May 26, 2010
The Two Jacks: What Are Lost and 24 Really Telling us?
Now that "24" and "Lost" aka the anchors of my media existence have traveled on to the great television in the sky, I'm left reeling and wondering with their impact on society. Technically these are shows that exist at different ends of the television spectrum. "24" is a nail biting logic free thriller about Captain America aka Jack Bauer saving lives in the course of a day. "Lost" is a mind bending statement about faith, life, death, and everything else in between. They can't have that much in common, right?
Beyond the obvious comparisons that the focal point of both shows is a character named Jack, the real similarity of both shows is a theme of sacrifice. Both Jacks endure a heaping amount of bad shit in order to save the thing they love the most. In the case of Mr. Bauer, what he is protecting would be his country, everything else whether it's his family, friends, or own soul, comes second to the Red White and Blue. Jack Shephard on the either hand sacrifices many of the same things: relationships, sanity, and personal hygiene to save his friends on "The Island", and depending which way you look at it, the world (see the Lost Compasses for that)
But here is where our two Jack's split. 24 ends with our hero, our resident Patriot, bleeding in the streets of New York, betrayed by his country. The last words of the series are "shut it down" and then we scramble the screen and the clock winds down. Jack is alone, after all mental and physical harm he has endured for Lady Liberty, he's left solo, he still has his family, but it's tough to be a Grandpa when goddam Uncle Sam wants to kill you. His sacrifice was pointless. Perhaps 24, once deemed an ultra conservative show, is now telling us that war and counter terrorism leaves both terrorists and the "good guys" like Jack emotional wrecks walking the world with barren souls.
"Lost" on the other hand rewards the sacrifices that Jack with the ultimate prize: peace, love and understanding and a very very happy meet up with his buddies. He's at peace with his father, with his true love (Kate Austen) and with his buddies. His sacrifice was worth it. LOST is telling us that if you sacrifice for your friends, you'll be rewarded in heaven. What a Christian, and depending how you view the political spectrum, "neo-conservative bible belt" point of view.
Yeah I know, like the characters on both Lost and 24 there is a lot of grey area here. No one is completely good or entirely evil. But in the case of these shows, and our beloved Jacks, their only is one happy ending, that is of course until the inevitable sequel, feature films, and spinoffs.