It is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.
– Isaac Newton
Almost two weeks past the finale and already the plot begins to fade, like all unresolved issues, from my mind. I’ll finish today with the first mystery. I’m sure I’ve missed some (pipe up and I’ll solve them for you), but the point of these posts was not to plug every hole, but just to show that it could be done. There could have been a solution. There could have been an end. Instead the creators chose to stop dead (pardon the pun). Narrative is about adding meaning to the universe which has enough mystery of it’s own thank you very much.
4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42?
The numbers were Lost’s first big mystery. Notice that they point to an order or understanding. We invent numbers to reveal the underlying sense of the universe. I would hazard to say that it was the numbers that gave a great many people the willingness to believe that an answer to the series was forthcoming. Their central mystery was a math problem and math problems have solutions. Many ideas were put forth and we ended up finally with the candidate’s numbers, but does that explain their power?
My solution? Tie in the numbers with Lost’s other central theme, time. The numbers are a timeline of the Island.
The unspoken zero is the birth of the nexus.
The four is the arrival of Jacob/MIB.
The eight is the arrival of other men to the island (the Egyptians who built the temple and the statue).
The 15 is the arrival of the Black Rock and the point when the quantum wave function that is Jacob/MIB breaks down.
The 16 is the institution of a stop gap measure that allows the two to coexist in conflict for longer than should be (and the beginning of the temporal weirdness that eventually leads to the castaways and their vast synchronicity).
The 23 is the arrival of the Dharma initiative and their immediate predecessors. This was Jacob/MIB’s first shot at reconciliation. Their hope being that the scientist could some how cure their collapsing state.
The 42 is the arrival of the castaways. Cure is no longer an option, they must be replaced.
The numbers therefore become like the golden mean, a hidden order to the chaos of the island, they don’t correspond to years because the Island doesn’t interact with time in the same way as everyone else.
Oh and in the parallel timeline, a big reveal occurs when we find out that Hurley’s numbers are different. The 42 is now 30 the time of Jughead’s destruction of the Island. Ta da!
What about the hatch?
Trust me when I say that there could have been an answer for everything, if the writer’s so chose. I did so love the hatch, though. What could it have been (instead of nothing, which is what it was)? A quantum suicide machine, by which the scientists could force the outcome of reality to go their way. It’s a beautiful solution that goes right along with everything we saw in the series and the nexus version of the Island.
But what about the ghosts?
Okay, last question. Ghosts have to be supernatural, right? There is no other solution. Unless they are the surviving versions of people from alternate timelines brought through the nexus to affect reality.
The point of all of this is not that this is what Lost was, or should have been, but simply that if they wanted to the writer’s could have given us an answer and it was a failure to commit to their story (a story so many of us freely committed to) and/or a misunderstanding of the basics of storytelling that led to a lackluster finale that will be forgotten, along with the show itself.
Goodbye, Lost. You were a good show. You could have been great.