I have to admit it…in the case of Lost, I came very late to the party. And was already pretty drunk when I got there. At which point I commenced to engage in a rambling drunken conversation wtih a girl with great tattoos about how amazing a show Galactica was (this was an actual party back in June – my short term memory damage won’t allow recovery of an exact date). The girl countered and said that Lost was better. We struck a bargain, each of us would add the other show to our respective Netflix queue. A week later, I had added every season. A month later, I had forked over the credit card ducats to download the final season. I never found out if Galactica had the same effect on her, but at this point, I’m too torqued up anticipating the premiere on Tuesday to care. I’ve been avoiding spoilers like the plague, including the footage from the premiere that just leaked, so if you want juicy gossip, sorry, this isn’t the article for you. Like Eko down in the hatch, I’m resigned to keep the faith and keep pushing the button as directed. Only a little longer now. I’ll share my thoughts with you though, as to what I hope to see, and learn, as the series winds to a close.
The Fork In the Outlet; or LA X?
This is the single biggest question of all going into Season 6 – did the detonation of the bomb at the Swan outpost in 1977 do what Jack and Faraday intended – did it push some big cosmic reset button and create a new timeline where the Swan/the hatch was never built, the button was never pressed, and Oceanic Flight 15 landed at LAX? I’ve been avoiding spoilers like the plague, but the title of next week’s season premiere, LA X, seems to indicate it was at least partially successful. But the title itself, or rather, the spacing of it, gives us another clue. By separating the X from LA, it appears that there is a variable at work, an X-factor that will have unforeseen consequences.
Just what that may be and what precisely it will do could be speculated upon endlessly (and most likely fruitlessly). But the entirety of the series has been built around the consequences of the crash – by preventing the crash, what else may have been undone? Will all those who have died get a second chance at life? This opens the door to see the likes of Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Eko, Ana Lucia, Libby, Faraday, Naomi, Juliet and Charlotte once again. It also means that we could see Ethan – if Charlie isn’t on the island to shoot him, he could get a second chance at life too. Ditto Tom/Mr. Friendly, Danielle Rousseau, Mikhail, Alex, Anthony Cooper (the original Sawyer/Locke’s Dad), and anyone who died on the island after the plane crash. Also, as Miles very adroitly pointed out, detonating the bomb may have been the cause of the incident mentioned in the Swan orientation film, and there’s no way to discount that idea that nothing may have been changed. After all, the orientation photo with Jack, Kate and Hurley in it still exists thirty years later-it remains possible that nothing has been undone by blowing up the hatch before it was built.
Final thought: The island, it has been said, many many times, is a special place, and characters have often spoken of it as a person – in that it wants things, does things, and affects people and events in ways both subtle and extreme. We know that it can even bend the laws of time and physics-who’s to say that in reaction to the detonation, it won’t respond in some new and wholly unpredictable way? It could be that the island is like a cosmic Vegas – what happens there, stays there – and it ignores some of, or maybe all of, the effects of the paradox that was created.
What is the Smoke Monster?
Ah, the smoke monster. It’s been a lingering menace since the pilot, but this late in the game, we STILL don’t have much to go on about what it actually is. Is it technological, mystical, or other? It’s been described as a guardian and a security system for the island, and the Dharma initiative referred to it as Cerberus, but is that really all it is/does? Let’s look at what we know: it’s very old, appearing in the temple hieroglyphs which appear to be from the island’s earliest days of inhabitance. It follows a pattern: the monster will appear, making its characteristic noises (being a NYC resident, they ALWAYS sound like a taxicab receipt printing to me) and sometimes causing destruction in its wake. Sometimes it acts aggressively, others, it lingers, appearing to examine or assess a person in its presence. It creates images from a person’s past, sins or mistakes that they have made. It has appeared to people in the guise of a dead person from their past; in this way it approached both Eko and Ben Linus. In these encounters, it acted as a judge of both men, killing one and sparing another.
But in the latter case, that judgment feels highly questionable. The monster, appearing as Ben’s adopted daughter Alex, spared Ben, and under threat of death ordered him to follow and obey Locke. Which was all well and good until the season finale, when we learned that Locke was still dead, and the man currently walking around who looked like Locke was most likely Jacob’s adversary, the man in black, whom I prefer to call un-Locke. Since un-Locke was completely out of sight off camera during Ben’s encounter, could this mean that the man in black is actually the smoke monster? After all, we’ve seen he can imitate one dead person, why not another? And does this mean that the dead people we’ve seen on the island, like Ben’s mother, and especially Jack’s father Christian, have been manifestations of the smoke monster/man in black? In the case of Ben’s mother, it seems likely. Ben’s mother would not cross the sonic fence to see him, and the sonic fence is the one thing that we know repels it. I don’t expect an instruction manual, but some general idea of what this thing is and where it came from is due.
What do the numbers mean?
I’ve never lived in an underground bunker where all I did was enter them into a computer every 108 minutes, but they’re now permanently stuck in my head. If you re-watch old Lost episodes, you’ll see the numbers pop up again and again and again. Flight 815 departed Sydney out of Gate 23. Jack’s and Ana Lucia’s seats on the flight were in rows 23 and 42, respectively. The code Juliet used to disarm the sonic fence that one time? 1623. The time of death recorded for Shannon’s father after his car crash? 8:15. The auction lot number for the Black Rock’s ledger book? 2342. And so on and so on.
Going off of the alternate reality game The Lost Experience, the numbers are the core values of the Valenzetti Equation, a mathematical formula commissioned by the UN which determined the exact future date of mankind’s extinction. The Dharma Initiative’s research was intended to change those values and prevent mankind’s extinction. But how canonically the show will treat any of this is still uncertain, and that side story may be left out altogether from the final season.
It seems our best clue regarding the numbers came from the eponymous first season episode where they were introduced. When Hurley asks his former fellow inmate at Santa Rosa, Leonard Simms about them, he gets the following response:
‘You’ve opened the box!’ – Leonard Simms, Numbers
Now that begs the operative question, what box where? Well, where is obviously the island, but as to what box, well, let’s look at something the ever-unreliable Ben told Locke in the Season 3 episode The Man From Tallahassee:
‘Let me put it so you’ll understand. Picture a box. You know something about boxes, don’t you John? What if I told you that, somewhere on this island, there is a very large box and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it when you opened that box, there it would be? What would you say about that, John?’ – Benjamin Linus, The Man From Tallahassee
Ben retracts and later says that the box is just a metaphor, but that the island provides people it chooses with things they want and/or need; in this way Anthony Cooper was brought there. This is according to Ben, so of course take it with the proverbial boulder-sized grain of salt. Still, Cuse and Lindelof have also gone on to say that the whole island itself is a magic box. So Hurley, without even knowing it, uses the numbers on his lottery ticket, and the island responds by making him win the lottery. The magnetic anomaly under the Swan responds to the numbers by not making the island go kerplooie. So the numbers are a key, the island is the lock, and when you open it…stuff happens. But what stuff, and to what end, seems wildly unpredictable. We may never get a real answer, but I’m expecting the numbers to make a final appearance, for good or ill. Or perhaps both.
Who are Jacob and un-Locke/the man in black, and what exactly are they fighting over?
We’ve heard about Jacob as far back as Season 2, when Ben referred to him as the ‘great man’ in charge of the Others (although, since this is Ben, he could have been talking about himself). In Season 3 we learned his name, and though his existence remained in doubt the idea of him still managed to retain a powerful presence. Finally, we saw Jacob in the opener of the Season 5 finale, and we learn that not only is he (apparently) immortal, but that he’s got an adversary, the as yet nameless man in black (referred to sometimes as Blackie, Jacob’s adversary, Esau, Samuel, and un-Locke). It would appear that whatever’s been going on between them has been brewing for at least a couple of centuries. They’ve been working against each other, through others on the island, and off, to unknown ends. And while what exactly their game is I can’t even begin to guess, there are rules. One of which, apparently, is that they can’t kill one another. One of the Others, Richard Alpert, is probably the guy most in the know: he’s immortal too, and has been around for a long time, acting as an intermediary for Jacob. Advance word has it that Richard’s role will be expanded this season, so we may learn much from him. But thus far, while Richard hasn’t got Ben’s talent or tendency for deceit, he hasn’t exactly been forthcoming, either.
So what else do we know? Jacob seems to be able to leave the island at will. He also may be precognitive, as he interacts with many of the 815 survivors at key moments long before they ever came to the island. Blackie can assume the forms of, and somehow incorporate the memories of, dead people, as evidenced by his impersonating John Locke. Which also means that any of the dead people encountered on (and possibly off) the island could in fact be him. And that Blackie may himself be the smoke monster. That’s about it.
Why do they hate each other? Or, at least, why does un-Locke hate Jacob? Jacob seems pretty chill about the whole wanting-to-kill-you-thing in that one scene. What are the stakes in their conflict? Will it matter more to the world at large if one wins or the other? If not the world, then how about the 815 survivors? The only clear thing is that in a show where picking sides and playing games is practically a theme song, these guys are those themes personified. Would anyone care to wager that we’ll hear Foreigner’s ‘Head Games’ in the opening moments of the premiere? Speaking of which:
Where will the season opener take place?
It’s been a great tradition with new seasons of Lost the writers throw us into the deep end of the pool. We’re typically shown a new character (or in the case of last season, one we hadn’t met outside of old film footage) in an unfamiliar environment, to the accompaniment of a song. This season? With the big cosmic reset button in the mix, I’m expecting the music, and a new face, but not a new name – I think this will be someone we’ve heard of, whose contribution to the mythology will start to come to light. Exactly who that is and what they do, I have NO idea. Well, maybe these guys…
What about Gerald and Karen DeGroot and Alvar Hanso?
We’ve known they existed since seeing them in clip footage in the grainy orientation film for Dhara Station 3 ‘The Swan,’ in Season 2. However, the show itself has by and large shied away from revealing more details about the enigmatic founders and financier of the Dharma Initiative. The Lost Experience ARG played with a massive conspiracy surrounding Hanso, his purpose in founding Dharma, and its later subversion, but that’s all we’ve gotten; nothing in show screen time.
One thing is certain; the Dharma Initiative didn’t find the island by accident. In The Constant in Season 4, Charles Widmore bids on and buys the ledger for the Black Rock, the mysterious 19th century slave ship which came somehow came to rest in the middle of the island. The surname for the original owner/author? Hanso. This could easily put an earlier generation of the Hanso family on the island at the same time as Jacob and the Man in Black are having their conversation on the beach.
And what about the DeGroots? In Season 5, we learn that Faraday has been off-island to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the DeGroots’ home base and where the decision making brain trust of the Dharma Initiative resides. Did Faraday in fact meet the DeGroots? Did something he learned from them cause him to come back to the island with the sudden reversal of his ‘Whatever happened, happened’ idea of non-paradoxical time travel? While my own efforts at wildly speculating what direction Lost may go in are usually off, I can’t shake the feeling that either the DeGroots or Hanso, or possibly both, may somehow factor into the proceedings during this final season, and we may learn that they have been a deeply felt influence all along. part of is Gerald DeGroot’s appearance – the bushy hair and beard seem designed to give the producers an opportunity to later cast an actor after establishing him in the orientation footage, and let hair and make-up keep continuity intact.
What about Desmond?
‘The rules, rules don’t apply to you. You’re special. You’re uniquely and miraculously special.’ – Faraday, Because You Left
If there’s one character on the island who’s been flung about by destiny like a phone in Russell Crowe’s hotel room, it’s Desmond Hume. Madly in love with his girlfriend Penny, he sought to win the approval of her father Charles Widmore in a uniquely Desmondian way: winning a boat race around the world that Widmore sponsored. Stranded on the island after a storm washed his boat on shore, things only got more complicated for him.
Taken in by one of the last remaining Dharma Initiative employees, Desmond spent the next three years of his life pushing the button at the Swan station. He left when the 815 survivors broke in and tried to flee the island on his boat, but was unsuccessful. Together with Locke, he decided to prevent the button from being pressed, but realized too late that his previous failure to press it in time had caused flight 815 to crash. He used the station’s fail-safe key and was caught in the hatch’s detonation, but somehow managed to survive with two side-effects: his clothes got blown off, and he could see glimpses of the future. And while he could try to alter the future he saw, the universe would ‘course correct’ and ultimately the same thing would wind up happening. He left the island with the Oceanic Six at the end of Season 4, was reunited with his beloved Penny, helped the Six concoct their cover story, and went off to a future of sailing and fathering a child with Penny.
As of Season 5, he seems to have a fluid consciousness that can somehow exist and update itself independently in multiple at multiple points on the timeline; someone can paradoxically move through time to his era, make a change, and Desmond somehow remembers the change at a subsequent time. Out of all the characters on Lost, this makes him uniquely capable in dealing with the aftermath of the Season 5 finale paradox. While many things may change around the 815 survivors, Desmond may be the only one suited to navigate those changes and make sense of what’s happened. While he swore to remove himself and his new family from island affairs, doubtlessly Desmond will be drawn back in to fulfill some key role before the end.
Will Jin and Sun be reunited?
Of all the characters in the past two seasons, fate has been the least kind to Jin and Sun. Separated when Ben caused the freighter Kahana to blow up in the Season 4 finale, Jin was presumed dead and Sun left the island without him. She had their baby Ji-Yeon in the interim, and vowed revenge on Ben for Jin’s death. Then in Season 5 both she and the audience learned that Jin had survived the explosion, and the wait began for one of those happy reunion moments for which fans love Lost.
But it simply wasn’t to be; Jin skipped in time with his fellow castaways to 1974-1977, and when some of the Ajira Flight 316 passengers blinked back to that same period, Sun wasn’t among them. She does learn that Jin is stuck back in that time period, but there’s little she can do about it, other than tag along with Ben and un-Locke as they go the statue, lulled by un-Locke’s promises that he will help her sort this out and find Jin.
But given that thirty years and a nuclear explosion/time paradox separates them, the likelihood of their reuniting feels uncertain at best. And out of all the relationships on Lost, this is the one that has grown the most and had the most at stake for me. Forget the Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet quadrangle, THIS is the relationship on the show that has my emotional investment. I can’t picture a happy ending for Lost that doesn’t include Jin Soo and Sun Hwa Kwon holding little Ji Yeon together for the first time.
What happened to Claire?
When we last saw Claire, she had wandered off with her dearly departed dad Christian and was hanging out with him in Jacob’s cabin, leaving baby Aaron in Sawyer’s and Miles’ care. And since then, outside of a dream sequence…nothing. Claire was completely MIA for Season 5. Outside of Kate, who returned to the island to find her and bring her home so she could once again be a mother to Aaron, no one has really given her much thought. So where did she go and what has she been doing since she walked into the jungle? When the island ‘time skipped’ during Season 5, was she along for the ride? Is she dead? Casting news and promotional images indicate that she’s going to be a part of Season 6, but how big a part and in what capacity remain unclear. Hopefully we’ll get an episode focused on her, but given how she was brushed off last season, I remain wary.
What’s in Hurley’s guitar case?
It’s been treated as an odd, random throwaway, but dude, it’s so not. When Hurley boarded Ajira Flight 316 carrying that guitar case, it was the kind of thing that immediately caused some Lost fans to furrow their brows and speculate, particularly since it seemed like an homage to the long-lost Charlie. But for the rest of the season it was seldom seen and never mentioned. Then as we saw in the Season 5 finale, the guitar case had been given to Hurley by none other than Jacob. Well, technically, Jacob left it in the cab, Hurley told him he forgot his guitar case, Jacob said it wasn’t his, and Hurley kinda hung onto it, but whatever. Clearly Jacob wanted him to have it, and likely for some specific purpose. Right now, in current continuity, Hurley has yet to even look inside the guitar case (I think). Maybe at the time even the writers didn’t know for sure what’s inside, but I would wager that before the series is done, the case and its contents will come into play.
Whose skeletons are in the cave?
‘When all is said and done, people are going to point to the skeletons and say, ‘That is proof that from the very beginning, they always knew that they were going to do this.’’ – Damon Lindelof
No story time has been given to the mysterious skeletons in the cave since they were found by Jack back in Season 1. To date, these are the facts: they’re dead, maybe 50 years gone, it didn’t appear to be foul play, one’s male, the other’s female, and they were found with a pouch containing a black stone and a white stone. They’ve been referred to as Adam and Eve, but the presence of the stones is a thematic touch that suggests they were adversaries in life. If so, who were they? The time travel door that got opened last season creates the possibility that they may be characters we know, but who? Rose and Bernard are the most obvious suspects, and while I wouldn’t call them adversaries, the presence of the black and white stones could always be a more obvious metaphor for their skin color. Judging by the Lindelof quote above, the answer is forthcoming, but what and how soon, like many other answers, remains uncertain.
Why was Libby in the Santa Rosa mental hospital?
OK, this is a VERY minor mystery, but it’s one I’m still curious about. When at the end of the Season 2 episode Dave, we flash back to the Santa Rosa mental hospital and see Libby staring vacantly at Hurley, we never got an account for how she came to be there in the first place. Connections between 815 survivors from their time before the island aren’t uncommon; in fact it’s hard to think of someone who DIDN’T have a drink with Jack’s dad Christain in Sydney before that old reprobate kicked the bucket. OK, only Sawyer and Ana Lucia did, but I digress. For some reason, I want closure on this one, damnit! The casting news that Cynthia Watros will be appearing sometime during Season 6 is encouraging, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.
What’s so special about Walt? And Miles, for that matter?
Ok, from the things we’ve seen and inferred about Miles and Walt, it’s clear: in the world of Lost, psychics exist. They don’t talk about exactly what it is they do or how they do it, which I think is to the show’s benefit. Could you imagine the painful quality of scenes where people stand back, some character stares at the ground like they’re constipated, and their ‘power’ magically makes something happen? Thank God the show has never gone down this road; the last thing Lost ever needed was its own Deanna Troy.
But still, these people exist, and in the terms of the story, we’ve never seen them fulfill a grander purpose other than getting kidnapped or knowing there was a shallow grave under their feet. Does the island want them there for some reason? Is there something significant that we’ll see them do before it all ends?
Just who are the good guys, anyway?
‘We’re the good guys, Michael.’ – Benjamin Linus, Live Together, Die Alone
The themes of games and opposing sides have always been prevalent in Lost, but along with that has come a certain degree of narrative ambiguity. Who should we be rooting for? Who are the ‘good guys’? The Oceanic 815 survivors? The Others? Jack? Locke? Ben Linus? Charles Widmore? Jacob? un-Locke? It seems that in any game, good and evil are relative abstracts that are defined by the players. Will we ultimately find out who we should be rooting for? Or was that never the point?