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I spend a little longer thinking about the past the older I get. Makes sense, since I have more of a past now than I did in my younger days. The temptation to dwell on the past grows as the years roll, and it makes me wonder: what if I couldn't stop? What if there was something in my past I couldn't let go of, to the point it poisoned every following day? Don't know about you, but I might kill myself.
Since Lost deals with such mind-boggling concepts and plot twists, one easily forgets the more typically human motivations. So let's look at obsession, and where it's gotten some of our Losties.
Locke, of course, comes to my mind first. Before arriving on the Island, Locke had become obsessed with Anthony Cooper and his tricky theft of Locke's kidney. He pushes Helen away because of it. Eventually he ends up pushed through a window and breaking his back on account of obsession. When he gets a second pair of legs (and what he sees as a second chance at life) on the Island, he just gets obsessed with that. Then he finds the hatch, then the button. Etc. He allows Boone to die, kills Naomi, leaves the Island. His obsession leaves him back in a wheelchair and, eventually, dead.
Jack, on the other hand, can't stop trying to make everything come out right. I don't think he pursued medicine - and specifically surgery - simply to follow his father. Jack always believes he can fix things. He almost never succeeds, but never fails to try. His real obsession doesn't begin until after returning from the Island, when he starts flying regularly, hoping to crash. He sinks deeper into alcohol and pills. But once he finds himself back on the Island, after that first conversation with Sawyer, he seems to relax. He forgets his obsession. I actually really like this Jack. Of course, our time with Zen Jack comes to a swift halt when Faraday arrives, talking about changing the past. From this emerges a new Jack, super-obsessed and scary. We've yet to see the results of his catastrophic decision.
There are many other examples. Ben's obsession leads him to ruin many lives. Michael's forces him to kill two people, destroys his relationship with Walt, and ends in his death. Widmore's leads him to mass-murder and an estrangement from Penny. Eloise's obsession results in Faraday's death, even though it looks the other way around. Charlotte's leads her back to the Island and her horrible death. Rousseau's drives her mad. The list goes on.
But my point has nothing to do with lists. I'm just stacking examples. I really want to talk about Radzinsky.
When we meet Stuart Radzinsky we already know he ends up in the Swan, pushing the button. And appropriately so, as we soon find out the Swan is his obsession. He wants to change the world, and intends to do so through his experiments with electromagnetism in this Dharma station. We can already tell as soon as Sayid is taken captive Radzinsky is paranoid - another hallmark of the obsessed - and has been working on the Swan six years. He beats Sawyer to a pulp. Chang repeatedly warns him on the day of The Incident not to drill, yet he drills anyway.
Which brings us to Jughead, the electromagnetism, and an even uglier side of obsession. We've always assumed - probably because of Inman's drunken ramblings - the Incident had to do with Dharma drilling into the pocket of electromagnetic energy, and the button dissipated the build-up of energy. Faraday even said Dharma spent the 25 years following the Incident keeping the energy at bay. Commenting on another post, Aunt Hershey brought up the idea that there would be no need to pour concrete if the bomb detonated. I see the point. The bomb was supposed to negate the pocket of energy, and the concrete seems a dead giveaway this didn't happen the "first" time. Which means it could be good evidence Jughead is new.
Except for Sayid's comment in "Everybody hates Hugo": "The last time I heard of concrete being poured over everything like this was Chernobyl." I know, we've been over this again and again; however, I think I have a slightly different interpretation.
What if Jughead did not negate the electromagnetic pocket but instead blew a hole in the ground so big the energy began to leak? Radzinsky, refusing to let go of six years research and his desire to change the world acts fast, pouring concrete. He then jury-rigs a button of sorts using the equipment already designed to manipulate electromagnetism, so that he can keep it from dissipating completely. He intends to invent a way to fix the problems the Incident caused, hence he supervises the final construction of the station, and stays in the Swan. For years. Pushing the button.
We always thought the button was supposed to keep the electromagnetic energy at bay, to stop it from getting out and "destroying the world". I think it's just as likely the button was meant to keep the energy in. If they have the failsafe the entire time and can negate the energy without destroying the world, why not do it? It seems getting rid of the energy is not Radzinsky's plan. He still thinks he can finish what he started.
The problem is, he also knows about the time travelers. He knows about the future. Just bits and pieces, but he knows enough for it to eat at him as he tries to fix things. The farther the Incident recedes into the past, the more he starts to believe he'll never fulfill his dreams. Somehow he survives the Purge, which I believe has something to do with the Others' foreknowledge. I think they're at least using Faraday's journal, if not getting help from a time traveler or two. They know the Swan must remain long enough for Desmond to show up and cause the crash of flight 815, so they allow Radzinsky to live, and let him recruit Kelvin Inman to help. Finally convinced he will never succeed in repairing the Swan, Radzinsky decides to eat a bullet.
It seems one subtle theme of Lost was suggested by Sawyer, a character whose wisdom increases every season: "What's done is done." Yes, there would be no story if more characters listened to that advice; but it seems to be one of the things Lost is trying to say. Let it go. Which is what I love about this show: the philosophy and psychology run as deep as the other elements.