Relax. We’re Just Going to Have a Little Talk
I was floored by the pilot episode of Lost and I’ve stuck with the show ever since, even spending hours following the off-season webisodes, teaser sites and dense thickets of polarizing opinions. When the creators quickly nixed “Purgatory” as the solution, my first oddball theory was that the group was actually patients in a mental hospital undergoing some radical version of group therapy. This seemed to validate children being removed, people appearing in other’s fever dreams, and especially the occasional appearance of doctors in lab coats in the Others’ camp (which I interpreted as the few moments of lucidity we were privy to).
So many twists and turns have happened since then that I’ve leaned towards the survivors as pieces in a board game, souls snatched before death and given another chance to live and parallel worlds ruled by destiny and free will intersecting like a Venn Diagram.
But I still like that first theory best.
Now I’m just holding on for whatever may come. As long as it isn’t a snow globe in an autistic child’s hand, I’ll be okay.
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
It struck me the moment Sayid pointed out that the foot of the giant statue has only four toes. There was already so much going on that this was essentially a throwaway remark, but it still seemed so intriguing, my mind couldn’t help but go in a million different directions over its meaning. What could it mean?
Run For It! They’re Zombies!
One early theory regarding the show was that dead characters could come back to life on the island. In a 2006 podcast, producer Damon Lindelof debunked this theory, stating that “when a character dies on the show, they’re dead.” However, the apparent resurrections of Christian Shephard and John Locke continued to fuel speculation that the dead could rise. (Of course, we now know that the “zombies” were actually various guises of the Smoke Monster/Man in Black).
Lindelof and fellow producer Carlton Cuse turned the zombie theory into a running joke on their podcast series, where they continually referred to a hypothetical season seven of Lost wherein all of the dead characters would rise… as ZOMBIES! A fake script featuring zombies was also leaked by ABC on the website OceanicFlight815.com: And right as your heart is about to BURST THROUGH YOUR CHEST one of the ZOMBIES shuffles through the door. Eyes glossed over white, shuffling, desperate for the blood that will never quench its unholy thirst. What are they waiting for? Why aren’t Michael and Jin firing their weapons to save themselves? Because this is no ordinary zombie… It’s WALT!!!
There Was Only One Polar Bear
I initially ignored Lost. Websites and magazines seemed to focus on things like the stupid Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle, so as far as I knew it was a standard network drama with an interesting setting. I mentioned this in front of a fan, and she told me about the Numbers.
A desert island drama with The Illuminatus! Trilogy levels of headfuckery and The Crying of Lot 49‘s general sinister playfulness? One devoted to making its viewers go “wait, was that…?” What could it mean? Sign me up!
Then she told me about the polar bear…
It Was Just Another Long Day on the Set of The Party of Five
Watching the first season of Lost, I knew I was witnessing something epic. With so many questions and possibilities raised, I did what was most logical: I looked it up on the internet. Turned out millions of others were thinking the same thing, and I soon found myself spending hours of my workday reading the Lost theory fansite, The Tail Section. I was intrigued by how so many fan theories equally incorporated mathematics, religion and metaphysics.
Maybe it was the fact that this show came on the heels of The DaVinci Code craze, but everyone had ideas about God, heaven and hell, and purgatory, as well as extra-dimensional travel, the multiverse, wormholes and astrophysics. It was this weird blend of numerology, biblical allegory, science fiction, and quantum mechanics. Of course the show employs all these tropes, so it’s no wonder that fans were now exploring the physics of string theory via Wikipedia.
My favorite theory, however, is actually more of a joke between me and my brother, a play on The Wizard of Oz-like theory that Lost is all a dream. It goes like this: in the last episode Jack Shephard wakes up. Except he’s not Jack Shephard; he’s Matthew Fox, and he’s surrounded by Jennifer Love Hewtit, Scott Fox, Neve Campbell and the rest of the cast of Party of Five. It turns out that in some alternate timeline, Party of Five never went off the air and it’s now in its 16th season.
Maybe It Has Something to Do With Santa Claus
In the first episode of season four, “The Beginning of the End” there are a few references to the letters “h” and “o”. A fan on a forum noted this and posted a theory. He cited that Hurley saw an apparition of Charlie while buying “ho-hos”. When Jack and Hurley play the game “Horse” they only reach the first two letters. In the institution in which Hurley is staying the words “ho, ho” are visible for the moment. The fan who noticed this believed it was a clue tying the island to a mythical part of the North Pole and mentioned how it could have something to do with Father Christmas.
It’s a bizarre theory that the above explained a lot better than I just did, but he was right about the “h” and “o”s which dominated that episode. Maybe he was on to something… Well, this is when I realised that Lost’s writers could use “Easter eggs” and background clues to really screw with the audience. Think about it: “h” is the eights letter of the alphabet while “o” is the 15th. These both tie into The Numbers. Hmm…
What Compels these Puppeteers to Do Their Puppetry?
I understand that since there has been such a dense tapestry of events over Lost’s six seasons, it would be impossible to provide clear answers for everything. We may never know why Mr. Friendly went through the trouble of wearing a fake beard, and that’s probably okay. However, there are many questions the show once purported as critical information that are still unanswered. Why is Walt “special”? Who was in “Jacob’s cabin”?
I’ve long been fascinated by the Ben Linus vs. Charles Widmore story, especially when we learned that Ben could come and go from the island at will. Widmore (in cahoots with Mr. Paik, Sun’s father) seemed to be looking to reclaim the island for financial gain. Ben always saw himself as the protector until he was exposed as not knowing who or what he was dealing with.
There was a classic power struggle for control, there were “rules”, many characters were used as pawns in their plan (and died for it!), and the mysterious Mrs. Hawking seemed to know everything that had happened and was destined to occur for both of them. They were like puppeteers controlling everything and everyone, but how? Why? What was at stake? Who will prevail?
I fear this epic storyline will get dusted under the carpet if mentioned again at all… because the only thing that the creators seem to think we care about is Jacob vs. The Man in Black. Wrong, wrong, so wrong! The creators had a three-year, 48-episode commitment for closure and they now only have two hours left to give us answers to these things! Agh!
It’s On a ‘Need to Know’ Basis
I’ve been obsessively intrigued by the lighthouse that Hurley (instructed by Jacob’s ghost) leads Jack to in season six. At the lighthouse Jack, a character who now believes in faith and fate – philosophies of life he cared little for, in the beginning—is confronted by a strange machine with a wheel, a mirror, and a compass with the names of all the Oceanic passengers written on it. When Jack turns the compass and aligns it with his name the mirror shows his childhood home. Creepy.
That scene must be pivotal to the development of Jack from a man of science to a man of faith, but the lighthouse and this mystical device were then completely abandoned. Who made that thing? How does it work? How were the candidates of the Oceanic flight chosen, and why? Answer me, dammit! I need to know!
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article