Lost: explained (short version) – A character driven drama

My yesterday’s post was too long and even a bit too vague, so I’ll use a forum post to illustrate better my point of view on the mysteries of the series and why I say that we were given all the answers that we needed to understand it fully.

JeffL: Sure, I have a ton of imagination, probably too much for my own good. But if they wanted me to make up all the answers to the fundamental questions, they could have just have one season and then a panel that says “OK, we gave you the template, now you come up with all the stories and what happens next.”

It’s really not that.

It’s a mix of laziness and it being not the point. If you want to fill the gaps you can try, but the message of the show is that it’s not the point. It shouldn’t matter. The mystery stays unresolved because it’s the nature of the mystery, and not because an answer has been denied. Things remain “abstract” like they can be in a dream. The mechanics of a dream do not follow logic, because they are symbolic. And a lot of mysteries in Lost aren’t to be “resolved” because their purpose is entirely symbolic. Or better: things need to be interpreted, not explained.

Trying to solve or understand a dream through the sheer logic of what happens in that dream is the very best way to miss its meaning.

But the MIB/Smokey story line was set up by the writers, and people like Jacob spoke as if they knew what the horror of him leaving the island would be. Yet – we’re given no real indications of why it would be so bad. The only thing MIB ever expressed was frustration that his un-mom lied to him, that there was an entire world out there, and he wanted to see it but he was told by his un-mom and then his brother, no, you can’t leave and see the rest of the world.

MiB (in smoke form) represents hate and vengeance. When Jacob sends his dead brother in the magic pool, he unleashes/shapes an “evil” part of the island that absorbs MiB’s original goals and twists them. The magic pool worked in that case like a sort of amplifier of the last bad thoughts stuck in that body. Even here the menace is entirely abstract because it is symbolic. There is no need or way to detail what concretely happens if the smoke monster is unleashed on the rest of world. It’s just a symbolic threat.

Jacob was himself a flawed protector because of his deranged mother. He inherits and brings along the flaws of his mortal self. Becoming immortal and drinking the magic pool kool-aid doesn’t make him better or particularly enlightened, in fact Jacob is an idiot (and you see in my longer explanation why this is a core point of the whole show). It’s Jacob who causes all this mess, and it’s Jacob who tries to close the loop he created by having the smoke monster destroyed (through Jack). Hurley becomes Jacob’s successor, but it’s implied that he’ll be a much better successor because he’s already a better person. Even the island mythology gets some kind of “betterment” from the process. But this process of “betterment” is always “human”-driven.

When he becomes Smokey, all of his actions still appear to be focused on just getting off the island.

Because the smoke monster is the manifestation and perversion of the original intent MiB had. It is twisted into hate, representing that “bad” part that makes humans human. So flawed.

It basically means: at the beginning our aims are always legitimate and good. But they can be twisted toward hate and nihilism. (see my post about chains and choices)

The smoke monster simply represents the corruption of a legitimate intent.

So yeah, the one thing I would have preferred is a simple dialog where Jacob or Jack or whoever states why Smoky getting to see the rest of the world would indeed end the world.

The threat is symbolic. It implies the danger of men giving up to their “bad” side (which is the fear and belief of Jacob and MiB’s mother). The smoke monster represents that possibility.

In the end if there’s something that the finale makes clear is that the “finality” is represented by choice and human will. Every supernatural element in the show is SUBORDINATE to the human struggle. The supernatural element is merely a “device” for the human struggle to surface and happen, and not “the point”. This is why the writers themselves continue to repeat that in the finale they wanted to focus on the characters and their lives, because the characters are what matters the most in the show. The Indiscriminate Happy End reinforces this concept: the journey existed because the characters faced their problems and got a chance of resolving themselves. This is why every character has a personal story arc, with flashbacks and everything. It is to show that these people had to face their problems, making mistakes or making progress. What they learn determines what they become, and, ultimately, what they bring along in the afterlife. What matters: what they have become and the people they got linked to. What doesn’t matter: the physical world they leave behind and “let go”, including the concrete answers to the mysteries.

Every threat or mystery they face is symbolic or thematic. They are “devices” used from a side to capture the attention of the audience (us, watching the show), from the other as symbols and metaphors of everyone’s journey and struggle. If some of you still think there are unexplained things it’s probably just because you don’t want to accept the real answers.

So you are left in Purgatory, forever looking for answers that do not exist.

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