And Found

For a kid who grew up on a steady diet of television, I have to admit being out of practice.  A combination of Gilligan’s Island and Dark Shadows informed much of my young outlook.  Starting all the way back to our days in Edinburgh, my wife and I had stopped watching TV.  We were in our twenties then, and it was a matter of not being able to afford the luxury.  Back in the States, cathode-ray tubes were ubiquitous, but cable was expensive and my employers not generous.  We had a television but only watched very occasionally, and then only what fuzzy programs we could pick up on the aerial.  So it continued.  We’re now at the point of not having had television service for over half of our lives, and we understand from the younger generation that a good internet provider makes cable superfluous anyway.

This prologue is simply a way to introduce the fact that we have finally, after two or three years of watching (we still have little time for it), finished Lost.  Now, I don’t get out much, but I had heard people talking about it when it originally broadcast.  More importantly, I’d read about it in books published by university presses.   I knew going into it—spoiler alert for those even more behind the times than me!—that the castaways were in Purgatory.  That seems to have been the point all along, but when money keeps rolling in because the story is compelling, you don’t want to reveal your hand too quickly.  Last night we watched the final episode where what was suggested back at the beginning was made clear: the passengers of Oceanic flight 815 had died in the crash and were making up for past sins.

The role of Jack’s father (Christian Shephard) as leading the passengers to the light may have been a bit heavy-handed, but the church where they finally meet has the symbols of many world religions, conveying the message that there is more than a single path.  The truly surprising aspect of all this is how popular the series was.  There were religious overtones from the beginning, but since the series wasn’t preachy, viewers apparently didn’t mind.  Yes, as the star character’s surname indicates, people don’t mind being led.  In fact, the names of many of the characters are indicative of some of the paths up that mountain.  I have to wonder if those who vociferate loudly and longly about their religion being the only way might not learn a lesson from television.  Even if the suggestion only comes from someone who grew up watching Gilligan’s Island.

7 responses to “And Found

  1. The castaways were not in purgatory! In the last season we see them in the afterlife. They were not dead all along. The island was not purgatory!

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    • Thanks, James–my sources must be wrong. The joy of hermeneutics!

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      • Did the story actually seem to make sense to you when you came in with a hermeneutic that was at odds with both the details of the plot and what the producers explicitly said (although they were known to be duplicitous, so no one can blame you if you ignored them)? If so, there is probably a parable of fundamentalist hermeneutics here…

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        • That’s a good question! Undoubtedly, approaching it from the viewpoint that this was Purgatory colored my experience of the series. For example, I expect Claire not to be able to have her baby—who is born in Purgatory? Even growing away from Fundamentalist outlooks, those of us raised in them have trouble moving into the light…

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        • But Claire does have her baby. That didn’t clue you in that perhaps you were wrong? Some of them got off the island. How did you interpret that – as an escape from purgatory? How did you make sense of Widmore’s people who were sent to the island? I’m really intrigued by how someone who has been prompted to misunderstand a show could nonetheless make sense of it and enjoy it!

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        • It sounds like we need to sit down and talk about this! I found Claire’s baby puzzling, but getting off the island seemed like it was a way of shifting the plot to keep the series going. Widmore, at the end, seemed to be a red herring after all. Escape from Purgatory seems to be possible, if we take Sleepy Hollow as a bit of evidence. I think I enjoyed the show because it was well written. That can cover a host of sins!

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        • Will you be in Denver? If so, let’s hang out and talk about LOST!

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