Why Lost

There are few TV shows that capture the imagination. There are many that are entertaining. There are many that make you laugh. Occasionally one might make you think. However, I can’t think of many that actually capture the imagination. ABC’s Lost is just that. It captures your imagination. It’s the uncomfortable balance between what is, what could be, and what needs to be. It has characters that are real and unreal. It asks you to suspend reality and also invites into reality. But what about it catches the imagination? I think you can sum it up in one word: Redemption.

There are two articles floating around the internet that catch onto this reality. One was written recently by Jeff Jensen over at EW and the other was from Mikal Gilmore over at Rolling Stone. Both of these articles were sent to me by my friend Kristin. To me the greatest insight into this show comes from Carlton Cuse one of the producers:

“The focus on redemption,” says Cuse, “is something that is endlessly fascinating to both Damon and me — the fact that we are all sort of imperfect as people. Our characters are in extreme circumstances. They’ve confronted on the island various manifestations of the exact issues that they struggled with as people their whole lives. We feel there’s an incredible universality to that. It’s the human journey. Redemption is something that everyone seeks, and that’s something we try to hold out in the show. If we acknowledge our imperfection, and if we ask for forgiveness for our imperfection, are we able to actually reset the clock?”

This is what captures our imagination. Can we find redemption? Is it possible? I think that Jensen is on to something when we hits on the theme of the book of Luke: Lost. He points out that the number sequence in Lost, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 (the last chapter of Luke is 24 which is an inversion of 42) all correlate to passages in Luke’s narrative that hit on lostness. In particular I want to touch on Luke 15 which is the most popular of the Luke “lost” passages.

The lost theme in Luke 15 is counteracted by the searching theme. The woman, the shepherd, and father all are in search for what it is that they lost. These people that we meet in Lost, these stories that we encounter all point to the brokenness of individuals which leads to a collective brokenness. They are all lost. Not simply because they crashed on an island that nobody can find but they are lost because their lives are broken. The crash seems arbitrary but those that begin to see that it was not begin to find this elusive redemption. It is as if there is someone looking for them.

I think that we get the clearest hint of this in the story of Desmond and Penny. The Luke 15 connections here are endless. However, it is in the relationship that we have some closure. We have a sense that Desmond has found his Penny. He celebrates. He rejoices. He also realizes that he still has a role to play in helping others find their redemption. He does reluctantly but he helps even after his redemption is found.

Lost captures the imagination because it captures our longing for redemption. Redemption. Have you found what you’re looking for?