LOST: How the Quest for Answers Has Crippled Season Six

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoiler information for previously aired episodes of Lost. If you’re caught up to tonight’s finale, please read on. If not, what are you waiting for? Please catch up and play along with the rest of us.

With the final, and epically long, episode of LOST less than a few hours away, viewers around the world are chomping at the bit for the creators to finally answer all the questions that have been building up. Why was Walt so special? Why does Jack have to protect the island? Why did that Egyptian statue have four toes and who brought the materials over to make it? And most importantly: where did Jacob buy his off-Island clothing?

Wait… what?

It’s no news to anyone that LOST has spent a lot of its airtime creating questions and interesting characters (who, yes, were just as often quickly killed off). But now, six seasons into the game, a lot of viewers are demanding answers — some of which they should get, and others which the creators/writers are currently digging themselves a hole in the process of trying to answer. That’s where a lot of Season Six’s failings come in to play; in an effort to satisfy audience members while fulfilling their long-standing promise that LOST wasn’t just a bunch of smoke and mirrors — wait a minute, it kind of is when you think about it — the writers have turned on the Exposition Engine to the point that the story and characters have lost their drive.

While many a writer and viewer has spent recent days drawing up a list of questions they expect LOST to answer, it often seems like that’s exactly what the creative team behind the show has done, crossing things out as soon as they can shoehorn in the necessary line of dialogue to explain the answer. Case in point: the whispers. Since the first season, creepy and nearly incomprehensible whispers have emerged from the jungle to perplex the characters, leaving the audience to ask: well, where are they coming from? General fan opinion seemed to point at the deceased of the Island being the source — especially thanks to LOST aficionados who painstakingly sorted out and transcribed the audio over at the Lostpedia — but for some reason, this very cool mystery that could have been left the source of speculation was answered in the dullest way possible.

As Hurley emerged from the jungle he faced the dead, yet talkative, Michael, a.k.a. Mr. “Where’s my boy? Walt!” Dawson.


You’re stuck on the Island aren’t you?


‘Cause of what I did.


And… there are others out here like you, aren’t there? That’s what the whispers are…?


Yeah, we’re the ones who can’t move on.



Do you know where Locke is?

As awkward as that it is to read, it was more awkward to watch seasons of mystery get shot down with a point-blank question and answer. But my all-time favorite moment of forced Season-Six exposition has to be when the writers felt it necessary to spell-out the fact that the Man in Black (MiB) had once masqueraded as Jack’s dead dad. (Because apparently, mentioning repeatedly how the MiB can take on the form of the dead and alluding to the fact that Claire, who once ran off with her supposedly dead father is now, with no further explanation, in league with the MiB as Locke {a.k.a. Flocke, Mocke, and Un-Locke} wasn’t a big enough tip-off.) The result was Claire and Jack meeting up after years without seeing each, acknowledging their shared blood, and bonding quickly over dead guys in black pretending to be your dad.


(to Jack and Claire)

Looks like you two have a lot of catching up to do. I’ll leave you to it.


Claire, I’m so sorry —


Did he tell you? That he was the one pretending to be our father?


Yeah, yeah he told me.


Yeah, I pretty much gave up hoping that you’d ever come back. Now that you’re here… it’s good to see you, Jack.

This only minutes after the following exchange between Flocke and our man Jack.


[Locke] had to be dead before you could look like him?


That’s right.


Who else have you looked like?


Jack, what do you really want to ask me?


The third day we were here I saw — I chased my father through the jungle. My dead father. Was that you?


Yes, that was me.

So now we have about 10 or so lines of dialogue wasted on jamming home the point that Locke was Jack’s father. But why? At this point, we haven’t seen the elder (arguably hotter) Shepard in a season or so and he doesn’t factor into the current plot at all. And finding out that the MiB was pretending to be him hasn’t changed anything for either Claire or Jack who have long suspected the truth of the matter. The entire exchange of dialogue was for the sake of audience members who had demanded a pointed answer — and that’s what’s crippled Season Six.

Instead of focusing on revelations that currently affect characters and demonstrating them in meaningful way, LOST has devolved into a menagerie of scenes of talking heads discussing things they already knew or that most of the audience had already inferred from various hints. Oh hey, is Richard immortal? Why does he never age? Let’s have him pointedly answering these audience questions voiced through the mouths of the main characters who, let’s be honest, probably don’t even care. Now, let’s have everyone sit down and talk about how Desmond is important. Now, let’s spend an episode flashing back to when Jacob and the MiB were young but not in a way that makes the revelations immediately important or relevant to the current plot.

That last point, of course, addresses the recent episode “Across the Sea” in which preternaturally attractive and unsettling children were chosen to play the MiB and Jacob. The entire episode told the story of how the pair came to be on the Island, where their feud derived from, why they can’t hurt each other, and what the Island is exactly. But guess what? None of the answers really matter within the context of the episode, except for the audience who was frothing at the mouth for the info.

“Why can’t Jacob and the MiB hurt each other?” they asked on forums and in bars.

“This is why…” answered the creators as they had the boys’ adoptive mother tell them that they could never hurt each other.

“What is the Island though, really?” the audience continued.

“Magical glowy stuff that you shouldn’t touch with your brother’s unconscious body,” the writers made clear.

“Where did the donkey wheel come from?”

“You’re seriously asking us that? Fine, uh, the MiB made it,” the writers seemed to say, throwing their hands in the air and creating one of the most unnecessary episodes in the history of LOST. (I’d nominate a Kate or Michael episode for the top spot, probably.) Instead of integrating these answers into the story in a meaningful way — such as interweaving flashbacks into the current story like, oh wait, that’s what LOST used to do in its better days — the writers chose to shoot out a barrage of answers in the same way a teacher might drone on about a list of historical dates without contextualizing their meaning. Fine, the two mystical LOST guys can’t hurt each other because their mom said not to; this would probably mean a lot more to us all if it weren’t for the fact that, you know, Jacob is already dead in the current story.

As the Dharma clock ticks down and we approach the final episode, it seems like way too much of this season has been the writers scrambling to get in their grocery list of answers at the expense of the story. While I hesitate to call the sixth season a complete wash thanks to touching character moments and one of the saddest endings to a love story this side of Titanic, it has been an exercise in wasted potential. Whether it was at the temple, at Locke’s camp, or on the beach with ‘splodey and fond-of-posing Illana, too much time was spent talking about what LOST is instead of letting LOST be.

With two-and-a-half hours to burn through, here’s hoping the finale focuses on action and closure instead of moot questions like where Jacob got the money to buy an Apollo Bar from the vending machine. He’s magic, all right?

Click here to read more of our coverage of LOST

Better known as the ScarletScribe, Genevieve's an NYU grad with a degree in journalism and a passion for film analysis. She couples her love of weighty, politically oriented East Asian cinema and ethically-challenging sci-fi films with an obscene interest in trashy action flicks, lame martial arts movies, and the complete "Xena: Warrior Princess" DVD series. Always one to go for the cheap pun, Genevieve is on a secret mission to catalog every "Some Like it Hot" and "Groundhog's Day" reference and homage in the world.

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