Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Unanswered, Part 1

Some of you may have seen this video on YouTube or CollegeHumor. It's a funny, frustrated look at how many questions remain unanswered after the finale.

As I watched it I couldn't help but wonder how many of the questions mentioned really ARE unanswered - because if there's anything that can be said about LOST, it's that each viewer takes away her own interpretations. So here are mine! (There are 93 total, this post will address the first 30.)

1) Why did the monster kill the pilot? The real question is, why did the monster kill anyone? And we know the answer: the monster/Man in Black killed those who he knew would not help him in his cause. He scanned Locke and kept him alive to use him later on because he knew Locke would be easy to manipulate (or "amenable for coercion", as Eddie put it in season 3.) He scanned Mr. Eko and saw that he was rigid and unrepentant - buh-bye, Eko. So the pilot must have had too much self esteem to be useful.

2) What did Locke see when he first saw the smoke? I think he saw...the smoke. Sometimes it really is just that simple, even on LOST.

3) What's with the polar bear in Walt's comic? Well first, it was Hurley's comic book, which Walt later found (which explains why it was in Spanish.) Walt is special - on two occasions we saw that he attracted birds by thinking about them. This scene suggests that he did the same with the polar bear.

4) Where is Christian Shephard's body if it's not in the casket? I'm calling this one half unanswered. In "White Rabbit" when Jack finds Christian's coffin empty, the implication is that Christian has been resurrected and is walking around on the Island. It's a reference to Jesus' disciples finding his tomb empty. The imagery carries over into the final scenes of finale, where once again Jack finds the coffin empty. However, we now know that when Christian appeared to Jack and others on the Island, he was actually the smoke monster. It's likely that Christian's body fell out of the coffin during the plane crash and is somewhere on the Island. Whenever the smoke monster has appeared as someone else, it's either because 1) he has scanned a character's memory and found the images there, or 2) he has found the body on the Island and can appear as the deceased. So yes, this question is unanswered in the sense that we don't know exactly where Christians' body is. But we have enough puzzle pieces to guess what happened to it.

5) Why did the psychic say that Claire had to be on flight 815 and why did he insist that her son had to be raised by Claire? I'd qualify this one as answered, but open to interpretation. Interpretation 1: Either through his psychic abilities or Island outreach, Richard Malkin saw that Claire needed to crash land on the Island because she needed to be Aaron's mother. For a while I was convinced that Aaron was crucial to the Island in some way, but now I think it was the fact that he made Kate a mother that made him so important. It was Kate's adoption of Aaron that led her back to the Island to find Claire, and she killed the Man in Black. Interpretation 2: Malkin was a fake, just like he admitted to Mr. Eko, and he really did have an adoptive couple lined up in L.A. Presumably he would have been paid by them to pressure Claire into the adoption.

6) Why did the Others want Walt so badly? Well, because Walt is special. It was implied that they had a use for his gifts, although we never found out what that might be - since we never learned much about the Others' role on the Island, it's hard to guess. Ultimately this is a plot that went nowhere because David Malcolm Kelley was growing up too fast. (As Damon and Carlton said "We had to get that boy on a raft!")

7) Who sent Kate the letter about her mother being treated for cancer? This one's genuinely unanswered. My guess is an old friend who knew where she was, or maybe her stepfather. 

8) How does Walt know about the hatch, and why does he warn Locke not to open it? Again, Walt is special. (Is there something wrong with me that I actually think that's a good enough explanation for all the Walt stuff?) He warns Locke not to open it because it makes the hatch seem more mysterious and scary. The writers knew how to keep us watching. Or another more convoluted theory - Walt is being manipulated by the Man in Black, and he knows that warning Locke away from the hatch will push him into getting it open. All part of MiB's seduction of Locke.

9) Why does the smoke monster make mechanical sounds? Because that's the sound you make when your soul is ripped from your body in the cave of light and turned into a column of smoke. Duh.

10) How was Walt able to apparate before Shannon? W.I.S.

11) How did Walt communicate with Michael using the Swan station? He didn't. It was Ben, manipulating Michael into coming for Walt, so that Michael could be used as a tool to bring Jack (spinal surgeon extraordinaire) back to the barracks.

12) What is the deal with Kate and that horse? The horse makes sense on a symbolic level, representing Kate herself. Sawyer sees it too, so it's not just in her head. I seem to remember an interview with Damon and Carlton where they said that the horse is a manifestation of the smoke monster, but I'll have to find it to confirm that.

13) Why are Dharma supplies still being dropped on the Island after the purge, and by who? Even though the D.I. was wiped out on the Island, the organization still exists in some form off Island. Presumably they are aware that someone is still in the hatch and that the work they are doing there is crucial, so they keep sending food.

14) What triggered the lockdown, and why on earth did someone design it so during the lockdown black lights go on? The first part was definitely answered: the lockdowns are triggered by the food drops, so that the people in the hatch couldn't see who was sending them food. And the second part is obvious: it was the 70s, everyone had black lights.

15) What happened to the original Henry Gale? It's implied that Ben killed him and stole his identity.

16) What happened to the original timeline Libby between the mental hospital and getting on the tail section of Flight 815? Well, we know she met Desmond and gave him her boat so he could race around the world, although it's not clear whether that was before or after the mental hospital. I'm OK with not knowing every detail of Libby's backstory - in fact, I could have done without knowing every detail about some of the lead characters too, like Jack's tattoo saga.

17) Who built the four-toed statue? Egyptians who came to the Island. This is one of those references that indicates the Island's epic history, and that it's been inhabited by many different peoples. We only got one chapter of the story.

18) Why does only one specific bearing get you off the Island? Again, there's no clear answer to this one, especially if you want a detailed scientific explanation, but we've been given lots of hints. Some of what we know:
1. The Island is always moving, and its movements can be predicted through mathematical formulas
2. Traveling to and from the Island without using a bearing causes time shifts within the traveler (à la Desmond in "The Constant")
3. The time shifting may be caused by electromagnetic abnormalities, which also occasionally allow the Island to be detected by the outside world
4. Daniel explains that when the Island was skipping through time in season 5, the time shifts also caused the bearing to change. There is some speculation that in season 6 the new bearing was 108, the sum of all the numbers. to sum up, the specific bearing is necessary to get through the electromagnetism unscathed, and the bearing changes when the Island shifts through space and/or time. Simple, right?

19) What are the hieroglyphics on the Swan countdown timer about? The timer was created by the Dharma Initiative, so the question is what was their motivation for putting the hieroglyphs there? Perhaps they were aware of the Egyptian history on the Island (the statue, the Temple) and wanted to incorporate that into the design. Or maybe it was just another mind game, intended to scare the hatch occupants into continuing to press the button (and keeping fans watching, too. I think a lot of the mystery from the early seasons was there just to keep us interested and speculating from one episode to the next - and I don't consider that a criticism. It's what made LOST so dang fun.) In any case, Damon Lindelof stated during a Comic Con panel in 2006 that the intended translation of the hieroglyphs is "underworld," but he further noted that they are open to interpretation.

20) Why does Tom feel a need to wear a fake beard? The Others want to be seen by the survivors as backwards and primitive. Again, it's all a mind game.

21) Who was Libby's previous husband who gave her a boat to give to Desmond? He was named David and he died. Do we really need more info than that?

22) Who were the skeletons in the polar bear cave and where did the toy truck come from? The polar bear apparently had an appetite for human flesh, and especially liked little boys who played with trucks.

23) How did Locke and Eko escape the hatch explosion? I've got a few more questions of my own along this vein: How did any of the survivors escape the plane crash? How could Locke suddenly walk after the crash? How did Sawyer overcome septic shock with oral antibiotics? How was Rose's cancer cured? The only explanation is that some force on the Island heals and saves lives. Fate is likely at work as well.

24) Why couldn't Locke talk after the hatch explosion? Just like we don't know how exactly Locke was healed, we don't know what caused him to go mute after the implosion. But there is some pretty awesome symbolism behind this narrative choice.

Locke's experience references the Biblical story of the priest Zechariah. Zechariah was told in a vision that his wife would give birth to a son who would lay the path for the Messiah. He laughs at this, because his wife Elizabeth is too old to conceive. Because of his unbelief he's struck mute and is told that he won't be able to speak until the prophecy is fulfilled. Sure enough, Elizabeth becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son. There was pressure to name him after his father, since that was the custom at the time, but Elizabeth insisted that he be named John. When Zechariah wrote on a tablet, "His name is John" he was suddenly able to speak again. The son was John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who later baptized him.

Like Zechariah, Locke was struck mute when he refused to believe. In Locke's case he didn't believe anything would happen when the timer ran out, and he quickly realized he was wrong.
Locke also has a vision, where he is told to save Mr. Eko. As soon as Locke saves him from the polar bear, his power of speech returns. Mr. Eko is a prophet figure, much like John the Baptist, and he baptized both Claire and Aaron.

25) Why did the monster kill Mr. Eko and why didn't he just do it the first time they met?
This goes back to #1. The first time, the monster scanned Eko and spotted weaknesses in his story that he planned to exploit. Smokey appears as Yemi and tells Eko to repent. When Eko refuses to submit, the monster knows that he's worthless to him - Eko is too confident to be manipulated.

26) What did Mr. Eko mean when he said "You're next" when he died? He meant that the smoke monster was coming after Locke. And he was right. I haven't tried this myself, but Lostpedia reports that if you turn up the volume during Eko's last words, you can hear him saying "I saw the devil."

27) How disgusting was it when Hurley was eating from that tub of ranch dressing? Pretty disgusting, although in my opinion the peanut butter was much, much worse.

28) Why did Yemi's body disappear? The unknown whereabouts of Yemi's final resting place is an echo of Christian Shephard, whose appearance was also used by the smoke monster for his own purposes. And as with Christian, the actual location of Yemi's body isn't as important as the mind game involved: finding Yemi's body gone was a tactic used by Smokey to manipulate Eko. Yemi's "resurrection" is another reference to Christ: all four Gospels say that Jesus' tomb was sealed with a large boulder, and when the disciples went to the tomb "the stone was rolled away" and Jesus' body was gone. Eko moves several large stones away from the cockpit entrance before discovering that Yemi's body is no longer inside.

29) Why does Danny say Jack wasn't on Jacob's list when in fact his name was clearly written in the cave? Ben was never in contact with Jacob: the lists he made were entirely his own. He told the Others they were Jacob's in order to get them to do what he wanted. Another possibility: Ben was being directed by the smoke monster.

30) Why can't women on the Island have babies and what does this have to do with anything? My personal favorite theory is that it was the detonation of Jughead that caused the infertility. We saw Ethan born on the Island in the 1970s, so it wasn't a problem at that point. And there's a nice circular logic to Juliet causing the problem and then being the one who was brought to the Island to fix it.

Agree? Disagree? Hate my guts? Let me know what you think of my answers - and stay tuned for Part 2!


kirjote said...

ahhhh, we always wait until we can watch the whole season at once - we just finished at 1 am last night (morning?) and all have "LOST" hangovers - but we can't let go so we appreciate being able to visit your site and all of your help processing what we have seen :) thanks!

- kirsten

jenniegirl said...

Hi Chelsea! Well, I lost my blog. It has disapeared into cyber-space! Anyways, I just added you again, and was hoping you'd re-add me too! :) I hope you're having a good week! Talk to you soon,

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