SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched LOST yet, or haven’t seen the finale yet, don’t read on!
For viewers of the epic TV drama LOST, the finale on Sunday, May 23 brought mixed feelings. For folks like me, who enjoy the large themes and the broad story arc, the finale was satisfying and memorable. But for those Losties who were looking for answers to their most minute questions, there is likely to be some disappointment.
LOST has explored the themes of faith and redemption in great detail, and in no place more obviously in the finale. It appears that the characters did indeed crash on the Island in the South Pacific; so the island itself is a “real” thing. But it seems that going there was an act of providence, and it is no coincidence that the people who survived the crash did, and did so together. The Island became a vehicle for straightening out one’s life, because (as the writers have said before) “LOST” refers to the state of the people, and is not relative to their physical location.
The finale explains everything that’s been going on in the flash-sideways, and we discover that the flash-sideways itself is a sort of "waiting room” for the characters to wait to go to heaven. I’m not going to call it purgatory because a) I don’t believe in it and b) it seems like a more intermediary spiritual place and not a place of punishment or “proving.” Once everyone who was on the island dies (either while on the Island: Jack, Hurley, Ben; or off) they go to this waiting place in the flash sideways. Christian (Jack’s dad) explains that everyone is indeed finally dead, and it’s time to “move on.” In the end, every character redeemed themselves, either from their actions or crippling character flaws, and learned to forgive and repent.
Now, the producers and writers have made a big deal out of making everything sort of “non-denominational” religiously (by creating a mythological religious structure based on every major religion) but the obvious Christian parallels are hard to miss. The final scene happens in a church, after all. I won’t critique whatever religious issues I may take with the show, because it’s a TV show (duh), but it was good to see the concepts of repentance and redemption flayed out before American audiences, who need to see it the most.