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"Lost": So Many Questions, So Little Time

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As of this writing there are only three more episodes of ABC's Lost (including the expanded two-hour series finale on Sunday, May 23) and I'm starting to wonder how in the world executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are going to satisfactorily wrap it up. Like all fans of this show, I have been obsessing about its conclusion since the start of its sixth and final season. I briefly convinced myself that the answers we have all been seeking since 2004 would somehow be revealed in this season's alternate timeline, which has increasingly and very cleverly connected all of the alt-characters and their stories in recent weeks. I now wonder if the alt-timeline is actually the real-world story of the many characters we have come to care so deeply about and all of the bizarre island stuff is some kind of menacing alternate-universe weirdness. It's just one more theory on a list that is still expanding at a time when it should probably be narrowing down.

Remember, how Lost ends will prove as important to the business of broadcast television as to the entertainment of its loyal viewers. If we are all thrilled and satisfied by its conclusion then there may be hope for more serialized, mythology driven, big and bold broadcast series in the future. But if Lost craps out -- if Hollywood senses that millions of viewers are pissed off after sticking with something for six years - it will be even more difficult for talented writers and producers to sell challenging and potentially groundbreaking new ideas to the networks. Not to put too much pressure on Lindelof and Cuse, but the future of broadcast television will to some extent be influenced by what you give us over these next few weeks.

Like so many others, I have enjoyed ranting about Lost as much as I have raving about it. Not since the first brief season of Twin Peaks has there been a series that has been such a stimulating gift to anyone who writes about television -- critics, bloggers, and comment-posters alike.

It is a huge credit to this show that fans still passionately ask questions and express concerns six years into its run. With the clock ticking, and perhaps for the last time, here are some of mine:

My biggest concern about Lost at this late date is that if, as has been suggested this season, the over-reaching storyline of this show is the timeless conflict between Jacob and the Smoke Monster -- or Smokey, as he has come to be called - what does that say about the story of the Dharma Initiative versus the Others, which would seem largely removed from the tale of Jacob and Smokey were it not for the inclusion in both of Charles Widmore, who seems to be on top of everything -- scientific, supernatural or otherwise. Was all the Dharma drama just fantastic filler between the crash of Flight 815 in the pilot and the revelation at the end of Season 5 that it's all about J and S?

What's up with young Walt? He was a hugely important character in Season 1 and there was a sense that he would prove integral to the central mystery of the story. I'm still wondering why he had been reading a comic book with a polar bear in it on board Flight 815. And then there was that scene (in Season 2) after he had been kidnapped by the Others when he appeared to Shannon in the jungle and was speaking incomprehensibly. What was that about?

Similarly, what's the deal with little Aaron? It was suggested that he would be the key to everything even before he was born. I suspect we'll learn more about him in the final hours, just as I suspect that we are expected to forget all about Walt.

And then there's Ben. Apparently he was loyal to or working for Jacob over the years, yet he had the abilities (as seen in Season 4) to call forth Smokey when needed (in a vengeful rage when Alex was killed, for example). Also - and this is an old gripe -- how could he have grown a tumor on his spine (as revealed at the start of Season 3) while living on an island that magically cures cancer?

Speaking of cancer survivors, can anyone tell me where Rose and Bernard and the other survivors of Flight 815 (including Vincent) are right now?

If Smokey was masquerading as Jack's father all along, and if he cannot leave the island, how could Christian have been out to sea on the freighter at the end of Season 4? (We saw him with Michael and Jin, I believe.)

Who or what built the contraption Ben turned at the end of Season 4 that sent the island skipping through time and space? Why was it built in the first place? Who anticipated the need for the island to do that?

What is the significance of those damn numbers, a major plot point through many seasons?

Why is Libby the only character in the alt-timeline who began having significant memory flashes from the "real" world without having any encounters with Desmond? (I have always felt there is more to Libby than the writers have let on.)

And here are a couple of fresh ones: If Sayid was really blown to bits in this week's episode, why was he killed before we learned why he was resurrected at the start of this season? (What was the point of all that Others at the Temple stuff, anyway?) Also, why did Jin choose to die with Sun this week rather than attempt to get home to their baby girl?

There are many more questions that remain unanswered, depending on how deep one wishes to drill. My apologies if any of those mentioned above have been satisfactorily addressed and I have forgotten the details. Six years into the Lost experience that's easy to do.