Damon Lindelof, one of the co-executive producers of LOST, used to read Enyclopedia Brown mysteries as a boy. One day, his father ripped out the answers section in the back of the book, telling him, "The answers are there in the story. You can figure it out."

So I learned from this interview, in which Christianity Today chats with Entertainment Weekly's LOST recapper Jeff "Doc" Jensen (yes, Doc's a believer). I highly recommend reading this 3-page piece if you have even been a casual follower of my blog or the show this season, whether you read it before tonight's finale or over the next week as you process what you just saw, whether you believe, don't, or aren't sure (Jensen is very fair and makes mention of how LOST is a conversation starter for folks of all views).

It's highly probable that much of the show, once it's done, will be left for you to debate, discuss, rewatch, figure out. That is not to say we won't get any answers, but I can pretty much guarantee what we won't be seeing is the equivalent of an orangutan in glasses and a labcoat using a pointer and a chalkboard to absolutely illustrate every mystery LOST has ever posed.

CT put one of the questions we've covered quite often in this space - one which I have discussed with many of my Christian friends who are (rightly) staunch defenders of Absolute Truth - to Jensen like this, and I simply love his answer:

If we get to the end of the show and we don't know exactly who is good, who is evil, won't that be disappointing?

Lost begins that conversation by saying, "Who gets to decide who is good and evil?" Here on earth, who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong? What Lost wants to say is, We're not going to decide that. What we're going to say is that you decide that for yourself. This is the ultimate expression of free will. All these being equal, pursue a life of self-awareness so that you know yourself well; then, you decide moment to moment whether you are good or evil and then be that, hopefully choose the good.

What we may see from the sideways world is that some of these characters are going to have to think, "Wow, is that who I was, or is that who I am?" I think they're going to have to make a choice. They might be put in a place where they get to step outside themselves and see that life and make a decision. Like Sayid, I lived a horrible life, but I made a movement toward the good. The ultimate message Lost wants to leave us is not passing judgment on people but asking us to look within ourselves, and ask, Do you know yourself well enough to answer that question? If you don't, what do you need to be doing to get to that place? You're going to be held accountable at some point, because it's going to have ramifications for eternity.

Jensen also talks about why, in my view, LOST succeeds: it's equally compelling in the ways it's about character / relationships / community and about mystery / revelation / metaphor. It all comes down to this tonight:

[Finishing with some things open-ended is] a really romantic notion if you're an artist or writer, but if you're a... consumer of entertainment, you might find that extremely frustrating. If you want the detective to enter the room and explain it all, you'll probably be dissatisfied. If you love the mysterious puzzle and coming up with your own conclusion, it could be very satisfying.

I think where Lost can win is if it's emotionally compelling, if they tell us a story that reminds us why we love these characters and bring them to a powerful, incredible, emotional conclusion, which they can do independent of giving us answers to the island. We'll be crying, and we'll be laughing at the end, and then an hour will pass and we'll realize, "Wait a minute, they never told us the answer to this."

CT and Jensen also enter into dialogue about redemption, religion and satisfaction. So definitely go check it out! 

*****

Saturday night, as you probably know, ABC re-aired LOST's original 2-hour "Pilot" episode, with enhanced pop-up revelations. Most of these were basic and remedial, serving to fill-in those who haven't watched the show or who gave up on it at one point. But I still took some notes, which I copy here as I took them (beware: these are unedited for spelling / grammatical errors, or incomplete thoughts. Also, just because I typed in a notation they showed us doesn't necessarily mean the information was all that special or revelatory):

Notes from Saturday Night's Re-Airing of "Pilot" in Enhanced Pop-Up Format

  • Iconic image of eye opening
  • "Jack fell from the plane" into this bamboo field. The field is an important location (the heart).
  • Only the protector can see the Heart.
  • Electromagnetism can heal things like paralysis and cancer.
  • Also functions as a cork, prevenint "hell" form getting out and spreading.
  • When people are brought here, their past doesn't matter, only their second chance does (so it's a born-again experience, basically).
  • "Swooping Smokey" was still there flying down behind the exploding jet engine, but not discussed. I continue to wonder if them "debunking" this was simply to not give away that their "Monster" was a big cloud of smoke. Because this is so coincidental.
  • Boone = president of a bridal company.
  • Extraordinary that these people survived a crash of this magnitude, but these people were brought to the island for a specific reason (but free will still exists (what does this say about those who did not survive?). But the island is dangerous, and these people CAN die at any time.
  • Don't worry about the others, we need to stay together. Never leave my sight. -- Jin. Cool considering how their story ended.
  • "Force was enough to destroy the island, but was contained in time."? WTH?
  • Smoke monster did used to be a man, the Man in Black, robbed of his body and humanity by his brother Jacob. Trapped, must kill Jacob, needs one of the survivors to help.
  • A man was suppsoed to discharge the amassed energy every 108 minutes.
  • Jacob was born on the island over 2,000 years ago. Jacob and MiB have a disagreemtn over the nature of man, leading MiB to want to kill Jacob. MiB has vowed to kill Jacob and any of his candidates so that he may finally leave the island.
  • Rain has come to symbolize danger. Whenever it rains, something is about to happen. "Save it for a rainy day..."
  • Original 815 pilot was supposed to be Frank Lapidus, not Seth Norris.
  • Smoke monster can not kill any of Jacob's candidates directly. Seth Norris was not on Jacob's list to be brought to the island. So this is not a rule violation.
  • Walt doesn't respect Michael or see him as an authority figure.
  • They were brought there because they were flawed, had complicated relationships with parents, were looking for something they couldn't find out there. They needed the island as much as it needed them. Sawyer will eventually prove to be a trusted leader. As weill Hurley.
  • Sayid will struggle with his violent nature and his past, but will ultimately decide to help his friends survive.
  • Others are usinmg an underwater station to jam all signals. (Dharma permitted there to build the things Jacob needs?)
  • Kate does not what the Marshal's death on his hands. She would call him on Catholic holy days to plead her case. (She also used saint names as aliases).
  • Faster Friends, Part One comic book. Green Lantern & Flash.
  • "The story of the island is the story of light and dark. Jacob is always shown in white. His antagonist is the man in black / the smoke monster."
  • After Locke's death, the MiB who had lost his humanity, was able to take Locke's form. He will become a dangerous force against Jack for the island.
  • Polar bear came from Hydra Station. Dharma conducted experiments on the island for over 15 years.
  • Biological and behavioral. Broke out of cages, swam to main island.
  • Marshal hid a memento of Kate's in a safe deposit box in NM.
  • Radio tower already transmitting a looped distress signal by Danielle Rousseau, a French scientiest.
  • They were draw in after hearing the transmitted Numbers. After her team died, Rousseau hiked to the tower and changed the signal.
  • Rousseau had a number in the Lighthouse. That is why she couldn't be killed? Rest of her team did not? So Jacob purposefully called her there?

*****

Similarly, I spent a few minutes Saturday afternoon making some coarse (course?) notes about items that remain unanswered. Just as above, these are mostly unedited and randomly grouped:

Finale Answers Checklist

First, we have received TONS of answers already: Will there be a new Jacob? Who are Adam & Eve? Were Jacob & the MiB twins? etc., etc.

The still-open questions as I count them are below. I have bolded ones I consider major. Whether or not I actually expect an answer to a "major" question (see: the MiB's name) is another story, however.

  • Did Jacob really visit Widmore, or was that a lie?
  • How does the Island end up underwater?
  • Do the alternate timelines merge? If so, how? Where do our characters end up living happily ever after?
  • The Hurley bird. Why does this giant bird call Hurley's name during the Michael-led trek to sell his friends out to the Others? Why have the producers been so hush-hush whenever asked about it? Where did Hugo even get the nickname Hurley? Why does nobody "back home" ever seem to call him Hurley?
  • The Beechcraft - how'd it get that far?
  • The Man in Black's name
  • Where did Mother come from? What was her name / place of origin?
  • Black Rock journal / Hanso family
  • Why ash? Why does it bother / keep out the Smoke Monster?
  • The cabin? What was up with that place?
  • Are Frank and Richard dead or alive?
  • Is the Smoke Monster the soul of MiB, or an evil entity that took his form and memories? (This was pretty definitively answered later Saturday night during pop-up LOST)
  • Who completed the Donkey Wheel project?
  • How did Jacob come and go from the Island?
  • How did Mother and/or Jacob destroy the Roman village and fill in the MiB's well?
  • Who commissioned the Hydra runway project? Jacob, or Smokey?
  • How did Hugo get the nickname Hurley?
  • Off-kilter Identities? Was there a secret to how Kate was not biologically an Austen, Locke's father was named Cooper, Claire's father was named Shephard, James and Hugo and others go by aliases or nicknames, Miles rejects his father's last name, etc?)
  • Backwards-talking Walt?
  • When and why did the fertility issues start happening on the Island?
  • Why did Jacob need to recruit candidates from the world when he had a group of followers on the Island?
  • Is Libby's last name really Smith? Is it significant? Was her chance meeting with Desmond where he ended up with her boat a set up?
  • Why could Ben kill Widmore when previously he could not?
  • Desmond's vision of Claire & Aaron getting on a helicopter that convinced Charlie to make his sacrifice - why didn't it come to pass? Might it yet?
  • Who shoots at our time skippers from an outrigger? Why do they shoot? Did Juliet hit / kill one of them when shooting back?
  • Why did Sun crash with Ajira 316 in 2007, and not get flashed out into 1977 like Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid?
  • Where does Ethan's seemingly-superhuman strength come from?
    Remember the time he picked up Charlie with one arm and pinned him to a tree? And how he carried off a fighting Charlie and Claire by himself? And how easily he bested Jack in their first fight? What was that about? And how was Jack able to best him the next time they faced?
  • Why was the faked Oceanic 815 crash site in the Indian Ocean - northwest of Australia - when Sydney-to-LA flights take off from Southeast Australia and flight in a northeasterly direction?
    Why did anyone back in the real world believe the crash site was on the level? There should have been no way this flight would ever have been in those coordinates.
  • Dharma - why allowed there?
  • Did Hanso have a deal with the Others? Why did the Others purge them, and if they were going to do that, why wait 20-some years to do it? Why were they allowed to build the barracks atop a sacred tunnel system, and above the Smokey-summoning cave? Did they ever really succeed with any of their experiments? Why do they continue to send food drops, and why do the Others continue to enjoy Dharma-brand products in their refrigerators and pantries? Why did Pierre Chang ever bother with candle-based aliases when there was no mystery around Dharmaville about who he was (he even worked admission on occasion)?
  • Dharma food drops?
  • How are the Others still enjoying Dharma products?
  • David Shephard's mother?
  • Does new-2004 Sawyer have a daughter, Clementine? Does he have a relationship with her?
  • Why was Montand never carried out of the tunnels? Why didn't either Danielle's team or at the very least the Others at least remove/bury him? What is the complete story of Rousseau's team?
  • Why are mirrors and reflections so important / prevalent? Can Jacob watch candidates through mirrors?
  • Why is MIB stuck in Lockeian form?
  • Miles dug up the diamonds from Nikki & Paulo's graves; is this just to tie up that loose end, or will they be significant to the story's endgame?
  • What was the fate of Magnus Hanso? How did the Black Rock ledger end up in the hands of pirates in Madagascar? Why did Widmore buy it? Is Widmore descended from the Hansos?
  • "You've gotta lift it up, brotha" - we have been told this line Desmond once spoke is important to events in the finale.
  • Is Ben really back on the Dark Side?
  • Was Desmond rescued by Rose, Bernard, and Vincent?
  • Eloise Hawking? "Why ‘God help us all' if the O6 plus Ben plus Locke don't all get back to the island?"
  • Bamboo Jack (and the Golden Waterfall beyond the bamboo)
  • Drinking water? Any signif to how often this is shown?
  • Widmore & Zoe's equipment in the canoe?
  • Jack's neck wound?
  • What are the Numbers?
  • A game / the game?
  • Raised by Another?
  • The kids? Will we see them (Aaron, Ji Yeon, etc.?)
  • So the MiB admits that he was appearing as Christian Shephard. I'd still like to know how Smokey/Christian:
    a) Appeared to Jack in the hospital lobby after the O6 returned
    b) Appeared to Michael on the freighter
    c) Appeared to Sun and Lapidus at the barracks when Flocke and Ben were still over on Hydra
  • Ilana's backstory - According to rumors, she was scheduled to have a backstory in which she was Jacob's daughter?
  • What was Libby doing in Santa Rosa? Will Hurley ever figure out where he knew her from? What is her last name? What was she doing in Australia in our original timeline (reason for travel)? Did someone send her to "coincidentally" meet Desmond and offer him her boat The Elizabeth for his race?
  • the history of the Swan hatch between ‘The Incident' and Radznisky killing himself (if that is what really happened, Kelvin)
  • What did Richard mean when he told Sun he watched all her friends die in 1977?
  • We met Jill, who appears to be an off-island Other, at the beginning of Season Five. It's her butcher shop where Locke's corpse is kept nice and cool until Ben and Jack are ready to take it to the airport. In their brief meeting, Jill mocks Jack to Ben (who defends Jack as having been through a lot), tells Ben that everything's on schedule, says the dead body will be "safe" with her. Ben leaves her with this quote: "So keep him safe, Jill. Because if you don't… everything we're about to do won't matter at all." This quote and scene stick out to me like a sore thumb now. What did Ben think he was about to do? Shoot, I'm not even clear yet on his motives for returning to the island. All we do know is once he got there he did nothing but unwittingly become the MiB's Jacob-killing patsy. What did these Others think they were doing, and what was so important about it, and why did it involve Dead Locke and the rest of the O6? Were they just important to Ben getting back in the same way they are important to MiB being able to leave? Related question: What did Ben surreptitiously pull out of the air vent in the LA hotel room where he and Jack stayed? Has that or will that ever come into play?

See you Tuesday afternoon with my finale recap!