The series finale of “Lost” will air on Sunday night, and Christianity Today has an interview about it with Jeff Jensen, uber-fan and writer for Entertainment Weekly. The discussion focuses on the meaning of the “Lost” series, and I was especially intrigued by this exchange:
CT: If we get to the end of the show and we don’t know exactly who is good, who is evil, won’t that be disappointing?
Jeff Jensen: Lost begins that conversation by saying, “Who gets to decide who is good and evil?” Here on earth, who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong? What Lost wants to say is, We’re not going to decide that. What we’re going to say is that you decide that for yourself. This is the ultimate expression of free will. All these being equal, pursue a life of self-awareness so that you know yourself well; then, you decide moment to moment whether you are good or evil and then be that, hopefully choose the good.
Jensen is savvy to Lost’s theological and philosophical themes and is supposed to be an expert on Lost-mythology, but I think he’s really missed it here. Jensen suggests that the world of Lost makes no absolute judgment about good and evil, and that it is ultimately up to the viewer to sort out that question. I disagree. This series is not your run-of-the-mill postmodern critique of metanarratives. Good and evil are in a pitched battle, and I have a hunch the good will win in the endâ€”though I suspect someone important will have to die before it’s all said and done.
The interviewer is clearly right about one thing. Fans will be disappointed if good and evil aren’t clearly sorted out at the end. Viewers see in this story what they already perceive to be true about their own story. The world that they live in is broken, something has gone wrong, there is evil afoot, and something needs to be done about it. The postmodern spirit of the age doesn’t like to admit such yearnings, but they mark the human condition nonetheless. You don’t have to be a Christian to have this sense. You feel it whether you want to or not, and it’s why viewers crave resolution even in watching a television show. They are projecting what they already feel to be the case in their real lives. God has set eternity in their hearts, and they know at some level that there’s more to it than what they see (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
As to the ultimate meaning of “Lost,” I’m not sure that it will ever be clear (even after tomorrow). As to other, the answers aren’t as far away as some would suggest. They are rather close indeed (Revelation 21:5-7).
FYI: The interviewer for CT is Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and she wrote an article about “Lost” for the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Read it here.