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.”
The former Hatchman button pusher and failsafe detonator is about to turn the key on the car’s ignition when Kate stops him. The following exchange — loaded with deep double meaning — goes down, culminating with a line befitting Desmond’s namesake, famous for his skeptical Empiricism:
KATE: Hang on a second. You bust me out of jail, and make me put on this dress so that we can go to some concert. And you won’t even tell me why we’re here?!
DESMOND: No one can tell you why you’re here, Kate. Certainly not me.
KATE: Who are you? What do you want?
DESMOND: My name is Desmond Hume. And even though you don’t realize it, I’m your friend. And as for what I want? I want to leave.
KATE: Leave and go where?
DESMOND: Let me show you.
And so began Lost’s last episode, which aired a year ago last Monday. Don’t believe me? Let me show you!
The opening of ”The End” was wonderful in the way it crosscut among the key characters while also tracking Christian’s coffin (Michael Giacchino’s mournful score makes this scene sing), and then concluded with wry quips that took the piss out of self-seriousness while also setting the stage for deeper thoughts and emotion — and ironies — to come. On The Island, Jack Shephard waged war with Fake Locke, a dark soul that had taken the form of castaway John Locke as part of a desperate scheme to escape the tropical locale that had trapped him for over 2000 years. Jack won the battle but lost his life, although it was a sacrifice he was willing to make. He died in the same bamboo thicket, at the very spot where he began his Island journey. There was the shoe and there was Vincent. Eye open; eye close.
”The End” closed on a note that was sincerely emotional and seemed to be aggressively spiritual. Inside a facsimile of Eloise Hawking’s peculiar Catholic church (”facsimile” because it was located in the Sideways world, a pocket afterlife patterned after the castaways’ memories and imaginings of Los Angeles), a pack of souls, hip to the fact that they were dead, gathered to express their love for each other and then together commuted into the afterlife. Christian Shephard threw open the church doors and allowed the nave to be flooded with transporting white light, a choice consistent with the show’s visual grammar (see: the time travel hot flashes of season 5) yet risky because it allowed the scent of corny cliché to take us out of the moment. And they all died and went to heaven in a luminous wash of white-out? Seriously?! Seriously. Lost could have brainstormed a more original way to dramatize spiritual transmigration, but the tears on my face at the time told me I did not mind. And I still don’t.
NEXT: The Room of Religious Requirement