108 Answers to LOST's Supposedly Unanswered Questions

Damon Lindelof has recently come under fire for Prometheus, the sort-of-a-prequel but actually completely a prequel to Alien. People on the INTERNET are saying that the lack of answers in PromETHEUS is just like the lack of answers in one of Lindelof's other popular projects, LOST. LOST comes up a lot when answers are involved. It was even recently mentioned in Buzzfeed's "32 Really Frustrating Things in Life."

What the ... Faraday?

LOST is also mentioned every May during finale season. Many Googleable lists of the "X Worst Finales Ever" will pop up, and LOST is usually in the number one slot, right above Battlestar Galactica and Friends. Battlestar Galactica because hearing "I'm an angel of God" in the very first episode makes a person surprised and angry when a main character turns out to be an angel of God. Friends is of course on these lists because of its final episode, "The One Where Joey Became Joey." Although, to be fair, it was still better than the Joey premiere episode, "I Miss My Fucking Friends."

"I'll be there for you," they said. "Like I was there for THEM," they said.

Now, I'm not very subtle about my love for LOST. I have made too many or not enough songs about it, but I still know that the show had problems. Nothing happened for about a season and a half, certain characters existed, etc. But "unanswered questions" is not among the show's flaws. You might not LIKE the answers, but they exist, and I can go no further in life without revealing them to you. I've already ruined The Dark Knight Rises for everyone, so I might as well improve LOST for you to even it out. I have your answers. You can trust me, because I'm a person typing to you on the Internet. Actually, just ask Damon Lindelof:

That tweet refers to a LOST Answers blog that I update infrequently, by which I mean "rarely," so, yeah, using only "infrequently" would have worked just fine. On said blog, you can find information on why certain people weren't at the Church, why Jack and Juliet's Sideways son was actually Jack and Kate's real-life son, and many other apparently creator-approved explanations of the mysteries of LOST.

So. Now that I'm officially creator-approved, let's get to it.

Spoiler Alert.

QUESTION 1: "So, it was purgatory, yeah? Right? YEAH?!?"


Apparently a lot of people think that the Island was purgatory and everyone was dead the whole time. In a recent the Verge interview, Lindelof was asked why he made the whole show bloody purgatory. Lindelof spent the next few minutes explaining to the interviewer that everything on the Island happened in real life and the show was not, in fact, purgatory. Of course, all Lindelof had to do was show him a line from the finale: "Everything that's happened to you is real." Pretty straight forward, but maybe it would have helped if the Architect from The Matrix said it.

"... ergo, the Island is a series of tubes. Ergo, other stuff."

The likely cause for this false theory is that over the credits of the finale, ABC chose to show images of the crashed plane in silence, with no characters around. It was apparently meant to simply allow the audience to reflect on the series, not to claim anything about the plot of the show. The characters did not die when their plane crashed. I COULD stress that enough, but I guess I just don't want to take the time.

QUESTION 2: What is the Island?
ANSWER 2: Magic.

The longer answer for this is "The Island is a conscious place that can travel through time and space. It contains the source of all life. Water and Light combine at its center to form an energy that fuels Life, Death and Rebirth throughout existence. The Island, like all life, can make choices and be manipulated. If the light at the Source of the Island ever goes out, everything ends."

But the shorter answer is still "Magic." Magic is actually the answer to many Unanswered Questions, and if you hate that fact, then LOST just wasn't for you. Since the beginning, the central argument in the show was about Science vs. Faith. As it turns out, the winner of that battle is "a little bit of both." Our protagonist Jack started out as a man of Science, and he saved the world after he learned to balance his beliefs with his new found Faith in the Island. John Locke, on the other hand, operated on blind faith, and it broke him. He helped save the Island, but he also ended up being the face of the villain. On the other hand, Jack, the balanced one, was our hero.


So, yeah, Science won a little and Faith won a little. Among the show's sci-fi elements, like time travel and pushing a button every 108 minutes to stop the end of the world, there is also magic and ghosts and an afterlife. There is the unexplainable; a Monster in the jungle, and Magic on Magic Island.

QUESTION 3: OK, but what's the deal with Walt?
ANSWER 3: Also, what's the deal with airplane food?

This is a type of question asked frequently. "What's the deal with [any number of things]?" or "What's up with [any number of things]?" These aren't really questions, because they don't actually know what they're asking. The deal with airplane food is that it's food of varying quality that can be sold or given free on airplanes. What's up with the numbers is that they were the six remaining numbered Candidates to replace Jacob as Protector of the Island.

So, OK. Walt. What's the deal with him? Let's go with the longer answer again ...

Walt was always "special." He had premonitions, he attracted birds like a freaky magic bird kid and he had a clear connection to the Island. Walt was eventually kidnapped by the Others and studied by them, because he was a very special child. Unfortunately, Walt's father was a bit of a humongous wang who ended up murdering two people and ripping Walt away from the Island; away from his destiny. He stayed off the Island and lost his father. That's what we saw, so that's the deal with him, right? It's a sad answer, but some answers are sad. "What's the deal with John Locke?" He thought he was special until he attempted to kill himself. Ben convinced him not to, and then he murdered John. Sad already, and then Locke spent the entire end of the series looking like the villain. Pretty sad story, as was Walt's, but that's what happened.

Although, for even more on Walt, we can thankfully watch this extra epilogue from the Season 6 DVD:

In the epilogue, Ben Linus convinces Walt to escape Santa Rosa Mental Hospital in order to return to the Island. Ben told him he needed to help his father, Michael. We can easily presume from this that Hurley would eventually finish cleaning up the mess Jacob and Brother made, and he would step down for Walt to take over. That's what happens to Walt eventually, in another story we don't need to see. Chances are, he eventually became Island Protector and lived for hundreds of years, which is why he wasn't in the Church at the end. As Jack's father says, the people in the Church were there because the time they spent together was "The most important time of their life." Walt had other people to move on with, from HIS most important time. A time of peace and safety on the Island, with King Walt and Aaron and Ji Yeon, and probably Vincent still. We can only assume that Walt just Richard Alperted the situation and made Vincent immortal with his Magic Water and Light powers.

QUESTION 4: Did that bomb ... do something?
ANSWER 4: Yes! And furthermore ... !

To understand this, we need to understand the nature of Time in LOST. The rule that the show has given us is "Whatever happened, happened." It's a paradox-correcting rule, and it eliminates the idea of linear time or circular time. It's more like a big splat of paint on a wall. Everything in the past, present and future (which is to say, everything) happened at once. One big splatter of Magic Water and Light on a wall that creates every moment of existence. The Magic Water and Light of Life explodes in a giant splatter of Everything. And whatever happens in that splat, happens.

So at the end of Season 5, Jacob's Candidates are in the '70s and the Incident is about to occur. The Incident that caused the creation of the Hatch, which caused the survivors to crash on the Island in the first place. 1970s DHARMA has drilled a hole in a particularly large pocket of Magic Island Energy, and it starts to escape, grow and collapse in on itself. If the survivors can set off the nuclear device Jughead, the Magic Island Energy will neutralize and the Incident will be avoided. The survivors would never have come to the Island at all. Time fixed.

Pictured: Stock photo of Time.

Except that's not how Time works. Everything that happened, happened. In the present, Jughead was sitting in the Hatch, waiting to be detonated as a Failsafe if someone didn't push the button. Sayid mentioned the nuclear device, Jughead, when they first arrived at the Hatch. Back in the '70s, the bomb didn't go off. The Incident continued, but eventually enough construction equipment got sucked down and plugged the hole. The bomb was kept in the Hatch for later use.

But let's look at the Sideways World from Season 6. In it, the Island is dead at the bottom of the ocean. Ben's father speaks of having left the Island years ago, so we know it existed when they were on it: right before the Incident. This Sideways World is a reality where Juliet DID blow up the bomb, and the Island sank. And a sunken Island means death for everyone; an Afterlife. The lack of Island also means that the Hatch was never built, so the plane never came to the Island, so they never went back in time to blow up the bomb that created the world in the first place. To correct this, the rules of Time have to create a second reality that interacts with and affects the original timeline. Two realities that exist at once, and occur because of each other. It's sort of like a second splat on the wall. It's smaller, but it still affects the shape and color of the original splatter. The only reason Desmond unplugged the Island and continued the Regular World's existence is because he got a vision of the Sideways World. The only reason the Sideways World exists is because of actions taken in the Regular World. Both realities happened, because whatever splatted, splatted.

As Jack's father said in and about the Sideways World, "This place is a gift you gave yourselves." Through chance, free will and paradox-correcting Magic Paint, a second Purgatorial Splat was created by these people. In this splat, the characters can say goodbye and forgive each other before returning to the Magic Light and Water that creates all life. These Oceanic passengers went through a very important time on the Island. They saved the world and created a place they could meet one last time, before moving on.

QUESTION 5: Who built the Statue?
ANSWER 5: Why?

The longer answer here is "Egyptians." The longest answer is "Egyptians, probably."

This is in another category of question that doesn't work. It's the same as wanting to know where Jacob's mother came from. Chances are the answer is "brought there by someone else." OK, then where did THAT person come from? Who was THAT person's mother or father? This is information that belongs in an appendix of an Extended Universe Encyclopedia, not the narrative of a television show. If you want to learn more about Midi-chlorians and who Boba Fett's father is, just get the Expansion Guide. The Statue wasn't there because it was integral to the plot. It was there to enrich the setting in which the story played out.

QUESTION 6: Who was in that cabin?
ANSWER 6: The Island.

An important thing people forget about LOST is that from the beginning, the Island was a character. The finale gave almost all of the characters perfect, appropriate send-offs. The character of the Island, however, didn't get a satisfying end. From the beginning, the Island gave Locke visions and had a mysterious agenda. It wanted things. Yes, Jacob and the Monster manipulated certain events, but there were things even they didn't understand. They were, after all, essentially kids when they took on their forms and roles on the Island. There are rules they don't understand and things at play that they can't comprehend. That's the Island. It is the Universe. It's the Rules. It's God. It needs Jack to go back. It won't let Michael kill himself. It is a being as well as a place. A being that Jacob doesn't understand, but is sworn to protect.

So, many questions can honestly be answered with "The Island did it." The cabin was a place that moved around seemingly at random. Characters would often peer in and see their own eye reflecting back at them. John Locke saw a wigged version of himself sitting in a rocking chair in the cabin. The Monster, as we were told, can only take the forms of people who are dead. Moving a cabin or location around is not a power attributed to the Smoke Monster, or Jacob. The only thing with the power to move objects through time is the Island itself. Locke even had a vision about where to the find the cabin. Visions aren't a Smoke Monster or a Jacob game. They're an Island game.

So if Existence and the Sideways World are two splatters of paint, then the Island is the paint brush. It is a conscious entity that affects how the paint splatters. Yes, the Smoke Monster played a long con to kill Jacob. Jacob played a long con to get rid of Smokey and to get Jack & Co. to fix the Island. The Island, however, was playing the longest con. Throughout its existence, it uses MAGIC ISLAND MAGIC to push people into making certain decisions that could lead to its survival.

QUESTION 7: I don't like those answers.
ANSWER 7: That's not a question?

It's not.

QUESTION 8: What do you have to say about me not liking those answers?
ANSWER 8: You were watching the wrong show, or watching the show wrong, so I guess yeah, you didn't like it.

There was a certain expectation LOST presented for itself in the pilot. Tell the audience what happens to the characters, and explain the questions raised in the first episode. We know what the Island is, what the Monster was, why there were polar bears on the Island, why the characters were brought to the Island, and what happened to them. They saved the world.

Also, Magic was involved.

QUESTION BONUS: What WAS The Smoke Monster?
ANSWER BONUS: Half of an Island Protector.

(Author's Note: I allude later on that Jack eventually became The Smoke Monster. It didn't seem to fit the conceit of the piece, but enough people have asked me about it that I'm including it here. I'll try to keep it "brief" and "simple", citing only information we were given in the show.)

Jack and The Smoke Mother

The Mother was the Protector of the Island.

The Mother explained to her sons that going into The Source would result in a fate worse than death (i.e.- Becoming a Smoke Monster).

The Mother destroyed the Man in Black's village in a most Smoke Monstery of ways, seen here:

What I'm getting at here is that, as Protector of the Island, Mother both had the powers of Jacob, and was a Smoke Monster. She split her duties and powers between her two sons, and made it so they could not kill each other. It would make sense that the Protector of Important Magic Island would be the incredibly powerful cloud of black smoke that can read people's memories and kill them in seconds. Rousseau was right: The black smoke IS a security system. A very important one, meant to patrol the Island and protect it for as long as it can. Mother was this being, and she also had the power of Jacob: to make rules, to give others abilities, etc. Full-on Island Protector.

But she couldn't decide which was deserving of the role. She loved them both. So she made it so each would get a part of her. The Gray Mother split herself into dark and light. The problem here is that The Man in Black became the Smoke Monster. He became a security system that wanted to leave its post. That was problem with the Broken Island for so long: One of its protectors had no interest in protecting anything. Both protectors wanted the other dead, but neither could kill the other. Thankfully, Oceanic 815 crashed and Jack was eventually all "Fine, I'll save the world."

So. How are Smoke Monsters made? They dip themselves into The Source. Into the Water and Light. Jacob tossed his Brother down and then his Brother cracked his skull, fell into The Source, and emerged as the new Smoke Monster. Later, Jacob found his body draped over a nearby rock and tree:

The Water and Light absorbs the essence of a person and turns them into a Smoke Monster. But they don't need the person's body. So The Source moved the body outside.

So what happened to Jack in the finale? He went down to The Source. Desmond unplugged the Island and was unaffected because of his Magic Time Brain. Jack had to plug it up again, though, and the Water and Light DID affect him. He sacrificed himself because he knew the Water and Light would kill him.

But the Water and Light doesn't kill you. We've SEEN what it does. It turns someone into a Smoke Monster, into a Protector of The Island. The person needs to be dead, though, as The Man In Black was dead when he reached The Source. Then it spits out the body. So after Jack was consumed by Light and Water, where did we next see him?

The same place The Man In Black showed up.

The Source spit Jack out once it absorbed his essence for Smoke Monstering. But Jack wasn't dead yet. He was stabbed and bleeding, but not dead yet. Not like the Man in Black already was when he fell into The Source. So Jack walked into the reeds, lied down with a dog, and died. His eye closed. The show was over.

But then, because Jack was now finally dead, a new Smoke Monster burst from The Source. And this time, it was a Security System that wanted to stay. One that even needed to stay. Jack's whole arc of the show ended with himneedingto stay on the Island and to do whatever he could to protect it. He believed in the Island, and he believed that he belonged there. Now he was even more correct than he thought. Jack could now happily float around in his new form, helping Hurley clean up Jacob's mess, and protect the Island he loved, in the form of something he once feared. He did this for many many years, until Hurley's reign ended and they could both pass off their power and position to Walt, the next true Protector of The Island.

Now let's go to the Sideways, where Jack keptalmostremembering his life. Every other character had one moment when they remembered everything that ever happened to them. Jack, on the other hand, needed several. A moment with Locke, a moment with Kate. He kept not quite being able to remember. Now, one could argue that this is just because he's Jack. He's stubborn and resistant, and just needed a while. However, he wasn't that way in the Sideways. That was one of the main points in that world. Everyone had evolved and grown in their lives, and they displayed the traits they'd developed in their time on the Island. Sideways Jack was not as stubborn as Real Life Jack.

SO. What's my point? Jack spent we-don't-know-how-long as a Smoke Monster on the Island. It could have been years or decades or centuries. Hurley lived a life just as long, but he never changed forms. Hurley remained himself. Jack, however, was Smoke Monster Jack. We saw what being a Smoke Monster can do to a person. As Mother said, it can be "worse than death". You lose some of yourself. You take the form of other people, you float around asblack smoke. Yes, its essence is you, but much of you is lost over the years.

Jack needed those extra pushes in the Sideways world, because he was so far away from it. He spent his life as Jack, but then he spent X amount of years as another entity. He lost a bit of himself, and each time Locke or Kate touched him in the Sideways, he got a little closer to remembering his life before the Smoke. He needed a drastic wake-up call like his father explaining everything to him in order to truly wake up from his life.

Ok, then. On to the rest...

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Cody Johnston

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