Doc Jensen's final ''Lost'' essay (for now): What if we view Sideways world in terms of absolute death, rather than eternal life?
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER ISLAND Arnold Bocklin's Isle of the Dead . Look familiar?
Credit: Imagno/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A casket packed in a crate is unloaded from an Oceanic Airlines vessel and transported by van to a church where an alabaster statue of Jesus Christ greets visitors with open arms. Kate Austen, an unapologetic fugitive, watches as Desmond (David) Hume, agent of enlightenment with an Enlightenment philosopher’s name, takes custody of the body from the driver named Bocklin — as in Swiss Surrealist Arnold Bocklin, whose mysterious masterwork ”Isle of the Dead” depicts an ominous craggy island, and a rowboat carrying an alabaster figure, an oarsman, and a coffin moving toward it. Coincidence? Of course! Lost never did crazy stuff like that on purpose.

”Who died?” Kate asks. ”A man named Christian Shephard,” Desmond responds. Kate correlates the name with the statue in her sights and scoffs. ”’Christian Shephard’? Seriously?” Desmond — a man on a mission — is serious indeed. Was the dead man a friend or something? Desmond replies: ”Not exactly.”

NEXT: And, in the end?

Poor Ben. So much of his Island faithfulness was guesswork and theory and making-it-up-as-he-went-along chicanery. In his big speech to Jacob right before he killed him, Ben made a point of blasting the faux deity for staying hidden as well as his deliberately cryptic form of communication. What would it have hurt to have just a little direct contact? Even just once?

With the story of Doubting Thomas as context, recall again Jack’s last moments on Earth. He had just saved The Island from destruction by reinserting the plug — by flipping the switch of life from MEANINGLESS to MEANINGFUL. He was no longer Island protector when he executed this action; he had ceded the role to Hurley, whose rule of order promised to be decidedly humanistic. Jack was dying from a mortal wound like the one Jesus received from the Roman soldier; Fake Locke — Roman himself, who long ago killed his Mother after falling in with the warrior-eggheads of his people — had stabbed him in the side. He stumbled to his spot where he had fallen to Earth. Vincent trotted up and snuggled next to him. He watched as his friends flew to safety. Did he also catch a vision of his enlightenment in the Sideways world? Maybe. Regardless: Jack died. With a smile on his face, too. And while touching the wound on his side. Provocative. Jack died mimicking the action of Thomas the Doubter, but the wound he touched was his own. Jack went bravely into ”The End” — and he went clutching proof of something profound. He was a scientist until the very end. He had to fight hard to find that meaning (you know, like a certain Lost theorist who fancies himself a Doc) — but he found it. Physician, heal thyself.

Do I really think Lost was an argument for atheism? No. But I don’t think it was an argument for religion, either. If Lost was Biblical in anyway it, it was as Lamentation, not dogmatic. If God exists: Where? If he insists on distance: Why? Is it so wrong to want better forms of proof than 2000 year old scriptures interpreted by flawed followers? That’s a legit question that deserves a gracious, reasonable answer — especially when you have whackos promising us rapture and preaching hate toward Others not like them. Lost‘s critique of religion does not engage more contemporary schools of thought about the nature of heaven, spiritual psychology, and the responsibility that believers have to the world and their fellow man. For example, I might recommend the book Spiritual Emotions by Robert Roberts (yes, his real name), a Christian philosopher who likens a ”Happily Ever After” conception of the Kingdom of Heaven to immature Christian thinking. He also offers rebuttals to the Atheistic and Agnostic perspectives on religious thinking expressed here.

I could say more — I could always say more about Lost — but I should stop. For awhile. Everything must come to at least a temporary end — including Doc Jensen Lost columns. I’ll never stop thinking about the show. Give me a week or two — or in this case, a full year — and I’ll probably come up with something that refutes everything I’ve written here. But the time for writing about Lost is over. For now. Thank you for reading. Sincerely. Like Jack Shephard, I am often a trial and a headache and a silly, silly fool — but I am grateful that you’ve hung in there with me until this, The End For Now. I look forward to having more conversations — Real conversations! Maybe in person! — about Lost with you in the future. Until then: Namaste.

jQuery( “#widget-video-31888” ).ewplayer( { size: “m”, playlist: “955385630001” } );

Episode Recaps

  • TV Show
stream service