This & That: Lost & The Walking Dead
Lost is probably the greatest network television show of all time. Well, I think I can take out "probably." To me, it is the greatest show ever. The twists, turns and unanswered questions never ended. It was also the first (and to this point most) interactive show that I’ve ever experienced. I literally spent the next day after every episode on lostpedia.com searching for little hints and Easter eggs, reading about theories and then coming up with my own. Sure, you could nit-pick the show apart if you really took the time, but I believe this is true of any television show. Each show has its "jump the shark" moment. I struggle to find one with Lost, but that’s because I’m clearly biased. I’m sure most people could name one without even thinking too hard.
Regardless, I can’t imagine any TV drama ever living up to Lost and what it meant to me in my life. I can say, without question, that every "great" show I’ve watched since Lost ended nearly three years ago, I’ve undoubtedly compared it to Lost, and I’ve always assumed nothing would come close.
Two months ago on Christmas night, I was sitting at home, knowing there was an imminent snowstorm on the way, one likely to keep me snowed in for at least a day or two. With that in mind, I opted to start binge watching one of the most popular TV shows on Netflix, but I didn’t really know which one to choose. I decided to leave it to the fates. And by “fates,” I mean Facebook friends.
I hopped on Facebook and listed the four shows on my status about which I’d heard the most buzz -- Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Sons Of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. The answers slowly trickled in, but by the next morning two things were abundantly clear -- 1) there was about a foot and a half of snow on the ground so I wouldn’t be going anywhere for awhile, and 2) I’d be spending most of that time watching The Walking Dead.
From the very first episode of The Walking Dead, I had Lost in the back of my mind. I was amazed because I’d never really considered how similar the settings are between the two shows. The whole stranded-on-a-deserted-island backdrop has become so commonplace; it had never occurred to me that, like The Walking Dead, it’s essentially a post-apocalyptic setting. Think about it -- the world you knew is gone, so you’re forced to start your life in an entirely different place with new people, hoping but doubting things will ever get back to normal.
From there, the comparisons kept coming, with the easiest comparisons to make being the characters. I feel like I should preface this by saying that most of these comparisons are based on the characters of Lost during the first three seasons. The entire series was about how the characters evolved, and things really changed once the Oceanic Six left The Island. Besides, The Walking Dead is only in its third season, and it’s easy to assume that the characters we have grown to know and love still have some evolving of their own to do. Also, I know nothing about The Walking Dead comic, so any comparison that appears to be related is strictly just a lucky guess or assumption on my part.
The Reluctant Leader: Jack Shephard / Rick Grimes
This was definitely the easiest comparison to make. It was so easy, in fact, that I hardly feel the need to explain it, but I will.
The doctor. The sheriff. From what we know, they has the two most distinguished occupations in the original camps of each show (remember, Hershel wasn’t in the original camp, and, oh yeah, he’s a vet). Jack and Rick both seem to have chosen these fields because they want to help people and they have a need to try and fix things. However, once they find themselves in their new apocalyptic universes, neither of them wants to carry the role of the leader. In retrospect, I think one could argue that this is true because they didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of everyone. That is, they didn’t want the blood to be on their hands. But that’s an argument for another day.
Of course, Jack finally took the reigns of the group during the famous “live together, die alone” speech during the series’ fifth episode. Rick, while clearly acting as the leader, didn’t seem to fully accept his role until after the farm was overrun at the end of season two. His acceptance was immortalized in the "Ricktatorship" speech.
After those two speeches it was evident who was in charge, but the similarities don’t end there. The most common thread between the two is their obsession to get all of their people to safety, which I suppose goes hand-in-hand with being the leader in a post-apocalyptic society. With Jack, you can see his obsession and frustration unleashed when he practically beats Ben to a pulp in the Season 3 finale before announcing that he will get all of his camp off The Island. Rick’s emotion comes rushing out in desperation when he’s talking on the phone in the prison to what he assumes is a safe haven.
I also love the little things they have in common. For example, both men were so obsessed with saving every member of their group that they tried to cut a man’s leg off just to save his life. As you know, Boone wasn’t as lucky as Hershel. The other thing that struck me is that they both appear to be haunted by deceased loved ones. Of course, we learned that Jack’s figment of his dead father was actually the Man In Black, but we still don’t know why Rick is seeing Lori. Is she a ghost? Is she, as Kevin Smith and others hypothesize, still alive? Or is Rick just crazy? I for one believe the latter, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. It’s fascinating to me that Jack’s deceased father led him to water, and as Rick stated to Hershel this past week, he believes Lori is leading him to something. Stay tuned.
The Evolved Rebel: James “Sawyer” Ford / Shane Walsh
It’s definitely debatable which character most reincarnates the Sawyer role in The Walking Dead. I saw a similar article like this compare Sawyer to Daryl. I can see some parallels between the two, but for me, Shane much more embodies the cocky, every-man-for-himself attitude that we all loved to hate from Sawyer during the first season of Lost. A specific conversation from each series between the "rebel" and the "leader" is what really sealed it for me.
Sawyer: You’re just not lookin’ at the big picture, Doc. You’re still back in civilization.
Jack: Yeah? And where are you?
Sawyer: Me... I’m in the wild.
From The Walking Dead:
Rick: I heard what happened at the school. Was it to survive?
Shane: Yeah. One of us wasn’t gonna make it out. It had to be him. One shot to the leg, Carl lives. The reality is, (Otis) had no business being here…
Rick: You don’t think I would have done it? You don’t think I can keep Lori or Carl safe? You don’t think I can keep my baby safe?
Shane: Rick, you can’t just be the good guy and expect to live, OK? Not anymore.
The conversation with Jack and Sawyer takes place when Jack discovers that Sawyer has been hoarding supplies from the wreckage, namely medicine in this instance because Jack is trying to keep the U.S. Marshall alive. Meanwhile, we slowly see Shane’s character changing throughout Season 2. The above conversation takes place when it comes to light that Shane shot Otis and left him to die at the hands of the walkers. Rick’s confrontation with Shane is the first time Rick finally seems to acknowledge that Shane is no longer the same person. Ironically, both of these conversations show how Sawyer and Shane are willing to let someone else die in order to ensure their own survival.
To me, it’s clear that these two have adapted to their new environments, much to the chagrin of their respective groups. They’ve "evolved" into different people in order to survive. Sawyer and Shane both see themselves as the main characters in Darwin’s most famous play, Survival Of the Fittest.
Unfortunately for Shane, that’s where the similarities end. His selfishness and jealousy of Rick eventually led to his undoing, while Sawyer’s character grew even more, to the point where he sacrificed his own well being so the Oceanic Six could be rescued. I’d like to think that if there were some kind of cure for the walkers, Shane would have a similar chance at redemption.
The Villainous Leader: Ben Linus / The Governor
The first time we were shown Woodbury, I immediately thought of Dharmaville in Lost. Here we are in this desolate place and time, and now we find this (apparently) civilized society? So it’s only fitting that the leaders of both groups get compared. Both men seem to come from fairly humble beginnings, but you get the sense they each believe they’re destined to be something more.
With Ben, you know this is true, because he states many times that he’s special. With The Governor, you kind of have to read between the lines. I couldn’t find the exact conversation, but I vaguely remember at some point he played the sympathetic card with Andrea and stated something to the effect that he didn’t ask to be in charge of Woodbury. When we see the more sinister side of The Governor (essentially every time he’s not around Andrea), it seems more likely that he loves being the one in power.
The one lingering question for me is, how did The Governor gain power over Woodbury? In Lost, we got to see by what nefarious means Ben used to gain control over Dharmaville, and I’m hoping that we get to see a little more backstory on The Governor.
The Hunter: John Locke / Daryl Dixon
I’ll be the first to admit, the further you delve into each one of these characters, the less they have in common. However, when we’re first introduced to each one of them, they are both somewhat of a silent enigma.
The first time we see Daryl, he’s arriving back at the quarry camp after a hunt. Thus we can conclude that he initially took the role as a provider of food for the group. Similarly, early on in Lost we see the group discussing how they get food when Locke chimes in by chucking a knife and shouting, “We hunt!” So both men are hunters. I also like to think that with Daryl’s crossbow skills and Locke’s knife skills, both seemed to be more prepared for their newfound environment than anyone else.
If you want to dive a little bit deeper, both men seem to have an obsession with keeping their family ties, despite the abusive nature of said family. Locke got conned out of a kidney by his estranged father but still can’t let go. Daryl was apparently beaten by his parents and verbally abused by Merle, yet when first given the option, he chose Merle over the rest of the group. Unfortunately for my argument, I think this is where the similarities end.
The Lovable Hero With a Dark Side: Charlie Pace / Glenn Rhee
From the very beginning of both series I found both of these characters to be the most likeable. They were relatable, nice, every-man-type guys that seemed they could do no wrong. It didn’t take too long, however, before it’s revealed that Charlie is actually a former rock star with a heroin addiction. While Charlie isn’t defined by his addiction, it clearly takes him to a dark place and ultimately leads to his temporary separation with Claire.
Glenn’s dark side hasn’t appeared until recently, after he was tortured and basically led to believe Maggie was raped or at the very least abused in some sort of way. It’s easy to understand how Glenn evolved into the character he’s become, but regardless, his new attitude has clearly had a strain on his relationship with Maggie.
Of course, we know what happened with Charlie. His relationship with Claire is smoothed over and eventually he gives his life to save Claire and the rest of the group. I predict that at some point we see a similar end to Glenn’s character. He’ll sacrifice himself to save his new family, especially Maggie and Hershel.
So does this mean Claire gets compared to Maggie? Well, I have nothing to write on those two except that, in my opinion, they’re the two most attractive women on each show, and they’re made even hotter by their sexy accents. The similarities end there, but hey, it’s something.
The Future Leader: Hugo “Hurley” Reyes / Carl Grimes
This one is much more speculation than anything else. Much like his best friend on the show, Charlie, Hurley is presented as a happy-go-lucky young man in the beginning. He goes through the same experiences as everyone on The Island and suffers the two biggest losses when he loses his would-be girlfriend Libby and later his best friend Charlie. All of the deaths and the turmoil that Hurly experiences lead to the final episode of the series, where we see him reluctantly take control and become the leader of The Island.
Carl is a simple boy at the beginning of the series but quickly becomes a man in the middle of Season 2. The moment Rick hands Carl a gun and tells him how he can never be ready to lose his loved ones is the moment Carl grew up. In Season 3, Carl has to kill his mother, thus removing any innocence that might have been left in the young man. We’ve seen some glimpses of his leadership skills, for instance, when he took it upon himself to find and shelter Tyrese’s group.
I expect Carl to take charge of the group, if only for a brief period, before the series comes to its conclusion.