Communion, Community and Redemption in “The End”

“Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone”

Billy Bragg,“The Internationale”

The last 15 minutes of the finale left me speechless. Mostly, I was surprised by my own reaction. Typically, I’m turned off by anything so blatantly sentimental, but I was sincerely moved, awed by the emotional power of those last few scenes, which were intensified even more by the subtle tenderness of Vincent’s entrance. I realize that, despite my recent criticism of everything Lost, from hokey dialogue to implausible motives, I still feel a deep connection to these characters. Much has already been said about how the finale, and the series in general, is fundamentally a character-driven story. But it wasn’t just the individual personal dramas that moved me; it was the return of a few very fundamental themes, most notably, redemption through community. Emotional interdependency and salvation through a communion with others drives this episode and, arguably, the entire narrative.

“No one does it alone, Jack”

Christian Shephard

Jack’s transformation from doubting Thomas to savior was compelling by itself. He journeyed from being a reluctant leader to a prodigal son and, finally, a man of faith. From there, he was able to see that he had a purpose, that there was an order to the universe and that he was chosen to protect it from chaos. As Damon Lindelof said in an interview and I will paraphrase here, the metaphysical conflict has shifted from faith versus reason to order versus chaos. The Smoke Monster threatened to destroy everything and send them “all to hell,” as Isabella (Richard’s wife) told Hurley. Granted, we did not get an explicit answer about what exactly would happen, but we can assume that by destroying the monster, Kate and Jack  might have very well saved the world, and that whatever Jack did with the giant cork, he preserved the island. Jack did all of this selflessly; he served as the sacrificial lamb for all of humanity.

Jack’s Redemption

Jack became a willing participant of an extraordinary community, a kind of microcosm of the world, and worked with this group to shift the paradigm of the island. He had to accept, not only his role as a leader, but his function as savior. Quite literally, he did all of this “in communion” with others. So it was not only Jack that was redeemed, but everyone who cooperated in the greater cause. And they all achieved a sort of salvation, or at least authorization to “move on,” by re-assembling the group in the afterlife and by remembering the significance of their lives together. This theme—redemption through community—has arisen throughout the series, most notably in Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech, so it is no surprise that it plays such a crucial role in the resolution of the plot.

It makes sense too, within this context, that Hurley has been appointed as the next Jacob. He understands the value of community and how, if done right, a collaborative effort can elevate human beings. Recall his very first job on the island—to distribute food to the “masses”—and remember the golf course he made to ease the tension within the group and bring them all together.  He is clearly in communion with others. What many of us didn’t realize before, including me, is that being in communion with the island is not as important as emotionally connecting to others.

Hurley Organizes a Golf Day

The episode’s inherent message is that social collaboration and emotional engagement are the keys to redemption and a “life after death.” Christian tells Jack that all of his friends have come together “to remember;” they have constructed a shared space together because “No one does it alone.” Like Jesus and the disciples gathered at the last supper for communion, in anticipation of renewal and transcendence, the Lostaways gather to create a place for  their own salvation, even if being saved is simply “letting go.” (Remember the “Lost Supper” image?)

Hurley Distributes Food to the Castaways

“When I’m tired and weary

and a long way from home
I reach for Mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone”

—–Blind Boys of Alabama, “I Shall Not Walk Alone”


2 Responses to “Communion, Community and Redemption in “The End””

  1. kngkrims Says:

    Interesting take, and what you said makes me see the “Last Supper Image” in a new way.

  2. […] reviews focus on the redemptive themes in the finale and the series as a whole, including these by Sarah Clarke Stuart, Richard Clark (at Christ and Pop Culture) and fav bloggers James McGrath and Carmen Andres, both […]

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