Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Afterlife of "Lost"

Rarely, if ever, has a television show dealt with religious and spiritual themes as extensively and maturely as ABC's "Lost" which ended its six year run on Pentecost Sunday with an episode that was profoundly transcendent. On the surface, the series dealt with a group of plane crash survivors who landed on a mysterious, mystical island with a mythology that grew more complex each season. But at its heart, "Lost" told character-driven stories that explored themes like the possibility that human beings can find redemption from past sins.

The series finale addressed that theme again, but in a slightly different way – specifically, from the perspective of death and the afterlife. Apparently, this ending has left a number of people confused and, in some cases, dissatisfied. It was revealed that the Flash-sideways story device employed this season actually took place in a Purgatory-type realm in which the souls of the characters needed to work out their redemption by remembering and ultimately letting go of their past.

After experiencing their awakenings, the characters (or their souls, actually) all gather in a church in order to take the final step into eternal life together. Jack Shephard, the doctor who becomes the primary hero of the story by sacrificing his life to keep hell from being unleashed, is the last character to discover the truth in the Sideways world. The soul of his father explains to him that the realm they're in exists outside of space and time - "Everyone dies some time, kiddo. Some of them before you, some of them long after you...There is no now here."

Some viewers are misreading the full group being there together as meaning they all died at the same time, that the entire series took place in Purgatory because they were dead the entire time. Christian's words clearly dispel that theory. There's also the fact that Hurley and Ben in the Sideways world reminisce about the period where they protected the island. That experience was a part of their real lives that they remembered in their awakenings so that again points to the reality that the island timeline was real and that others escaped the island alive (Sawyer, Kate, Clare, Miles, Lapidus, Richard and Desmond).

So what exactly does this ending in which everyone is dead really mean? When the castaways arrived on the island, they were, as Jacob described them, "alone." They were emotionally-crippled, lost souls without any genuine human connections. But through the love and responsibility they exhibited toward each other, they were able to grow as human beings and fulfill their real natures - to move past the tragedies, mistakes and obsessions that haunted them and eventually arrive in a state of grace. In fact, there was a promo for "Lost" before this final season began that was edited to Willie Nelson singing "Amazing Grace." For me, the lyrics in that song "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see" explains the process of what happened in the Sideways/Purgatory world and over the course of the series. Grace builds on nature. As such, the castaways became a means of each others salvation.

The communal aspect of the final scene in the church also resolves one of the story's earliest conflicts. In the first season after everyone is trying to adjust to surviving the island soonafter the crash, there are personality clashes and arguments about how best to run things. It gets to the point where Jack addresses the large group of castaways saying, "Every man for himself is not going to work...If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone." That's exactly what this group of loners learned to do over six seasons - live, love, sacrifice, and sometimes die together. And it makes all the difference. Because as their souls are ready to step into the final stage of the afterlife, they do it as a community. Learning to live together in their earthly lives resulted in their stepping into eternal life together too. As Christian Shephard explains, “The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people. That's why you're all here. Nobody does it alone, Jack: you needed all of them, and they needed you ... to let go."

The notion of letting go leads me to another aspect of this Purgatory which doesn’t leave everyone with the happy ending the castaways achieve. The Sideways/Purgatory world is somewhat reminiscent of the afterlife created by C.S. Lewis in his book "The Great Divorce" in which dead souls can gain entrance to heaven if they let go of elements from their earthly pasts that are holding them back from fully loving God. For instance, one "Bright Spirit" from heaven tries to talk a mother whose son died years ago to let go of her grief and anger so she can see him in heaven. The mother refuses saying, "You are heartless...The past was all I had." The Bright Spirit responds, "It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with a sorrow." In other words, the very normal grief she felt after losing him became the core of who she was to the point that the resentment holds more sway over her than the opportunity to see her son again. Another Spirit later explains, "Every natural love will rise again and live forever in this country: but none will rise again until it has been buried."

This exchange reminds me of Eloise Hawking in the Sideways world. She appears to understand where she is and discourages Desmond from pursuing knowledge about the flashes that will make him realize he's dead because she knows that her son Daniel will then leave her. So instead of valuing Daniel's eternal happiness and maybe even joining him, Eloise prefers to possess him in the in-between world. Unlike Hurley & Libby or Sawyer & Juliet who remember their human love for each other and allow it to move them on toward something greater, Eloise is like the mother in Lewis’ story. She chooses stagnancy over growth, an earthly possessiveness over a higher love.

Of course, there’s someone who’s even worse off than Eloise: Anthony Cooper. It’s a Christian belief that God doesn't send people to hell; we send ourselves to hell by choosing to separate ourselves from the love and will of God. The one denizen of the Sideways/Purgatory world that appears to fit that bill is Anthony Cooper, John Locke's con-man father who was responsible for paralyzing him and who led Sawyer's father to shoot his own wife and then himself. One of the few characters who never demonstrated any redemptive qualities, Cooper is locked in a stroke-like frozen state, seemingly forever. Interestingly, in Dante's Inferno, the denizens of the 9th circle of hell are depicted as being frozen in a lake of blood and guilt. The choices Anthony Cooper made in his real life have left him with much blood on his hands. He also died unrepentant, so that final act of defiance against the natural moral law appears to have caught up with him here.

In the end - though the series ended showing everyone eventually dead - it can still be considered a happy ending from a Christian perspective. The main characters that viewers grew to love all lived their lives in a manner that will allow them to spend eternity together in heaven. Endings don’t get any happier than that.

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tonyrossimedia


chele says said...

Awesome analogy!!

Mary said...

Thank you! I've been thinking about this for days. Thank you for the Eloise Hawkings and Anthony Cooper explanation. You helped me understand what I was feeling about this show.

Tony Rossi said...

Thanks for commenting, chele and Mary. I'm glad you both found the post insightful.

fjm said...

A superb and thoughtful reflection. Thank you!

Fran said...

This is a great reflection. I really like how you put all of this. I'm glad that you put this on Mary DeTurris Poust's FB page so I could find it! Thank you!

Brian said...

Wonderfully said, I was very happy with how Lost ended and this only makes it that much better. :)

Delores said...

*Now* I can live with the ending. Thank you! I am still kind of dissatisfied over some things (Jack's son) but overall happy. Mainly because I feel like I was right. I realized in the second season (I watched it all in one year via netflix) that this was about more than just the surface. And during the final episode I even commented to my husband that it was like the Great Divorce. So I just feel great that I was not totally wrong, and you have put it all into perspective -- one that I can live with and not be irritated with the writers over. Thank you!

Tony Rossi said...

Thanks for all your comments! I think the writers did a great job overall despite some lingering loose ends. The show was ultimately about people, not the island, and that was the right focus in the end.

Anonymous said...

I love your point of view and this was my take on it as well. Thank you for writing it down!

Erik said...

Brilliant post! I'm also glad that you mention in your last comment that it's not about the island. My brother was a bit angry that his questions about Jacob, the island and that man in black went unanswered, to which I replied that one of the points of the show is that when we die there will be things we don't understand, but what truly mattered here were the people in that room. Also, it's worth nothing that from start to finish, what gave Jack grief in the beginning of the series and in the alternate universe was that he could not find the body of his father, Christian Shephard [read: "Shepherd"](Even in the last episode, Kate observes with incredulity that she's entering a church for a man named "Christian Shepherd"). So the body of "Christian Shepherd" had disappeared. Only at the end does Jack find his father, who not only comforts him and explains what's important, but it's "Christian Shepherd" who opens the doors to the next life. Food for thought.


Leah said...

I'm a little lost about the island and where all that fits in. There is so much focus on protecting the island that I was left feeling totally confused. So is it all a decoy and nothing about the island matters?

Tony Rossi said...

I think everything about the island mattered, Leah, because everyone's experiences and choices there led to their redemption. The island remains some kind of cork that keeps evil at bay which is why Ben and Hurley still have to guard it so the island definitely still matters. Supposedly there will be a long scene on the Complete Series DVD set that explains more island mythology. I'd actually be okay if they left it alone. I felt the Jacob/MIB episode was probably the weakest of the season.

Tony Rossi said...

Another thought occurred to me about the finale. In the Island world, Jack saw himself as responsible for Locke’s death because Jack had left the island and then refused to go back when Locke asked him. Though Jack wasn’t the direct cause of Locke’s death, he did play an indirect part. In the Sideways/Purgatory world, Jack doesn’t achieve his awakening until he fixes Locke. It’s like Jack had to atone for the sin of doubting Locke during his life before he could move on.

James said...

I would like to say that you really made my day, it's wonderful when you just look around the web
and find something like this, reminds me of that ''How to make a dinner for a romantic...'' by Elsa Thomas,
you're a wonderful writer let me tell you!!! ñ_ñ

Buy Viagra
James Maverick (maverickhunterjames@gmail.com)
3453 Rardin Drive
San Mateo, CA 94403
Project Manager

male said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
asterhealthsource said...

I would like to appreciated for your interesting article content.Nice article shared here.This is really great reflection.
buy generic viagra

marven said...

Hello ,There is so much focus on protecting the island that I was left feeling totally confused.logo design

Lauraine said...

Excellent piece of writing very thankful. Keep writing such kind of information on your blog.
Formspring clone script

Kashif Javed said...

In recent months, the majority of developers began to offer their mobile apps on Android smartphones. Most companies now recognize that the Android user base is growing and that future releases should be compatible with these types of devices.
best android apps

Skechers said...

Change is one of the few things constant on this world. And with the new year coming in, what better change can you make when it comes to cleaning than to use organic cleaning products?

Cleaning products

netde said...


LauraStarBene said...

Nice post! thanks for sharing!
Buy Viagra

Anonymous said...

Excellent site, keep up the good work my colleagues would love this.
creditcard genkinka creditcard shopping, shopping genkinka creditcard shopping,

Movies Gallery 2011 said...

Such a wonderful post. Thanks for the share. It was very interesting and informative.
Formspring Clone| Clone Script|

MLB2k11 said...

Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
Bot and me| Images| Super Bowl Commercials 2012|

mark said...

best organic seo servicesThe positive comments and do well wishes are very motivational and greatly appreciated.

buy vicodin online said...

This is an awesome blog post found here.... Great to be here... Thanks for the share..
buy vicodin online

Corporate Logo said...

Brilliant Post! I love this blog post. Please keep updating more about it. Logo Design

Anonymous said...

I really liked your article. Keep up the good work.I love bondage porn

Arghya Chakraborty said...

Its a fantastic blog. I got many information about iphone, Thanks for share your most informative information with all. Best regards from Houston Alarm Systems from Walker

arghya said...

Your blog is very well written and well maintained. I got many unknown information from this site. Very best regards from Fort Worth bail bond attorney Paul Previte

Arghya Chakraborty said...

Thanks for your most informative article. I got many unknown information from this informative site.
lose weight

onwebmedia said...

Before reading this I was totally unaware of the topic. Thanks for Explaining in such a nice way. I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts. I have read most of them and got a lot from them.
Stag and Hen Weekends in London and Nottingham

john said...

Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.
organic seo service

suzan said...

Hi buddy, your blog's design is simple and clean and i like it. Your blog posts are superb. Please keep them coming. Greets!!!

maquinas de coser
maquinas de bordar
reparacion maquinas de coser

johnbond said...

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge. Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!!!
Buy Stratterra

Silviu said...

Unfortunately Lost is one of the kind and I didn't see any good series like this one.

Dulcy bani online fara investitie Toyu

Logo Design said...

Nice article shared here.This is really great reflection.

Tariq said...

If you want to buy xanax online then I think you are at right place mycare pharmacy is one of the best pharmacy . Here you can buy medicines at very cheap rates as like buy ritalin online and many more .

London Escort Agency said...

Your Escort Agency offers exclusive and most beautiful London escort girls of various nationalities.
London Escort Agency

anita grace said...

Interesting Article. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information.
Birthday parties for kids in Miami
Kids birthday parties in Miami

Farrah said...

Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. Simply superb..

doctor ratings and reviews | find doctor list | doctor reviews by patients | doctor ratings and reviews by patients

suzan said...

organic vitamins
I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

onwebmedia said...

The topic is remarkable. I actually never think I could have an excellent read by this time until I find out this website. I am thankful for the information. Thank you for being so kind enough to have shared your information with us. nap mat

iori said...

Thank you for for sharing so great thing to us. I definitely enjoying every
little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post nice post,
thanks for sharing.
Natural supplements

Seo Mumbai said...

Thank you for sharing this kind of important information. and especially for sharing your own experience with these.
Download Rummy

iori said...

I agree with you. This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything
you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page
so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job ...

3d ultrasounds
4d ultrasounds
4d3d ultrasounds

iori said...

I have no words to appreciate this post ..... I'm really impressed with this post
.... the person who created this post was a big thank you man .. for sharing with us.

tubal ligation reversal
tubal reversals

isaiasvalencia said...

After an accident, your car suffered diminished value.
Even the best repairs will have a permanent condition called "evidence of repairs",
which will negatively affect the resale value.
Lost Value

Milda Ragus said...

thats amasing. There is nothing like. Thank you for sharing them.


adlai said...

I have only watch some of the episodes of lost but that doesn't include episodes from the start. Then i hit on your post, i have realize what the story is all about. And another one is you give me information for the overview of all season. This is a really good post.

abdroid gps
android gps tracker

logo bench said...

I'm still learning from you, but I'm trying to achieve my goals. I certainly enjoy reading all that is posted on your blog.Keep the information coming. I loved it!

Bob_Alfredo said...

A beautiful and high quality information.this paper is accurate to be useful. Thanks to the author.

Facebook and Twitter Marketing Interact

Sheo Lean said...

I even commented to my husband that it was like the Great Divorce. So I just feel great that I was not totally wrong, and you have put it all into perspective -- one that I can live with and not be irritated with the writers over. Thank you!

skill games

Jonathon said...

I read your post and it was great. I am share this story in my facebook and twitter
-premature ejaculation tips thanks

Adim said...

Great post! Keep it up the good work and also keep posting.

Floral Logo

justin albert said...

A great post, thanks for taking the time to share, continued success to your site in the future! GOOD Work!!

Android Application

Admin said...

Great stuff here. The information and the detail were just perfect. I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well. Great job on this

Buy used goods

Arindom Chanda said...

Awesome stuff.Thanks for sharing.I would like to bookmark this page.
Carbon fiber hoods

Khanh Tran said...

Thanks for your thoughtful discussion. Great analogy. Really very helpful. ab machines

Alis Stafford said...

Thanks for your marvelous posting! I enjoyed reading it. I really feel as though I know so much more about this than I did before. Your blog really brought some things to light that I never would have thought about before reading it.
Show Plates

jafor ikbal said...

Nice and wonderful post. This is really a awesome post and hope will get such post again.customer service training

Alis Stafford said...

The post is written in very a good manner and it entails many useful information for me. I appreciated what you have done here. I am always searching for informative information like this. Thanks for sharing with us.
Prank Calls

Hannah bolton said...

It’s a great site to see. That will help for improvisation of me. Will definitely marked as Bookmark.
business broadband providers

ali khan said...

I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. cabs in w2 | cab w2 | w2 taxis

ali khan said...

Very good article and gave a lot of help of you readers, is fun to watch all the unhappy things are all forgotten; thank you publish such a good blog. Thank you for bringing us joy! Thank you!mirza maqbool | Maqbool mirza

ali khan said...

I like your article so that I read all of your articles in a day. Please continue and keep on writing excellent posts.taxis in w2 | minicab to airport | airport drop w2

JAMES DEAN said...

Awesome article! I can keep an on eye on the blog.Best advertising Agency in the world | top advertising agencies in pakistan | Marketing Agency

Liza said...

Really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

Mumbai Escort

Manohar singh said...

This post has taken the subject onto the next level, great writing skills and message conveyed by the author. Designer lehenga

Chris John said...

This is good site to spent time; I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your very well written blog posts. I will be your frequent visitor, that's for sure.
cheap flights to africa from london heathrow

Anonymous said...

I like it most.Keep it up give more latest post
Mumbai Escorts
Mumbai Escorts Service
Mumbai Independent Escorts
Mumbai Escorts Agency

Ayman said...

Very informative post thanks for share this with us i highly appreciate you for this information thanks once again for sharing information like this. anarkali dresses

Ayman said...

I really enjoy to read all the content is posted on your blog. It's easy to read, the content is great, and you’re an Indian dresses for women

Riya Jacob said...

Such a nice post ! great love to read this one.

independent escorts in mumbai

call girls in mumbai

Delhi Escorts

mumbai escorts girl

call girls in gurgaon

callgirls in mumbai

independent escorts in mumbai

_ ____♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
_♥♥18+ Channels♥♥♥♥
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥18+Channels ♥♥♥♥♥♥
_______♥♥♥♥♥mumbai escorts girl ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Unknown said...

I am the best call Girls in Mumbai escorts agency. If you are searching any Escorts girls. So, don't think for more info Just browse our websites given below.
escorts service in mumbai
escorts in mumbai
mumbai escorts
mumbai escort
mumbai escorts agency

Chennai Pretty Girls said...

Chennai escorts bureau proprietor, who's extremely famous one of its own partners.
Independent Escorts in Chennai

Chennai Escorts said...

There are many call girls service provider in Chennai, but they don’t provide such kid of booking facilities as we provide to our customer with full security for their privacy. As many people come here for their mental and physical pleasure but due to lack of information and security they can’t full fill their needs and demands, so what we do for them we have this booking facilities available for theme where they can book best related call girls by just a simple call button without sharing their personal information with hotel facilities in best price.

Chennai Escorts

Independent Escorts in Chennai

Chennai Escort Agency

Chennai Escort

Escorts Service in Chennai

Call Girls in Chennai

Chennai Escort Service

Independent Chennai Escorts

Russian Escorts in Chennai