Monday, May 24, 2010

"The End" of Lost

Lost ended as it began with Jack Shephard lying in the jungle, but he is dying. In fact, it appears that everyone is dead! The two and one-half hours of the final episode were riveting story telling that tugged at our hearts but, as expected, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof left us with a lot of questions and plot holes big enough to drive several semi trucks through. For example, why were Desmond and Penny in the final group in the church? Was Desmond even real? Penny was never on the island. If she is dead, how did she die? Kate, Sawyer, and Claire can’t have escaped the island on the plane if they are getting ready to go on to “the light.” Is finding your “significant other” the key to salvation? Among those in the church, Locke seemed to be the only one who had not found his true love. What about Michael and Walt? Where do they fit into all this? What about Ben Linus? Why is he waiting outside the church? Is he still atoning for his sins?  What about Charlotte and Daniel?

The only way that I can process all of this is to assume that the whole six years took place in a dream or on another plane of existence. With that perspective, the mythology, struggles, deaths, relationships, deceptions, and victories were all part of the main characters’ finding redemption or, as the scripture says, “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” This suggests that the Island is, indeed, a sort of purgatory where people have a second chance to redeem themselves rather than Hell as Richard Alpert suggested at one point. Where this leaves characters like Ben, Juliet, and Penny who were not part of the original Oceanic flight is a gap in my theory.

For people of faith, Cuse and Lindelof give a nod to religion in the stained glass window at the “church” that provides the backdrop for the scene where Jack encounters his deceased father (“Christian Shephard”). The window seems to have the symbols of most of the major world religions. I suppose that the show runners are pointing out that the situation that the plane crash “survivors” find themselves in is common to people of every time and nation—how can we deal with sin and loss?

Although Lost points out quite clearly that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, their answer is a salvation without Christ. They do, indeed, redeem themselves. Redemption seems to depend on making right choices (even in a fantasy world) or finding the right mate!

The plotting may be flawed but the characters were powerful. Lost was six seasons of memorable television. I doubt we will see anything like it again.

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