Any television show that can say, “I am the Smoke Monster,” with a straight face can’t be all bad.  I am a “Lostie,” not an über-Lostie, but a water-cooler Lostie.  My friend, Nate, and I discuss Lost on Wednesday afternoons with the following exchange: “Don’t tell me; I haven’t see it yet.”  “OK.”  Like most people who initially tuned into Lost when it first aired, six seasons ago, I speculated as to the meaning of the airplane crash.  Were the survivors dead and in some kind of Purgatory?  A true Lostie, an über-Lostie, would have a multiplicity of responses gathered together over years of on-line discussion.  But I have stuck with my original conclusion: the survivors need redemption, whether here on earth or in some kind of secular afterlife.  The series is probably very simple at heart.  There are key words that are always in play: “lost,” “found,” “survivor,” salvation.”  They are stranded on an island, marooned in time, and cannot be found.  They must find themselves.  Each is a Survivor, who has been saved by Fate. Each individual has been selected for some kind of lottery to be guardians of the Island.  Something on the island must be contained, and so all who crash landed there are trapped along with that Smoke Monster Thing.

We have learned to identify with these people who have a variety of sins on their souls. Even Ben has become somewhat sympathetic.  Some are killers but not all feel remorse.  Some seem to have done no harm but need help.  Others are filled with anger and conflict and must be purged.  And there are those who are on the run from life itself.  All are somehow connected to Jacob, a spiritual supernatural being who has left the island to find all those who are lost souls and has brought them to the island.  We begin to suspect that these survivors have been given a mission, only slowly being disclosed.  The shape of the smoke monster suggests that he is some kind of evil, let loose from a lamp someone has rubbed.  The Smoke Monster is bottled up on the island and cannot leave of his own volition.  Richard, granted eternal youth by Jacob and who never ages, is convinced that everyone is dead.

Adding to what we know as we approach the end of the series, another parallel universe has been added.   The plane, Flight 851, arrives safely in Los Angeles and the disparate passengers disembark.  Once in the city, they disperse only to intersect with each other, however fleetingly or perhaps permanently.  Their stories have yet to be developed or resolved.  At least in this universe, the characters seem to be alive…we assume. All the characters and their counterparts in both universes (or timelines) are lost and need to be found. Some are dead and may never revive: Locke Number One is still dead on the island.  We are promised others will return: Charlie will take leave of absence from Flash Forward and will make an appearance.  Our favorite characters, Jack, Kate, Sayed, Hurley, Sawyer, Jin and Sun, are safe in American, living out other lives.  Here in the universe where the plane never crashed, they act out their other lives.  Clearly, this group of people is destined to be together.  Will Jack (the Good Shepherd) help Locke (the Philosopher) walk again?  Will Sawyer and Juliet find each other again?  Will Rose survive her cancer and live happily ever after with Bernard?

The series is definitely Western, even Christian.  The characters of Lost are on a quest, a mythic journey through their own lives.  They seek redemption through self-awareness.  On the island, left to their own devices, they will find their better selves.  Presumably, they must also be saved in their parallel lives in Los Angeles, the city of Lost Angels.  At the beginning of the series, only one question was asked: How can these people be saved?  That is the question that will be answered at the end of May. The survivors are Lost and must be Found.  When each one finds what he or she needs, then the series will end.

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

The Arts Blogger

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