BySolomon Martinez, writer at

The US television drama Lost first aired in the United States on September 22, 2004 with the most expensive pilot in T.V. history. The series went on to attract US audiences of just under 24 million viewers and, before long, Lost had become an unprecedented hit, winning Emmys and keeping fans enthralled with a litany of tantalizing plot twists and mysteries.

Over time, however, some viewers tired of the expanding web of mythology and the lack of concrete answers. Despite fan's frustrations, Lost formed a cult fan base to rival that of The X-Files and, if you had the patience, it became one of the most gripping high-concept US TV shows of the past decade.

Ten years on, here are some of the key mysteries introduced over Lost's six seasons and how, at least as far as I can work out, they were resolved.


The Smoke Monster

The Mystery: The Smoke Monster is heard in the show's very first episode but isn't seen until season two. Often described as the island's "security system", the Monster is a mass of black smoke whose appearance is always anticipated by a hallucinatory vision of a dead person from a character's past (perhaps due to the monster's ability to scan the memories of those it encounters). Both John Locke and Nigerian drug-lord turned priest Mr Eko come face-to-face with the monster on two separate occasions, the second time not going so well for either of them (especially poor Eko).

Explanation: The Monster is, in fact, a character referred to as The Man in Black; first seen alongside his brother Jacob more than a hundred years previous, his character represents evil incarnate. During an altercation, Jacob throws his brother into a light located at the heart of the island which spits him back out as the mass of black smoke that he becomes. Imprisoned on the island – and unable to kill Jacob – the Monster can only take the form of the dead. Flashforward to the final season and The Man in Black takes the form of the deceased John Locke (Terry O'Quinn), successfully manipulating others under his guise to perform actions that, unbeknownst to them, have cataclysmic consequences. His main aim is to leave the island, but to do so involves destroying and killing everybody on it – something he is intent on doing.

Healing Power

The Mystery: The island’s healing properties are established early on with the revelation that survivor John Locke, the adventurous bald knife-throwing hunter, was in a wheelchair before the crash. Locke isn't the only survivor who has been miraculously healed by arriving on the island though: Rose (L Scott Caldwell) finds herself cured of cancer, while Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) is no longer infertile. The island's rapid injury-healing is often referred to and the Russian eye-patched character Mikhail (Andrew Divoff) is the best example of this.

Explanation: The nature of Locke's recovery is attributed to the perception that he is "special" – something which Locke takes pleasure in using against the Others' leader Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) when he falls sick with a spinal tumour in season three. No technical explanation is given about the island's healing powers, but Jin's infertility is conveniently explained away by fertiity doctor Juliet: men on the island have five times the normal sperm count.

The Whispers

The Mystery: "I hear them out there in the jungle – they whisper..." says a harrowed Rousseau to an unconvinced Sayid. Before too long, however, both Sayid and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) hear these whispers for themselves, usually pre-empting a visit from the Others or other island phenomena (Shannon sees Walt shortly after hearing them).

Explanation: Towards the end of the series, it is revealed that the whispers are in fact spoken by the spirits of the island's deceased individuals who had not yet moved on. This is revealed to Hurley via a vision of Michael (Harold Perrineau), a character who sacrifices himself in the fourth season. Michael is being punished for murdering fellow survivors Ana-Lucia and Libby.

The Sickness

The Mystery: The oft-referred to sickness is mentioned by Rousseau on countless occasions, claiming it consumed her expedition – including her husband – upon their arrival on the island. Other people who appear to suffer a form of sickness throughout the series include many passengers on Charles Widmore's freighter (including Zoe Bell's Regina) and survivors Claire and Sayid (Naveen Andrews) who is resurrected by the island when he dies from a gunshot wound in season six.

Explanation: The cause of the sickness could be two things, one being the Man In Black (in smoke monster form) infecting the mental states of his victims. Rousseau's team become emotionless after exploring an underground temple ruin where the monster resides, and even attempt to kill Rousseau – who ends up killing them to protect herself. Sayid suffers the same fate after being brought back to life. A sickness also manifests in the show's fourth season on the freighter located near the island. The passengers on-board experience what is described as "a heightened case of cabin fever", some becoming suicidal. Desmond suffers mental time-shifts while traveling from the island to the freighter due to the time differences between the two.

The Numbers

The Mystery: Before the crash, Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) wins a lottery jackpot using the numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Hurley is plagued by incessant bad luck following his good fortune, causing him to become obsessed with the thought that the numbers are cursed. It emerges that Danielle Rousseau (the French lady stranded on the island 16 years previous) heard the same numbers broadcast from a radio transmitter, drawing her expedition towards the island. The numbers become hugely important in season two when – upon opening the mysterious hatch which creepily has the numbers embossed on the side – the survivors are forced to input the digits into a computer every 108 minutes in order to reset a ticking timer (which reaches zero in the finale). Intriguingly, the more attentive of fans would have noticed how the numbers are scattered throughout the lives of the show's many characters (one of the many reasons Lost benefits from a rewatch).

Explanation: No clear answer is provided as to what the numbers could actually be, but there are a few explanations if you go looking. During a pre-season online game names "The Lost Experience," a Dharma Initiative orientation video explained how the numbers were actually the Valenzetti Equation, a sequence of numbers which accurately predict when the world will end. This was never expressed in the actual show, however it is suggested in the final season that each number represents a different survivor – all who have been considered to overtake Jacob's role as protector of the island their entire lives. With hundreds of numbers already crossed out, the six that remain are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.


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