Sadly, some mysteries to remain “Lost”

The premiere of the final season of Lost finally arrives tomorrow. As a dedicated Lost fan, who has watched (often more than once) and analyzed every episode since Season 1, I can hardly wait. I am confident I will not be disappointed.

Still, thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s cover story on Lost this past week, I am compelled to revisit a long-standing complaint. In the article, the producers of Lost (Cuse and Lindelof) are asked “Just how many of our questions are going to get answered anyway?” The producers response is essentially one they have given before: “There are so many many questions that people probably have that we just can’t address.” They continue with their Star War’s “midichlorian” analogy, citing that some questions are impossible to answer anyway, without raising more questions, ultimately leaning to “overexplained lameness.”

Let me be clear. This is all just a copout.

Their excuse might pass muster for some minor mysteries. Given the wealth of questions that have come up over the five seasons of Lost (here is a fairly complete list of the questions), I know there are too many to expect all of them to be answered. But there are major ones that, in my view, demand an answer — at least if the series is to have a satisfying conclusion. One key question, for example, surrounds the meaning of the “numbers.”

I first commented on this in a Lostpedia blog entry last year, after the producers initially warned us of their intent. Sadly, it is just as applicable now as it was then. Here is what I wrote:

< < "I just finished reading Damon Lindef's statement regarding The Numbers (where they imply that there may never be a full, or even any, explanation as to the significance of the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers). I was more than disappointed. I believe his statement that 'We call it the midi-chlorian debate, because at a certain point, explaining something mystical demystifies it,' is mainly a cop-out. In Star Wars, there was never any mystery surrounding the origins of the Force. It was accepted as part of the Star Wars universe, in the same way that the possibility of time travel is accepted in the Lost universe, without need of a detailed explanation. The Force was never raised as a mystery to be solved in Star Wars. The Numbers are quite different. They were the focus of major plot mysteries in season 1 and into season 2. Why were those particular numbers selected to be entered every 108 minutes? Would it have mattered if different numbers were entered? Could it have worked with 107 minutes? Why was Hurley so involved with the Numbers and not any one else? There are secondary related questions as well: Why maintain such an important function (typing in the numbers) via a system that is so prone to possible human failure? Why weren't the Others checking in at the Swan? Did they really just assume that Desmond would never fail to reset the switch? Why not just press the fail safe button in the first place and avoid all the hassle of entering the numbers (I believe I know the answer that but I'd still like to see it answered officially)? Why was the system needed at all? Presumably there was no such system before the Dharma people arrived; how and when did the need for it arrive? And so on and so on. Even if we assume that the meaning of the Numbers has to do with the Valenzetti Equation (as suggested in Lost material that appeared online but never clearly in the canon of the show itself), it still doesn't answer any of these other questions. For me, to dismiss the answers to such questions as of 'no interest whatsoever' is simply saying: 'We screwed up. We didn't have a good explanation when we went down this road. And now, rather than coming up with one, we're going simply say it doesn't matter." >>

To some extent, what Cuse and Lindelof are suggesting is like a murder mystery where the victim is killed in some apparently impossible way. In the end, we learn who the murderer is, but we are never told how the murderer pulled it off. Instead, we are told that this ultimately doesn’t really matter. Bull! This is unfair to the reader. Just as Lost similarly appears intent on being unfair to the viewer.

The final season of Lost will be spectacular anyway. It’s just that I had hoped that the writers and producers really knew what they were doing when they introduced these mysteries over the years. And we would at last get the answers this season.

I know we will get answers to at least some of the major mysteries. I can only hope this will be sufficient.

Enough complaints. It’s time to get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. Here we go…

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