At the point of writing this, it’s been about six years since LOST ended. It’s still my favourite TV show of all time.
Now bear with me. I appreciate that this blog is about good stories, and I understand that LOST’s plot resolution rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Ultimately, it’s about what you saw in LOST and for me, the heartfelt stories of the characters made up for any weaknesses in the mysterious and arguably convoluted story of the island.
S3E10 – Tricia Tanaka is Dead, was a Hurley episode; a fan favourite and a personal favourite too. It made us all grin ear-to-ear because it was so full of triumph and ridiculousness and hope.
We learn that as a child, Hurley was helping his father repair a car, until his father went on a trip to Las Vegas and didn’t return until 17 years later, conveniently when Hurley had just won the lottery. However, he didn’t seem like a bad guy; he was painfully honest that he did return because he saw his retirement in the money, and then encouraged Hurley to give the money away because of the ‘curse’ of the numbers. We know he never believed in the curse, but the fact that he cared enough about his son’s happiness and mental wellbeing to give up the money speaks somewhat for his character, regardless of his previous shortcomings.
Fast-forward to life on the island, and Hurley finds an overturned DHARMA van in the jungle. He’s stoked to get it started, and is disappointed when nobody shares his enthusiasm. Through a series of fortunate events (including Jin’s poor grasp of English, Charlie’s nihilistic moping, and Sawyer’s thirst for beer), he assembles a group to help him jumpstart the van, but not without difficulty:
“Look, I don’t know about you, but things have really sucked for me lately and I could really use a victory. So, let’s get one, Dude. Let’s get this car started. Let’s look death in the face and say ‘Whatever, man’. Let’s make our own luck. What do you say?”
There’s something refreshingly unpoetic about this short but rousing speech. It’s just Hurley being Hurley, and that’s why we love it (and him). Once he dramatically manages to jumpstart the car, there’s a whole lot of whooping and cheering, complemented by the feel-good ‘Shambala’ by Three Dog Night.
I think there’s a lot to be said for this moment in LOST. It’s about doing something that won’t necessarily help your current situation, but it’ll help you. It’ll get you back on your feet when you’ve been knocked down.
When Hurley and the gang finish celebrating and basking in victory, they return to the camp. Jin surprises Sun with a flower, Charlie regales Claire with tales of recklessness and reward, and Sawyer sits down with his crate of beer. Hurley continues driving around, proud of keeping hope alive despite everything that has happened to the Losties up to this point.
And I think the escapism found in jumpstarting a van can also be found in stories. You get engrossed in something that you enjoy and then, when you return to the real world where things really suck for you lately, you’re better prepared and equipped for it. Escapism is often unfairly frowned upon; even a cautious optimist like myself knows that realistically, the world is full of people stuck in awful situations who desperately need some form of respite.
For all of LOST’s weird and wonderful obscurity, there are also moments of pure clarity that let us see right into the heart of human nature. This moment in LOST perfectly demonstrates the important role of escapism in our lives, and just how good it can feel to simply do what we love once in a while, and not what is necessary.
And that’s a nice place to start this blog off. Let’s get this car started. Let’s delve into more fantastical fictions.