The Lost world: Characters at the heart of the show

Numbers have always played an important role on Lost, none quite as obvious as 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

To Lost fans, those numbers hold a special meaning, as they became involved in everything from Hurley’s winning lottery ticket to the numbers entered in the hatch to numerical representations of characters themselves.

Another number, however, has a bit more meaning: two.

Lost has been fond of pairs:
• good and evil
• black and white
• front section and tail section
• Jack and Kate
• Jack and Juliet
• Sawyer and Kate
• Sawyer and Juliet
• Hurley and Libby
• Hurley and Charlie
• Jacob and the Man in Black
• Sun and Jin
• Desmond and Penny

This list could continue longer and branch off into many other directions, which really is my point. Lost, at it’s heart, has quite a bit to say about personal connections and how we interact with people.

All of this is perhaps an overly complicated lead in to what I’m truly interested in today: the favorite Lost characters. For me, much like the show itself, it comes in a pair. The two have interacted with each other, but not in a significant way like any of the aforementioned pairs. Instead, these two characters often stand alone in the course of the show, as each works toward a greater purpose.

My first pick is Desmond Hume, played by Henry Ian Cusick. Desmond first appears on the show in Season 2 and quickly became both a fan favorite and an integral part of the show’s plot. Desmond’s undying love for his girlfriend Penny filled in major romantic gaps missing from the series, and Des showed he would go to great lengths, including sailing around the world, to win Penny’s love.

By the time Season 4’s “The Constant” aired, he took it to new heights as he literally crossed space and time just to speak to the woman he loves and make a phone call to say, “I love you, Penny. I’ve always loved you. I’m so sorry. I love you!” It’s one of the series’ best episodes and best individual moments.

Let’s also not forget the fact Desmond is just flat-out cool, as evidenced by his choice in eyewear and his accent. Try as we might, no one can say “brutha” quite like him.

The series’ best character is also working to prove his worth to something, only this time it’s the island. John Locke (played to absolute perfection by Terry O’Quinn) has been defeated by fate. Everything, pre-island, is broken: his relationship with his father, his love life, his job and, eventually, his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Once Oceanic 815 crashes, though, everything changes, not the least of which is the ability to walk again. Locke believes it is his destiny to be on this island and does everything he can to protect it.

But just like his pre-island life, things eventually fall apart for Locke. His maniacal faith helps lead to a young man’s death as they try to open the hatch in Season 1. In Season 2, he begins pushing buttons in the hatch after being told it will protect the island. Soon, though, his faith his almost completely shattered, and he ends up giving a heartbreaking speech to Desmond as he recounts a moment in which he might have confused coincidence for fate:

“I looked down the barrel of the gun, and I believed. I thought it was my destiny to get into this place. Then somebody died, a kid, because he was stupid enough to believe that I knew what I was talking about. And on the night that he died for nothing, I was sitting right up there, all alone, beating my hand bloody against that stupid door, screaming to the heavens, asking what I should do. And then a light went on. I thought it was a sign. But it wasn’t a sign. It was probably just you, going to the bathroom.”

The best part about the character is that classic John Locke smile — the tilted head and squinted eyes, his mouth barely creeping up at the corners like he realizes there’s no real reason for his happiness. It’s a feat of acting.

I’m not alone in my love for Locke.

Jeff Stiles called Locke his favorite on the show “because is the most sympathetically pathetic character in history.”

John Whitlock called Locke a “classic redemption story” since he’s a “miserable man who was living a miserable life (who) suddenly finds a second chance at a meaningful life.”

Desmond ranked atop the list for Aaron Saylor.

“I first thought it was a tie between Ben Linus and John Locke, but after thinking about it more, I’d say Desmond Hume is my favorite character,” Saylor said. “I find his back story the most interesting and feel like he could well end up being the key to everything.”

Cory Graham took an alternate path for his favorite character, opting for Sayid “not just because he’s the best character on the show but because he’s one of the top 10 characters in the history of television.”

“Writing his character as a hero took balls,” Graham continued, “and he gives us an insight into the other side of the world. On top of that, he’s an all-business, no whining, get-the-job-done kind of guy with genuine humanity.”

Carrie Smith stayed delightfully on the fence with her pick.

“This is like asking me to pick between my children” she told me. “I like them all and hate them all for very different reasons. Being able to connect with each one makes them more than actors and fictitious characters. They are messed up and perfect at the same time.”

I found it interesting that each person I interviewed was able to completely distinguish between his or her favorite character and the one they thought best represented their own personality. Often, we identify most closely with the character most like ourselves (or, more honestly, the ones we most want to be like), but for this group of friends, they didn’t root for their Lost-alikes.

Aaron said he found himself most like Locke (no reason given), while Cory picked Desmond, saying he’s “been through situations that aren’t totally unlike his, and I admire his resolve in the face of them. I also know myself well enough to be certain that I’d keep pushing the button.”

John picked Sawyer, who “has a hard time taking things on faith al one, not opposed to cutting corners, quick witted, resents authority, usually trying to think two steps ahead.”

Carrie went with Kate because she’s “equally torn between two loves but too stubbornly independent to choose between either or to admit she needs either one. She’s working out her childhood issues, and I think I may have cheered out loud when she blew up her dad’s house.”

Jeff, though, had the most honest assessment of which characters best matches his own personality.

“I have no idea,” he said. “No one on that island is as scared shitless as I would be.”

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One thought on “The Lost world: Characters at the heart of the show

  1. Great post Kevin! I love every character for different reasons but I’d have to agree that Desmond and John Locke top my list as well! Can’t wait for Sunday brutha!

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