Monday, May 24, 2010

So It Was Purgatory All Along? UPDATED

I quit watching Lost about two seasons ago. It was dragging on so much getting to any real answers that I just didn't care anymore.

However, I said from the beginning that it was Purgatory, even when the show's creators decried that (because, frankly, just about everyone pegged it for Purgatory).

An office mate who stuck with it described the end and I said, triumphantly, "So it was Purgatory all along."

He said, "Well that depends on your definition." (Being a nonreligious person for all I can tell.)

Then he said, it was like a halfway house between life and death where you had to be so you could sort out everything that was true about your life and see it with complete clarity.

Yep. Purgatory.

Here's the a bit of the post that has settled it for me. I'm going to have to rent the DVDs and watch the last two seasons of Lost.

As the story ended, the people sitting with me immediately began discussing: So is the Sideways real? I just smiled to myself, being too exhausted to formulate an answer. I wanted to say with Dumbledore, “It was in their heads, but why on earth should that make it not real?” What LOST did was make the statement: what is in your head is real. Imagination vindicated. Faith vindicated. Spiritual reality vindicated.

In other words, this was logos epistemology, as I had hoped when watching “Across the Sea.” The light of the world is in every person. We recognize it in each other. We recognize the spiritual reality within and behind the physical world, and it’s in our minds – in our imaginations – that we perceive the truth. Just note the way the show opened and closed: Jack’s eye. And then remember your eye symbolism from Harry Potter.

Via Amy H. Sturgis.


  1. I wasn't a regular watcher but I kept my wife company for the finale and that was the immediate consensus. But with the coexist-like stained glass windows and the multitude of comparative-religion paraphernalia about the church the show creators seemed to be hedging their bets towards those who are "spiritual" but not "religious".

    I'm just hoping that the finale for Breaking Bad, whenever that happens, is much better.

  2. That's not how I interpreted the last show. I was under the impression that the Island scenes were real-world, but the "flash-sideways" scenes in LA where everyone kept bumping into everyone and having flashbacks was the purgatory part. Everyone in the Church was dead, but they'd died whenever they died (not in the crash or when the bomb went off). Hugo told Ben (not me) he was "a good second" which wouldn't be unless they'd already lived their lives.

    Anyway, that's what I took out of it.

  3. I agree with "ben" - the island itself was not purgatory. The crash happened, and everything that happened on the island really happened. The "purgatory" element came in the form of the "flash sideways" world - where all of the deceased friends gathered, no matter when they actually died. They gathered because the island time was the most meaningful time in their lives, and they went to the light (heaven) together after they were all dead and/or realized it.

    An interesting story about redemption (though it is a redemption without Jesus).

  4. Elizabeth M5/25/10, 5:44 AM

    We say Purgatory too -- in fact my husband said so back in the 1st season.

    The "co-exist" window makes sense in the context that those in the "church" may have represented all of those faiths. Remember, Christian told Jack that "they created" that place so they could find each other.

    Also, I agree about Hurley's comment about Ben being a good "#2" -- that meant that they lived longer on the island. Christian also said that some died before Jack and others long after. So they did gather "out of time" whenever they were ready.

    Ben wasn't ready, he said something like "I still have some things to do here" -- so he wasn't done redeeming himself.

    To me, the shot at the end with the plane parts and the "stuff" on the beach seemed to suggest that they really all died in the plane crash. It certainly looked like it hadn't been touched. I'm trying to remember now, during their time on the island, did they ever go back to visit their own crash site? Did we see the engine and plane parts again after the initial episodes>

  5. Yes--the sideways world is purgatory; the island world is not, though. And the show specifically repudiates Desmond's new-agey "this is all illusion" claptrap. What happens on the island is real, and it matters--like life.

    I think you could read the church a few ways-all relgions are represented--but then, it's Christian Shepherd who opens the door :).

    Elizabeth, I'm still trying to figure out the scene of the wreckage too--and why is the island underwater at the beginning of the season?

  6. Aimee, I interpreted the crash footage as another confirmation that the island was indeed real, and that everything that happened there was real.

    Now, in the Sideways world, which was actually the characters' Purgatory, the island was submerged. They didn't need it any longer to "work out" their life issues before moving on - they only needed their memories of it and of one another, which would come, of course, when each individual was ready.

    Although I did like the characters moving on Paradise, I was not completely satisfied with the ending, simply because there were too many unanswered questions regarding the island itself. A few unexplained mysteries would have been one thing, but dozens of them? Blech . . .

  7. I've been doing a lot of Lost reading this week and I have to say that the single most frustrating thing is people saying, "See!!! It was purgatory all along!!" because it WASN'T. All of it was real -- only the sideways scenes in the final season were a kind of purgatory-like experience. The producers didn't lie, nor were they being coy -- the castaways were very much alive after the crash of Oceanic 815.

    The second most thing that makes me batty is people insisting that the finale was in some way "Christian." yes, there were a few elements that could have been interpreted that way I guess, but yo. There was no mention of Christ, and we as Christians definitely don't subscribe to the belief that all it takes to "move on" to eternity is working through your issues and letting go. It's like when people say "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." It has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.

    But yeah, any allusion to an afterlife in modern television? is somehow construed as "Christian."