they real answers though, or just red herrings? Tune in next week to find out more, because you know that if we keep watching, they’ll tell us everything we want to know… ;)


  1. How would you rate Lost on a moral scale?

  2. On a moral scale, it basically shows how sinful and messed up humans without Christ are. Yep, their all worldly. The one difference is, from normal mainstream shows, most of their bad actions have negative results. (they still show a god portion of the actions though...)

    I'm watching and analyzing the show because, for me as a filmmaker, it's a great character case study to write about. For those who like doing that sort of stuff, LOST is a great show,(and is a LOT cleaner then some of the stuff I've had to watch for my college film classes. ug.) but on a "just watching for entertainment" level, I would recommend skipping it.

    OT- My question for any sort of media, is how to portray real people? I'm friends with a great many non Christian people, and they really do act like the characters we see on screen. (since writing is mostly reflecting life). It's sad, but true. :(

    So. basically, to answer your question, it is a mainstream secular show (involves violence, premarital sex, and language) and any of those should be watched with viewer discretion. (the only mainstream appropriate show I've seen was the good ol Touched by an Angel a few years back.)

  3. By the way, you've ghiven me an idea for a post talking about how we Christians should judge moral content for our entetainment choices. thanks. :)