For the past four TV seasons, the survivors of the crash of Oceanic 815 have been stranded on an island.
We don’t know much about the island. But we know it’s a special place. It was home to some culture which built a statue honoring a being with four toes. A nineteenth-century slaving ship somehow landed in the middle of the island. People with life-threatening diseases and disabilities have been healed once they’ve stepped foot on the island. And sometimes around 40 years ago, the DHARMA initiative built a series of stations to harness the powers of the island to conduct “silly experiments.”
While the inhabitants of the island and those who have ended up there by sheer happenstance have used the island’s powers (or magic) for their own personal reasons, DHARMA did something different. They tried harnessing that special power, but did so to benefit their own ends. But looking at what they’ve done, one can take the view that DHARMA messed up, or has the wrong priorities (at least in terms of what the island is and is to be used for) by turning the island’s magic into science (kind of sounds like the whole man of faith vs. man of science debate on a different scale).
For some examples of how DHARMA’s priorities were out of whack consider:
- Who cares about time travelling bunnies when you can move an island and jump into the future?
- Why bother bottling up the magnetic properties of the island when doing so could potentially mean the end of the world?
- And who cares about psychological experiments where the people who think they’re the watchers are actually the ones being watched?
DocArzt, one of the best Lost bloggers on the Web explains DHARMA’s presence on the island another way:
…the Orchid station, as it turned out, really wasn’t responsible for moving the island. The scene essentially took the thunder from the hands of Dharma and put it back into the hands of the mysterious ‘original’ occupants of the island.
Ben’s comment on the station being for ‘silly experiments’ was the first clue. He openly acknowledged there was some time travel with bunnies going on, which is far from silly, but the real magic of the place was what it was built around: an ancient machine that had the capability of teleporting an entire island.
All at once it is easy to see why Ben may have not been that interested in the Swan, let alone the Dharma Initiative’s attempts to control and manipulate the forces on the island. Someone had already done it, a long time ago, or perhaps a long time in the future if you want to be more surreal about it. Either way, Ben’s lack of respect for Dharma is well founded. The Orchid had nothing to do with moving the island, it was merely an attempt to gracefully, and safely, duplicate what the wheel room was capable of doing.
DHARMA was trying to take the magic of the island and turn it into science. If the DHARMA people were the “men of science,” then their oppostion, the “men of faith” would be the original inhabitants of the island, the hostiles, the Others, whatever you want to call them. The Others were there to prevent DHARMA from ruining the island.
They’ve removed the initiative, and have stopped its deleterious effects on the island. In some instances, the others still use(d) DHARMA facilities (before Locke blowed them up real good), but as Locke pointed out last season, doing so caused them (mostly Ben) to lose their way.
Both men have destinies intertwined with the island. Desmond was told by Mrs. Hawking that he has to go to the island and push the button. He did this for three years, except for one specific time, which led to Locke entering the picture. Locke’s destiny with the island was shown from a very early age, where he was “recruited” by the island. When he eventually got to the island, Locke was the one to open the hatch and (eventually) destroy the Swan (and the Flame).
Both men are rewarded for their efforts. Desmond is eventually allowed to leave and reunites with Penny. He finds his purpose, and becomes the “great man” he could not be off the island. Locke regains the use of his legs and becomes leader of the Others, which gives him the family he’s wanted all his life.
Between now (the day Ben moves the island) and the time Jeremy Bentham dies, though, something goes wrong with John Locke. The island has been moved to protect it from Widmore, but that’s not enough to save the island and its inhabitants from falling victim to whatever the “bad” thing is that happens in the future.
The island is a magical place. There are people who live there that don’t want to leave. And there are people off the island who are spending a lot of time and money to get back there. And a group of six (possibly more) people who got what they wanted want to go back. I guess we’ll see why next season.