Lost: Twenty Questions

© Copyright Buena Vista Pictures
© Copyright Buena Vista Pictures

Jacob’s mother: “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.”

Ah, mysteries: they keep us invested, turn a single line of dialogue into years of speculation, and on occasion make scores of Lost fans throw their remote controls at the TV 37 seconds before the Sunday night news. The thing with this series is ambiguity played a vital role in its message, so every answer was provided in such a way that we had to invest a little of ourselves to find meaning. Just the same, I’ve decided to share with you some of my own conclusions regarding Lost’s long-standing mysteries:

1. All Right, So What the Heck Was the Island?

It’s where the source of all life lies, or, if you’re a sceptic, a patch of land that happens to rest on a pocket of electromagnetic energy. Over the centuries, various people have tried to exploit its unique properties, including Ancient Egyptians, the folk with whom Jacob’s brother lived, the Dharma Initiative, the professor, and Mary Ann.

2. Okay, Wise Guy, What Was the Source Then?

Think of it as the Transformers All-Spark (oh, yeah, I went there). Without it, there’d be no life on Earth, no souls. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, the source is an electromagnetic drainage system akin to the hatch with the button, except, you know, thousands of years old. It looked man-made to me, so I presume some ancient civilisation tried to tap into that energy and built the glorified sink hole to keep the island from falling apart.

3. What Was the Smoke Monster?

It was Jacob’s brother or rather his consciousness, which was torn from his body when he was dropped into the source. There was some foreshadowing for this revelation: prolonged exposure to the source’s electromagnetic energy seems to hurl people’s minds across time and space. I guess the guy’s spirit, for lack of a better term, was never able to return to its body, kind of like what happened to Eddie Murphy’s career.

4. Why Didn’t the Same Thing Happen to Jack?

Maybe it did. They never showed how the good doctor got out of the cave, did they? It’s also worth noting the circumstances weren’t exactly the same when he went in: the man was conscious; the cork was out; and Desmond had presumably absorbed a lot of the radiation. More importantly, unlike Jacob’s brother, Jack was ready to let go, so there’s no chance of him spending the rest of existence as a giant puff of smoke.

5. What Did Hurley’s Numbers Mean?

As far as I can tell, nothing. Sure, they showed up everywhere, but then so does the number 23, according to Jim Carrey. Also, Hugo tended to project his feelings onto random objects (e.g. the Dharma van). It’s how he expresses his faith. Really, I’m the worst person to ask. I never thought the numbers would lead anywhere, so I haven’t been paying attention. Given their link to the final candidates and Hurley’s ascension as the island’s new protector, I suppose one could argue the numbers were Jacob’s way of calling out to our favourite millionaire.

6. What Was Libby Doing in the Same Asylum as Hurley?

Libby had a mental breakdown after losing her husband. Nothing more to it, I’m afraid. The whole “six degrees of separation” thing makes a lot more sense when you consider Jacob spent years observing the candidates before gathering them. We need only reverse cause and effect. For example, instead of presuming the star-crossed lovers crossed paths in the asylum because they were destined to become candidates, one might theorise Jacob noticed Hurley while checking Libby out (perv) and decided then to get them both on the island. Incidentally, he must’ve had a mad crush on Christian Sheppard, given how many people are connected to the guy.

7. What Was the Deal with the Cabin?

Beats me. The writers sort of lost track of that one, didn’t they? Because of his absence at the beginning of the series, I’m guessing Jacob was stuck in the cabin before the circle was broken, although that doesn’t entirely track. His brother took it over afterwards, but figuring out how that all came to be would require more speculation than I’m willing to delve into for the purposes of this piece. For a while, I thought the cabin was the one from Evil Dead (1981) and the smoke monster would eventually meet its demise at the hands of Ash Williams.

8. Why Couldn’t Women on the Island Give Birth?

The phenomenon was never explicitly linked to the incident, but women could give birth before the detonation, and they couldn’t after. That leaves only one possibility within the context of the story. And, no, I don’t know how nuclear radiation mixed with electromagnetic energy could affect one’s pregnancy. That’s like asking why humans make better batteries for the Matrix or how the Force works. I think we should all let it go lest Damon Lindelof starts raving about Midichlorians.

9. What Was the Dharma Initiative?

A bunch of hippies trying to harness the island’s electromagnetic properties. In the grand scheme of things, their presence serves only to illustrate that humanity remains a threat to the source. Well, that and they built the hatch, arguably the series’ most important set piece, as Jack, who couldn’t accept Locke’s devotion to the button, ended up giving his life to reboot a mystical (or just ancient if you’re a sceptic) version of the same system.

10. What Was so Important about Walt?

A whole lot of nothing. Sure, he had special powers, but that’s not why the Others wanted him. After losing the ability to procreate, they just took up kidnapping as a means of keeping their number up. I mean, can you imagine the taxes in such a rapidly aging society? And, yes, in my mind, half of Lost consists of a seemingly endless series of anti-climaxes, sort of like my short-lived career in pornography.

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Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."