High Definition: Lost as Religious Allegory
Watching the Remind-Me-What-The-Hell-Has-Happened-So-Far preview followed by the two-hour premiere of Lost Season 6, I realized what J.J. Abrams and his cohorts were setting out to do five years ago: Create a TV show crammed with every genre possible. Season 1 started as an action-packed thriller, which morphed into mystery, romance and science-fiction.
Now we can add religious allegory to that list. The writers were in a generous mood, and one of the biggest questions of The Island was answered last night. Jacob’s companion, a.k.a. Fake John Locke, is the smoke monster. “I hate that you had to see me like that,” he tells Judas, I mean Ben, after killing Jacob’s would-be protectors. He’s the devil, trapped on The Island, and he wants to get off.
The biggest question at the end of Season 5 was also answered: Would the atomic bomb reset the timeline? The answer that no one guessed was “Yes.” And “No.” Whether we’re seeing alternate realities or somehow the past (the lives of the ignorant passengers of the safely landed Oceanic plane) will lead to the present (the remaining survivors on the island with memories of the crash) is still murky. The differing memories make an eventual convergence of the timelines unlikely. We’ve had flash-backs, flash-forwards and now flash-dimensions.
One thing that nobody could have predicted was the existence of the Other Others, the group living at the Temple, led by a bonsai-growing, martial arts expert who “doesn’t like the taste of English” on his tongue, along with Oceanic flight attendant Cindy. They’re ready to kill our survivors until Hurley proves they were sent by Jacob. If Jacob is the Jesus figure, betrayed by Judas and coming back soon, Sayid is Lazurus, brought back to life by the healing waters of the temple. In one of the opener’s best scenes, he confesses his sins—torture, murder—with his dying words. He expects no redemption, but he’s integral, we learn, in containing the wickedness of Fake John Locke to his Island prison.
And that’s what Season 6 promises, at least in the present time line. With Jacob dead, the Devil has been loosed. Whether for three days or more, the battle has become much bigger than one for survival or escape from The Island. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Jin, Sun, Miles and, especially, Sayid were chosen by Jacob for a good ‘ol fashioned battle of good vs. evil. Lost has always wanted to be epic. It doesn’t get any more epic than a fight to save the world from a reign of darkness.
Josh Jackson is Paste’s editor-in-chief. His TV column appears on Tuesdays and when his mind is blown by Lost.