Lost Season Two: Live Together, Die Alone
Those words were spoken by Dr. Jack Shephard during the first season of the ABC drama Lost, and although the key phrase—“live together, die alone”—serves as the title for the season two finale, it could also be a fitting epitaph for the entire sophomore effort. While the inaugural season was about the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 crashing on a supposedly deserted island, season two focused on the divisions that inevitably sprouted up as the prospects of rescue diminished.
The season even started with part of the cast—Michael Dawson, James “Sawyer” Ford and Jin Kwon—separated from their fellow Lostaways due to the raft they built being destroyed by the enigmatic Others, who likewise kidnapped Michael’s son, Walt. Washed ashore on a distant beach, the trio met a small group of tail section survivors who had a much different experience on Lost Island. While the main characters from season one had limited interference from the Others, the tail section was ravaged by sneak attacks in the middle of the night that depleted their numbers. By the time they were reunited with their fellow castaways, Ana Lucia Cortez, Mr. Eko, Libby and Bernard were scared, paranoid and distrusting of anyone. Ana Lucia’s accidental killing of Shannon Rutherford in turn assured that the main group of survivors would be just as distrusting of the newbies.
That paranoia and distrust spilled over and splintered many of the original cast as well. Charlie Pace, for instance, exhibited erratic behavior around Claire Littleton and her newborn son, Aaron, leading to the belief that he was back on heroin as well as his ostracization from the group. Sensing the growing division, Sawyer—who had briefly turned more likeable after taking a bullet during the previous season finale in an attempt to protect young Walt—decided to take advantage of the situation by pulling one of his trademark long cons in order to steal all of the guns and medicine, causing yet another rift amongst the Lostaways. Even Jack and Kate Austin experienced estrangement as the good doctor came to confide in tail section passenger Ana Lucia more than his once favorite fugitive-on-the-run.
The main conflict, however, was between Jack Shephard and John Locke, the competing “man of science” and “man of faith” of the series. This division first reared its head during season one when Boone Carlisle died because of Locke’s obsession with a mysterious hatch the two had found in the jungle. That hatch, which was opened at the end of the first season and finally explored at the beginning of the second, included a button that had to be pushed every 108 minutes in order to “save the world.” Locke latched onto the mission like a man possessed but pleaded to Jack that “I can’t do this alone.” Jack reluctantly consented to assist despite his disbelief that the fate of mankind hung in the balance of whether or not a button was pushed.
This momentary truce between Jack and Locke was disrupted by the appearance of “Henry Gale.” A supposed balloonist who crashed on the island with his now deceased wife, Henry was immediately met with distrust and the consensus that he could just as well be an Other as much as a balloonist. Kept locked up and even tortured, he stuck to his story but also demonstrated a sinister ability to manipulate when he tried on numerous occasions to drive a wedge between his two competing wardens. This manipulation continued even after it was revealed that “Henry” was indeed an Other as he planted doubts in Locke’s mind about the true significance of pushing the infamous button.
All of these events percolated during the season and finally boiled over in the finale. Michael Dawson had reappeared a few episodes earlier from his “Find Walt” quest with a plan to rescue his kidnapped son but in reality he had made a deal with the Others—free “Henry Gale” and deliver Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes into their hands in exchange for both Walt and safe passage off the island. While Michael executed the first part of his deal with the devil by freeing the captive, killing Ana Lucia and Libby in the process, it was left up to “Live Together, Die Alone” for the rest to come into fruition.
On the flip side, John Locke’s doubts turned to certainty—the button was nothing more than a joke, a ploy to see how long someone would push it while continuing to believe that they were “saving the world.” He commandeered the hatch in “Live Together, Die Alone” from the new resident button-pusher, Mr. Eko, and waited for the ticking 108 minutes to wind down and prove himself correct.
While Locke waited, Michael led his prey to their fate. Fortunately, Sayid Jarrah had seen through the masquerade. Taking Jack into his confidence, the two formed a plan to turn the tables on both Michael as well as the Others—while Michael led them by land, Sayid would follow by sea. What they failed to consider, however, was the duplicitous nature of the Others, who had prepared a different target area than the one that Jack and Sayid deduced it would be. Bound and gagged, Jack, Kate and Sawyer thus ended the season in the hands of their enemy while Hurley was allowed to go free and warn his fellow castaways to keep their distance.
But the season finale also raised the question of whether the Others were actually the enemy. In a surprising twist, the former captive known as Henry Gale turned out to be the apparent leader of the group. He also honored the deal made with Michael Dawson by both reuniting him with Walt as well as giving him the keys to a small tugboat and the proper coordinates to achieve rescue. When a surprised Michael asked, “Who are you guys?” he was met with a simple, “We’re the good guys.”
John Locke wasn’t having much better success inside the hatch than his fellow Lostaways were having with the Others. He had originally recruited the former occupant, Desmond Hume, into proving the entire button-pushing endeavor was simply a fabricated psychological test but the longer the clock ticked down, the more Desmond became convinced the world-ending significance of “not” pushing the button was real. Part of this belief stemmed from the fact that he had failed to push the button quick enough the day that Oceanic Flight 815 crashed, raising the possibility that Desmond was responsible for the passengers of the plane being on the island in the first place.
Locke was not dissuaded and smashed the computer before Desmond could take action. In the end, however, all John Locke could do was utter a simple “I was wrong” when the hatch began to shake, rattle and roll with a destructive energy that suddenly had no means of dissipating.
This set the stage for Desmond Hume to emerge a hero. The one-time participant in a race around the world that directly led to his being stranded on Lost Island was only briefly seen in the first few episodes of the season before reappearing in the finale. Yet despite such limited screen time, Desmond was rewarded with the flashback sequences of “Live Together, Die Alone.” Portrayed as a coward desperate to prove his manly worth to the love of his life, Penelope Wilmore, he was only a few notches up on the loser-ladder than perennial sad sack John Locke. In the finale, however, he used a fail-safe key that released and neutralized the energy of the hatch even if it potentially meant his own demise.
Desmond’s importance to the Lost narrative proved even more essential in the episode’s final scene. For the first time since the series started, the off-island world was glimpsed when two scientists stationed in the Arctic Circle recorded the electro-magnetic anomaly caused by Desmond’s actions. As one of them worked on ascertaining the location of the event, the other picked up the phone and called Penelope Widmore.
Apparently someone in the outside world was looking for the island after all.