Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tabula Rasa

So, how much of 17th century British philosophers were the producers of "Lost" thinking when they named Terry O'Quinn's character John Locke?

As portrayed by O'Quinn, who has given an Emmy-worthy performance every season of the show, Locke has always been one of the more interesting characters on TV. His story arc over the past two episodes have set the water cooler talk about the show ablaze once more.

The real John Locke believed we were born with a tabula rasa - a clean slate - and it was our experiences after birth that re-shaped our lives.

The fictional Locke, after a life of bitter disappointment as a cripple who was conned out of his own kidney by his father, has a clean slate when he lands on the island. He is born again; with his legs working once more, he is free to re-invent himself in his new home.

The island has become Locke's church, at once believing the place to be more than meets the eye but also having his faith tested constantly. The deaths of both Boone and Mr. Eko play into the religious significance Locke puts into the island.

But the island Locke has veered off the belief system of the real one dramatically over the past two weeks. The philosopher Locke believed everyone was entitled to life, liberty and property, and no one - not government nor man - had a right to interfere with that. In addition, he believed that having excesses of property and wasting them was a sin.

Yet the fictional Locke crossed that line the past few episodes. First, he blew up the island's communication center, eliminating the castaways' best chance to communicate with the outside world and receive help. At first, it seemed odd to me that Locke - who is supposed to be among the smartest characters on the island - couldn't have figured out that the sequence of buttons he was supposed to push was an obvious booby trap.

But after Locke blew up the submarine after last week's episode - thus eliminating the last chance for the islanders to leave - it became obvious that he did know about the booby trap and sabotaged everything to ensure that no outside force could interfere with the island, endangering the mystic qualities he's assigned to it.

It's hard to believe that Locke would be so selfish as to ruin the chances of the other islanders, but it raises some interesting points? Is Locke truly mentally unbalanced, or does he actually see the larger picture, especially since everyone on the island is interconnected in ways other than being castaways.

Of course, there is the interesting cliffhanger of Locke's father being a prisoner of The Others that will hopefully be addressed tonight (ABC, 10 p.m.) There is some speculation that the father (Kevin Tighe) might also be the real Sawyer, the man responsible for the death of James Ford's (Josh Holloway) parents all those years ago.

"Lost" is at its best when it challenges the viewers, and the producers seem to have a specific plan in place for these characters, so it will be interesting to see what turn they take next.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of hip Wednesday shows, "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) picks up from last week as Bones and Booth deal with their relationship by speaking with the latter's therapist (the always-great Stephen Fry). It's followed by the "American Idol" results show, featuring Gwen Stefani, and "Til Death" at 9:30 p.m.

"Jericho" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is the lone new episode on The Eye, followed by reruns of "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."

TV's best family drama, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) continues to follow Dillon High School's playoff run, but folks, really, this show isn't about football. It's about small-town life and family, and please, please watch it. It's followed by new episodes of "Crossing Jordan" and "Medium," which you can feel free to ignore if you wish.

Finally, the documentary "The Boomer Century" (PBS, 9 p.m.), which deals with the past, present and future of Baby Boomers, has gotten a lot of praise and may be worth two hours of your time.


Hotspur said...

There is an article in today's "USA today" that several of "Lost's" are named for various philosophers. It is worth reading

Jonathan said...

The final scene in last week's episode is about as good as it gets in television. Great stuff. "Lost" shows that you can have a crazy idea and make it work, and it involves everything that builds up to that moment. This season of "24" should take note. That's called knocking one out of the park. I also hear that Mr. Colt 45 (Billy Dee) himself is making an appearance tonight; can't wait. Lando!!!

Zodin2008 said...

The blowing up of the submarine was too much. I love Locke and the acting clinic Terry o'Quinn & Michael Emerson put on last week was rather impressive, but the submarine thing really annoyed me and a lot of viewers.

As for "Lights", yes readers of this blog, watch it. I am watching it right now and it's just great Television.

Anonymous said...

So what was up with Lost last night? That story line had nothing to do with the rest of the show, and it just plain creeped me out! I felt as if they just needed to fit an extra episode in or something. Or did they just want to kill off a few people (or did they) for the fun of it, because they have not done that in a while. Was it just me...

Phillip Ramati said...

Anon, check out Thursday's post.

Zod, they had to get rid of the sub somehow or else it would be the end of the series. While the actions of Locke are obviously extreme, they show how fanatical he is in his beliefs.

Jonathan, I forgot to mention the Billy Dee Williams cameo! Thanks for reminding everyone.