What 'Lost' Reveals about Our Innate Need for Redemption

My wife and I recently finished watching the series Lost for the second time through. “Why in the world would you do something like that?” a lot of people may ask. I remember the uproar that spread across the Web when the last season of Lost ended, and so many people were upset with what happened.

I’m not one of them.

I actually love the way the series ended, and it’s part of the reason I wanted to watch it a second time through. Regardless of what you may think of how the show ended, there is one important truth that pokes its head out in the final season of the show, whether intentional or not. It’s the innate need inside us all for redemption.

 The characters of Lost all have their dark pasts, but their journey on the island offers them a chance for redemption.

The characters of Lost all have their dark pasts, but their journey on the island offers them a chance for redemption.

Every character in the show has his or her own dark past that follows each of them to the island. There are the obvious ones: Charlie’s drug addiction, Kate’s life as a fugitive, Sayid’s torturing days, and Sawyer’s greed. But there are also a lot more subtle story lines of dark pasts. There’s Jack’s and Locke’s pride, anger, and reluctance to let others help, Jack’s because of his success and Locke because of his failure. You have Hurley’s gluttony, Shannon’s laziness, and Jin’s envy. During their time on the island, the characters are all faced with their own pasts and have to decide whether or not they will let it continue to bind them or move beyond it. And a lot of them actually do. They face similar situations that give them the opportunity to redeem themselves.

Here’s where the last season comes in.

In the final season, we get flashes of an alternate time (dubbed the “flash sideways”) in which the plane doesn’t crash, and all the passengers land in Los Angeles. Now, all throughout the series, we hear about how much all of the passengers want to get off the island and go back home. What we’ve seen up to this point, however, is that they have actually become better people while on the island. And then we see them in the flash sideways, and their lives haven’t improved at all. In fact, they were better off when they were on the island, they just don’t know that truth in the alternate timeline.

And then something significant starts to happen.

Through a series of coincidences along with concerted efforts by one character, the survivors of the island run into each other, and there is a breakthrough moment. Some shared experience from the island, or a significant conversation, causes the alternate timeline characters to connect with their experiences on the island. They have this epiphany, as though something they had known way deep down had finally surfaced. The series leaves us with all of the characters from the show congregated in a church, a place they had all created while on the island so that they could find each other later, changed and redeemed.

What I see in this final season, intended or not, is this innate sense that we all need redemption. If you look at the characters, there is this development that they go through throughout the series that they don’t necessarily realize. They want to get off the island because, in their minds, getting off the island gives them “life”. They don’t see that the island has brought them real life because they’ve been able to move past their shortcomings and live a life of freedom. And yet we get hints in the flash sideways that reveal that they know somewhere deep down something isn’t right with their life.

It doesn’t take much thinking to see how this connects to our lives. Life can appear great and wonderful, yet there is that tug from deep down within that says, “There has to be something more.” That’s the Holy Spirit.

We may think that we have it all together, but we really don’t. Deep down, whether conscious or not, we all have an idea that we are imperfect people. We need something else. There’s something missing—Jesus. We need that redemption, that ability to move beyond our pasts. Jesus offers that, and we get this incredible weight lifted off our shoulders and live in freedom. It’s really a wonderful feeling, not being tied down by the mistakes you’ve done in the past. Jesus offers it freely. All we have to do is come to him.