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, A-Story, 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, the A-Story 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 whole 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 while in Outlaws the C-Story sees Hurley and Sayid trying to help Charlie readjust after killing Ethan.)
So later on, in a flashback set in Australia, we see Sawyer shoot and kill Frank Duckett – 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 Sawyer killed the wrong man.
The boar in Story A is, therefore, of course, metaphor for Sawyer killing Duckett, come back to haunt him, pig-time!
First, the on-island A-Story puts Sawyer in the self-same situation as the off-island B-Story. See how the dots connect? Sawyer tracks his quarry in both storylines. Yet by the end of the episode when push comes to shove, when Sawyer finally corners the boar and faces down his demon, he can’t just bring himself to pull the trigger.
Why? Well, the past events of the off-island flashback (B-Story) caused Sawyer to learn, change and grow in Story A because – in addition to thrilling and exciting us – that’s why stories, film and TV exist – to help us learn, change and grow.
And Lost certainly changed me forever and this is just one of the million reasons why:
Outlaws includes one of my favourite ever scenes – a beautifully written (and acted, considering this was Evangeline Lilly’s first ever speaking role and Josh Holloway was about to give up acting before he got the call) cat-and-mouse exchange between Kate and Sawyer:
This magnificent scene was written by Drew Goddard who went on to write The Martian and Daredevil)
Watch, listen and learn!
There are hundreds of examples of Story B mirroring Story A within Lost but another perfect example is S01E07 The Moth.