Archive for Hurley

Communion, Community and Redemption in “The End”

Posted in Sacred Narratives and Lost with tags , , , , on May 26, 2010 by SCS

“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”

LA X 1 and 2: Literary References

Posted in Season 6 Lit with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by SCS

Rushdie

On the plane, before mysteriously disappearing, Desmond is reading Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This is a fantasy novel for children about a storyteller, Rashid, who loses his ability to create narratives because of his son’s lack of imagination. Haroun must venture into a magical Wonderland-like universe to restore his father’s gift. This work has been called a “meta-fable,” a particularly good choice for Lost, the ultimate televisual meta-narrative.

Kierkegaard

Hurley finds a copy of Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling in a backpack when he leads the group under the walls of the temple. In this philosophical work, Kierkegaard re-tells the story of Abraham’s test (Genesis), and explores the nature of faith and the ethical implications of a blind duty to God. Could these four re-tellings of the “binding of Isaac” be interpreted as Abraham’s alternate universes? In any case, the text certainly explores the various possible outcomes of different actions.

The title comes from the New Testament: “So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  The passage goes on to say, “do everything without grumbling or questioning”  (Philippians 2.12).*  These words reflect Ben’s rhetoric and his unquestioning faith in the island. Of course, we see what happens to Ben when his faith is shaken. Recall the conversation between Ben and “unLocke” in “The Incident.” Unlocke persuades Ben to question Jacob and the island. When Ben asks, “why do you want me to kill Jacob?” unLocke answers, “Because, despite your loyal service to this Island, you got cancer. You had to watch your own daughter gunned down right in front of you. And your reward for those sacrifices? You were banished. And you did all this in the name of a man you’d never even met. So the question is, Ben, why the hell wouldn’t you want to kill Jacob?”

*(New American Bible, Saint Joseph Edition, Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1992)