We're now officially halfway through the final season of Lost.
Back in November of 2009 I listed out the questions that I thought Lost "must" answer, along with a bunch of questions that I didn't mind the show's writers answering or not answering as they saw fit.
So, how's the season stacking up against that wish list so far? Let's take a look:
1) What is the importance/purpose of the Island?
From the original column: "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."
Ab Aeterno gave us the potential answer to this question last night: The Island is a kind of metaphorical (or possibly even literal) "cork," keeping "evil" bottled up and unable to escape. Is this the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Island-God? We don't know for sure. But with eight episodes left until the finale, I suspect that it's more truth than not. WHY the Island does this, the consequences of not doing this - these questions are far from answered. But the Island's importance/purpose? Apparently answered.
2) What is Jacob's goal?
From the original column: "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?"
Part of this question has been answered. We know that Jacob was popping up in the castaways' lives because they're Candidates. What we don't know is what Jacob hoped/hopes to accomplish on the Island, but it seems practically certain that we'll know soon.
3/4) Who/what is the Man in Black? What's the deal with the Island's apparitions and visions?
From the original column: "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."
I was right - at least as regards 98% of the Island's spectral population. We still don't know if Christian was also an MiB "avatar," but signs point strongly to "yes." Complicating things are the off-Island apparitions and Hurley's ability to see "friendly ghosts," like the spirit of Isabella. So, most of this question has been answered: The MiB and a majority of the Island's apparitions are one and the same. I believe that my "Well of Souls" theory may help to explain the rest of the question.
5) What is the Temple?
From the original column: "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?"
We got our answers - the Temple contains a spring which heals and, thanks to the existence of Dogen, is a safe haven from the Man in Black. We still don't understand just HOW Dogen's life made the Temple a safe haven, nor why the spring was muddied, nor why it was a safe place from Widmore's men (who had rocket launchers).
6) What happened to Rousseau's crew?
From the original column: "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?"
We've gotten answers on this as well. Rousseau's crew apparently was infected - by the same "sickness" that seems to have claimed Sayid and Claire. Symptoms include sudden violence, duplicity, and an aversion to soap.
7) What are the motivations of Widmore and Hawking?
From the original column: "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?"
This remains unanswered. With Widmore's arrival on Hydra Island, however, we should expect some clarification soon. As for Hawking's role/motivations? Perhaps they'll be linked to Widmore's.
8) Why did the Others take Walt?
From the original column: "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?"
This has yet to be answered. I believe I came up with a plausible answer to this question in my Rewatch Column for "Lost: Missing Pieces" (scroll down to the commentary on "Room 23").
9) Who are Illyana and the 'shadow of the statue' people?
From the original column: "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?"
We know who Ilana and her people are now - they're glorified bodyguards.
10) What's up with the fertility issues on the Island? And why is it a (mostly) cancer-free zone?
From the original column: "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?"
If you believe the word on the virtual street, the question of Island fertility will not be directly answered in the final season. Which feels, to me, like an enormous cop-out. If it's the case that they don't plan to address it directly, I hope they've left it implicitly answered in some way. My thoughts on the similarities between pregnancy and cancer might provide a possible explanation.
11) What are the core tenets/beliefs of the Others?
From the original column: "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?"
We've gotten answers to some of these things, but in subtle, quiet ways. It's been all-but-confirmed for us that the Others are Jacob's "worshippers" or "priests," and that Richard acts as the gatekeeper between the Island's God-figure and his "faithful" people. As for their beliefs, we've gotten very little.
12) What are The Whispers?
From the original column: "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?"
Still unanswered. But I'd expect them to get around to this one as we near the show's end.
Expect another TMI column soon, as promised.