Monday, May 17, 2010

LOST's 10 Best Resolved Mysteries (If You Can Call Them 'Resolved')

For today’s Top 10, I wanted to delve into the top 10 LOST mysteries, but – in keeping LOST tradition – with a twist. I’m only going to focus on mysteries that have been answered. It’s always easy to pick out mysteries, like what is the Island? or why is Desmond special? For me, the answers are just as important.

So, here’s my list of the top 10 “answered” mysteries:

10. How did Locke get in the wheelchair?

I remember watching “Walkabout” for the first time and going to discuss it with my LOST friends at work. They’d already seen seasons 1 and 2 by the time I started, so I was consumed with questions, most notably, “How the hell did Locke get in that wheelchair?” It was as if knowing this one thing would unlock the entire series. Oh, how simple things were back then, before we had even heard the name “Jacob” uttered. My friends were mercurial in their answers, and I hated them for it. Turns out, they didn’t know either, because we didn’t find out the answer until “The Man from Tallahassee” in season 3. When we learned that Locke was in the wheelchair because his dad, Cooper, had pushed him out of an 8-story window, I was shocked. It was as dramatic an answer as you could get, and I was more than satisfied. I was intrigued, because with it, as usual, came another question: how did he survive?

9. Who is Richard Alpert?

From the moment we met Richard Alpert, there was something different about him. And when we discovered in Ben’s backstory that he had not aged, his differences were brought to the forefront and he became intrinsically tied to the greater mythology of the show. In “Ab Aeterno,” Lindelof and Cuse found a way to answer the mystery of how he got to the Island (on the Black Rock), became an advisor to every leader of the Others (he convinced Jacob to let him), and how he became immortal (he drank Jacob’s wine). His origins were also connected to the nature of the Island, which only made him that much more essential. Yet, at the same time, as all of this was downloaded, we were reminded that Alpert is yet another pawn in a greater game.

8. What are the numbers?

I think some still don’t think this is answered, but for me it was. The numbers corresponded with the names of Jacob’s candidates on his Lighthouse dial. I don’t think each number was particularly significant, though. Jack could have easily been 10 as he was 23, for example. Each number was Jacob’s access point to observing each candidate’s life, which is super cool if you ask me. Now, why do the numbers follow the castaways? Why were they on the Hatch blast door? Who knows? Maybe it was to let us know that these six candidates were the last to live. Except for Kate, but I still think she’s a candidate.

7. Who is in the coffin?

Offered up at the end of season 3 at the Hoffs/Drawlar funeral parlor, this mystery became, in my opinion, the most important mystery of seasons 3-5. When I found out that it was John Locke, and that he was indeed dead, I was shell-shocked. The writers decided to take their biggest risk yet by offing one of the most endearing, and popular, characters on the show. This mystery was so big that they filmed a couple alternate endings, too, with both Sawyer and Desmond in the coffin.

6. What is the Dharma Initiative?

Season five answered this in high style by sending our castaways back in time to the late 1970s to join the Dharma Initiative and witness their goings-on firsthand. What we discovered was that they were a scientific research group trying to find ways to use the Island’s properties to better mankind. We also learned that they were a rag-tag group of men and women with poor leadership who didn’t seem to understand much of anything about the Island they planned to exploit. In other words, they were human.

5. Who are the Others?

We were first introduced to the Others through the character of Ethan Rom, and our first understanding was that they were Island inhabitants with supernatural strength, speed and stealth. Many of us – myself included – thought they were the source of the Whispers. Then, we saw the group that kidnapped Walt on the raft – a hillbilly outfit if there ever was one, leading Sawyer to dub Tom as “Zeke.” But, season 3 showed us, all of this was an elaborate ruse to scare our castaways. The Others were really an organized group of people led by Ben Linus. They lived in the old Dharma Initiative barracks, held book clubs, and stole children to try to solve their infertility issues. This reveal in the opening scene of “A Tale of Two Cities” is still one of LOST’s coolest moments.

4. Why are these characters’ lives connected?

The answer: it’s all a part of Jacob’s elaborate game, the objective of which is to find a replacement for his role as guardian of the Island. We learned this in season 6’s episode “Lighthouse” as Jack comes face-to-face with Lighthouse wheel. All of these people have been manipulated since…forever, it seems…to cross paths so they could come together on this very special Island.

3. Who are “Adam” and “Eve?”

At first I was slightly underwhelmed by the answer to this mystery. The skeletons are Man-in-Black and his Mother? Two nameless characters? The more I think about it, though, the more amazing this answer seems to me. Their placement in the caves shows that there has been a plan of some sort since the beginning, even if it was a bit vague. Most importantly for me, though, is the notion that all of this Island business that has consumed the castaway’s lives was started by these two individuals. When Jack, Kate and Locke came into contact with the skeletons in the episode “House of the Rising Sun,” they had no way of knowing that they were looking into the empty eye sockets of the people responsible for most of their misery. This is great irony, which has made the reveal that much more exciting for me.

2. What is the Smoke Monster?

Season six has been all about the Smoke Monster when you really think about it. The season began with us realizing that the resurrected John Locke was really Smokey in disguise. Throughout we’ve been given information that he’s the embodiment of pure evil, can take the form of dead spirits (Locke, Christian), and originated from a hole-in-the-ground filled with a special light. What was most shocking, though, was to find out that the Smoke Monster as we know and love him was once a nameless man seething at the betrayal of his brother and the mother who wasn’t really a mother at all. This is the stuff of legend and myth, and, for me, has been remarkably satisfying.

1. What’s in the Hatch?

The biggest mystery of season 1 was season 2’s best reveal. Inside was Desmond Hume, pressing a button every 108 minutes to save the world. Simple, confusing, and profound. What put this over the top for me, though, was a story Damon Lindelof told about how after season 1 a fan asked him what was in the Hatch. Surprisingly, he told her the writer’s plans, and she refused to believe him, thinking it was a joke answer. The joke was on her, though, and has been on us for six years as many of us have grasped at straw after straw to piece together the mysteries of a show that we’ll have no chance of figuring out completely until the last frame airs on May 23rd.

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