Friday, May 28, 2010

The questions LOST neglected to answer

Other than these I'd say the show wrapped up everything.

Bottom line though: who cares? Wasn't it fun just following a wildly imaginative story?


Allen Lulu said...

Yeah yeah yeah. Cute and all. Except that Movieline handled that here:
And the show answered just about every question. You had to pay attention and think pretty hard but it's all in there. And what wasn't answered wasn't really taht important.

Kurt said...

It's just a tale of screenwriters not having a clue where to go, so they take as much random info from earlier series as they can, then try to tie it all together to end it.

RikerDonegal said...

I agree with Allan L. who says "And the show answered just about every question. You had to pay attention and think pretty hard but it's all in there. And what wasn't answered wasn't really taht important."


Lostpedia lists 246 Lost Mysteries. And, according to their comprehensive site, there are only 9 that remain completely unanswered. Not bad, if you ask me.

James said...

Allen -- the site you reference:

Q: Why does only one specific bearing get you off the island?

A: Because it’s a hidden, magical island, and it just does?

Not exactly a definitive answer.

You want the real answer?

It's because the actor who played Michael wanted more money. So they wrote him off the show.

But go ahead believing everything was one big "plan."

Allen Lulu said...

You know, I think even Ken would back me up here when I say that to expect the show to have been planned out from the very beginning would be folly. One of the things the creators even admit to is writing themselves into some corners and having to write themselves out. And, yes, there were actors who became problematic. How does the saying go? 3rd year you work for them? I'm sure that wasn't going to fly on this show.
TV isn't a novel. Everything isn't planned in advance. Hell, just by serving the master of advertising and open ended network television it is IMPOSSIBLE to plan everything out from jump street. This isn't a mini-series.
But, I'll tell you something. THe conceit of the show, like it or not, has pretty much always been that it's a special island. It's a magical island. (There's a monster made of smoke, that might have been a hint, you know?) Magic does actually happen on this island. As real as they may have drawn the characters the show was not a "gritty, realistic drama". It was Time Tunnel or Land of the Giants masquerading as that. It's been that from the start. A lot of us knew that. Because we liked Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants and Land of the Lost which, believe it or not, Lost copied the hell out of.
But I don't need answers to every single thing. Do you? You need to know what the bearing off the island means and why its that way? How about who brought "mother" to the island? How about who brought the people before her? Or the people before them? (It's turtles all the way down, bub)
One of the tenets of philosophy is that for every question asked another is raised. You may say, "gobbledy gook!" But for a show that used the names John Locke, Mikhail Bukanin (sp), Jeremy Bentham, Anthony Cooper and David Hume not to mention Carlyle, Rousseau and Lewis I'd think they weren't just paying lip service to their devotion to that science.

Simon H. said...

James: Yes, a lot of it was made up as it went on, as characters leaving and other emerging often take shows in different directions then originally intended. That's the fun of making a show like that, as you have ways of changing course if needed. The main mythological points I'm sure were known from close to the start, but others came about organically as it went along. The heading part in particular made sense in the context of the Island being hidden from the rest of the world(something that the creators had known from the start) and was a valid plot point in future seasons.

Chuck said...

The show answered the questions poorly. It really was turtles all the way down, and that's not a good thing.

As for the namedropping of the philosophers, lip-service is a great word for that.

This show was like the world's most complicated whodunnit. You were into it because you were enticed at how complex it was and interested in eventually discovering the resolution.

In this case, the resolution was no more interesting than, "It's magic."

And the thing about story universes with magic, is that magic also plays by rules.

The writers for this show somehow got away with making mysteries that were nominally answered but never grounded in any sort of firm context. Deeply unsatisfying.

Oceans 13 comes to mind. Slight of hand, roll credits. Everyone claims to get it. But the emperor has no clothes.

Simon H. said...

I have a bad feeling as I go to bed tonight that while I sleep their will be long-drawn out fight over what people liked and disliked about "Lost". Just for the record, the finale was a great resolution for the characters. Someone please tell me how stupid I am for thinking that before I wake up. Good night.

Ben K. said...

Here are the answers to all the "Lost" mysteries.

Unknown said...

It's not so much the unanswered questions but that so many answers contradict each other and the amount of "easter eggs" make you really really (I mean REALLY) think that the authors just made shit up to distract you from the fact that there wasn't anything substantial.

It's a big giant middle finger. If anything can be answered by "God" then I don't want to watch a single sci-fi show anymore. BSG did it, Lost did it now and honestly why the f*** should I care about something when in the end everybody ends up in the afterlife anyway and those who don't don't only because the actors are not under contract anymore. It's all nice and good when you watch a movie and you can be sure that there aren't alternate reasons for someone not to show up in specific parts of the story (well maybe not when you watch "The Crow" where greedy producers just NEED to put an actor who died DURING production into the final product). Because then you KNOW that this couldn't have been "the plan".

Another simple answer to "why do you care" is because if the answer is always "something that you can't proove" (like that there's an afterlife) then that seriously f***s with the part of the audience that seeks for logic.

In the end, there wasn't any logic behind lost only "shit we made up".

If I was able to assume that "shit we made up" was the final answer from the get go, I would've been able to drop "Lost" from the list of shows I follow.

In the end, yes, I liked the finale because it gave you a fuzzy feeling. Because it was "all about the characters". Because there was a happy end. I liked it way more than the ending to Battlestar Galactica because on that show there was no happy ending. But if the "happy ending" is only achieved by "afterlife" or "god" then I feel cheated. Because NOTHING matters. Not a single thing.

And it's pretty hard to swallow the fact that you just spent countless hours of your life watching a show handing you hints for stuff that doesn't really matter.

It's like a scavenger hunt where you have to find 249 items and in the end "everybody wins, all that mattered was that you did it together".

Try that with a group of teenage kids. I suggest hiding every single sharp object beforehand.

A. Buck Short said...

I’ll ingest the rest of the comments soon enough, because I’m sure they’re 99% cogent as usual. But right now I’m still working on the video. Hour 5, and damn it, this would have been a lot easier if it was multiple choice. When Ben tells us it’s time to put down our pencils, I’m afraid I’ll be kicking myself for not just skipping question 12 and moving on to the rest.

But as for answering all the questions, even Immanuel Can’t. I’ll just take the ones that were means to a very satisfactory end. To be is to do. Doobie doobie doo. I’m still waiting for the episode where the camera pans left and picks up the twin peaks in Happy Town.

Just one final question. Why is it again that we should all be happy we’re dead?

Baylink said...

The problem Chuck (heh) is referring to here is "deus ex machina", which is generally fairly closely associated with "deeply unsatisfying".

Hey! They could have just sent a 'vignal' from the island!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

James, writing an explenation afterwards doesn't make it less of an explenation. The fact that this was a special island that set in motion a lot of things was one of the givens in this story. Another was Jacob's abillity to give certain people special 'gifts'. All developments after that stuck to those rules (and a couple more). I agree that Lost explained almost everything in a satisfying way. But that isn't the most important thing to me. The show seems to split those who revl in the proces from those who want to deal in the concrete only. Improv training is not such a great thing because of the characters actors develop in training and than bring to SNL to be exploited, but for the abillity to create characters and situations they develope there. Likewise, it's the abillity to surprise the viewer without ignoring everything they thought of with every new twist taht makes Lost such a departure from the surface-obsesed majority of American television.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry but just saying that Lost devides people in those two groups is just ignorant. It's the same way people who still watched Lost treated people who gave up and said that it doesn't make any sense.

Again: the problem is, that Lost gave us questions, it put "clues" or better easter eggs everywhere, and in the end, all those easter eggs and clues don't mean a thing. Too much has been discarted and there are too many things that contradict each other.

It doesn't help that people now go and "answer" all these questions that are left by just making stuff up themselves without adding words like "could, maybe, should" - you know, they treat those who ask these questions as if they have answers. They don't. They have beliefs that their answers COULD be right.

And once you reach the domain of beliefs you can simply skip that step and say "god" and "mystical" and you're done.

The problem is: Dharma itself was a group of scientists (!) that wanted to explore the island and uncover its mysteries. We were simply led to believe that in the fifty years that organisation was on the island they found some answers.

There's a difference between simply asking the viewer to suspend their disbelief, say accept that "The Force" is a mystical power, and giving (or not giving) them answers. As a fact (for me at least) the three prequels with their answers to everything "Star Wars" were just as frustrating.

I would've been fine if the authors just had told me "The island is pre-hell, purgatory". I didn't have a problem with "Flatliners" for that matter either.

But they just added question after question after question while giving really strange "answers". The whole puzzle simply doesn't fit. And that is frustrating when you sat a good part of six years and tried to make it all fit in your head.

At least they kinda took the puzzle away and gave me a cute teddy in the end.

Unknown said...

Oh and by the way:

There are about a hundred questions on that page that show there weren't any answers by the authors for those questions.

Just because fans make up their own answers doesn't mean they were answered.

And it isn't really about the sheer number. There are certain important questions that should've been answered.

My personal favorite is why women weren't able to conceive and suddenly they were. What changed? How did the Sonic fence work? And about half a ton of questions regarding Walt.

If Lindelof/Cuse simply had told us "We had great plans for Walt but then he grew so much we couldn't stay on that path" - fine. But they didn't. They teased us like the most expensive whore in Alexandria and that's what annoys the heck out of me...

WV: ismskips

There are a couple of "-isms" that come to mind when thinking about Lost :-)

-bee said...

Now that I've had a few days to mull it over - I see it like this:

I think the creators' main priority was on coming up with a unique 'design' for each season of the show - and I think THIS was their most innovative achievement and really may influence episodic TV in the future. One of the coolest episodes of TV I have ever seen was the finale of (I think) season 3 where what we thought were flashbacks were actually 'flash-forwards'.

But I DO think to a great extent they missed the jungle for the trees. In retrospect I see the 6 seasons of the show like a giant rough draft where - due to time demands of network TV - they had no leisure to put things in a drawer and mull them over for a year or two - but just had to throw what they had onto the screen and have faith they could make sense of it all tomorrow (or tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow or....whoops - we ran out of tomorrows).

I mean, these guys had PHENOMENAL narrative abilities to shape rough ideas into compelling and suspenseful episodes on an INDIVIDUAL basis - but just didn't have the time to allow all their ideas to 'bake' into an organic whole. Not that I think this is ABC's 'fault' - within the 'system' I imagine they gave the show as much breathing room as they thought they possibly could.

It was an incredibly fun show to watch in real time - and to hypothesize about it with other people - but I think its ultimate lack of coherency means it falls short of great art (which I think it DID have the potential to be).

Allen Lulu said...

Call me crazy, sebastian but, if you build and live near a sonic fence, tap into enormous amounts of electro magnetic energy and unwittingly live over a nuclear bomb with a slow leak, you might have some issues with fertility, among others. I don't think we needed THAT spelled out for us.

Unknown said...

Well make that "give birth" then. Women died during labor. All of them. Every time. Until Sun.

It's "questions" like this that make me go insane. They tell you "you know, everybody dies on this island during childbirth" and then once Sun gives birth to her daughter she simply doesn't die and we never get an explanation.

Stuff like that simply needed to be answered. You can't simply shove all that aside and focus on the cuddly fuzzy fact that they all met in the afterlife. Six years we watched what they did before that and if the island was some sort of test or if there was a reason for Jacob to bring them there because all the 815ers were "Lost" (even though I wonder how they could be considering Jacob watched them from when they were born and influenced their lives, another thing that makes me go insane - he considers them to be candidates and the reason for that is because they were unhappy/lost off the island - how in the world did he know beforehand that they WOULD become like that?)

All these things make the story simply bite. It sucks. It shows that they just made shit up in season six to somehow "explain" and in the end they couldn't, because they didn't have a plan and it is just annoying. I'd rather not have any answers at all than answers that show so clearly that they only the basic idea, nothing more.

Yes it was fascinating and intruiging and it was fun to argue about what the mysteries were but for the love of all that is good and pure it's as if you solve the New York Times crossword and the answer is BRZAFDGKAFFF

Angry Bear said...

Nothing makes me laugh more than people saying "the writers just made it up" as opposed to every other story ever told.

That's what telling a story is. Making shit up!

I loved the show and the finale. I got the answers I needed. To get all the answers would be unsatisfying. You think you want them -- but you don't really want them.

Allen Lulu said...

Sebastian, that's simply inaccurate. According to the show, Juliet said that it happened in the second trimester.
"The problem occurs somewhere during the second trimester, when the mother's immune system is triggered. The white blood cell count plummets. It's like the … immune system turns on the fetus."
Not when they are giving birth.
And therein I think leads us to the main issue that separates those who loved the finale vs those who didn't: Lost was unique in that it required a lot of retention from it's audience and viewers. You couldn't really casually watch this show. You couldn't just drop in and out. And it was more enriching to watch while reading all the peripheral material. Does this make it a "bad" show? No, because I think there are plenty of programs that you can just tune in and catch up with. Lost was different.
You had to suspend disbelief, catch up on the conceits of the show, forgive the occasional hole, plug in the ones that weren't answered and become slavish in your adoration of the show.
While that leaves out a LOT of viewers, the ones it included became a prime source of revenue. The ad dollars were targeted pretty intensely and the peripherals and ancillaries make a bundle.
FYI. I believe the food drops were sent before the Dharma Initiative were purged but got caught in the time web of the island and I've heard that the Man in Black's name was Samuel.
All of this has made the show more than just a fun experience for me and viewers like me.
In a way, Lost was the last of its kind. The water cooler show that caught the zeitgeist of the culture. As we splinter into sub groups and niches we will look back, perhaps, and see it as the end.
But it's also the first of it's kind. The first show to use the internet as it did, involve the audience, rpgs, easter eggs, social networking. For that it will be the first.
All i know is I can't wait to watch the whole thing again, knowing what I know now.

MikeN said...

I just realized that Ken Levine influenced the ending of this show.
He had Hurley as a recurring character on Becker, and it was likely this part that got him cast. A different actor, and probably Sawyer takes over the island.

Davinder said...

> There are about a hundred questions on that page that show there weren't any answers by the authors for those questions.

Most of the questions on that page are inconsequential. If not knowing "Where did the nickname 'Hurley' come from?" is impairing your ability to enjoy a TV show, then you've got bigger problems than the Lost writers.

>Just because fans make up their own answers doesn't mean they were answered.

Shows and movies written for adults often expect the audience to extrapolate from the information given.

On a side note: the thing that impresses me most about Lost is that the series achieved such popularity when it had such challenging and non-linear narrative and so often held off on spoon feeding its audience. It kind of gives you hope for the intelligence of the viewing public.

>How did the Sonic fence work?

How do lightsabers work in Star Wars? How do transporters work in Star Trek? Hell, how does an internal combustion engine work in real life? What bearing does this have on the story?

Craig M said...

One person's quest for answers, told through the miracle of 70s soft rock...

Alex P. Keaton said...

The problem is, so many of these questions that some fans feel cheated by not knowing the answers aren't central to the story that Cuse and Lindelof were trying to tell. Over thousands of years, it seems a large number of groups made it to the island. The giant cork had Sumerian writings on it. The Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the temple. The MIB's people. The Others from the 1950s. Dharma. Unfortunately for some people, we weren't watching a show about any of these groups, we were watching a show about the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. So our knowledge of these other groups only has to do with their interactions with our castaways, with how their history affects Jack, Hurley, Locke...etc.
I forget where I read it, but if we were to watch another group of people come to the island during Hurley and Ben's time in power, the explanation for the beach camp would probably be a "this is how I got here" from Hugo and not much else.
In the end it would be foolish to think they had 120 some odd hours of programming planned out from day one, but I think it's pretty clear that there was an big picture story that had been plotted out from the pilot going forward.