After our recent look at ABC Stories within South Park, let’s take a quick look at Lost to see how it should be done, though you’ll need to watch the episode to fully understand what I’m talking about.
The episode in question is S01E16 Outlaws. Its on-island story, Story A, sees Sawyer become obsessed with a boar which he is convinced is waging a personal vendetta against him after it both ransacks his tent and attacks him in the jungle.
Always eager to get the hell away from the group, Kate (still my future wife) decides to join Sawyer on his wild boar chase.
If memory serves me, Story A gets going straight away as the episode opens with Sawyer awakening from his recurring dream – the same old nightmare in which he replays the real-life event that shaped his life – his father killing his mother. As he wakes, he hears the island whisper the words “It’ll come back around.”
If you didn’t know already, Lost’s famous flashback structure provided the series’ B Stories.
So later on, in a flashback set in Australia (after meeting Jack Shephard’s father, Christian drinking himself to death in a bar) we see Sawyer shoot and kill Frank Ducket – the con-man he believes caused his parent’s deaths. But after Duckett utters his final words – “It’ll come back around.” it becomes clear that Duckett was the wrong guy.
The boar is, therefore, of course, metaphor for Sawyer killing Duckett, come back to haunt him.
Story C, incidentally is Hurley and Sayid trying to help Charlie readjuct after killing Ethan.
On the island, after Story A includes one of my favourite ever scenes – a beautifully written (and acted) cat-and-mouse exchange between Kate and Sawyer, written by Drew Goddard (The Martian, Daredevil)…
Sawyer encounters Jack’s father, Christian Shepard who impossibly tells him “It’ll come back around” By the end of the episode, when he finally corners the boar, Sawyer can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. See how the dots connect?
Here in Outlaws, Story B (Sawyer’s flashback) caused Sawyer to learn, change and grow in Story A because as well as to thrill and excite us, that’s why stories, film and TV exist – to help us learn, change and grow.
And Lost certainly changed me forever.