Those of you who know me even moderately well know I'm a Lost fan. I actually came to the series late, sometime in the second season. But my son had the DVDs of the first season, and we borrowed them from him. We were almost immediately hooked. Side note: The DVDs of past seasons are a great way to watch the show. No week-long (or longer) breaks, no writer's strike, watch at your own pace, go back to see things you missed, etc.
Okay, side note over. Lost is one of the few network television shows my family watches. It actually has good writing, which is something I absolutely demand. It has great characterization, interesting plot and plot twists, cleverness, and a story about people. There are time travel paradoxes, which are like old home week to this long-time science fiction fan. Lost also has some great themes that echo Christianity.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you haven't seen Episode 7 of Season 6, Dr. Linus, you are going to see things here you might not want to see yet. You've been warned.
The biggest of those themes are redemption and forgiveness. I am certainly not the first to write about that, and won't be the last. But this whole show could be sub-titled Island of Second Chances. Because everyone there gets a second chance. And a third, and a fourth . . . Locke gets his legs back. Charlie gets to kick his habit. Kate escapes the law. Sawyer goes from con-man to protector, to leader. Even the Others get a second chance. Some make terrible choices with their second chance. Every one of them blows it at least once, even Hurley. But they get to pick up and try again.
Since the time shifts started and we began to see the flash sideways scenes, we've seen even more second chances. And they're wrapped up with redemption and forgiveness. But I was truly struck by redemption and forgiveness in this latest episode. And the best examples are those that take place for Benjamin Linus, the most despicable character in the show.
Ben is Machiavellian to the max. He has lied to and used everyone he met. He even killed his own father (with glee, I might add) when the Others wiped out the Darma Initiative. Most recently, he has killed Jacob at the instigation of the man in black (masquerading as John Locke). He also let the mercenaries kill his own adopted daughter rather than give himself up to them. Ben is rotten to the core. He's the slime that scum wipe off their feet.
But . . . in the flash sideways he becomes another man. He still has that Machiavellian spirit inside him. He uses knowledge of his Principal's indiscretion in a bid to gain the Principal's position. But when it comes to a choice between that and helping his favorite student (who was his daughter in the other timeline), he chooses to help the student. He makes the sacrificial choice. He saves his daughter, at a great cost to himself. Anyone see a Biblical echo in that?
And in the "real" timeline (what is "real" in Lost?), we see an even greater act, one of incredible forgiveness. Ilana, who has come to the island to bring several "candidates" to Jacob, and to protect them, finds out that Ben is the one who killed Jacob, who was the only father she ever had. She is one fierce lady, and bent on revenge. She shackles Ben to a tree and forces him to dig his own grave. When the hole is getting deep, the Man in Black frees Ben and tells him there is a rifle leaning against a tree inside the jungle. As he runs to get it, Ilana gives chase. But he gets there first and forces her to drop her own weapon. Yet he doesn't shoot her. He admits killing Jacob, and doing many of the other heinous things he has done. But he doesn't want to shoot her. He wants only to get away and join the Man in Black on the other island.
"Why?" Ilana asks.
Ben says, "Because he's the only one who will have me!"
After a moment's pause, Ilana says, "I'll have you," then turns, picks up her rifle, and walks back toward the beach.
Ben is absolutely speechless, beyond stunned. (So am I.) We see that perhaps for the first time in his life he has experienced real forgiveness, real acceptance. He simply cannot process it, not yet. He walks back to the beach, sets down the rifle and offers to help Sun fix her shelter.
How many of us have been through that "I'll have you" moment? Certainly all of us who have faced our sin squarely and fallen on the grace of God. You see, redemption is real. Forgiveness is available. New life happens.
John Newton, the ex-slaver said it pretty well in Amazing Grace. "I once was lost, but now I'm found." All it takes is to realize your predicament, lower your weapon, and follow.