*WARNING: Spoilers from previously-aired episodes of “Lost” ahead.*
“Lost” has some serious issues. To be more precise, the hit ABC drama about plane crash survivors marooned on a mysteriously creepy island has some serious mommy and daddy issues.
As its confounding and delicious riddle of a fourth season has been slowly unfolding, I continue to find myself struck by the multitude of parent issues the motley pack of “Lost” survivors carries around on its shoulders. A majority of the characters on this show have vastly complicated and toxic relationships with their parents, relationships that have rendered them damaged people.
Take Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox), the heroic spinal surgeon who, soon after the plane crashed, assumed the role of the reluctant leader of the shell-shocked group. In an episode cleverly entitled, “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues,” viewers learned via a flashback that Jack’s father -- Christian Shephard, a spinal surgeon and Jack’s boss -- lost his job after Jack informed the hospital board that Christian had operated while drunk, accidentally killing a pregnant patient (the first of many pregnant-then-dead “Lost” storylines). In fact, Jack was bringing his father’s body back to Los Angeles from Australia when the plane crashed. Toss in for good measure the fact that Jack’s mother blamed him for his father’s alcoholic binge in Australia that would eventually lead to his death, and you wind up with a character who lives under a cloud of guilt.
Then there’s Jack’s intellectual rival, John Locke (Terry O’Quinn). After being abandoned by his parents and raised in foster care, John was contacted by his long lost father Cooper, who feigned interest in a father-son reunion. But what he was really after was John’s kidney, not his affection. Soon after the transplant surgery, Cooper disappeared. Years later, when John learned that his father was a con man and threatened to expose him, John’s father shoved John out of a high-rise window, paralyzing him from the waist down.
Which brings us to James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway). James’ mother was also a victim of John Locke’s father. Cooper seduced James’ mother, then swindled her out of a whole lot of money. James’ father was so enraged that he fatally shot his wife and then himself, while James, who was a child at the time, fearfully cowered under a bed.
Having problems with one’s parents isn’t simply an affliction that ails the men on the island. Not by a long shot. Another “Lost” lead character, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly), killed her abusive father in order to stop him from hurting her mother. However her mother wasn’t appreciative of her daughter’s efforts and dimed her out to law enforcement. Kate was being extradited to the States by a U.S. marshal when the plane crashed and the marshal was accidentally killed.
There’s also Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim) who married Jin-Soo Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim), the son of a fisherman, but unwittingly cursed him to a life of crime when he was forced to work for her father, a Korean mobster.
One the inhabitants of the island at the time of the plane crash -- the ever-freaky Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) who was brought to the island as a child by his father Roger -- wound up killing his verbally and emotionally abusive father who had always held Ben responsible for his mother Emily dying during his birth.
Thus, we arrive at the big kahuna of “Lost’s” parent issues: Women who get pregnant while living on the island die. All of ‘em. Dead. However, if a woman arrives on the island already pregnant, she seems to give birth to a healthy baby just fine . . . sans any push presents of course. But conceiving a new life while on the island is, in the greatest of “Lost’s” ironies, a maternal death sentence. (Given that the de facto island kingpin Ben was born just as his own mother was dying, just adds to the ironic stew.)
Two of the show’s characters who were pregnant before arriving did give birth on the island and survived. One had originally planned to give her child up for adoption and was on her way to meet the adoptive parents at the time of the crash. The other had her daughter involuntarily taken from her after birth 15 years ago. At least one of the plane crash survivors (thus far) has gotten pregnant on the island: Sun, the daughter of the mobster, who had been told by doctors back home that her husband was incapable of impregnating her. But, for whatever reason, on this island, he was no longer infertile. The only person who offered them any degree of hope was a fertility specialist, Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell), whom Ben brought to the island to try to help the non-plane-crash female island inhabitants with their death-by-pregnancy problem. Prior to arriving on the island, Juliet had successfully helped her cancer-survivor sister Rachel get pregnant against all odds.
So what does all this parentally-inflicted damage and death-by-pregnancy mean? How will this enigma of a series eventually wrap up? Who knows? When it comes to “Lost,” no one really knows . . . except for the writers who are now back from the three-months-long writers’ strike. But these issues are just more riveting pieces of the “Lost” puzzle that are provocatively fun to ponder when you’re marooned on your own little island, sitting in the school pick-up line.
“Lost ” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ABC has episodes of the series on its web site.