On Lost

Game Theory

By Joyce Millman

Blame it on the polar bears. They’re the reason why I can’t commit
to any of the usual theories of Lost.

Oh, it’s not that the theories are bad. I mean, there are times when
you can almost convince me that the castaways are dead but they
don’t know it. These people are obviously lost souls–all those unresolved
past relationships, all those deaths (both premeditated and
accidental) on their consciences. They could easily be in some kind
of island purgatory, waiting at the karmic baggage claim for their redemption or damnation to come around. And my respect for the afterlife
theory of Lost only increased with the opening of the hatch and
the discovery of the wiggy Desmond living in a biosphere that once
belonged to a scientific experiment called the Dharma Initiative. Is
Desmond a figure of divinity, or a demon of the demimonde? And
what about the enigmatic task–inputting Hurley’s numbers into a
computer and hitting the Execute key every 108 minutes–that Desmond
stuck the castaways with when he abandoned his post? That
possibly meaningless button-pushing sure looks like another form of
purgatory (or hell) to me, more punishment for our castaways as they
float in the ether of eternity.

Then again, there are times when I am equally susceptible to the
theory that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are alive and everything
that is happening to them, however bizarre,  …

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