Lost: Twenty Questions

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11. If Christian was the smoke monster all along and therefore couldn’t get off the island, how could he visit Jack in the flash-forwards?

I find the simplest way to resolve this and other mysteries regarding off-island apparitions is to apply the following rule, which, I admit, is pure speculation: every ghost to appear in a dream or state of intoxication (remember, Jack was popping pills heavily at this point) came from the smoke monster. In other words, though he couldn’t physically leave the island, Jacob’s brother was still able to manipulate the subconscious of the Oceanic Six. That means only Hurley got to see actual dead people, which would explain why they always seemed warm and cuddly to him but dark and ominous to everyone else.

12. Why was it crucial Aaron not be raised by another?

My understanding was Malkin made that up in a panic to prevent Claire from boarding the plane after he got a vision of the crash. Presuming he told Mr Eko (when you’re this big, they call you Mr) the truth about being a fraud, the vision was unexpected, which might explain why he later sold Claire out for the low, low price of $16,000: the con artist might at that point have convinced himself he’d just imagined the whole thing. I always figured the adopting couple worked for either Eloise or Papa Widmore, as both would’ve had a vested interest in maintaining the timeline.

Why, you ask, did the fake psychic suddenly get a real vision? If you apply the rule I suggested in the previous answer, the “raised by another” warning had to come from the smoke monster. Given his affection for Claire later on, I figure Jacob’s brother associated the pregnant girl with his biological mother and wanted to spare her the same fate. This theory makes him the good guy here and Jacob the douche, which is why I’m sticking to it, but one could argue instead that Malkin lied to Mr Eko and played his part to get Claire on the island. Perhaps his daughter’s resurrection was Jacob’s reward.

13. How was Desmond able to see the flash-sideways universe?

If you’re a believer, he had a near-death experience and confused it with one of his jaunts across the time-space continuum. If you aren’t, he got a glimpse into Jack’s dying fantasy and mistook it for the actual future. There’s precedent for the latter explanation. Remember when Desmond told Charlie that Claire and Aaron would leave the island in a helicopter? Well, that never happened, did it? Apparently, Desmond’s mind took occasional trips into other people’s subconscious wishes. That or I just used a glaring plot hole to patch my theory.

14. Why was Juliet fighting aliens in her alternate life?

That one totally makes sense when you consider the alternate lives were created so the characters could work out their issues either in the afterlife or as part of Jack’s dying fantasy. Juliet had trouble letting go of her guilt over the unborn children she failed to save, so she was put in a parallel universe where she’d save humanity by killing hundreds of V embryos while spouting an inappropriately gleeful one-liner.

15. What was the sickness?

There were several versions of the sickness. One was linked to the poison Daniel and Charlotte neutralised. Another consisted of the delusions of a pregnant woman who’d just seen her friends get torn apart. The final was a superstition born of these different events, which Jacob’s brother then used to fool Sayid into thinking he’d become irredeemable. The castaways were always in control of their actions, as exemplified by Sayid betraying the smoke monster in the end. Thematically, the story doesn’t really work otherwise.

16. Why was the list so darn inconsistent? First, Kate was on it but not Jack, then the opposite, and, after a while, I just started banging my head against the television screen every time the stupid thing came up.

The stupid thing wasn’t so much inconsistent as mutable. In keeping with the theme of personal responsibility, Jacob’s list changed depending on the characters’ respective journeys. Just as Kate stopped being a candidate after redefining herself for Aaron, Jack may have gone back and forth in accordance with his state of mind. It’s worth noting one’s sense of purpose was the deciding factor, not duty to others, which is why Kate’s name was crossed out when she became a parent, but “Kwon” remained.

17. Why didn’t Sun go back in time with the other castaways?

The only explanation I can think of is that Sun was never a candidate, so, even though she’d been on the island before, she didn’t possess whatever aura was required to travel through time. This would account for Ben staying behind as well. Mind you, it could just be random, which is how I took it at first. At any rate, it would make sense for Jin to be the Kwon candidate. Sun was already taking charge of her life when she boarded Flight 815. Her husband, on the other hand, had backed himself into a corner, his integrity hanging by a thread.

18. What was with Jin suddenly becoming a martial arts expert?

Jin was Asian, you see, and all Asians have access to secret kung fu powers that can be activated in great times of need. So says Disney’s Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006). In fact, you might have missed it if you blinked, but Miles was the one to save the island with a lightning-fast hadôken. Actually, there was a passing mention of Jin having served in the Korean army, where he presumably learnt tae kwon do. It was a silly retcon that’s best forgotten, which is why I brought it up, of course.

© Copyright Buena Vista Pictures
© Copyright Buena Vista Pictures

19. What would’ve happened if Not-Locke had got off the island?

Jacob alluded to the end of the world, but that may have had more to do with his brother’s methods. After all, it’s hard to imagine the latter presented a threat to anyone once he became mortal. Besides, Jacob isn’t exactly reliable. “Across the Sea” showed pettiness and blind obedience as his key motivations, and, while he may have matured a bit since then, he’s still the sort of jackass who summons a pregnant woman to a deserted island to face off against a killer puff of smoke.

My point is we’re not supposed to know. The final act pitted a hero who believed against a villain who didn’t, and the writers were careful not to tip the scales. Who was right, you see, doesn’t matter. Jack had the higher ground, to use a cheesy Star Wars one-liner, because of the way he lead his life on the island, not because of his faith. For all his mistakes, the good doctor never stopped caring for his fellow castaways. Jacob’s brother, on the other hand, sacrificed countless lives to prove his point (note that Jacob was no better), which is why, thematically, Kate had to be the one to defeat him in the end.

20. Wait. What? Kate “I Just Like to Run Around and Get Everybody into Trouble” Austin had to be the one to defeat the smoke monster? Explain yourself now!

I’ve long argued Lost was about philosophical diversity and faith in the largest sense of the word. Jack was the sceptic in search of meaning and Locke, the believer desperate for purpose. As a conman, Sawyer believed only in himself, while Hurley had faith in pretty much everything and everyone. As for our favourite runaway, she came to the island devoid of any belief system until the good doctor uttered these words: “Die alone. Live together.” For all their differences, the castaways came together in a way Jacob and his brother never could, and Kate was a symbol of their sense of community.

The vacuum surrounding Kate’s motivations made her ideal to carry the show’s message. If Jack had taken down Jacob’s brother, then faith would’ve won over scepticism. If Hurley had fired the gun, the story would’ve been about loss of innocence. That’s why the bullet had to come from Kate, for whom loyalty to the tribe was the only discernible trait. Lost wasn’t about pushing one ideology over all others. It was about coexistence. As such, annoying, inconsistent, poorly developed Kate was arguably the most important character on the series: because, philosophically, she represented a whole lot of nothing.

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."