The Life and Death of John Locke


I love LOST. I think it is the BEST. TV. SHOW. EVER. Every week I am blown away by the brilliance of the storytelling. The plot intricacy. The religious, sci-fi, and literary allusions. The universal themes and epic struggles. The characters who break my heart because I actually feel what they are feeling.

Throughout the series I have identified with the several of the main characters, particularly in their pain. But one character I have never wanted to identify with is John Locke.

No one wants to identify with Locke. Men want to be Jack the Hero, or Sawyer the Anti-Hero, or Desmond the Romantic. They may even want to be Hurley the Comic Relief. But no one wants to be Locke. And watching this week’s show, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”, I finally put my finger on why.

We’ve known that Locke was being set up as a type of Christ this season. Richard told Locke he would have to die to save his people. Christian told him, “That’s why it’s called a sacrifice.” Although driven by “destiny”, Locke moves toward his own death willingly. Of course there are more subtle clues, too, like the letters on the side of the van Locke’s body was driven in being an anagram for the word “reincarnation”.

And then there was this week’s show. The episode opened with Locke’s Resurrection and ended with his Crucifixion.* Watch carefully when Ben (who I think is the Devil, the Father of Lies himself, with his bug eyes, twisted mouth, and black suit) is talking Locke down from the table. By the end of the scene Locke, in white, has his arms stretched out, one at a time, in the shape of a cross, while Ben literally kneels before him.

But the remainder of the show is filled in with Locke’s Passion. His body is broken and bloodied. People are plotting to kill him. And worst of all, his former companions abandon him in his time of need.

With each of Locke’s successive visits to the Oceanic survivors, their responses to his request to return to the Island become increasingly brutal. Beginning with Sayid who, questioning why it’s so important to Locke to return to the Island, asks, “Is it just because you have nowhere else to go?”

And ending with Jack, who plunges the verbal dagger into Locke’s heart and then twists it angrily: “Have you ever stopped to think that these delusions that you’re special aren’t real? That maybe there’s nothing important about you at all. Maybe you are just a lonely old man that crashed on an island.”

Now I am assuming that Jack is wrong and Locke is right, at least in the broad scope of things. But this is what came to mind as I watched the Man of Science and the Man of Faith go at it again:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe… Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 26-28)

The “god” of LOST (whoever he/she is) picked Locke to be the Chosen One. Not Jack: the handsome, wealthy, athletic doctor. But Locke: the orphaned, disabled, friendless doormat of a cubicle-dweller.

I wonder if Jesus of Nazareth was more of a Locke than I’d like to think. I wonder if I’m more of a Locke than I’d like to think.

I don’t know. What do you think?

*Coincidence that it aired on Ash Wednesday?

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