Monday, August 23, 2010

Next Question

Many Lost fans complained the show didn't answer questions. I posted on such fan's questions earlier this year, just before the final season started. Let's see how the show did.

1. Who is Jacob.

2. Who is the MIB [I assume this means the Man In Black]

3. What is the smoke monster

4. What is the Temple ?

5. What are the Whispers ?

6. Who is Richard Alpert and why doesn’t he get older ?

7. What was the deal with Jacob’s cabin, was it Jacob or MIB using it?
Sort of answered

8. What is the deal with the numbers ? Are they cursed, do they have more meaning ?
Sort of answered

9. Why did Jacob touch and choose certain people ?

10. High level answer of what is the Island ? Don’t need to know how it works to the nth degree.
Answered, depending on what you define as "nth degree."

Would like an answer:

1. Was that really Christian, or Jacob/MIB taking the form of Christian and if so why Christian ?

Answered (I think)

2. Who built the ancient items on the island, like the statue, or the donkey wheel, or the temple?
Partly answered

3. What is the significance of the Black Rock?

4. Who are Adam and Eve ? (Obvious guess is still Rose and Bernard )


5. What is the deal with Walt?
Not answered. Essentially forgotten.

6. What is the deal with Desmond ?
Generally answered

7. Why do Hurley and Miles see dead people ?
Not answered unless you accept "just because" as an answer

8. What is the deal with the rules in regards to the feud between Ben and Widmore ?
I'd say answered in passing. It's the basic understanding they (and the Others?) had.

9. Are Ben and Widmore just a couple of feuding former leaders of the Others, who both want the Island for themselves or is there something more to it ?

Answered. There was nothing more to it (even if we can't be sure of Widmore's ultimate intentions).

10. Did the Others just want the kids to build their ranks or was their more meaning to it ?
Not answered, though this guess sounds pretty good.

I really do think that most of my top 10 will be answered. I also think that once we learn a bit more about Jacob, MIB and what they are doing on the Island a whole stack of questions will be answered in a short period of time.

I'd say that's correct. Though who was shooting at Sawyer's outrigger we'll never know.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

2. Who built the ancient items on the island, like the statue, or the donkey wheel, or the temple?
LAGuy: Partly answered.

We know who built the donkey wheel. We know that some places (like the heart of the island) were built before Jacob's adopted mother Eve arrived on the island, in the very distant past.

But we don't know who built the statue and temple, nor even whether they were built before Jacob or under his guidance. And we don't know how the temple connects to ash rings. Why did killing Dogen allow the MIB to enter? Was that because Dogen ran the Temple? I have no idea.

3. What is the significance of the Black Rock?
LAGuy: Answered.

Really? We know when it arrived. But why did Jacob summon it with such force that it broke his favorite statue, and then let everyone on it be killed by the MIB? Of course, MIB ended up not killing Ricardo, but that wasn't Jacob's doing. Why summon the ship and trash the statue for no purpose? This feels like bad continuity to me.

8. What is the deal with the rules in regards to the feud between Ben and Widmore?
LAGuy: I'd say answered in passing. It's the basic understanding they (and the Others?) had.

9. Are Ben and Widmore just a couple of feuding former leaders of the Others, who both want the Island for themselves or is there something more to it?
LAGuy: Answered. There was nothing more to it (even if we can't be sure of Widmore's ultimate intentions).

I think there is a serious lacuna here, and it's more bothersome than the prehistory of the Island because I don't see any reason for it to remain secret. The Others expelled Widmore, apparently at Ben's behest. Ben was probably made the leader at this point in time. Also by this time, Widmore had two children and Ben had adopted Alex. But why in the world would Ben, upon expelling Widmore, say to him "Charles, I know you will try to return to the Island, and you and I will try to kill each other if the opportunity arises. But let's make a deal: our daughters are off-limits."

I just can't imagine Ben saying this. And if he did, why would he trust Widmore to keep the deal? Ben knows that Widmore is ruthless, that Widmore's son is doomed to die, and that Widmore hates him. Yet he was genuinely astonished that Alex was killed.

Also: Did Charles order Keamy not to kill Alex? If so, Keamy is to blame. If not, Charles is to blame. Yet Charles honestly seemed to think Ben was to blame: by what twisted logic?

10. Did the Others just want the kids to build their ranks or was their more meaning to it?
LAGuy: Not answered, though this guess sounds pretty good..

This is the hugest unanswered question, and I fear it turns all of seasons two and three into nonsense. The fundamental fact about the Others in S2 and S3 was that they could not have children. Babies born on the island died.

But later, we learned that this wasn't always true. The Others must have reproduced in the normal fashion on the island during the twentieth century. In the 1970s, the Dharma babies were born healthy. In 1988, Alex was born on the island healthy. Then sometime before 2001 this problem began, and Juliet was brought to the island to solve it. But babies kept dying up to mid-2004. Then suddenly Aaron is born healthy in November 2004 and the curse was lifted.

We have no idea why the curse happened, or who caused it, or whether Jacob or MIB approved or disapproved of it, or even knew about it. Yet this was the fundamental force that shaped how the Others treated the castaways in seasons one through three.

6:37 PM, August 23, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

My guess is the Statue was of Egyptian origin, so was there before Jacob, but it's true, we don't know. All those Egyptian etchings underneath the walls surrounding the Temple suggest that's old, too;, however, the use of the lifegiving powers of the island at the Temple suggests either some people put one over on Jacob's mom (or a predecessor), or Jacob (or MIB) had it built for some reason or other. It's possible at come point, I suppose, Jacob (or MIB) went on some Egyptian craze.

As to Dogen, we saw how Jacob and his mom could use the island to set up certain rules. Jacob couldn't do anything, but naming candidates that MIB couldn't kill was within his power--the stuff with the ash, as well as Dogen (or whoever ran the Temple, perhaps) while Jacob was alive having certain power isn't hard to accept.

At the end of season five, we knew Black Rock was an old slave ship of interest to Widmore and not much more. Now we know that certain people in general (such as the ship's captain) were summoned to the island. The main question answered was how the ship got so far inland. If Jacob summoned it (and MIB sure thought he did, though people came even before Jacob wanted candidates), that doesn't necessarily mean his summons brought the ship crashing through the statue. In fact, that seems pretty unlikely. No matter how or why they were close to the island, they got caught in a very bad storm. Perhaps MIB had something to do with that, but I'm not sure why anyone would blame Jacob. If Jacob did have any Candidates on board, MIB would have had to figured out clever ways to have them killed. We don't know when Jacob came up with the idea of bringing in Candidates, by the way.

(The continuity problem you have of Jacob hurting people he's bringing is just, in general, the confused motives of both Jacob and MIB. Jacob must protect the island from the outside but also brings in outsiders. MIB hates outsiders, thinks they're evil, and kills them, but also needs them to get off the island.)

7:40 PM, August 23, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The Rules between Ben and Widmore have never troubled me in the slightest. They knew each other for years and both lived as leader of The Others. The Others live by a strict code. If you fail to live up to it, you can be sentenced to death. But it's not just the fear of death that motivates them, it's that they are fanatics who all seem willing to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty. Yet, because Jacob refused, most of the time, to give them specific directions, the proper thing to do isn't always clear, so they fight over that. Probably the most basic rule is you don't murder fellow Others. I don't even think it had to be spelled out. Furthermore, I expect that in the many go-rounds that Ben and Widmore had, on and off the Island (expelling Widmore was probably a long time coming), they had an understanding--a gentleman's agreement, if you will--that no matter how much they may fight, family is off-limits (like in the Mafia). Widmore wanted to kill Alex at first, and Ben said no, that'll happen only when the Island wants it to happen, it's not for you to decide.

What did Charles tell Keamy? He had more than one plan, as we know. He just wanted the Island back. He might have specifically told Keamy killing Alex is okay, or he might have said be creative, I trust you, just get Ben (dead or alive?). I doubt, considering his ruthlessness, he told Keamy Alex was off-limits, but even if he did, it was his expedition, Ben could hold him responsible for anything that happened.

I don't find the kids too confusing either. (I recognize that the producers weren't always clear on the precise path they'd be taking to the end, so not everything is as smooth as it could be.) After the Incident, there were problems with women having kids on the island. Maybe if your kid was conceived off the island, and developed somewhat off the island, it could survive. The point is there was a problem. Furthermore, Ben didn't like letting people leave the island. He couldn't have regular submarine cruises and vacations where you'd go conceive children. He likely had a grand plan that included a self-sustaining population. Being Leader was a permanent job, and Jacob gave precious little guidance. The baby situation was a bigger problem for Ben than dealing with newbies who occasionally made it to the Island, or building a runway. (For all we know there were other pressures on Ben--there may have been power struggles with the Temple, or the Sheriff, that sort of thing.) Ben may have worried failing to deal with the baby problem would ruin him. He'd seen Leaders fail. And, being sort of a maniac, he may not have been able to get his mind off it. So he committed his tenure to dealing with it. So much so that there were whispers among the Others that we've got the wrong guy. Look, there's another guy whom the Island healed--maybe we should follow him.

7:40 PM, August 23, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I simply don't buy the theory (suggested by you and also by others on the internet) that the Incident caused the baby problems. The Incident involved a fission bomb (incorrectly called a "thermonuclear bomb" by Sayid), and in real life that would not only blast a huge crater in the Island but would also cause radiation problems.

Yet not a single person on the island, adult or children (even Ethan, who was two or three days old when the Incident happened) had any health problems due to this radiation. Rousseau came to the Island already pregnant, and she gave birth to Alex just fine, in 1988. But by the early 2000s -- and Juliet was very clear on this point -- when a pregnant woman on the island reaches her second "or at the latest, her third" trimester, she dies. Not just the baby -- the mother, an otherwise healthy adult, dies.

And Juliet -- who had studied this more than anyone, was convinced this would happen to Sun, who had conceived on the Island, if she stayed on the Island for her entire second trimester.

Now, no radiation danger could possibly have zero effect on adults, zero effect on children, zero effect on infants, zero effect on an unborn baby in its FIRST trimester, but then have a guaranteed lethal effect on pregnant women (but only in their second trimester).

And if the cause of the baby deaths had been anything natural -- including radiation -- Juliet would have figured it out. The whole point of the Juliet story was that she was a scientist unable to diagnose a problem because it was mystical in origin.

Of course, you might say that Lost doesn't follow the rules of science. But when you combine this scientific analysis with the fact that never on the show did anyone suggest that these deaths could be linked to either the Incident or to radiation, I just can't buy the theory.

8:28 AM, August 24, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Here are two interesting reviews of the finale (and the show as a whole) that I just came across.

The first I completely agree with: Ross Douthat's analysis. (This page includes just the important part of his review.)

The second is too harsh, but I still agree with parts of it: Cynical review by someone named Anders. (Wasn't he the second-most-annoying character on BSG?)

Ignore the comments after the articles.

8:32 AM, August 24, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'll soon have more to say about the final season, but we can save that for later.

Call it magic or call it science, we're dealing with mysterious forces on the island which are known to have all sorts of amazing effects. Jacob can't do everything, but, harnessing the island, he can stop you from aging, for instance. Also, smart guys were able to figure out how to move the island through time. Once you know this, it's easy to attribute the problems that pregnant women had to the Incident. It wasn't about radiation--the Incident knocked something on the island out of whack. (We've seen that happen too when Ben didn't turn the wheel right.) Juliet may be clever, but she's up against something new here and can't be expected to figure it out right away.

It's possible this problem starts in the first trimester and grows until both the mother and baby die. Danielle and Claire got there late enough to avoid it.

Of course, there's a lot of Island history we don't know about. For all we know, MIB could be behind it all, as he's behind so much else. It could be part of his long con to convince Ben to turn on Jacob.

11:27 PM, August 24, 2010  

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