EW.com recently polled their readers on what they considered the “must-answer” questions for Lost before it comes to an end. Over the course of three posts I’ll reproduce the Top 15 questions raised, and then provide my best attempt at answering them. If anything it may at least prove to be amusing once the finale is over and we all (hopefully) know the real answers. Let’s get cracking with Part 1, questions 15 to 11.
15: What are The Whispers?
15: What are The Whispers?
We kick off with that creepy murmur that usually precedes the appearance of The Others. Why the ethereal gossiping? How do they do it? Maybe season 6 will tell us the answer — in a loud, clear voice.
I would have put this higher up the ranks, to be fair, because it’s one mystery I have turned over and over. The closest I have come to an ‘answer’ is to say they are voices whose existence is a halfway level between the phenomena exhibited by Miles and Hurley in regards their experiences with dead people.
Miles communes with the dead only at the level where, close to the deceased’s body, he can learn what the dead person knew – their thoughts and feelings as well as the circumstances of their death. What is crucial is that this communication is passive and one-way – Miles cannot ‘talk’ with them, he can simply use a dead person almost like reading a book to glean whatever information he wants.
Hurley, on the other hand, has experiences with dead people that are highly active. He talks and interacts with them (a game of chess!) as though they were real people. The Whispers then, being these sometimes passive but usually active disembodied voices, seem to be a similar force to what Miles hears when he communes with the dead, but possessing more of the interactive, independent qualities of the dead people Hurley is visited by.
Are they actual dead people brought back to life? Personally, I don’t think so. Dead is dead, right? I think they’re manifestations of what already resides in people’s heads, exacerbated and pronounced due to the Island’s particular qualities. Like a conscience given audible or physical presence. In the same breath, though, I must concede that these whispers are surely the voices of people that have died. Make of that mess what you will.
14: What's Libby's backstory?
When this Tailie was killed by Michael at the end of season 2, she left behind several unanswered questions. Why did she end up in Hurley's mental institution? Was it merely coincidence that she was the one who gave Desmond his sailboat? As much as fans want resolution, alas, the producers have said that actress Cynthia Watros is unlikely to return to the show.
Honestly, I think we’ve had the answer. And I think it’s simpler than we all pondered and perhaps hoped for. I think Libby was in a relationship with a man named David, and he died as she said. This totally floored her, producing a breakdown of sorts that saw her spend some time in Santa Rosa (whilst Hurley happened to be there). Eventually she got better and, by chance, encountered a man named Desmond who just happened to be in need of a yacht that she could provide him with, that she had no use for. It was a chance encounter. She gave it to Desmond as he wanted it for love, and that was as noble a gesture she could think of to honour the love she had for David.
That she wound up on Oceanic 815 was another example of coincidence and fate intertwined. Libby was linked in with the lives of other passengers, as they were to her, because they are all part of the masterplan design. Maybe it’s Jacob’s design (symbolically presented by the tapestry he has painstakingly been weaving together) or fate, or just plain coincidence. I suspect that will be up to the viewer to decide, and Libby is just one tiny piece of that mosaic puzzle.
13: What's the complete Dharma backstory?
We still haven't met the majordomos who ran the secretive utopian science enclave from afar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And where in the world is its mysterious Danish financial backer, Alvar Hanso? And why did Pierre Chang use alternative names in the Dharma orientation films? And another thing. . .
There’s an absolute mass pile of details and unknown questions surrounding the intricacies of the Dharma Initiative. Broadly-speaking, however, I believe they are pretty much what we have been presented with: a fringe scientific body that discovered the Island and wanted to use it as a giant laboratory to make amazing discoveries.
Potentially the Dharma Initiative existed as a kind of lesson, that the power of the Island cannot be harnessed and manipulated by humans without catastrophic results (such as ‘the incident’).
There’s an outside chance that the Dharma Initiative have morphed and adapted into a group that is more aligned with defending the Island – perhaps they are even represented on the Island by the likes of Ilana and Bram? More likely, however, is that the Dharma Initiative, in whatever form they exist as in 2004, will represent the opposing faction in the upcoming war that has been spoke of. They haven’t appreciated that the Island is not something they can have control over, but that isn’t going to stop them trying (just as Nameless said – these people come to the Island with their destructive ways, and they never change and they never learn).
12: Where did The Others come from?
They speak Latin, hang out in Egyptian temples, like to dress up in the clothes of the Island visitors. . . that they kidnap and kill! They have been called The Island's ''indigenous'' people but who are they really?
I think The Others have been an ever-changing group from various sources throughout the history of the Island. Richard Alpert was perhaps a true original – potentially even around in the time of the Egyptian statue-building heyday. For whatever reason he has the capacity for everlasting life and so facilitates a continuation of a group that protects the Island. This group have become colloquially known as The Others by all parties outside of that group.
Where did they come from? I suspect Richard was around to collect new recruits from when the Black Rock arrived on the Island. When Dharma showed up, Richard found the likes of Ben within their ranks, to absorb into their number. Recently a plane crash deposited a bunch of people The Others could siphon from the group, dictated by lists from ‘Jacob’, and gather into their faction. And when The Others are not harvesting members from people that land on the Island, they occasionally venture into the outside world and recruit them – like Juliet.
Perhaps the more pertinent question is: What is the agenda of The Others? I would suggest it is to preserve the sanctity of the Island, and obey the will of Jacob. Potentially the two are not mutually exclusive (but we know there’s that dark-clothed Nameless character that has been operating in the sidelines and perhaps poisoning their efforts for quite some time).
11: Do all the castaways have a secret connection?
The first season suggested that the castaways — complete strangers to each other prior to Oceanic 815's crash — are at the very least linked by common acquaintances or experiences. But do they share a more cosmic connection? Perhaps: the season 5 finale revealed that many of them had previously met — and were conspicuously touched by — Jacob.
I think Lost is going to challenge us to question the notion of ‘Destiny’. It’s been the crux of the thematic concerns ever since Jack and Locke challenged one another about why they were on the Island. As the seasons have progressed I feel we have been steered more and more towards the idea that everything was meant to happen, and no matter how coincidental and improbable it all seems, there’s a man called Jacob, weaving the threads of some grand tapestry, waiting for a resolution to come together.
It’s highly improbable that a guy like Hurley would play 4 8 15 16 23 42 as numbers on the lottery that would then convince him of a curse, which would result in him landing on an Island where there is a hatch with those same numbers stenciled on the side of it, beneath which was a computer that required those same numbers to be entered into a computer. It all beggars belief, right? It makes you think it was all fated to happen.
Except the curious thing is the numbers originated from the Island – Leonard heard them transmitted from there. And Hurley learned them from Leonard. So that Hurley arrived on the Island – the source – suddenly makes it all seem less improbable and more appreciable. Less like fate, then, and more like coincidence.
Apply that same idea to all the characters, and their checkered histories and intertwining pasts, and you can ask the question of yourself: Do you see a grand pattern, or a series of haphazard events masquerading as fate? It’s a big question, one that applies to life and faith for us all, and it’s one that Lost will pose but never ultimately resolve for us.
Part 2, looking at questions 10 to 6, will follow shortly.