Friday, September 01, 2006

#5 "The 23rd Psalm" -- Lost (2006)

"The 23rd Psalm" gives us the background to one of Lost's most enigmatic characters, Eko. Having come off of a 40 day vow of silence, Eko and Charlie make a trek into the jungle to find a downed plane. In flashbacks we learn that Eko, as a child, killed a man and allowed himself to be kidnapped by Nigerian drug dealers in order to spare his brother the same fate. Thus two very different paths emerge: Eko's brother, having received grace, grows up to become a priest, while Eko grows up to become a ruthless and murderous drug dealer.

Drug Dealer: It is true what they say about you,
Eko: And what is that?
Drug Dealer: That you have no soul.

These words are spoken shortly before Eko kills the man. Such scenes add a whole new level of gravity to the giant stick that Eko carries around with him on the island.

But the Eko on the island is a different man indeed. He carves Scripture onto that giant stick. When he gives advice to others, he draws it from biblical stories. "The 23rd Psalm" reveals to us how such a life-altering change could occur in such a despicable individual.

The Eko who as a child sacrificed himself to save his brother a life of misery later learns what it means to receive grace when his brother, to whom Eko had just done a horrible thing, gives his life to save Eko's. For reasons too convoluted to explain, Eko's brother's body ends up in the plane that crashed on the island and Charlie and Eko find it. Before they do, however, Eko has an encounter with the "monster" of the island -- an amorphous column of black smoke in which images flash before Eko. The final image shown to him in the smoke is that of Jesus on the cross. That image of forgiveness and grace through sacrifice now governs Eko's new life. On the island, he is reborn. After he and Charlie find the plane, Eko removes the cross necklace from his brother's corpse and puts it around his own. Charlie, who has been trying to decipher the mystery that is Eko, asks, "So, are you a priest or aren't you?" Eko replies: "Yes,I am" and then proceeds to recite the 23rd Psalm.

It is a rare show that can take well-worn religious themes like redemption, forgiveness, and sacrifice and bring them to life in a new way.


At 4:57 PM, Blogger Josh.Graves said...

Eko's character has been one of the more interesting ones. In all, the writers have done a fantastic job developing the characters without taking away from the sense of dislocation all of the displaced are experiencing.

I wonder what Eko's role will be this upcoming season. I do not try and read ahead,so others may know more than I about the show. I'm willing to bet Eko takes a central role this year.

The whole calling/vocation thread that centered around Eko's brother transferring to Eko himself was the most engaging part of the episode for me.


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