Thursday, March 24, 2016

12 Unsolved Mysteries of Lost (That Still Bother Me)

Lost week continues with a look now at what the fanboys are truly after, the mysteries.  Yes, it's time to admit that while I like Carlton and Damon's ending of the show (we'll get there later this week, don't you worry), there are a number of missing pieces of information that we just never learned on the show that still, to this day, have not been in a canon source (side note: the Lost Encyclopedia is cool and all, but it has way too many inconsistencies to be counted as canon-if it's not in the main series or the mobisodes I'm not counting it as gospel, is all I'm saying).  While this list could probably be 100 bullet points long, I've decided to keep it to a mere twelve for the sake of brevity and my sanity.  As always, this gets spoiler-y and hypothetical, so proceed with caution.

Honorable Mention: On Tuesday (click the Lost tag at the bottom of this post and you can read all of this week's articles), I did an article on a number of different side characters who have a lot of mysteries surrounding them.  As Naomi, Ilana, Libby, and Mikhail were already on that list, it doesn't make sense that I use their spots here.  Make sure and check out that article if you like this one, though, as it has many, many more mysteries.

12. What's the Deal with the Candidates?

All right, so I know this one was theoretically explained to me in "What They Died For," which is why it's at the bottom of the list, but there's too many inconsistencies in the selection and elimination of the candidates for me not to put it on the list.  For starters, why are living people crossed off?  I get that Jacob took Kate off the list because she was a mother, and was therefore still a candidate in theory but why didn't he cross off the Kwons, who had a child as well, as they are both parents?  Additionally, if the idea is that someone shouldn't be on the wall if they don't have anyone in the world, then why is Miles crossed off, as he is pretty much alone in the entire world and should theoretically still be a candidate as he's living and still on the island (if wanting to get off the island is precluding him, wouldn't Sawyer also be off the list as well?).

Additionally, is there a limit per Jacob of how many candidates you're allowed to have?  Does the list start over with Hurley, or is someone like Sawyer still on the list?  What exactly qualifies someone, as there have certainly been more than 360 people on the island in the course of Jacob's reign as island protector?  The fact that they never explained this thoroughly and properly may be the reason that fanboys revolted against the finale.

11. Nathan's Agenda

This is perhaps just a pebble in my shoe, as there may, in fact, be nothing to this mystery and I'm just reading into something that's not there.  Nathan, for those that don't remember such a small charcter, was the guy that Ana Lucia first suspected of being an Other in "The Other 48 Days" before it was finally revealed that it was Goodwin.  However, Nathan was alone in the jungle for two hours and did act quite suspiciously.

Occum's razor clearly states that what we see is what we get here, with Nathan simply being a private guy who randomly went into the jungle to explore for two hours, and that Goodwin used him as a scapegoat to gain more time with Ana Lucia and the Tailies.  After all, Ethan also killed Steve (or was it Scott-I can never remember) and attempted to kill Charlie, and neither of them were particularly bad people.  The Others' sense of morality, especially under Ben's leadership, was questionable at best.

I have long thought, however, that Nathan may have been more than what was given to us in the episode.  After all, the Kahana and Ajira 316 both had people working for multiple different sides (Jacob, Ben, and Charles Widmore)-it stands to reason that something as significant as Oceanic 815 would also have people that were working for one of them.  I still think Libby may have been working for Widmore in some capacity, but perhaps Nathan was instead/also?  It would make sense as to why Goodwin disliked him (being on Ben's side) and would also show why he was out in the jungle, perhaps scouting places for the Kahana crew to land that were currently uninhabited?

10. Daniel's Work in Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan gained about a thousand cool points in my book when it turned out Daniel Faraday was randomly leaving the island to do research there, but for some reason we never figure out what that research was.  Considering that Daniel's research is always focused on time and is frequently getting everyone into trouble, could he perhaps have been fulfilling his own destiny?

I think the most logical explanation is that Dan was trying to create the Lamppost Station, as he knew the island would soon be too difficult to track and they'd need some way of eventually getting back to the island.  This would make sense since Eloise Hawking described the creator of the Lamppost as "a very clever man" and she hardly would have taken such a tone with Pierre Chang or one of the Hansos.

If not this, it's difficult to grasp what he could possibly have been working on there.  It could have been something largely inconsequential, a red herring of sorts, but that doesn't seem like Lost, and in particular the care the writers' put into this character so my gut still says it was the lamppost.

9. How Big is the Island?!?

Perhaps the single best shot in the entire show may be in "A Tale of Two Cities" when we see the crash from the perspective of the Others, and we get an overhead shot of the island and realize the mammoth size of the rock.  The size of the island, which I've always felt was underestimated a bit by everyone there, has always been a pet peeve of mine.

Looking at Rousseau's maps (and if anyone knew the island, it would be her), the island was about 40 miles by 30 miles, but it always felt considerably larger than that.  The reality is that the show itself was shot in and around Oahu, a much larger island than what is depicted on the show, and there is at least some evidence that the island itself is being vastly misjudged by the inhabitants in terms of its size.

After all, even characters such as Danielle and Ben, people who have spent much of their life on the island, come across places that they've never seen properly before like Mikhail's house for Danielle and the foot of the statue for Ben (presumably, since he never actually meets Jacob), so it's worth noting that there are likely parts of the island they haven't even seen and as a result it's almost surely bigger than expected and could have spots that aren't mapped.  Additionally, Ben's cartography skills are questionable at best, as Hydra Island, which he claims as being twice the size of Alcatraz, is clearly considerably bigger than that.

8. Ben's Money

I think the show is relatively clear as to how Charles Widmore made most of his fortune (it's likely he used the curative properties of the island to create a medical empire), but as Ben had a disdain for such a thing, how is it that Ben had so much money?  He regularly travels in style when he leaves the island, and apparently has vast sums of money, enough so that he can pay Miles $3.2 million without that much trouble.  Where does this money come from?

The show actually, in my opinion, gives no indication on this one.  While Charles has his industries and Jacob never really boasts of money in a major way, Ben's access to cash is completely unknown.  The best postulate I can think of is that there is a network of Others (such as Jill and Eloise) who are out in the real world and that they are somehow gaining money or stealing it in some fashion for the good of the island, but this is a perplexing issue that I just can't get my hands around.  Is it possible that Ben is using some of Charles' money that he stole before he had him exiled?  Is there residuals still coming in from the Dharma Initiative or the Hanso Foundation?  We never are able to tell, which is a shame as it's one of the biggest cloaks in Ben's arsenal.

7. I Want More About the Statue

This mystery was probably already solved.  Taweret, as the statue was identified, was likely built in order to solve some of the island's issues with fertility (though, admittedly, women clearly were able to give birth with relative ease at some point in the island's history as evidenced by the births of Ethan and Miles), and was almost certainly built by one of the earlier civilizations that we see with Mother, MIB, and Jacob late in "Across the Sea."

However, how did this civilization get there, and why would they have spent so much time on such a gigantic statue?  It's likely meant to be a group of ancient Egyptians, but how would they have gotten onto the island as the technology isn't there for ancient Egyptians to have made it to the Pacific Ocean (and have we seen enough stone deposits on the island to build such a statue?).  If it's the case that they were in the Mediterranean Sea, does that also mean the island could well have been in the Mediterranean at some point, and could it again (as it's more difficult in such a highly-trafficked seaport to hide such a large island)?  Additionally, if that's the case why doesn't the island ever go to a considerably colder climate, and not just stay in temperate regions that can support jungle life?

And are we really to believe the Black Rock was strong and high enough to knock the statue into the ocean, and considering its large amount of rock and the fact that it fell only 150 years ago, shouldn't we still see remnants of it in the nearby jungle or the ocean?  If, when the island moves, they take Hydra island with it then surely large chunks of the statue should still be in the shallow water near the shore.

6. The Man-in-Black's Name

Give the guy a name.  Esau, Samuel, Barry-the guy clearly had a name and deserved to have one mentioned.

5. Why didn't the Others time travel to 1977?

This one has bothered me for a while, not because it has too many answers, but because I feel like it's one of those rare circumstances that the writers don't have an explanation for why something happened.  As a refresher, when the island stopped moving because of John Locke, some of the island's inhabitants (Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Jin, and Daniel) all went to 1977 and were part of the Dharma Initiative and two stayed on the Island (Rose and Bernard).  The Others, however stayed in the present day rather than going back in time.  Why was this?

One could argue that it was the island telling apart people who "didn't belong" (after all, all of the Oceanic 815 flight members moved on), but that isn't quite true, as Cindy, Zach, and Emma (and likely others who were kidnapped from the tail section) were still in the present day.  If you counter that they were part of the Others more than Oceanic 815 at that point (I told you this article was getting nerdy), it's still impossible to explain what happened on Ajira 316 (and let's not forget that Claire also didn't time travel and she was an enemy of the Others).  Here, when the plane crashed, most of the survivors stayed in the present day, but Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid were all pushed into 1977 with the rest of Oceanic 815.  This would continue with the theory that Oceanic didn't belong, but then why did Sun not go back with them, instead staying with the Ajira survivors?

About the only explanation that works is that Sun didn't go back because she wasn't a candidate, but even that has faulty logic, as Jacob indicated in "What They Died For" that both the Kwons were originally candidates, and if Kate (who was crossed off the list at the time) was able to go back, then shouldn't Sun have gone back (and for that matter, perhaps even Ben who is also on the wall?).  It's a mystery that feels like there's no reasonable explanation for, and perhaps was just done to delay the Jin-and-Sun reunion.

4. Annie

Ahh, yes, I couldn't skip over Annie, the only person that Benjamin Linus ever cared about with the exception of himself and Alex.  A childhood friend of Ben's, and one of the few people that showed him any kindness, there is little information about her other than the fact that she likely evacuated the island in 1977 with the other children.  It's hard to imagine Ben, who has such an obsessive personality, not tracking down the only girl that he ever had any connection with until Juliet, but if he did find her, who is she?  Is Annie hiding in plain sight as an Other or another person of significance to the Island?

The most logical explanation is that she either died before Ben's present-day story began or he simply couldn't find her as the years went on, but this doesn't quite posit with likelihood (people like Charlotte, Miles, and Lara Chang were all able to flee the island during the Incident without, well, incident), and Ben's personality doesn't allow for a lack of curiosity.  Is she in fact Harper Stanhope?  Jill?  Perhaps even the more salacious option of her being Helen Norwood (thus both John and Ben only ever loved the same woman)?  There's so many possibilities, I wish the show had found a way to show it as the year's went on, especially if she's meant to be someone we've already met.

3. Why Did the Others Kidnap Certain People?

Here's perhaps one of the biggest misses in Lost history, at least in my opinion, as it happened so early on in the series and we truly never got a sense of why certain people were selected by the Others and not other people when it came to recruitment.

After all, there's no logic here.  It makes sense that in a society where children are impossible to conceive that they would take children and pregnant women (so Zach, Emma, and Claire make sense as targets), but why would they go after Eko, and not initially Cindy?  There's very little consistency here.  It can't just be that they are "good" people, after all, as Libby and Bernard were good people and weren't targeted by the Others, and there were certainly good people like Rose and Hurley in the middle section of the plane.

It's also a possibility that they only went after people who weren't candidates (Cindy's name is not on the lighthouse or cave wall, and while we don't know Zach and Emma's last name, they could well not be on the wall as well), but this discards both that Claire was kidnapped (she was a candidate) and that they attempted to kidnap Eko (who was also a candidate).  Without some sort of explanation, this, like the time travel selectivity, will remain what looks like an inconsistency in the writers' room.

2. What Did Locke See When He Saw the Smoke Monster?

Very early in Season 1 (in "White Rabbit", I believe), John is the first of the castaways who gets a proper look at the smoke monster, and he describes what he sees as "beautiful."  Later, in "The Cost of Living" he discusses what he sees with Eko as a beautiful white light.

The question here is, why would the Smoke Monster appear to John as a white light when nearly everyone else he comes across as something of a trickster or trying to kill that person if they are a candidate, which of course John was at the time.  Was this a way of getting John to pursue his destiny of going to the Hatch?  If so, how would the Man in Black have known that John would find the Hatch?  If the Man-in-Black is so omnipotent, wouldn't he have knowledge of him never leaving the island?

Is it a case where the Smoke Monster, because he would eventually inhabit John Locke, he couldn't hide certain parts of his true self to John?  It's worth noting that there are only three people that we see as living on the island who are inhabited later by the Man-in-Black.  One of those people is John, the other two are Walt and Alex Rousseau-ever other person is dead by the time they get to the island (Isabella, Christian, etc) or die shortly upon landing (Yemi).  Walt's appearances happen while he's still alive and may be under the category of "Magic Walt" and we never actually see Alex encounter the Smoke Monster during the series.  Could it be that if you are inhabited later by the Man in Black you get to see your own destiny?  It's a theory that was never answered on the show, but it's worth pondering.

1. What Rules Did Charles Widmore Break?

I talked about Charles Widmore with the side character story, but I couldn't let this one slide by without at least mention as the Rules seem to have such forceful powers in the show.  We see the rules in how Jacob can't kill his brother (and vice versa), but the rules of Charles and Benjamin's agreement are far different.  For starters, it's not clear why these two have rules and, say, we don't have the same rules between other leaders of the Others.  Ben, after all, kills John who is a leader of the Others-if it's a case where the leaders can't kill each other, it's not particularly binding, clearly.

If it's just between Charles and Ben, then the question is why and who enforces them?  These are ruthless men, and it seems unlikely that they would stick to such a pact.  Was there a magical aspect of their agreement, a way to enforce that they can never return to the island if they were to harm each other?  And if that's the case, then how come Charles was able to return if his people shot Alex?  The complications here are pretty extreme, and quite frankly I've never totally sorted through all of the clauses of these rules, which is why I wish they had been more explicitly explained as they govern a great deal of the final three seasons of the show.

There it is-there's dozens more so posit your favorite unsolved mysteries (and potential solutions) below in the comments!

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