Wednesday, November 18

Too Much Information 8: The Question Jar has begun using a feature which allows you to leave comments at the end of each article they publish. A gentleman named Drew posted in the column for "Left Behind" and asked the following question:

"Damon and Carlton (or Darlton, as they're affectionately called) have said that certain mysteries will not be answered or "fully revealed", such as the Numbers. What mysteries do you think are of absolute importance and what could be sacrificed? Besides the big obvious questions, I need to know about that damn Hurley bird. Keep up the great writing."

Thanks, Drew. If by great writing you mean 'primitive, alcohol-aided stabs at a keyboard,' then I will, in fact, keep up the great writing.

I think your question is excellent, and it's one I'd like to pose to you folks at large. What mysteries must be answered? What mysteries can be left unanswered?

Speaking for myself, and taken off the top of my head, these are some of the questions that I'm hoping the sixth and final season will answer:

1) What is the importance/purpose of the Island?

I don't know that I need a detailed explanation of what the Island actually is/what it contains, so long as we're told more-or-less why the Island is so darned important to characters like Jacob, Ben and Widmore. Not important in the personal sense (the Island is Ben's home, so of course it's important to him), but in the larger, mythology-inclusive sense of the word. What is the Island's percieved purpose? Is that purpose up for personal interpretation? What makes people like Widmore want to possess it? Lost doesn't need to tell me that the Island is really a spaceship, or Atlantis, or Mu or Neverland or whathaveyou (my totally-unfounded guess: the Island is alive, and the Man in Black, as well as the other apparitions we've seen, are manifestations of it's will/intelligence) - in some ways I'd appreciate it if they didn't. What I 'need' to know involves the motivations of the people we've been introduced to throughout the show as those motivations relate to the Island.

2) What is Jacob's goal?

Why was Jacob popping up at certain points in the lives of certain castaways? What is the practical meaning behind his half-veiled conversation with the Man In Black? What is Jacob working to accomplish, if anything? And why?

3/4) Who/what is the Man in Black? What's the deal with the Island's apparitions and visions?

If I'm right in my rampant speculation, questions 3 and 4 are connected - the Island's strange 'ghosts' and the Man In Black are one and the same. Whether or not I'm right, I want very much to understand the origins of these 'ghosts,' their goals and their drives, their purpose in appearing on the Island. Is 'Christian' dead? Undead? Somehow alive again? And does he serve Jacob or the Man In Black? As mentioned above, my working theory is that they're creations of the Island itself - that they're similar to the 'ghosts' that the planet Solaris creates in Stanislaw Lem's novel of the same name. But if I'm wrong (and I'm probably wrong)? Then I need the answers, Lost.

5) What is the Temple?

The show has built the Temple up to be a place that's central to the mythology of the Island. We've seen that the Smoke Monster lives in its ancient spaces, that Ben was somehow made well inside of it, that the Others retreated to it for safety when the Island was raided by Widmore's men. What is the Temple? What does it 'do'? Why is it important? Why is it hidden?

6) What happened to Rousseau's crew?

This isn't a major mystery, in and of itself, but it's one that seems to be linked to the Smoke Monster, the Temple, the Others, and potentially Room 23. Rousseau's companions changed after following Montand down the Smokey Hole - they became sinister, deadly. Were they brainwashed? Possessed? Infected? ....Enlightened?

7) What are the motivations of Widmore and Hawking?

Season 5 muddied the already muddy waters of motivation for both Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore, as well as their relationship. If Hawking is working 'for the good of us all,' why has she kept in contact with Widmore who, according to Ben, is not a good man? If Widmore is actually on the side of 'good,' then what's with his involvement in getting Locke to return to the Island? And why is he employing Abbadon? Why is Widmore trying to recapture the Island? Why is Hawking so concerned with returning the castaways to its shores? And why does she appear in a photo with Desmond's monk friend?

8) Why did the Others take Walt?

We don't need the actor who played Walt to return in order to discover why he was important for a little while there. Why did the Others grab him? How and why did they know he was 'special'? Why did they subsequently let him go?

9) Who are Illyana and the 'shadow of the statue' people?

They're clearly working with Jacob to some extent. Are they Others? Are they anti-Others? How do they know the answer to Illyana's riddle? And what does that riddle actually mean?

10) What's up with the fertility issues on the Island? And why is it a (mostly) cancer-free zone?

In the column for "One of Us," I pointed out that both the absence of cancer and the pregnancy difficulties involve a mysterious force preventing the growth of new life within the human body. What's the reason for this?

11) What are the core tenets/beliefs of the Others?

What does the word 'good' really mean to the Others? Why do they seem to require the murder of a father figure in order to claim leadership? Why is their society structured as it is? Why are they required to learn Latin? Why do they give their dead viking-styled funerals? What is their self-percieved purpose on the Island? Their actual purpose?

12) What are The Whispers?

They seem to be connected to the sudden appearance of Others, they involve key members of the cast, and they seem to comment directly on the action when they're heard. What are they?

Those are the questions that I feel 'need' answering before it comes to an end. There are other questions that I'd enjoy seeing answered, but that aren't significant enough to me to feel disappointed if they aren't. These include:

1) What is the Hurley Bird?

Sorry, Drew. I know this one's a biggee for you, but if the Hurley Bird goes forever unexplained I won't care overmuch.

2) What purpose, if any, do the various injections on the Island serve?

Desmond, Kelvin and Claire have all been seen injecting themselves. It'd be nice to know whether any of this medication has a purpose, but if it's never revisited I won't complain.

3) Who are Adam and Eve?

I'm assuming that they're Rose and Bernard, last seen chilling out in the 70's in a retirement shack. And if the skeletons in the caves are never addressed again, that's what I'll continue to assume.

4) What was the 'true' purpose of the Dharma Initiative?

Does it matter? I'd argue that it doesn't - that Dharma's served as an excellently enigmatic chunk of backstory, backstory that's already been sufficiently elaborated on. Leave it up to the audience to decide why Dharma went to the Island (my theory: Widmore and/or Jacob brought them).

5) What are The Numbers?

No matter what the explanation for The Numbers turns out to be, I suspect it won't be as satisfying as their current opaque-ness is. Are The Numbers meaningful at all? It seems that way, but it also seems possible that they're meant to illustrate the concept of 'Apophenia,' and the vagueness of them is satisfyingly Lynchian.

6) Is Richard Alpert immortal?

Sure, it'd be unspeakably nifty to learn Alpert's history, and to learn the secret to his eerie arrested development (my theory: he arrived on the Black Rock with Magnus Hanso, and we'll get a Black Rock flashback during the final season). But the answer to Alpert's agelessness isn't an answer that I feel the 'need' to recieve. I'd be honestly contented if they left his potential immortality alone and allowed the audience's imagination to fill in the gaps.

7) What's up with the quarantine warnings?

I've theorized that the warnings were put up following the events of the Purge - that the Dharma workers in those stations were instructed to quarantine themselves and to use Haz-Mat suits when and if they needed to emerge. That's explanation enough for me.

8) Why was Libby institutionalized?

My guess? She committed herself following the death of her husband. But who really cares, unless the reason for her stay in the hospital is directly related to a larger question about the Island?

9) Who is 'Grandpa Ray,' really?

There's no immediate reason to think that Jack's visit to 'Grandpa Ray' was anything more than a convenient way for Jack to get his father's shoes. But introducing Ray to the storyline this late in the game felt like the planting of a story-seed, not just a one-off encounter. Lost could very easily never mention this character again and that'd be fine with me, but I admit to being curious about him. Why is he always trying to escape? Is he included to indicate that the Shephard clan has been involved with the Island for generations, in some manner or another? Is his resemblance to Jack Shephard meant to indicate that Jack is his own grandpa, and that time-travel shenanigans will end up placing a much older Jack at a point in the timestream when he can provide himself with the means to return to the Island?

What did I miss? What do you 'need' answered? Are there any questions that you'd prefer they didn't answer? Let me know in the comments!

Catch up on Too Much Information!

Too Much Information 7: Sartre-Speak

Too Much Information 6: Gnarly Gnosticism & Mondo Manichaeism

Too Much Information 5: Mirrors & Delays

Too Much Information 4: Gods and Musicians - How The Mythologizing of The Beatles Helps Us Understand the Reality of the Dharma Initiative

Too Much Information 3: Loopholes and Prison-feet

Too Much Information 2: Who is the MiB?

Too Much Information: Stimulus/Response and Control Theory, or How I Learned To Start Behaving And Love Course Correction


  1. Here is a fun question I keep wondering about, that is a little off tangent. I wonder who is going to kill Ben and why? I firmly believe Ben will not be drawing breath in last minute of Season 6 and I wonder what people's thoughts are to his demise? Does he die redeemed? Does someone else find redemption in killing him?

  2. Perhaps not a question that must be answered but I'd like to know if there is any significance to the Losties personal lives overlaping? They all seem to have connections with one another and I'm wondering if there is anything more to that?

    Also, what's the significance of Aaron? Is he special? Was he meant to crash on that island? Was Claire's psychic really a fraud? And why did Christian permit Claire to abandon Aaron thereby letting Kate take him off the island?

  3. Thanks for posting your thoughts, folks.

    Edward, if I were writing the show I'd have Ben sacrifice himself for 'the greater good.' He's already a tragic, gollum-esque character - why not go all the way?


    Those are great questions. I'm especially kicking myself for forgetting about Aaron. If I'm right, he'll grow up to be Jacob. As for the interconnectivity - I've begun to think that perhaps all of the people who landed on the Island were, in some sense, Jacob's 'children,' either figuratively or literally. I'd love to see if that theory has any validity to it.

  4. MMorse- I see many of the same parallels for Ben, which is exactly why I hope team "Darlton" surprise me. If Ben dies for the Island's Ring/Holy Grail/Consciousness ill be slightly let down. I was never more impressed with Lost than with the way they put Locke in that casket. It was jarring, original, and a true highlight. I'd love to see Sawyer use an Old Testament brand of justice for Ben's many misdeeds.

  5. At this point in the show he's essentially Judss to Jacob's Christ-figure. It's be fitting to have him hang himself - echoing Lockes suicide attempt. If the writers are truly looking to surprise us, they'll let Ben live.

  6. I don't understand the fascination with the Adam/Eve skeletons. My thought was they were there to establish that people have been on the Island for a long time, with no greater significance. Darlton get questioned about it all the time though, so much that they've said they will address the skeletons.
    I feel the show needs to explain the "sickness", and my personal question that I'd love for them to answer (but never will) is why Ben led Locke to believe that nothing would happen when The Button wasn't pushed.

  7. They gave us a huge look at the Dharma Initiative and the fabled "incident" (awesome), but I still need to see with my own eyes Radzinsky telling a computer programer to have "the numbers" be the code to vent the energy instead of say....the space bar. or even just have an automatic system...

    and then even see how the numbers got from there to the radio tower (didn't the man Hurely got the numbers from hear them from a radio signal?)

    this, and explain why Walt is important. I will feel ripped-off if they leave these hanging after spending so much time on them in earlier seasons.

  8. Resident,

    I don't get the skeleton fascination either. I think the show will explain 'the sickness' in conjunction with The Temple and/or Room 23 - we'll see if I'm right. Your question about Ben (and the question around The Button in general) is a great one - and it's definately something that I hope is answered.


    I'll be happy if they just give us some indication of why the Numbers keep popping up, though I don't need it. But I'm with you - Walt needs to be explained, even if we don't see the character again.

  9. Regarding Alpert's agelessness: Not that this answers the larger question of why Alpert is ageless, we should remember that in Season 5 Richard tells Fake-Locke that he is the way he is because "Jacob made me this way." If this is to be true, then we can assume that the ability to stop aging is something granted to people on the island through some sort of divinity (that is, if we take Jacob and his like to be representative of some divine/supernatural force). What is interesting to me is the idea that Jacob is Aaron...if this is the case, then how do we explain Jacob's own agelessness as he visits the Castaways throughout their lives? If Jacob and Aaron are the same person, then does Jaaron have the ability to skip around in time like the island, independent of the island itself? Just a thought.

    Regarding what the island is: The comparisons to Solaris are apt. I would also go so far as to compare the island to how the sun is depicted in Danny Boyle's Sunshine. The place itself has qualities that seem supernatural and are at many times blatantly supernatural. Yet, the place itself has no will of its own (at least in terms of human will). The place just merely is and people are the ones who attach a sense of will to it. The island itself perpetuates through time without regard to its inhabitants really. If this show is to be understood as examining mythology and how one mythologizes life, then it would make perfect sense to assume that the island is just a freaky place that is attached meaning and agency by the people who happen on it. Is it fate? Is there such a thing as fate? Or is fate something we do to make order of the chaos? My argument would be for the latter, the perfect example being John Locke, who's "destiny" is something he essentially has determined for himself without knowing it.

    Please feel free to pick apart any of the above. The great thing about this show is that although it subtly encourages theorization it totally rips it apart in the actual show. No theory for this beautiful beast of television is absolute in its accuracy.