Whatever Happened Course Corrects

All right. Let’s do this. Let’s grapple with the ending of Season 5. Strap in for the long haul, take a deep breath – this one’s a mindblower.

Juliet sets the bomb off, is what happened, right when the electromagnetic anomaly is going haywire. One of the potential results of this, as Jack is hoping for, is that The Swan Station will be destroyed and thus he and the rest of the Oceanic 815 passengers will never crash on the Island in 2004 when Desmond fails to press the button.

Alternatively, as Miles suggested, the setting off of Jughead at The Swan Station may have been the very thing that created ‘the incident’ and, in effect, is what necessitates the requirement to push the button in the first place – technically creating the circumstances by which Oceanic 815 crashes on the Island.

Of course, Jack and everyone else could have all just been blown to ashen pieces in a nuclear explosion. That’s another possibility. But I think that seems unlikely. The electromagnetic event taking place probably prevented that. We'll scratch annihilation off the list of possibilities.

As of the end of Season 5, these were the questions we were faced with and, on balance, it seemed that the likeliest explanation was the idea that the blowing up of Jughead facilitated the requirement to ‘push the button’ in The Swan. That’s the one that works out easiest to figure.

And then Comic-Con came along. Shit like this came along:

Hurley in an advert for McCluck’s, apparently in a version of the world where he never crashed on an Island. There was also a news report about Kate having never killed her father, and instead being on the run for accidentally killing someone else. We were being presented with an alternate timeline, one where events before and after the crash of Oceanic 815 don’t match up with what we understand them to have been.

(I have speculated previously, in the post Re-Written History, about the idea of this alternate reality being used on the show as a form of new narrative convention to replace flashbacks/flashforwards. I’m not disregarding that idea, but here I’ll try and run with something else.)

So what are we to think? That the destruction of The Swan did alter the course of history? Is that what Season 6 is going to ask us to accept? It’s not likely because a) it would annoy people to just erase five seasons worth of story, b) the paradox of Jack crashing on an Island to prevent the crash that brought him there will induce a nosebleed in all of us and c) there’s people in 2007 who are already there thirty years after the events at The Swan who could not be there without the crash of Oceanic 815.

It’s time to employ some good old handcrafted diagrams to explain the matter, and elaborate on a potential way out of this mess, but first to just clarify just how much of a mess it is.

Here’s the timeline of events just before Jughead gets set off, as accords to the ‘whatever happened, happened’ theory of time.

(Click image to enlarge)

Here the future has informed the past. Jack and co went back in time to create 'the incident' that would lead to The Swan and the computer and the System Failure. This apparently always happened and, whilst it may create frustrating causality paradoxes, it’s a thread we can follow. Jack and the rest went back in time to 1977 and there got involved in events that culminated in ‘the incident’ occurring. (Where Jack and co go to from here is another matter, but eventually we have to believe they return to 2007.)

Now let’s look at this timeline if Jack is successful at changing history.

(Click image to enlarge)

I think we can agree: it’s a mess. Changing the past by coming from the future means the future cannot exist so how could it have informed the past? Paradox. So now this is where alternate timelines and parallel universes step in, potentially. (I’m playing devil’s advocate here for a while, so just go with me.)

How about a parallel timeline being the potential timeline of events? I’ll use Jack’s life as an example to show how it works.

(Click image to enlarge)

Fundamentally we've got a timeline where Jack is born and gets to the Island, and one where he never does. Problematically we can see that the two timelines don’t actually interact. They can’t. Jack effectively destroys his Island timeline and it’s just the other timeline, the one that has nothing to do with the Island, that remains. That’s all well and good in theory, but then makes absolutely no sense when we consider the likes of Sun and ‘Locke’ (as Nameless) on the Island in 2007. They would be erased with Jack’s Island Timeline, and that makes no sense.

So, I’m ruling out a parallel universe.

How about we go with a tangential alternate reality? A version of reality that is created when a timeline splits at some critical juncture. This sounds like high-concept daftness, but Lost has actually introduced us to this idea several times, particularly during Season 3 with Desmond’s visions and Charlie’s death.

In effect, Desmond had visions of Charlie drowning in an attempt to rescue Claire. Desmond intervened. (The universe split away from that future reality.) Desmond then had visions of Charlie slipping on rocks trying to catch a bird and dying. Desmond prevented this from happening. (The universe split away into a new version of the future.) Desmond, and us viewers, then saw Charlie receive an arrow through the throat and die. Desmond stepped in and stopped it, and so that future was averted and a tangential one where Charlie eventually drowns in The Looking Glass emerged.

So Lost had already presented us with the idea of a particular reality being averted to be replaced by a new one. Jack blowing up The Swan Station could, in effect, be the same concept applied to a larger scale. Let’s try and slot that into the timeline diagram and see how it looks.

(Click image to enlarge)

The detonation of The Swan Station, in this example, completely erases the whole Island timeline, paradox and all. Therefore the Jack that gets born is the Jack that goes on to not crash on the Island and there is, nor ever was, another Jack. That entire timeline simply ceases to exist.

Again, inherently defiant against this idea are Sun and Fake Locke in 2007. We can be absolutely certain that this timeline doesn’t get erased, right? With the death of Jacob and his “they are coming” statement, it’s a plotline that is immutable for sure. Which therefore makes the idea of a tangential plotline, of a change in history, surely impossible.

And yet there’s still this:

Good news is that I have a not one but TWO ideas how this could all still play out on the show (aside from my ‘alternaflash’ theory of a previous post, which actually makes three!).

First one is as simple as it is confusing. Using my tangent timeline diagram, I could suggest that Ajira 316 didn’t crash in the original timeline.

(Click image to enlarge)

If you’re anything like me you’ll find that idea messy. Why would Ajira 316 set off from one timeline and then jump to the other? Furthermore, how would they explain that on the show? (Get Faraday in from this new tangent timeline to draw a diagram perhaps?) I mean, principally, it’s no more implausible than why Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid would be zapped off a plane and into 1977 – but I still think Lost would struggle to sell this idea. Maybe they have already started laying the foundations, though. The Whispers. 'Dead' Charlie that appeared to Hurley, amongst others. Perhaps not ghostly voices and apparitions, but iterations of a tangent timeline infringing upon the timeline we are seeing.

I don't love this option, believe me, but you just can't dismiss it I'm afraid. But how about a different option?

Let’s take the point already illustrated by Charlie and Desmond’s flashes. See, despite the fact that Desmond intervened and prevented Charlie’s death on numerous occasions the fact of the matter is Charlie still died.

No matter how many possible futures were averted, the outcome was eventually the same. Charlie died. Course correction, of course, is the established explanation for this. So how could this apply to Jack, Jughead and The Swan Station? Well, I am thinking the moment of detonation, and the bright white light, may have produced a situation for the likes of Jack and Kate and Hurley not unlike what Desmond experienced when he turned the Fail Safe.

Desmond turned the Fail Safe and then awoke in his own past with faint awareness of his time on the Island. Slowly he began to remember where he had come from until, with a bat to the head, his consciousness was snapped back to the Island ‘present’. Course correction, see. Even your consciousness can flee to a different time and course correction will catch up with you.

Back to The Swan, and Jughead, and the explosion and the white light. What if this 'incident' had the curious effect of transporting Jack’s consciousness to a timeline - a tangent timeline - where he hadn’t crashed on the Island? Like how Desmond awoke in London, Jack could find himself in a different time with little memory of his time on the Island? Same goes for Hurley. For Kate.

Naturally this would allow Lost the TV show to have some fun with both the characters and us in presenting a world where they never went to the Island. However, as soon as those memories started trickling back – like they did with Desmond – then they would find themselves returning back to their original timeline, back on the Island. Course correction. Gets there in the end and puts everything pretty much back in its place.

Purpose? Well, it would offer some dramatic thrills to kick off the new season. And, like Desmond learned (or perhaps re-learned) how much he loved Penny by visiting his past, perhaps the likes of Jack and Kate might have that time to learn what their lives would be like without the Island and come to realise just how much the place means to them, and how much it has given to them.

Which makes it a bit like It’s A Wonderful Life. But on an Island.

And then what? Then they just wake up back in 2007, with the likes of Sun and the Ajira crew and fake Locke and Ben, and the whole show can come together into some form of climax? Yeah, something like that. Perhaps with the added benefit, like Desmond, that Jack and Kate and Hurley and Sayid now have the capacity to receive flashes of the future. That ought to make them a force for Nameless to reckon with. . .

They are coming, after all.

Final Shot Speculation

The final season approaches. Our thoughts, naturally, turn to the exciting prospect of how the whole show will end. The very hopeful fact of the matter is: we don’t know enough about what the whole show has been about to make a full prediction about how it will end. However, that doesn’t stop me having some knockabout fun proposing ideas about what the final image will be.

The final image is supposedly going to be very striking, and it’s an image that Damon and Carlton have had in their heads since as far back as Season 3. They even told Matthew Fox about it. Recently he divulged this:

“I don’t think the word ‘Lost’ will come up at the end. . . That’s how much finality it will have. Unlike any other episode ever done on Lost I think it will just go to black and that will be it. I think the show will end in a way that there really cannot be any future of Lost.”

Heady stuff. In light of the above, and stacking up all the various things we’ve learned along the way, let me throw some ideas about what the very final image of the show might be.

First, let’s get the idea of what it surely-to-fucking-God won’t be out of the way:

Above: This happened once. This is the only time it will ever happen.

There’s a lot of Lost loop-theorists out there that have been banging on and on about how this will be the end of Lost for a long time. That it will end where it began. They talk about how the show was originally conceived with the title of ‘Circle’ as further evidence of loop-based concept. Well I’m not buying it and will be bitterly disappointed if this is how it all goes. Positively, Fox’s talk of Lost’s ending having “finality” doesn’t at all match up with a loop-based ending, so I don’t think such fears will prove to be founded.

In a similar vein, though, considering the idea of finality, the very first image of the show was of Jack’s eye opening.

Above: Jack’s Eye (not to be confused with a Jap’s Eye, which is something else entirely)

Maybe the very final image of the show will be of an eye closing? Maybe even Jack’s eye closing, for fans of symmetry? Obviously it’s the circumstances and causes of the eye closing that are of utmost importance, but if you were putting a bet on what the very final image of the show was going to be then I’d say a closing eye would be a good one to back.

Given the creators have talked about how the final season is going to focus on the core main characters remaining it’s probably a fair call to suggest that the ending to the show is going to involve them greatly. Anyone keeping half an eye on the recent Comic-Con promotional artwork may have noticed one or two faces from the past re-appearing amongst the current crop of Losties. As such these next two suggestions are based around the main characters.

First up, how about the final image of the show being Oceanic 815 taking off from the runway in Sydney and soaring off into the sky?

We’ve seen the main characters at the airport, and we’ve seen them boarding Oceanic 815, and we’ve seen some of them on the flight itself, and we’ve seen them gather themselves up after it crashed. The two things we’ve never actually seen is Oceanic 815 take-off and the crash landing (of the fuselage – we did see the tail-end drop into the sea).

Above: 23 people got out of this alive, apparently.

A simple coda at the end of the show would be a brief flashback of Oceanic 815 taking off to its fateful destiny that, of course, we would all know about and know how it all winds up. It would just be a nice tone to the end the show on, if you like. Or if you like something more elaborate. . .

If the final Season shows our Oceanic people somehow getting involved in events that prove Jacob’s faith in these new arrivals was correct, maybe events get ‘reset’ and the whole Island reason for existence gets erased. What I mean is, the Island exists as a testing ground for humanity – watched over by Jacob and Nameless – and once the test is over the whole thing is validated and the Island vanishes, like it never existed, and perhaps we get various glimpses of what people’s lives would have been had they never encountered the Island at all.

A montage showing Ben’s life, had he never been on the Island, and Desmond and Penny and Widmore and all the numerous others, capped off with the Oceanic people boarding their flight and it taking off, this time never destined to crash on the strange Island. . .

Above: Proposed final image – suggested music ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’

There would be a kind of poetic elegance to that kind of ending, and it would certainly offer plenty of finality. (For the record, I think this is my favourite of my ideas.) It would give a fine reason to allow cameo appearances from the likes of Boone and Shannon and Mr.Eko, and justify the promotional images.

In a similar fashion, perhaps the final shot of the show will be all the Oceanic people – the living and the dead – re-united on the beach after everything has all been sorted out. (Don’t ask me how.) The likes of Mr. Eko and Ana Lucia and Boone and Shannon and Libby and Charlie all coming back together, happy. . .

Above: Season 6 Promo poster. I can see Boone!

I’ll be honest, that idea seems a bit hokey, and also doesn’t quite explain where The Others and all the various other people that have been on the Island fit into the picture. It’s good to keep focus on the main characters, but there’s a whole bunch of other people that are part and parcel of the Island world to take into account. So whilst I won't discount the idea that faces from the past are going to be part of the Island world in this last season I don't think we're headed for a grand finale beach love-in.

Alternatively, there’s the opposite view that suggests no one makes it. The last image of Lost? How about it being just Vincent, alone, on the beach – the last surviving creature after this upcoming war and everyone else has managed to wipe themselves out?

Above: He will outlive us all.

This notion is one Stephen King, I believe, touted a long time ago. Given the creators are big Stephen King fans then it’s not to be entirely discounted, but it would be a fairly grim resolution after all these years of loyal following and, personally, no matter what happens I am absolutely certain the ending will be a hopeful, if not happy, one.!

I’ve got one last idea for what the last image of the show might be, and it’s one I’ve mentioned previously and one we’ve already seen. The Island disappearing.

Above: Only for the final time it won’t come back! Ever!

Obviously you’d hope the circumstances for the Island disappearing would be something more profound and dramatic then someone just turning a bloody donkey wheel, and this time I envisage the Island disappearing permanently, it’s purpose fulfilled, utterly lost forever.

You don’t get much more “finality” than that, right? But if you think you’ve got better ideas, feel free to detail them in the comments. So long as none of you suggest the Island is really a giant spaceship then they’re all equally viable and all just as likely as anything I’ve suggested.

Above: Fingers crossed, Lost-fans!

Top 15 Unanswered Questions - Part 3

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 that got 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 3, questions 5 to 1.

5: What happened to Claire?

Aaron's Aussie mommy survived a rocket attack on her cabin — or did she? She seemed fine, but soon after, she disappeared into the jungle with her father, Christian Shephard (also Jack's dad), who may or may not be a ghost. She's been MIA ever since.

First up, I am definitely of the belief that Claire is not dead. Miles pretty much confirmed it already when he mocked Hurley for having conversations and interactions with dead people. His curious looks over Claire were nothing to do with him thinking she was dead and more to do with him having an eye for the ladies and getting interested in getting intimate with MILF Claire.

So last we heard of Claire was that she went wandering into the jungle with Christian Shephard, leaving behind Aaron, only to later be viewed in Jacob’s Cabin, happy and carefree. Given how much she cared for Aaron we have to assume that Christian either brainwashed her (her carefree manner called to mind her demeanour when she was drugged by Ethan in The Staff Station) or he told her some incredibly convincing things that compelled her to leave Aaron and go with him.

Throw into the mix the notion that Christian Shephard was really Nameless in disguise, then this trickster character convincing Claire to do his bidding has an element of nasty ploy about it that suddenly makes Claire’s position worrying. She may have appeared happy and carefree, but that might be because she had been wholly duped and is being used in ways she doesn’t understand. Richard Malkin the psyhic warned that bad things would happen if she did not raise the child herself, and it’s arguable that this was Nameless’ intention.

Jacob’s Cabin has been burned down now, of course, which makes the matter of where Claire is residing even more perplexing. Fact of the matter is, I’m stumped, and I suspect the issue of what happened to Claire and what she’s up to now is one of those mysteries that we’ll only ever be able to hint at once we’ve been drip-fed just a little bit more information. I feel this is something that strikes right to the core of the big reveals about the show we’re all waiting to be hit with.

4: What was up with Walt?

Our top four ''Lost Must-Answer Mysteries'' were the only ones to receive more than 5% of the total vote — an indication, I think, that one fan's mystery is another fan's ''Who cares?'' Anyway, Walt. Maybe psychic. Seemingly capable of astral projection. Ben told Michael that his son proved to be ''more than we bargained for'' after they took him from the raft. What did that mean?

Walt had displayed psychic ability (touched Locke and knew he was opening ‘the hatch’ and warned him against it), astral projection (appeared dripping wet to Shannon a couple of times, as well showing up as ‘tall Walt’ to get Locke out of the mass grave) and bird-death telekinesis (displayed capacity to make birds slam themselves into windows and walls to their doom with his mind, as shown in the episode Special and the Lost mobisode Room 23).

On an Island that can emphasise and produce such phenomena already, it’s perhaps understandable that a ‘special’ person like Walt that could already do these things would be considered very valuable. Instead of being a glowing bulb, being on the Island could supercharge his powers and make him a blinding light. Perhaps that was what The Others hoped for when they took him; that his suped-up powers would help them. As it turned out he was more than they bargained for, perhaps indicating that his existing powers, bolstered on the Island, were just too much for them to control (again, the mobisode Room 23 suggests as much).

The issue of Walt’s astral projections to Shannon and Walt definitely deserve explanation – the rest of it could be left as it is without causing anyone sleepless nights. What worries me is that why Walt, speaking backwards, dripping wet, appeared to Shannon as he did won’t get explained at all – and that will be a massive gaping frustration in the show.

3: What is The Monster?

Look at that picture. Need we say more?

I still believe ‘the monster’ is man-made. I’ve thought that from the start, as a consequence of the machine-like noises it makes. Potentially it was a force that existed on the Island that the Egyptian civilization on the Island managed to harness and filter into the tree-uprooting, hooting, camera-flashing, death-machine we’ve seen.

What we do know about it is that it possesses the capacity to scan people, as if according some form of judgement. It can also kill people quickly (like the pilot of Oceanic 815) or it can apparently give them space to confess before it picks them up and slams them about (like Mr. Eko). Ben’s mission to confront ‘the monster’ to face judgement over his actions pretty much confirms that it is the Black Smoke’s function to dispense punishment as the ‘figurehead’ for some form of law and order that resides on the Island.

It’s still unclear if the Black Smoke is a force for ‘good’, or a force for ‘bad’, or whether those terms even apply. Given that it’s the jewel in the crown of mysteries for the show there’s bound to be more about it. Like where it calls ‘home’, for example. We’ve seen it emerge from vents, and there’s evidently a network of tunnels that it moves around in. But where does it stop? Does it ever stop? Who does it answer to? If it was taking pictures of Kate and Juliet then who develops them!? I have a hunch that the Black Smoke is the moving part of a larger ‘thing’. Something buried deep within the walls of The Temple, underground, there’s the ‘thing’ that the Black Smoke is a part of.

If we consider the Island to be a proving ground of sorts, where mankind is put to test time and time again, watched over and coerced by Jacob and Nameless, then Black Smoke is perhaps both indicator and arbiter over events. Perhaps when ‘the monster’ stops going around uprooting trees and killing people, that’ll be when harmony has descended. Really, though, I won’t be truly happy unless the truth about the Black Smoke turns out to be something that never occurred to me in my wildest dreams and, frankly, my above suggestion seems mostly too ‘obvious’ to be correct.

2: Who is Jacob?

This was Top-10 material even before the season 5 finale, when Jacob was still a phantom. But after ''The Incident,'' when it was revealed that Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) was a youthful looking fortysomething, partial to fish, free will, and Flannery O'Connor, he rocketed up the charts. But he still came nowhere close to Number 1. . .

You can’t help but consider him a Christ-like figure. At the end of Season 5, when he appeared to have sacrificed himself deliberately as a small act for a larger vision, it called to mind Jesus on a cross. But such parallels strike me as too extreme. Mind you, when he goes over and touches Locke to apparently bring him back from the dead (I don’t think he really did, mind) then it becomes a tantalizing proposition. Not to mention all that business being a fisherman. All very Christ-like.

There’s the flipside view, of course. The one that suggests Jacob and Nameless – being good and bad – are just a big trick and in actuality Jacob is the bad one and Nameless is the good one. That might be the case. For sure, when he distracted Sayid it certainly seemed to create a situation where Nadia looked back at him, wasn’t looking at the road, and was so killed.

Or did Jacob actually save Sayid’s life and prevent both him and Nadia being hit?
Or was Nadia's death essential for Sayid to return to the Island? (That being the case, causing her death still doesn't strike me as a particularly 'good' thing to do.)

For the record, I am going with the idea of Jacob being a ‘good’ guy. And that he exists on the Island locked in some eternal game with Nameless, using the Island as a battlefield to prove whether or not mankind will ever progress from being consistently destructive time and time again. And whilst I label Jacob as 'good' that does not preclude him from doing deeds that aren't wholly good - but he serves a greater good.

This notion does promote Jacob to a demi-God status, of course, but since The Others have been following the word of Jacob for decades precisely like religious fanaticism then it’s a conclusion that’s been a good few seasons in the making. That he’s ageless, can appear anywhere, and knows things about people beyond what he ought to know, he’s certainly got that immortal superbeing vibe down to a tea.

I’ll just lay it out as I see it. Jacob is a Christ-like figure for good presiding over the Island, and Nameless is his opposite – a Devil-like figure for bad residing on the Island. How spectacularly bad that idea is remains to be seen.

1: Why doesn't Richard Alpert age?

This result (10.8% of the vote) surprised me: I thought for sure the Monster, the Island, or the Numbers would be up here. The phrasing of the mystery is pretty much exactly how everyone articulated it. Still, I interpret the question to mean that we want answers for the whole Alpert enigma. What's his role on the Island? How did he meet Jacob? And more importantly: Eyeliner or what?

I think that Richard Alpert doesn’t age because he is so in-tune with the Island, and has been for so long, the effects of healing that the Island has exhibited on other people is so extreme with him that it’s beyond healing and actually produced the effect of immortality. Consider Locke’s attunement was such that it mended his broken back and made a paralysed man walk again. Now multiply that attunement further still and you get to where Alpert is at.

Obviously such attunement is a rare thing, which is why only Alpert appears to be the sole person occupying this role. His dark eyeliner eyes (not actually from real eyeliner, of course) give him that whole Egyptian quality, too. And the name Ricardus suggests a much more ancient character than the more modern Richard we’ve come to know.

So as stated elsewhere, I believe Alpert was a part of the older civilization on the Island that built the four-toed statue, and put hieroglyphics about the place, and made a Temple, and because of his acute attunement Alpert survived to watch over the Island and usher in new people to help him watch over it: The Others. Whilst never being in charge of them, he is crucial in selecting new chiefs for the tribe as they come and go.

And so that brings me to the end of this exhaustive rundown of the big mysteries of Lost. I guess a lot of the fun is going to be in finding out the truth when the show comes back for its last (sniff!) series, but a little bit of amusement will be derived from coming back here and checking out these ideas of mine and seeing how close or, more likely, how far off they turned out.

Top 15 Unanswered Questions - Part 2

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 that got 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 2, questions 10 to 6.

10: Who are Adam and Eve?

Early in season 1, Jack found a pair of male and female skeletons, dubbed ''Adam and Eve,'' near a spring of water. Fans immediately wondered if they belong to characters we know, and indeed, the producers have said that the bones are connected to season 5's time-travel story line. So: Who are they?

Over the years I have touted the idea that they are Desmond and Penny, Jack and Kate, Amelia Earhart and Tom Noonan (real life aviators that went missing) or Karen and Gerald DeGroot (the Dharma Initiative pioneers glimpsed only in Orientation films).

That the identity of these skeleton cave people is linked to the time travel plot of Season 5 is an interesting element, and suggests to me that it really could be Karen and Gerald DeGroot (such pioneers were they that they managed to blast themselves into the past) – but somehow it doesn’t seem likely they’ll turn out to be people so obscure.

If the skeletons are linked in with time travel then the characters this also links them in with, as couples, would be: Desmond and Penny, Faraday and Charlotte, Widmore and Ms. Hawking. So those, at the moment, are my current favourite guesses.

How does it work? How did people in the present day, some of whom are even dead, end up in a cave approximately in the 19040s? Dunno. Beats the hell out of me. But this is Lost. If it seems unlikely it’s probably going to happen!

9: What's the significance of The Numbers?

4 8 15 16 23 42. Together, they add up to 108, another recurring digit in Lost. Hurley played them to win the lottery, and the Dharma dudes used them as computer code. An explanation for The Numbers was provided via ''The Lost Experience,'' a 2006 online ARG (just Google the words ''Valenzetti Equation''), but that explanation has never been referenced on the show itself.

So The Valenzetti Equation is reported to be one that calculates the end of mankind. That’s the theory. But as the piece above states, it’s not an explanation that has ever been mentioned on the show itself (aside from a notation on the Blast Door Map!). That’s not to say it may not be ushered in for this last series as a major critical element as part of what’s going on, but it does seem somewhat unlikely.

Discounting the idea of it becoming a fully-fledged plot element then, and barring the Lost Universe online game explanation for the numbers, I suspect the manner by which we are supposed to take the numbers is as another example of this strange fabric that binds and bonds our Lost characters together.

I draw the parallel with the tapestry Jacob weaves being indicative of the Lost characters being individual threads strung and bound together to form one finished article. The numbers are part of this tapestry, like the glue, but perhaps it’s really better to consider them as symbolic totems present in the Lost universe that reinforce the interconnectedness of all these people to this Island.

The Numbers are recurring motifs. Like McCluck’s, or MacCutcheon’s, or even references to white rabbits. The Numbers populate the Lost universe to signify that they are all a part of the same world and are bound up inextricably together. Treated as such, they embroider the Lost TV show with an extra layer of understanding that requires no deeper explanation. (Although I would like to know why Dharma selected them as a code to be manually input into the computer!)

8: Why are there Egyptian ruins on The Island?

At least, we presume they are Egyptian ruins. The hieroglyphics on the Temple are Egyptian, while the Four Toed Statue was recently revealed to be that of the Egyptian deity Taweret, linked to fertility, death, and evil.

The natural and obvious answer is: Because there were Egyptians on the Island! Indeed, I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if The Temple turned out to be in the shape of a large pyramid. Ancient cultures, such as Egyptians and Mayans, are perfectly-suited to this idea of old cultures with fabulous technology and understanding of the world. So I can’t help but wonder if some kind of splinter group of Egyptians (were Egyptians particularly good sailors? Did they get involved in much global migration?) found the Island and made it their own for quite some time. Alternatively, though we’ve seen the Island move in time we still have no true comprehension of how it exists in space. Does it move around in space too? (Ms. Hawking’s big pendulum suggests it does.)

Potentially, then, the Island might have popped up near Egyptian culture and then moved on again, taking them with it (provoking the idea that they had been pulled off to some netherworld between life and death, hence all the underworld and death and statue iconography they produced). Or the Egyptians found a way onto the Island through some portal, similar to the one Locke and Ben exited out of when they left the Island after turning the ‘donkey wheel’. Again, this might have prompted the (potentially even correct!) idea that the Island is a purgatory-like place between life and death that, really, mortal people ought not to be hanging around on.

7. Where are stewardess Cindy and the kids?

Little Zack and his sister Emma were among The Tailies and were abducted by the Others shortly after the crash of Oceanic 815. Stewardess Cindy was taken a couple weeks later. In the third season, we learned they are living happily among the Others. But why did the Others want them in the first place?

Well, last we heard they were on a pilgrimage to The Temple following the mass Others exodus of The Barracks. I can only assume that’s where they’ve been. It’s been theorized that, in light of the Island bouncing around in time, potentially there would have been people that would have become unstuck in time the same way Faraday and Locke and the rest were. That might have included Cindy and the rest. It’s thus been suggested that The Temple presented a place where they would be protected from such activity. . .
Since Richard had encountered Jack and Kate and so forth in his own past, in the 1970s, he must have known something time-travelly was going to happen so getting Cindy and the other kidnapped Oceanic people into a safe haven seems like a sound plan.

Of course, there’s a lot of strangeness in The Temple. Ben was taken there as a boy and something was radically changed in him, his memories wiped and his becoming eternally bound to The Others. And Rousseau’s science team apparently had some dealings in those Temple areas and it changed their personalities entirely. Had Cindy undergone some kind of similar alteration? When she told Jack she was there “to watch”, was this a transformed person speaking?

Presumably Cindy and the kids were taken based on this odd claim that they were “good people” who were on the list. By “good people” I interpret that as being suitable as part of The Others. But then there’s the added complication that suggests these lists didn’t come from the real Jacob, rather from Nameless masquerading as Jacob.

It’s too complicated to comprehend, so I am going with a simple answer that states Cindy and the children were taken because they were uncorrupted and made of the right stuff to become a part of The Others’ group.

6. What is the Island, anyway?

When fans ask this question, what they usually want is an explanation for the Island's seemingly supernatural properties. Why is there an anomaly surrounding it that kills people or zaps them back in time? How did it heal Locke's legs? How can it be home to ghosts? While there may be answers for some of these specific concerns, the producers have already warned fans that resolving the meta-question ''What is the Island?'' may be impossible.

The Island is many things to many people. Whilst that may seem like an utterly oblique and vague statement, it’s probably as close as we’re going to get to an ‘answer’. Consider Rose and Bernard. What is the Island to them? It’s not a place that’s full of danger and action, of crises and war. They have purposefully distanced themselves from all that heady business and have simply created a tranquil life for themselves in peace. The Island to them is an idyllic place to end their days. Alas, such a story for all visitors to the Island would not make for an interesting television programme.

So the major issue of the Island as we have seen it has been focused through the unresolved dramas of the Oceanic 815 survivors as it collides in the grander scale of The Others, Dharma, an upcoming war and a Black Smoke monster set against this backdrop of affairs between Jacob and Nameless. The Island is the stage where all this has taken place, but I don’t think it was specifically designed for this performance!

The Island provides a platform to be a proving ground. It’s a place of heightened psychic phenomena, electromagnetic properties, judgemental Black Smokes and a whispering audience. That this Island is slightly ‘out of place’ from the real world is perhaps what allows it to behold such healing properties and time-relative discrepancies. It’s not quite part of the real world and so it doesn’t quite behave like the real world does. Is it a place for a large scale test of humanity headed by Jacob and Nameless? Or are Jacob and Nameless locked in some kind of test of humanity and the Island just happened to be the ideal location to hold this trial? I believe the latter.

Part 3, looking at questions 5 to 1, will follow shortly.