Instant Karma, Baby… "It'll Come Back Around."

Well, we’re all gearing up for the new LOST episodes (3 weeks of new shows in a row starting next week, woohoo!).

In the meantime, it’s always a good time to revisit old themes.

In “Outlaws”, Sawyer stalks Duckett, the shrimp shack guy he thinks is the original Sawyer who ruined his life. After he shoots him, he learns he’s made a big mistake–he killed the wrong man. Duckett’s dying words are “It’ll come back around”. Later, these words are echos in the jungle, as Sawyer hunts a boar he possibly thinks is a reincarnation of someone he once knew.

I think this scene really exemplifies much of what the series is about. It ties in ideas of karma & irony.

What is karma? Here’s the Wikipedia’s definition:

Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The effects of those deeds and these deeds actively create present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain in others. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.

Another way of saying “You reap what you sow” or “What goes around, comes around.” It is also a major theme in The Brothers Karamazov (the book by Dostoevsky that Locke gives to Henry in “Maternity Leave”): Zosima, a character secure in his faith, believes that it is not one man’s place to judge another, because human lives are interwoven and everything we do affects anothers’ life. And the last line of the above definition, about future lives — do they remind you of “See you in the next life” and “You’ll find me in the next life if not in this one.” Sound familiar? They should, they are quotes from Desmond & Nadia.

1) Sawyer becomes the man he once hated.

2) Jack, the idealist surgeon, who performed “miracles” as a resident, never had closure with his father, the cynic. He is now doomed to be the cynic himself, refusing to believe in things that science can’t explain.

3) Charlie is trying to break from his past and become “a new man”, but the lifestyle he once had, of drugs and loose women, are now catching up with him. Also see the scene with Liam, whose pregnant wife leaves him because he can’t kick his drug habit. Charlie now falls for Claire, who does not want her or her baby to be around him because of his drug habit.

4) Locke, in early scenes, is paralyzed, both physically and emotionally… he works as a desk jockey where he’s a “button pusher” and is the object of ridicule. He has a fantasy where he plays a colonel and is in the heart of an adventure/mystery. He ends up on an island, miraculously able to walk and live out his dream of being the respected man of adventure he always wanted to be. But what does he end up doing? He’s back in a “cubicle” (the hatch), stuck pushing buttons, and the object of ridicule by people who don’t understand.

5) Sayid hates the people who put him in a situation where he had to torture a former colleague. Yet he in turn becomes a torturer by choice when he wants to get the truth from Sawyer and Henry Gale.

6) Jin was once ashamed of his village background, and the fact that his father was a fisherman. On the island, he becomes resourceful and takes on his role as island fisherman.

7) Mr. Eko has a cross around his neck as a boy. This is taken up by his brother after he is kidnapped, who takes on his faith and becomes a priest, as Eko goes down the path as a drug lord. With his brother’s death, he once again discovers that faith is the key for him, and becomes a “priest” in tribute to his brother.

So much for Tabula Rasa. There are other examples. Can you think of a few?

And incidentally. Anyone know the symbol used in Taoism to connote this idea of karma and balance? Yup, you guessed it.


- Cecilia C.

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5 Responses to Instant Karma, Baby… "It'll Come Back Around."

  1. violet says:

    i like the explanatory tie-in of “the brothers karamazov” — i think the placement of books are intentional (like, “watership down”), but not sure what they could mean by placing “the brothers karamazov” with henry gale (besides that whole hemingway/doestoevsky comment). the karma explanation is good. also, the scene that stuck with me the most from the book is when ivan tells the story of the grand inquisitor, and there is a slight parallel between that scene and when mr. eko “confesses” to gale — as if gale is the devil or god or both.

  2. Cecilia says:

    violet: All excellent points, I agree on your point from The Brothers about Ivan. As far as why it was placed with Henry’s scene, that’s a good question, and probably not one we will know the answer to right away; because we still don’t know what exactly this character’s background and role are in the show. It should be interesting. I think part of the relation to the book could be the other major theme–redemption (the brothers have plotted to kill their father).

    BTW, if anyone is interested in literature references in the book, I’ve compiled a very long and comprehensive list of literature, author, movie, TV, music & art references found throughout the series (with the help of many others at LOST-TV… it is an interactive list in the forum there).

    Andreas and I have been talking about maybe making it a page somewhere on this site, but it’s up to him, and depends if there’s any interest for that sort of thing here.

  3. Cecilia says:

    Linked the list, above.

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