Jewish Journal

Losing faith in “Lost”

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 23, 2010 | 10:58 pm

I never got into “Lost”—there are literally dozens of us—but based on all the tweets I’ve been seeing, I’d say the series finale was a big disappointment. Torch also sent along this SPOILER from what appears to have been a finale with end of life themes:

“No Walt, Mr. Eko or Michael in Heaven? And Rose only gets in with a white guy? Is heaven racist or what?”

Only under the Mormon Church’s pre-20th century doctrine.

On the eve of the end of “Lost,” Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal saying that “Lost” devotees, like herself, needed a little faith:

fans are consumed with finding specific answers, like whether the island’s “protector” Jacob is good or evil. What is the “smoke monster” that kills those who cross its path? Will Kate end up with fellow survivor Jack or with Sawyer? A dedicated fan base contributes to Lostpedia, a wiki which helps people keep track of which theories have been debunked, such as the hypothesis that characters on the island are, in fact, in Purgatory—a theory deflated by the show’s executive producer, Damon Lindelof.

The theory that the island represents Purgatory reminds us that in real life, we attempt to answer questions about the unknown. Many people of religious faith, like viewers of “Lost,” are waiting for closure. Granted, much more is at stake for the religious: for instance, Jews who have been waiting for a Messiah and Christians who await the Messiah’s second coming. Yet it is not unreasonable to hope that the show’s writers have asked the audience to take a small step of faith, offering the possibility that investing time to watch the extraordinary and the mundane episodes will be worthwhile in the end.

For many, “Lost” has already transcended mere entertainment. The show’s first episodes portrayed characters—developed through flashbacks—who were merely hoping to escape. As they became aware of the island’s supernatural elements—one paralyzed survivor can suddenly walk there and another survivor’s cancer is healed—their questions gradually shifted from “Where are we?” to “Why are we here?”

Yes, that is a bit existential. Sarah follows that line with this bit of prescience:

s the final episode approaches, some viewers don’t want ultimate answers. “The power of the show is the air of mystery that it always preserves,” says Craig Detweiler, director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture. “In the same way we would never want to put God in a box, I would hate to see ‘Lost’ wrapped up in a tight bow. Maybe the show will leave us with a sense of critical self-reflection about whose side are we on and which parts of our backstory do we need to reconcile.”

Other fans are afraid of hearing unsatisfactory answers. People often leave a religion when the doctrinal tenets become unsatisfactory or even illogical. In “Lost,” we see this kind of disgust from Ben when he finally meets the legendary Jacob after following his orders for years. Looking for recognition, Ben asks him, “What about me?” Jacob, who protects the island, responds, “What about you?” before a frustrated Ben drives a knife into Jacob’s chest. The finale could leave fans similarly disenchanted, feeling strung along before an anticlimactic letdown.

Read the rest here, and let me know what you thought of the “Lost” finale.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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