LOST: Speculative Answers to Remaining Questions (SPOILERS!)

I was quite disappointed in the end of LOST. While I’m happy to leave some questions left unanswered (like “what is the island anyway?”), there were some things that were either unanswered or glazed over that detract from my enjoyment of the overall series and leave me wondering what message the series put forward. Reason vs. faith, fate vs. free will, loyalty, and the problems of secrecy were recurring themes throughout the series, and the themes seem somewhat unresolved.

The characters are of course rewarded with heaven in the end, but was this because of their faith, loyalty, etc. or was that irrelevant? Did the characters who died serving Jacob die for a just cause? Could all of this have been avoided if just a few people had been more forthcoming about what was going on on the island? I don’t know.

I do have a few speculative answers for some of the nagging questions remaining after the finale.

Q: Why was it so important to keep Smokey from leaving the island? Was it really worth the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people to keep him there? Why was Jacob willing to risk destroying the entire island (and therefore the light he was sworn to protect) just to keep his nameless brother there? As far as we saw, Smokey never had any malicious intent – he was born on the island and desperately wanted to see the world, but his possessive “mother” didn’t want him to leave.

A: This one really bothers me because the whole point of the series comes down to this. So I’ve come to the two possible conclusions:

1) Jacob just wanted to keep Smokey there because he was still pissed about the death of their “mother” and jealous of her obvious preference of Smokey. The moral of the story: faith, secrecy, and jealous are bad and most of the characters died for no reason.

2) When Smokey went into the light, he was infected with some sort of unspeakable evil – the same evil that the island was designed to contain. Letting him leave the island would mean certain doom for the rest of the world. If it came down to destroying the whole island to keep him from leaving, so be it – the whole world was fucked if he left. The moral of the story: sometimes you’ve just got to have faith.

I’d prefer answer # 1, but I have the feeling that if this were what the creators were intending, it would have been made more clear. Considering the happy-go-lucky trip to heaven for the main characters at the end, I’m guessing 2) is the real answer. However, it could be that the creators wanted to leave it deliberately ambiguous. Either way, it’s weak.

Q: What were the “rules”? If Smokey could look like different people, and DHARMA was routinely coming and going from the island via submarine, why didn’t he just kill one of them, stash the body, take their form, and leave the island? Why did he want to kill the candidates?

A: The rules were some form of magic that only the protectors of the island could make. Mother made a rule that Jacob and Smokey couldn’t kill each other – but didn’t think to make a rule preventing them from killing her. Jacob then made a rule that Smokey couldn’t kill candidates for protector either. And he also made a rule that said as long as he or the candidates were alive, Smokey couldn’t leave the Island. The weird thing is that apparently Mother’s rule about Jacob and Smokey not being able to kill each other applied after her death, but Jacob’s rules only applied as long as he or a candidate was alive. Otherwise, why didn’t Jacob just kill Smokey? Rock that Desmond moved seems to have something to do with it, but I’m still not sure what. Maybe Smokey never would have been able to leave, even once all the candidates were dead.

Q: What rules applied to Ben and Widmore?

A: I think the talk of rules on Ben’s part is a pretty good indication that the writers didn’t actually know where they were going. Or maybe Jacob made a rule that said that Others couldn’t kill each others kids.

Q: What was “the Incident,” what did setting off Jughead do (did it actually go off?), and why did Eloise send Daniel back in time knowing that she would kill him?

A: I really wish these things had been made more clear. Here’s what I think was at least implied: had Jughead not been set off, the Incident would have been much, much worse. In fact, the DHARMA crew would have drilled right into the light, released whatever that stone Desmond moved was holding in, and destroyed the world. Daniel traveling back in time and having the Losties set off Jughead stopped it, so Eloise was willing to sacrifice her son to save the world. That, or she really firmly believed that one really can’t change the course of time. But if that were the case, why would she stop Desmond from marrying Penny? She was clearly worried that history COULD be changed, so she interfered with Desmond’s life. How the hell she knew to be in the ring shop, or knew that Desmond was time traveling in the first place, is beyond me.

It would have been interesting to see an episode where she doubted her position and tried to stop Daniel from going, or tried to let him lead the life he actually wanted to lead. Ah well.

I have no idea why setting off Jughead returned the Losties to their correct place in time, or how it helped neutralize the incident. Dumb luck? Shoddy writing? Both?

Q: What was up with Pierre’s message from the past intended for the future?

A: He and Miles recorded it sometime in between the time Pierre quizzed Hurley and when Miles and Hurley met back up with the other Losties right before the Incident. Pierre was doing it as a last ditch effort to find an alternate solution to their predicament. Miles was right – it was a pointless.

Q: What was the deal with the Swan hatch and the observation hatch?

A: After the Incident, the energy released by the drilling and neutralized by Jughead was harnessed by some mechanism that had to be activated every 108 minutes. Whatever this electromagnetic energy was, it was dangerous and had to be contained. The fail safe was installed in case things went haywire again, but DHARMA wanted to keep it around to study it. Since Radzinsky caused the Incident when he disregarded Pierre’s order to stop the drilling, he was punished by being forced to push the button for the rest of his natural life. The observation station was installed to make sure he was alive and doing his job. The orientation video for the observation hatch lied to the observers because they didn’t want them to know about about the cruel punishment Radzinsky was serving, and because they didn’t want to them to know how dangerous the island really was.

Q: What was “the sickness”?

A: I think there were 4 different, unrelated “sicknesses”:

1) The one Danielle referred to. This was a mistake, the people she said were sick weren’t sick at all, they were dead. Smokey was impersonating them.

2) The one referred to by Desmond. I think Radzinsky was in the hatch at the time of the purge and somehow escaped, only to see that everyone above ground was dead. He assumed that they’d gotten sick and spread this myth to Kelvin and Desmond. I don’t know what they were shooting up though – maybe Radzinsky, in his final mad days, concocted something himself?

3) A fake sickness given to Claire. The Others had hoped to keep her in their camp by treating this manufactured illness. It’s possible they gave it to Radzinsky and started planting the vaccines in DHARMA drops.

4) The “infection” Sayid had. I think it’s basically a crap shoot as to whether the pool in the temple heals or infects. The infection has nothing to do with what Danielle was talking about.

Q: How did Radzinsky survive the purge? How did Kelvin, who was in the Gulf War, end up in the DHARMA Initiative if it was disbanded in the 80s after the purge. Why did the DHARMA drops persist?

A: As stated above, I think he survived by virtue of being in the hatch when everyone else was gassed. I think the Others didn’t know about the fail safe, and wanted to keep him in the hatch pushing the button as long as they could so they didn’t have to do it. They may have let him out, or he may always have been able to leave the hatch as needed.

Kelvin was never a part of DHARMA, he crash landed on the island randomly, and Radzinsky recruited him just as Kelvin later recruited Desmond. This mirrors the haphazard procession of the protectors of the light.

Alternately, if the Purge occurred in 1992, Kelvin could have been a part of the DHARMA Initiative. In this case, it’s entirely possible that Radzinsky was not permanently condemned to pushing the button, but worked in shifts with partners. He and Kelvin were on shift together when the purge occurred and they both thought it was due to sickness, not gassing. (I like my previous idea better, because it parallels the light keepers)

DHARMA Initiative brass in Ann Arbor knew or suspected that Radzinsky survived the purge, but decided it was too dangerous to continue research on the Island. The Hanso Foundation kept making food drops instead of evacuating Radzinsky because they knew the work he was doing was important, or perhaps because they considered evacuation too dangerous. The “For pallet drop enter 2-4” function on the Flame computer was no longer functional.

Alternately, drops made 10+ years ago may be slowly arriving over time due to the time delay effect of the island.

A: Why didn’t someone use the fail safe before?

A: They weren’t sure it would work – it was to be an absolute last resort. Desmond, in his panic, forgot about it and fled the hatch after the computer was damaged. He didn’t remember the fail safe until later. (Yeah, it’s kind of a big thing to forget – and it’s also a little weird that he let the timer run down with John if he already knew what would happen if he did).

Q: Why/how was Christian Shepard appearing to Jack while Jack was off the Island, and why/how did Claire appear to Kate? If this was the Smoke monster, how did it accomplish this if it was off the Island? Were these really just hallucinations?

The best answer seems to be that Jack’s visions were merely hallucinations, and Kate’s vision was just a dream. However, it’s been stated that the island has a (rather ruthless) will of its own, independent of Jacob and Smokey and can interfere with life off the mainland (for example, preventing Michael from killing himself), so it may have been causing these visions. The island wanted Jack to come back, but wanted Kate to stay (since she was no longer a candidate).

What other unanswered questions do you want answered?


  1. i accepted that we weren’t go to get all the answers i wanted by the end, like the numbers and ann Arbor etc, but what really really bugs me is the writers saying “its all about the characters”
    OK so the plane that took off at the end lets look at that.

    Richard – over 400 years old
    Claire – was on 815 that crashed. everyone but the oceanic 6 was declared dead
    Sawyer – same problem as claire
    Kate – was not allowed to leave the US but did.
    Miles – like his character he probably wasn’t missed by anyone but he did disappear in 2004
    Lapidus – probably be ok.

    So there all on a JUMBO JET that has too land somewhere and it does with three quarters of its original passengers missing “and hey” some of the people that are on it now were on another flight that disappeared (815)

    And no one would ask any questions?
    is that closure for all our beloved characters?
    i think not.
    people that say it was a great ending really don’t have a clue.

    Rant over

  2. captain trips

    June 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Hey, I just thought you’d be interested in this.


    Very much like a real life DHARMA radio tower.

  3. I’m curious to hear who you think built the statue that the Black Rock crashed into

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