L3 Commentary: Christ Imagery

In L3. The Last Meal Jango extends an invitation to the group: he had prepared an initiation ceremony for Faith, but since she’s dead, he’ll allow them to experience the ritual for themselves . In this section Jay has his last meal before leaving to visit Jango, and he helps Dan take off his shoes.

Christ imagery walks a fine line between ‘neat literary device’ and ‘eye-rolling, cringe-worthy masturbatory style.’ Remember how in Man of Steel Superman would occasionally float around with his arms out? It was visually striking, sure, but maybe a little on-the-nose. In the third Alien film, Ripley falls into molten metal with her arms out to save humanity from the xenomorph-queen inside her. It’s probably one of the most-fondly remembered parts of the movie, but the symbolism is pretty obvious.

On the other hand, Harry Potter‘s Christ imagery is veiled enough that many people read about the boy who lived, died, and lived again without considering the Crucifixion. Some Christians say J. K. Rowling intentionally mirrored Christianity; simultaneously a few Christians say Harry Potter exposes children to witchcraft and the dark arts of black magic, so opinions are mixed and the true narrative intent remains ambiguous. I don’t personally know if J. K. Rowling wanted Harry to evoke Christ, but I’m sure she at least realized the common cultural implications of Harry’s resurrection and wrote with them in the back of her mind.

The double-character DanJay has already been reborn. Dan died in a furnace and was reincarnated as Jay. His first life was plagued by anxiety, guilt, and low self-esteem. His second life, who transcends death, has a more laid-back worldview because of his experience.

Dan, who echoes Dante from the Divine Comedy, represents a mortal every-man. When he met the Master of Nihilism he gambled his soul for the sake of all sentient beings, but for selfish reasons: he wanted to be with Beatrice and naively assumed he had to save her. Dan wasn’t ready yet, and he was obliterated. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of nothing, he was reborn as Jay.

Jay is pretty mundane for a Christ figure; he performs no miracles (unless you count being born as Jillian and transitioning to assert a masculine identity as an act of transmutation) and he manifests no divinity. But he does buy Dan a bunch of fish sandwiches and pints of stout, and he helps Dan come to terms with the death of Faith and Beatrice. I occasionally address where Jay appears in a line-up from left to right or where he’s sitting at a table, like we’re looking at The Last Supper. In this section he takes off Dan’s shoes, like Christ washing his disciples’ feet. Dainty Dan, who hates to touch dirt, cannot remove his grass-stained shoes on his own. Jay is selfless enough to help him. After all, a lifetime ago, Jay was Dan himself.

If Dan is the mortal every-man, the implication that mortals need Jesus to cleanse them of sin is pretty obvious and too generic a message for Akayama DanJay. The fact that Dan and Jay are the same person takes the Christ imagery in a surreal, but mundanely humanist direction. Dan judges himself to be guilty; he’s always dirty. After Beatrice, his ideal love, and Faith, whose meaning is obvious, are dead, the only person who can really cleanse him—the only person who can convince him of his worth—is himself, Jay.

Humans carry faith wherever we go. Worthiness is internal. Now that Jay understands this, he’s free to cross the magic circle.

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