Lost:The End - Much ado about NOTHING...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 1:57 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,


What Would Jack Do, that is. And that's what LOST comes down to.

The Finale was 'emotionally rewarding' to some and a 'total bust' to others. How can it be both? It depends on what you expected.

Most of us surmised all along that LOST was some kind of quasi purgatory. The Finale certainly confirmed that guess with a heavy dose of 'quasi.' Many presumed that the 'purgatory' theme meant that the series would eventually take on a more overt Christian bent, after wading through a morass of New Agey mysticism.   But purgatory is not Christian theology and is found nowhere in the Scriptures. It was invented to gloss over the 'troubling' aspects of redemption doctrine and speak into those places the Logos chose to remain silent. The Gospel is indeed steeped in paradox. God as man and distinct from the Father and Spirit, for one. That God as Man could die, for another.  That a virgin should give birth to the One who created her. That he who loves his life will lose it. It goes on and on. Some are stronger contrasts than others, yet the parlor of Christian faith is richly papered with them.

What LOST gave us was quandaries. The distinction is important. 

In The End, we get to the end of the end, and beyond it supposedly a better life. At best it could be said that Jack found his "Christian Shepherd" and followed him through the gathering of souls to a new beginning. So, is the moral "Follow your Christian Shepherd?" Hardly.  Jack has his own secret society with his 'father' in the antechamber to the hall of 'every worship.' Name a god - you'll find it here. In an outrageously overplayed visual assault Christian Shephard is framed by the glowing light from glass stained by all the world's major religions. Idols of a half dozen spiritual paths litter the library. The only Christian symbol - a cross - has been dandied up. Message? Typical pantheistic post-modern Hollywood: Everything is true. Pick your poison. Which leaves us with the biggest quandary of all. Yet Reason - even common sense - demands a resolve. If everything is true, nothing is.

"There is no 'now' here," says the 'Christian Shepherd' to his acolyte as he prepares him to meet his cloud of witnesses.  In temporal and  theological terms this 'revelation' is in direct opposition to the God revealed in the scriptures as the Great "I AM." Whatever's beyond that chapel won't include YHWH.

So what to make of all those who populate Jack's flash back, forward and sideways 'realities?' Were any of them real? Jack's dad sure tries hard enough to convince him of it, even against his own lingering doubts. In what sense are they real? Does it matter? What's more important, objective reality or self-serving imagination? In The End, Jack gets what Jack wants. Yet none of us who stand outside are left with any evidence or compelling reason to believe that any one of these characters exist separately from Jack's need.

To make any sense of the narrative arc, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume the death of Jack Shephard was precipitated by a heart attack aboard Oceanic 815. This event dumped him on the island of his own unresolved business and longing for meaning. Every person or power presented from that 'time' forward was a dualism of his own soul and another actor on his life's stage. Some re-purposed for his own personal catharsis; others woven from whole purgatory twill to foil his best efforts and worst impulses. What are we left with? A Jack of 'mean average.' Hardly the perfected soul prepared for a perfect Heaven.

The man 'died alone' then invented a universe to redeem the life he never lived - no Redeemer needed. How were Jack's purga-choices related to his earthly decisions? In one of the major plot twists that concluded season 5, it's not a stretch to see that Jack's ex-wife Juliet had already exercised the 'nuclear option' in his proto-life leaving him barren and without hope of a future or heritage.  Jack knows he drove her to it. And still she was in love with Jack's 'bad boy.' She gets Sawyer in The End. What about Dharma, the Others, Widmore and Co.? I'm sure Lost-o-philes can unearth the relevant flashback breadcrumbs. I'd say they all represented sins accrued to Jack's account by the things he had done, or the things he had left UNdone. I'm sure there were many more sins we might have witnessed had ABC corporate not pulled the plug, terminating Jack Prime and all they Alter Jacks. Apparently purgatory has its own 'death panel.' The casualties probably still litter the writers' studio floor like the debris of a botched surgery.

And those other non-Others who did not accompany Jack on his original Oceanic 815 soul delivery? Jacob was Jack's Melchizedek - the priest who stands outside time to proclaim him Eternal, Immortal, Jack-only Wise. Desmond as the simple forward-driven alter ego and quilt-stitcher. He was more the Angel of Death for the writers than Jack. And, of course, Locke #2. The original Locke was the man Jack should have been and resented. A man who perfectly synthesized faith and reason. Better to kill off the first Locke with  his own anti-matter, smoke-monster Locke. The dragon to Jack's St. George.

Does it matter if any of the phantoms of Jack's penance have been redeemed in the process? At this dead End, I have little pity for any of them, and even less for Jack Shephard. Yet I'm left wondering if Lapidus, Miles, Richard Alpert, Sawyer, Claire and Kate have been flung out of the orbit of Jack's circle of Hell. If so, to where? And what of Ben Linus, the most flagellated whipping boy in the history of purgatory? If he's as much metaphor as everyone else then Jack still can't face his own worst impulses even as he boards the celestial escalator. Ben will just patiently wait outside in the utter darkness for a while, thank you very much. He really wasn't invited to this party, even if he is 'Jack' like the rest of them. Can you really promote yourself to eternal bliss with all this baggage? Nope. And Jack's been dumping all of his unwanted burden along the way, no conversion at the foot of the Cross required. I imagine most of Jack Shephard's effects can be found on the clearance rack in Scottsboro, AL. Be careful what you buy from the LOST baggage store. It may cost you.

So, WWJD? What Jack has always done - play god. Perhaps YHWH was content to let him walk his own way, all the way, in the way that seemed right to him.  Whether he ever bothered to check the map, many of us have read the legend and understand the symbols. In a 'real' sense, Jack (and his writers) chose a path to a forever kind of aloneness devoid of anyone else real, especially the I AM who loves to be FOUND in the NOW.

Oh, and what about those polar bears? They're metaphor Jack as well. We can conclude that Jack would go to extraordinary lengths for a klondike bar. They're like heaven on a hot and humid day, after all. And purgatory is in a pretty steamy neighborhood.


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