Mysteries LOST Never Explained

Lost is a show about the survivors of a plane crash living on an island. No, wait. It’s about survivors of a plane crash living on an island, trying to get away from an evil monster made out of smoke. No, wait. The smoke monster is being controlled by a mysterious group of people who have lived on the island for years. Natch. Decades. Natch. A thousand years. And there’s a hatch now. And the island also has mystical properties that allow people to heal. But those properties are being controlled by a set of rules that are made by two mysterious figures who represent two sides of mankind and are at war with one another for really silly reasons. Also, there’s a cabin in the jungle that keeps on moving. Oh, and we almost forgot — the island can also travel through time. 

Lost isn’t really a show about anything. Or, if you look at it upside-down, it’s a show about everything. Over the course of six seasons, Lost transformed from a simple story about people struggling to survive in surreal circumstances into a show obsessed with its own mythology. As the episodes went on, there was less and less about what the characters wanted and more repositioning of the characters so that they could be in the right place at the right time to learn something about the universe. Luckily for us viewers, the universe of Lost is extremely interesting and complex – kind of like the world of Hard Drive 13, a very Lost-ian series about a young computer hacker uncovering a galaxy-wide conspiracy theory. 

Lost has come to an end, and with it, several mysteries that were posited early on in the series were left unsolved. Fans who cried out for answers were thrown a few scraps and told to tune in to Fringe. We decided that it’s time to get off our hammocks, sift through the expansive Lost mythology, and demand an answer to the most dangly of the dangling threads.

1. What caused Walt’s powers?
We learn early on that Walt has special powers (other than his proclivity for being captured). He can make things appear using only his mind. Like in “Special” when he asks his father to look at the picture of a bronze cuckoo clock and a bronze cuckoo crashes into their apartment window. Or when he says a number in backgammon and rolls it. Coincidence? Not likely. Most Lost theorists say that Walt’s powers derive from the same thing that gave Desmond his powers: a prolonged exposure to electromagnetic energy. 

2. What caused The Incident? The drilling or the bomb?
The Incident is alluded to a great deal in the early seasons as the reason the hatch exists. If not for The Incident, then no one would have to push the button. If the button isn’t pushed, then the world will end. We find out later that The Incident is when a time-travelling Jack and Company detonate a nuclear weapon at the bottom of a well hosting a pocket of electromagnetic energy, releasing a huge quantity of it. But we’re not quite sure what happens next. Or if the bomb or the drilling is what caused The Incident to occur. Did the bomb do anything? And if it did, why are there no traces of it in current times? 

3. Who was shooting at our heroes in the outrigger during their time travels?
Without the supplementary materials that come with the complete set on DVD, we’d have no idea that the outrigger crew chasing Juliet, while she was traveling through time, were members of the Black Rock crew. It’s a small bone thrown to fans who were clamoring to know why someone in a boat would fire without warning. It seemed like they were trying to kill them with great intent. Apparently, this is one thing that the show’s producers had an answer to, but decided not to follow up on for the sake of telling a better story. To quote Damon Lindelof:

“…we started talking about paying that off this season, it felt like the episode was at the service of closing the time loop, as opposed to what the characters might actually be doing in that scenario. It never felt organic. We decided we would rather take our lumps from the people who couldn’t scratch that itch than to produce an episode that was in service of putting people in an outrigger and getting shot at.”

4. Who killed all the Ajira passengers and why?
In the episode “Recon,” we finally see what happened to the remaining passengers on the Ajira flight that brought the Oceanic 6 back to the island: they died. These poor people, who had no idea what they were getting into when they booked their tickets, ended up rotting on the beach. And they weren’t even given the proper respect of having on-screen deaths either. We can kind of assume that the Man in Black killed them all, but there’s no real reason he’d have to. It’s not like they were posing a threat to him. He’d have to have done it purely out of boredom.

5. How was the cabin able to change locations?
There’s a mysterious cabin in the middle of the jungle where a powerful man named Jacob is supposed to live. We learn later on that Ben Linus, who leads Locke to the cabin in the first place, has no idea where Jacob really is, or what he looks like, or what he wants, and that Jacob left the cabin a long time ago. We can even gleam from sparse details that Smoke Monster, aka Man in Black, lived in the cabin after Jacob left it. But we never learn how the cabin is so good at switching locations. It’s there one minute, gone the next. Are we meant to assume that the Smoke Monster is moving the cabin from one place to the next? It’s been two thousand years. You think the guy would settle down.

6. Why did Jacob leave the cabin?
Another cabin-related question: if we’re correct in assuming that Jacob did live in the cabin after Horace and his lady vacated, and that’s why Richard told Ben to look for him there, what made him give up on the place and relocate to the foot of the statue? It’s altogether possible that Richard lied to Ben about where Jacob lived to keep him as far away from him as possible, or that Ben was lying about his knowledge of the cabin. There are too many variables. Let’s just assume that Jacob didn’t have enough room for his giant loom.

7. How were the ancient Egyptians able to build a magical lighthouse?
The Lighthouse is one of those last-minute structures that appeared in Lost’s final season. Why no one had seen the lighthouse up until that point is explained with the fact that the lighthouse can only been seen by someone who is looking for it. So it’s already pretty magical at that point. Upping the magic quotient even higher is the lighthouse’s ability to keep tabs on any of its candidates at any time. How are the ancient Egyptians so adept at building such a magical property? Were they assisted by some power-giving magic juice from the Source, perhaps?

8. Who is Mother, and how is she able to kills all the Romans, burn down the village, and enter the well?
Mother is one of the most mysterious figures in the show. She appears in only one episode as the caretaker of Jacob and his brother but not before she murders their real mother. All we really know about her is that she came to the island by accident, doesn’t like outsiders, and knows a heck of a lot about the mystical properties of the island. At one point, she murders an entire town full of Romans, which strongly suggests that she was the smoke monster before her ward took the mantle.

9. How did Eloise Hawking know Brother Campbell?
There ended up being a lot of connections between the characters during Lost’s seven-year run, but none have seemed as strange as that of Brother Campbell and Eloise Hawking. Brother Campbell is Desmond’s former religious advisor who fires him after finding him drunk. Eloise Hawking is a former Other who killed her own son and tried to undo it in a time-travelling paradox. In what universe would these two people meet to pose for one poorly-Photoshopped picture? Only in this one. And we’ll never know why.

10. Why do some characters have the ability to talk to the dead?
Like Walt’s ability to create objects out of thin air, some other characters have powers that were never fully explained. Both Miles and Hurley have the power to communicate with the dead, albeit in totally different ways. Miles seems to get the short end of the stick. He’s able to only hear the final words of the dead by getting real close to the ground. Hurley can talk to them like they were his best buds asking for a piece of his chicken bucket. No explanation is ever given as to why these two characters have these powers. We’re left to assume that some people have it and some people don’t, and perhaps the island has nothing to do with it.

11. Why was the island underwater in the flash-sideways timeline?
We know that the island sinks when the plug at the source is removed – because the place falls apart in the finale. But there’s no reason the island should be underwater in the flash-sideways timeline. In the flash-sideways timeline, Oceanic Flight 615 never crashes, therefore no one is around to travel back in time and sink the thing. The only answer we might be happy with is that the collective minds of those creating the flash-sideways timeline surmised that only a sunk island would have prevented the plane from crashing, therefore it had to be underwater.

12. If David Shepard is real, then what the hell is he doing with all these people he doesn’t really know?
The flash-sideways timeline is a creation of all the people who have died on Lost. When they die, they immediately enter a place where they’ve forgotten everything that happened on the island, and live their lives in a different way than it actually went. But everyone who exists in the flash-sideways timeline is real. Jack’s father says that explicitly. So then, who the hell is David Shepard, and what is he doing in this cathartic dimension of the mind? If he’s real, then he must be someone else’s kid, because Jack never had a chance to pop a real one out in his lifetime. Does that mean that he’s on loan from someone else’s heaven? How does one get a gig like that, and does it pay well karmicly?

13. Is Michael trapped on the island forever?
In the final scene in the church, Michael is suspiciously absent. We’re led to assume then, that Michael’s spirit is still trapped on the island for killing Ana Lucia and Libby. This doesn’t seem very fair to us, seeing as how pretty much everyone in that room did some pretty horrific things to stay alive, and that Michael didn’t really plan to kill Ana Lucia and Libby, it must be a mistake. Fortunately for Michael, in “The New Man in Charge,” a short that premiered with the DVD box set, Ben Linus and Hurley travel to Santa Rosa to recruit Walt. Their mission? Help Michael move on. WAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!

Chris Littler lives in Hollywood. He has a degree in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, one of the most prestigious writing programs in America, which he totally plans to hang on the wall when he has a Study. Chris currently covers video games at when he’s not performing improv at iO, and is currently writing a one-hour TV pilot with his friend Wes. Like everyone else you know, he has an album available to purchase on iTunes and has lots of things to say on his blog: chrislittler[dot]com.