Lost is an American television series created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, which ran (in the USA) from 22nd September 2004 to 23rd May 2010. The series follows the lives of various people, most importantly the survivors of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific…
So finally, after 6 seasons and 6 long years, it’s all over, ending as it began.
Lost is finished, the story is complete and all the answers to the mysteries they are ever going to reveal have been revealed.
It seems that some people hated it and thought the ending was a letdown, and that they didn’t answer everything; others liked it.
Personally, I loved the ending, I thought it was much better than I’d dared hope, and I think that it was probably the best overall sort of ending they could have given us (and no, they were not dead all along as some people suggest!)
Sure, not everything was answered but then again, some things don’t need to be answered. I mean, how exactly does Warp Drive work in Star Trek? What is the mechanism behind the TARDIS being able to travel through time and space? What creates the Force? OK, George Lucas did give us an explanation for what the Force is and how it works, those accursed Midi-chlorians – a prime example of why answering some questions is a very bad thing indeed and only leads to disappointment and derision!
Sure, we never found out in the program what the actual significance of The Numbers was (and I can’t help but wonder how many people now play 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 as their lottery numbers?), but their meaning is irrelevant to the actual story – that they existed and that they gave Hurley his win and they affected other characters, is all that we need to know. They were a plot device.
The Source was derided by some as lame and they expected more detailed explanation, but again the matter of what the Source actually was and how it worked was irrelevant – all we needed to know was that it was the key to the Island, it was what Jacob and his predecessors and successors had to protect; we did get clues that it exists in some form in other parts of the world, or at least it has influence in other parts of the world, such as near Uluru, enabling those attuned to it to cure come ailments (although not Rose’s cancer, that required the Island itself).
As anyone who has watched Ronin will realise, some questions are best left unanswered (had they revealed what was in the box in Ronin then no matter what the contents were, it would have been an anti-climax).
So what actually did happen?
I’m not about to try to summarise all 6 series here – that’s over 90 straight hours of TV there (slightly less if we ignore the pointless episode about how Jack got his tattoos…). Instead I’ll outline what I gleaned as the most important aspects of the past 2,000+ years (‘cos it’s easier to summarise 2,000 years than 90 hours, obviously…)
So. A long time ago, there was an Island. It can move around the surface of the planet. It contains “the source”, powered somehow by light and water; a power which can heal, can injure, can grant immortality, can control and shape destinies; a power which also manifests itself in limited form in other key places around the world. Various peoples find the island over time and settle on it from time to time including Egyptians (could this have been Atlantis?). Some settle; some don’t; some build a big statue; some carve hieroglyphs.
Then 2,000 years ago (or thereabouts) a pregnant woman washed up on the Island and gave birth to twins, and was promptly murdered for her troubles but a mad woman who had helped her give birth. Mad woman tries to raise the two children, a blond boy named Jacob and a dark haired boy for whom his mother, not expecting twins, had no name in mind. She arranges things such that neither boy can kill the other. All along she pretended there was nothing other than the island, and told the boys that the other people they saw on the island were evil and not to be trusted – all as part of her role to protect the island and it’s mysterious “source”, believing as she did that if the source were extinguished, it would be the end. She is grooming her “sons” so that one will take over the role of protector, her preference seeming to be the dark haired nameless one; he, however, learns (from an apparition of his real mother one day) the truth about what happened, and so he throw his lot in with the other inhabitants. Years pass and he discovers that they are as bad as he was warned, but like him they want to get off the island so he stays with them; in the process they discover some magical stones (magnetism not being understood in those times) which he and his friends plan to exploit to escape the island. His “mother”, discovering this, kill him (so she believes), kills his friends, and destroys their work. Feeling he is lost, she then passed protectorship over to Jacob, making him immortal (or at least, granting him immunity from ageing). Dark haired man returns to where is “mother” lives and in a fit of rage over what she has done, kills her (but not before she thanks him for what he is about to do – has she really been around for so long that her death is a merciful release for her?). Jacob stumbles upon this and attacks his brother before dragging him to the entrance to the source and throwing him in (his “mother” having previously warned that nobody should enter it for it would be a fate worse than death) – moments later the Smoke Monster rushes out, having absorbed Jacob’s brother’s “soul” and all the wants and desires and knowledge therein.
Over the next 2,000 years the battle between the Smoke Monster and Jacob rages on, the Smoke Monster wanting nothing more than to leave the island, Jacob determined to protect the source which means keeping him there. Smokie (often adopting Jacob’s brother’s form for their encounters) warns that one day he will find a loophole enabling him to kill Jacob and leave; Jacob knows this and says he will have a replacement who Smokie threatens to kill as well.
Over time Jacob arranges for many people to end up on the island as candidates to take over from him, none ever make it (failing for various reasons – Jacob believing some men can be good, Smokie believing all are inherently flawed and bad).
At one stage during a violent storm, a slave ship The Black Rock crashes and lands inland ont eh Island; one of its slave cargo, a man by the name of Richardo (later Richard) becomes Jacob’s “special adviser”, Jacob granting Richard the ability to never grow old (a gift which becomes increasingly a curse as Richard live for the next few centuries).
Later, a group of people from the Dharma Initiative colonise the island to undertake research in part into its special abilities. As part of this they plan to build a station over a particularly “special” area of the Island which exhibits some extreme magnetic anomalies. Despite warnings of disaster should they proceed from people claiming to be from the future, the construction goes ahead, and triggers a catastrophic event (as predicted). To make matters worse, another faction also claiming to be from the future (including Jack, Kate and Sawyer) use an old WW2 abandoned atomic bomb to try to destroy the entire site in order, they say, to change time and save themselves; ironically, all they do is guarantee the future and trigger the cause of it themselves!
Along similar lines, another of those claiming to be from the future (Sayid) recognises a child at the DI, believing him to be the leader of a group causing them much danger in the future from which they have come, so he shoots the child to prevent him from becoming that leader; two of the future-man’s colleagues retrieve the shot Ben and take him to other inhabitants of the Island who say they can save his life, which they do by immersing him in a reveres pool of water in their temple which does indeed save Ben’s life; alas for them, Smokie has already infiltrated the pool and through that infiltrates Ben, manipulating him and his life for many years to come, resulting in him being exactly the person Sayid sought to prevent.
Seems you can’t change the past, what happens happens.
Ben grows up, leads a “purge” on the Dharma group, murdering them, and setting up leadership of the group of which he is now part. All the while he believes he is following the wishes of Jacob (despite Jacob never revealing himself to Ben), but he is actually being manipulated by Smokie as par of his millennia-long battle with Jacob.
Early 21st century, a passenger plan crashes on the Island; the plane is 1,000 miles off course when it crashes, and is brought down by a magnetic anomaly going awry (ever since the Incident with the bomb, they have to discharge the magnetic buildup every 108 minutes; unfortunately for the passengers of the plane Oceanic 815, the person responsible for so doing stops as they believe it is futile, causing the plane to crash). This is, of course, where Lost starts on our screens, introducing amongst others Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Locke, Sun, Jin, Charlie, and a pregnant Claire. They don’t realise it, but all of the survivors are linked to each other in various ways, having interacted in the past, sometimes on multiple occasions; it’s almost as if they were all subconsciously attracted to that one flight…
Smokie encounters the survivors of the plane crash and quickly identifies one person, John Locke, who he can use; he sets about subtly influencing several of the key survivors to put his plan in to action.
The survivors try to leave the Island and eventually some of them succeed; it appears that they were not destined so to do as their lives take turns for the worse, and John Locke is persuaded to try to bring them all back to the Island, partly by the apparent apparition of Jack’s dead father (in reality Smokie in disguise, Jack’s dead father’s coffin having been on the crashed plane). Before he does, the Island is under attack and “Jacob” tells Locke he must move the Island; Ben does this using a long-hidden device in the bowels of the island, but unfortunately in the process he knocks the control wheel out of alignment and the survivors find themselves flashing back and forward through time on the Island…
Locke puts right what Ben broke and leaves the Island, contacting each of the others who had left and trying, without success, to convince them to return. Depressed by his failure he is about to kill himself when Ben walks in, reasons with him apparently trying to help, gets the necessary information, then kills him anyway – this, it transpires, is essential for Smokie’s plan (Smokie can only take the form of dead people, and Locke had built up a group of followers on the island). Locke’s death persuades the others to return to the Island, and in order to recreate the original conditions as much as possible they take Locke’s body with them in a coffin. They arrive on the Island, some in the present, some falling back to the past prior to the Incident, including Sayid, Jack and Kate… These folk find themselves flung back to their own time as a result of the atomic explosion and its interaction with the Island’s anomalies (having completely failed to change the past despite their every effort).
Locke appears to be brought back to life and leads everyone on a pilgrimage to see Jacob; along the way he tells Ben that Ben must kill Jacob (shortly before this, Ben wants to atone for his daughter’s murder, and Locke helps him visit Smokie for judgement; during the process, Locke’s dead daughter reappears and instructs Ben to obey Locke’s every instruction – unfortunately for Ben he agrees, not realising that she is actually just another manifestation of Smokie).
Arriving at Jacob’s abode, Locke and Ben enter, and after Ben tries to get Jacob to explain why he forsook Ben but getting no answer, Ben snaps and kills Jacob – too late realising that “Locke” is actually Smokie, who has found his loophole and a way to kill Jacob.
With Jacob out of the way, Smokie tries to kill the rest of the survivors, knowing some to be Jacob’s candidates to be successor – if he can destroy them then his way to leaving is cleared. The slight flaw is thagt Smokie can not kill any candidate directly, so he tires to establish various ways to trick them into killing themselves or to trick others into killing them, with varying degrees of success.
Determined to leave the Island at all costs, Smokie decides his only choice is to destroy the Island, and that includes the Source.
Meanwhile, thanks to his ashes being retained, Jacob is able to appear to the survivors one last time; he passes protectorship to Jack before passing away forever.
Smokie tells Jack he is going to force Desmond, a man with a very unique immunity to electromagnetism, to switch off the Source and thus destroy the Island. Jack says he will help Smokie to switch the Source off, claiming it will not destroy the Island after all.
Desmond switches off the Source, and true to Smokie’s prediction, the Island starts to suffer major problems and starts to break up into the sea slowly. Seems Jack was wrong…
However, without the Source, Smokie (still in Locke form) is suddenly no longer invincible and immortal, and is killed by Jack, Kate & Sawyer.
Fearing the destruction of the Island, Jack passes protectorship over to Hurley (who asks Ben to be his number 2 – a task Ben accepts with relish and gratitude believing as he does believe that it was his destiny all along), before descending into the Island and reestablishing the Source, subjecting himself to fatal EM poisoning in the process.
Jack dies in a mirror of the opening scene of the first series, eyes closing as he is lying in the same patch of bamboo in which he originally crashed.
And that’s the story of Lost.
Oh, yes, there is the small matter of much of the sideways story in the final series – in which all the main protagonists seem to be living lives similar to their original ones BUT with the flight never crashing, and with various differences (Hurley this time feels his lottery win is lucky, whereas he felt it a curse in the original life; Jack now has a son; Sawyer is a policeman rather than a con; and so on). As time moves on, some of them start to get the feeling that they know each other from somewhere, gradually having flashes back to their Island lives, to their considerable confusion!
Ultimately they all gather together at the same church, lead and gently prodded in that direction by Desmond (and, over time, more of them as he persuades them that things are not what they seem), where Jack meets his dead father, Christian Shepherd.
Jack “But you are dead, how can you be here?”
Christian “How can YOU be here?”
Jack, slowly “I died”.
As they all gather together in the church, they discover that they are all dead – they died at different times in their lives, but once they died they all gravitated to each other – soul mates for want of a better description – as they shared such a strong bond after everything they went through on the Island. Once they finally realise and accept this, they are all ready to move on together to whatever lies ahead in the next step of their journey to the afterlife.
Not all in that “waiting room” want to move on just yet – Ben declines to join them, telling Hurley that he still has some things he needs to do (not before Locke forgives him for killing him, something which comes as a very visible relief to Ben).
So that’s Lost.
Leaving out the odd detail here and there.
Yes, there are still a million and one unanswered questions, but then again there always will be for any story (just think how many there are about real life!), and I personally feel that most of them are incidental to the actual story – there comes a time when a plot device has to be taken as-is without too much further questioning so as not to distract from the actual story.
Like Warp Drive, travel through time and space in a Policebox, the Force, and the mysterious island of Lost.
And if that’s not enough, there’s always the ever-useful Lostpedia, well worth a good browse.