Eric Fingerman writes: ”What happened to your promised column about all the mysteries we hope would be answered? You asked us to e-mail them to you and I haven’t heard anything back from you or seen a column on it. (Unless I missed it somehow.)”
Eric, you missed nothing. The delay in posting that column had much to do with the recent onslaught of Lost work here at EW, the sudden succession of episodes that addressed (to varying degrees of satisfaction) several of the most-cited questions (What’s Jacob’s backstory? How was the Monster created? Which candidate will become Island guardian? Who are the Adam and Eve skeletons? Does Fake Locke really want to help the castaways get off The Island?), and the simple fact that it’s pretty hard to sift through 2,168 emails, many of which contained not just one question but lists of unranked questions, accompanied by 3,000 word essays about their relevance. They made for great reading, but it made for time-intensive tabulation.
The results of my (extraordinarily unscientific) survey exposed a tricky irony. Fans are unified in seeming to think that Lost is loaded with unanswered questions, and they are unified in resenting anyone who tells them that wanting answers isn’t all that important to a satisfying finale. (Translation: Yes, I did feel the scorch of your flame earlier this week when I took a swipe at ”answer zealots” in my recap of ”What They Died For.” While I do not share your position, I do respect your experience and understand your frustration. I was rude and have been properly shamed.) At the same time, what I’ve found is that when you begin pressing fans on which questions and mysteries they most want to see resolved, there is a striking lack of agreement. One person’s ”What was that all about? They never explained it!” is another person’s ”That’s not a big deal to me. Besides, I think the show gave me enough to figure it out on my own!”
While three questions/mysteries did distinguish themselves from the pack, only one question got more than 10 percent of the vote, and the drop-off after that was steep. (This includes the aforementioned questions/mysteries that recent episodes have answered.) The remainder of this column will focus on the top three vote-getters. I’ll provide my theory for each. There will also be a line that asks ”Will Lost address this question in the finale?” If you don’t want to be spoiled, you may want to skip my responses, which are based on previously reported info, not inside intel. To be super-safe, each of these lines will contain a SPOLER ALERT!, even if my answer is ”I don’t know.”
The top vote getter?
Why was Walt special? Why did the Others kidnap Walt, and what was up with Walt’s apparent supernatural abilities?
Percentage Of the Vote: 15%
Will Lost Address This Question In the Finale? [SPOILER ALERT!] Maybe. During their Times Talk last night, Lost exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof revealed that Walt will be appearing in the series finale.
My Analysis/Theory: I don’t think the Others had any clue when they abducted Walt that he had ”powers.” See: Ben’s line to Michael that Walt was ”more than we bargained for.” Walt was only significant to the Others as a pawn in a larger conspiracy designed to get Jack to operate on Ben’s spine. More specifically: The Others kidnapped Walt in order to manipulate Michael into luring Jack, Kate, and Sawyer into a trap. As for Walt’s ”powers,” this is where I break ranks with many Lost fans. Over time, I have come to accept that the Lost world allows for the existence of inexplicable supernatural phenomenon and allows for people with inexplicable paranormal abilities. Some, like Miles, understand how to use these powers. Some, like Walt, do not. I prefer to see their ”powers” or ”curses” as fantastic, metaphorical expressions of their character issues. BOTTOM LINE: I’d always take more info on the matter — but I don’t feel like I need further resolution of Walt.
NEXT: No Other babies?
Why couldn’t the pregnant women of the Others bring their children to term on The Island?
Percentage Of the Vote: 9%
Will Lost Address This Question In the Finale? [SPOILER ALERT!] I don’t know.
My Analysis/Theory: Jacob has the power to grant protection, long life, and perhaps other blessings to the human beings on his Island. He is protector of the Source, a maelstrom of light that represents life, death, and rebirth. Every person in the Lostverse possesses an equal portion of the light, making every living person in this fictional world a fundamentally spiritual, even supernatural entity. (Perhaps this explains the super-abilities of Walt, Hurley, Miles — they are more attuned to the supernatural power that everyone possesses.) Ergo, it is reasonable to theorize that Jacob can regulate the life-giving energy of The Island. He can giveth it — and he can taketh it away. It’s my belief that Jacob used his powers to prevent the Others from reproducing because he deemed their community unworthy of The Island and existing at cross-purposes with his goals. It’s basically an old school, Old Testament plague — a judgment against a fallen, unfaithful nation. Blame Ben. It’s likely that Ben was never supposed to be the leader of the Others. Regardless, Ben began using the Others as a means to an end — the fulfillment of his family yearnings and desire to be important. He took the Others out of the jungle (perhaps away from the Temple, too?) and made them play house in Dharmaville. Under his leadership, the Others became more concerned with worldly values than the timeless, spiritual concerns of The Island. They became more invested in their prosperity than serving Jacob. So Jacob subverted the Others by negating the one thing every society needs to do successfully in order to endure: the ability to reproduce. Or he could have merely been trying to get Ben to reconsider his priorities — or motivate the Others to revolt against him. Indeed, remember in season 3, Richard was quietly conspiring to replace Ben with Locke. Had he been successful, I wonder if Jacob would have lifted his curse. BOTTOM LINE: I am content with my theory/interpretation — but as with all my theories, I am not wedded to it, and I am open to being wrong. In other words: It would be great if we got a more explicit answer or additional info that allowed us to come to a more confident conclusion.
NEXT: Jacob: It’s in his touch
The Ajira 316 Time Travel Split: Why did Jack, Kate, Sayid, and Hurley get sent back to 1977 while everyone else (including Ben and Sun) remained in the present?
Percentage Of the Vote: 7%
Will Lost Address This Question In the Finale? [SPOILER ALERT!] I don’t know, but Lindelof and Cuse did recently indicate that Eloise Hawking will appear in the finale and shed some additional light on Lost‘s time-travel mysteries.
My Analysis/theory: I resolve this conundrum via a theory I’ve developed about another Lost mystery: the true significance of Jacob’s touches. Remember when Mother told Young Jacob and Boy In Black: ”I have made it so you can never hurt each other?” I think what she did was create a dependent link between them; they needed each other to survive. Put another way: the Guardian has the ability to create communities. Now, these communities can express themselves as they wish. They can grow and mature; they can stagnate and implode. They can become functional and vibrant; they can become dysfunctional and corrupt. Regardless, they are linked. No matter what they do, the Guardian’s blessing/curse will work in the lives of each member of the community to bring them together. They can fight it — but if they do, they will ultimately suffer. Live together, die alone.
This is what happened when Jacob touched his selected castaways. They became spiritually bonded to each other. They are dependent on each other for survival; they are supposed to be together. When Jack, Kate, Sayid, and Hurley came within proximity of The Island via Ajira 316, they were automatically reunited with fellow touches Sawyer and Jin. Locke’s body didn’t make the quantum leap because he was dead, and Sun didn’t make the leap for one of two reasons: (1) She had become a mother, and Jacob released her from the compact, just as he released Kate from the obligation of being a candidate; or (2) Sun was never a candidate to begin with. As we saw in Jacob’s cave, there was only one Kwon written on the ceiling. My theory is that Jin was Jacob’s ”Kwon” candidate all along. (This theory also holds if you believe that ”Kwon” refers to Ji Yeon.)
BOTTOM LINE: Honestly, this question has always bugged me, too. I’d love to get more info. I would also like to get more info about the Dharma palette drop and all the intrigue surrounding Horace Goodspeed’s haunted cabin — two questions among several that tied for fourth place with 4% of the vote. The good news for Lost fans is that the producers plan to include content on the season 6 DVD collection that addresses a selection of unresolved matters that the series finale won’t address.
With that, I bring this Doc Jensen column to a somewhat hasty close. Friday deadlines loom at the magazine. However, our end of Lost coverage has just begun. I’ll be posting a round-up of reader mail and fan theories on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, I’ll have stuff for you before and after the finale — including some thoughts from Josh Holloway on the resolution of one long-running Lost subplot that’s always meant a great deal to a subset of fans known as ‘shippers. Who will Kate choose: Jack or Sawyer? I think you’re going to want to hear what Josh has to say.
No mushy goodbyes, no sentimentality — not yet. We’ve still got thousands and thousands and thousands of words to go!