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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is John Locke Really Alive? - Thoughts About "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham"

In LOST Season 5 Episode 7, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham", John Locke appears to be alive on the island. But is he really alive, or is he just a ghost like Christian Shephard? You may recall that Christian Shephard told Locke that he couldn't help him up after Locke broke his leg falling into the cave; I took this to mean that Christian was a ghost and did not have a physical body, which made him incapable of helping John stand up.

There have been a lot of hints about resurrection recently on the show and in The Official LOST Podcast, not the least of which is the executive producers' translation of the hieroglyphics from the frozen donkey wheel cave as referring to resurrection, which they revealed would be a theme on the show this season. There was also the painting in Eloise Hawking's church of the apostle Thomas feeling Jesus' wounds after his resurrection, which story Ben explained in detail to Jack.

Since the LOST writers point to a Biblical example of resurrection, it seems logical to use the same vantage point to look at hints from this week's episode to determine whether Locke is alive—that is, whether he's been resurrected, or brought back to life from the dead in a physical body. In "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham", Ilana brings a mango to Locke, which he eats excitedly and says is the best mango he's ever tasted. Can a ghost—or someone who is dead—eat? Or can someone only eat if they have a physical body? Let's take a look at a Biblical passage about Jesus' appearance to his disciples after his resurrection, found in Luke 24:39-43 (King James Version quoted below; see other translations if you prefer):
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And he took it, and did eat before them.
In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that a spirit does not have flesh and bones like he does, and he uses this to prove to them that he has risen from the dead. When the disciples were still unsure about it, Jesus asked them for some food and ate it in front of them as further proof that he had a fully functional physical body.

When Locke ate the mango in front of Ilana, I believe this was the LOST writers' way of telling us that Locke has indeed been resurrected, that he's truly alive again—a miracle of the Island much like the miraculous healing of his legs immediately after the Flight 815 crash.

Thanks to @LeBomba for asking me "So is Locke dead or alive?" on Twitter and inspiring this blog post. See my initial response here. Feel free to add me on Twitter (@theJoshMeister) and send me any questions you have about LOST.

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