We at Eleven Warriors are slaves to many a things -- spicy living, the tender love and care of a good woman, adolescent young men doing physically astonishing things in front of tens of thousands of screaming on lookers while vicariously representing a place and time in our lives, and on occasion, popular culture.
As such, this weekend (9 PM EST SUNDAY ON YOUR LOCAL ABC AFFILIATE /SHAM ON) marks the end of an era, as one of TV's most highly decorated, critically acclaimed, and polarizing long form series calls it quits for good. I'm sure we have a passionate minority amongst you who's seen every episode from the cinematic rich premiere through Jacob's ghost passing the torch while we have just as many here who long for the days when bad Patrick Duffy getting out of the shower made for the extent of mind bending dramatic television.
Whether you've seen all 6 seasons or never even made it through an entire cold open, LOST's finale will garner more than its far share of over analysis, water cooler debate Monday morning, and audiences who ordinarily wouldn't want anything to do with Oceanic Flight 815. Like it or not, Sunday's finale is about to be a permanent staple in our culture's media history, whether the show distorts and bends expectations v. the reality of what actually plays out the way many do (often in the most frustrating cliffhanger possible), or whether Jack and Kate eat at a dinner as our new national anthem, "Don't Stop Believing", plays on a juke box as the camera pans out and the screen fades to black. Subsequently (and in order to send the show off properly), there's no better time for a primer in a few of the thematic elements encompassing the series as well as how they relate to Ohio State football as a whole as well as specifically in the forthcoming 2010/11 season.
While a variety of philosophical themes and sub-contexts (having characters called Locke/Bentham, Hume, Rousseau, Carlyle, Bakunin, and Alpert amongst them) make up much of what just casual one off viewers interpret as inaccessible and even what puts off some more ardent viewers, perhaps no one motif drives the show than that of the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. The crash(es), who lives/who dies, time travel, the whole gauntlet all ultimately boil down to the question of free will v. predetermination. Accordingly, you may believe Ohio State's 3rd national title berth in 5 seasons is destiny, and that the stars will be aligned in such a way that things will play out exactly as you envision them needing to. You've told all your friends it's money in the bank and you've booked a hotel in Scottsdale or Tempe already. Right on.
The show also touches on, however, the idea that perhaps an individual's choice can serve as a mechanism for free will within a parameter of possible futures/outcomes. Realistically, the vast majority of us fall into this camp. We full heartedly expect that a large number of smaller, more wildly unpredictable things in a long string of "what if" variables will likely need to pan out just right if this season is going to play out anywhere close to our wildest dreams. Though part of us certainly wishes blind faith and optimism was enough for us as well.
The need to return
Every event in the LOST universe(s) have basically come down to the need that once a small group of the survivors left the island, they did so under false pretenses and broken syntax and that the only way to right the ship and save everyone, the entire group would need to go back. Pardon the limitations of my Philosophy 100/367 education, as I'm sure this is a specifically named social philosophical concept I'm ignorant of, but essentially by returning all of the original pieces to the place of the incident the entire broken entity would best be able to be re-made whole. Ohio State's own noticeable plane wreck went down somewhere in the suburban Northwest Phoenix area January 8th, 2007. As fate (!) and coincidence a like would have it, this year's BCS Championship Game is set to take place in the very same stadium that ignites post traumatic stress in many of us even to this day. Would it be asking too much for a once-beaten SEC Champion Florida Gators team to man the opposing side lines and really provide the opportunity for a perfectly symmetric ending to our long collective nightmare?
From Locke and Walt playing backgammon to Jacob's white and black rocks, the symbolism and the often blurred line between two sides of the same coin were hit on early and often throughout the entirety of the series. Ohio State's not a stranger to ambiguous, philosophically controversial hot button issues. Jim Tressel the conservative-strategically-short-changing-himself-fool vs Jim Tressel the situational-opportunist-willing-to-go-5-wide-in-the-red-zone-to-catch-Michigan-off-guard, the desire to keep the program on the cutting edge of the sport and the times vs the desire to preserve tradition at any and all costs, and even national-in vs local-out recruiting strategy are just a few of the oft debated, rarely settled with any sorts of finality idle chatter we find ourselves drawn into time and time again. However, when the clock strikes triple zeros, as long as the number under "OHIO ST" is greater than that of the other teams', essentially all of the squabbling becomes moot. Except of course when it doesn't
Much like LOST, 2010 should play out in a frustrating but satisfying mix of intrigue, failed plot devices, cliches, and thought provoking twists. I'll leave it to the pros to decide whether or not Rich Rod is the Smoke Monster, Jim Bollman Locke, etc. Oh, and as for those wondering about those pesky numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42? They're probably beyond meaningless, though if you want to go ahead and stock your closet with those respective jerseys just to error on the side of caution, I won't fault you one bit.