Friday, December 7, 2007
Lost: Unanswered Questions: What's Behind The Island's Regenerative Abilities?
December 5, 2007
With no new episodes of Lost to get our brains spinning until February, I thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the unanswered questions from the past three seasons of the show. Each week I'll be tackling one of the most pressing mysteries from the Lost universe, attempting to explain them with the strongest theories and most wild speculation I can muster. I'll either be completely off the mark or you'll swear I'm the clone of Damon Lindelof, but either way there should be plenty to talk about until the show returns.
This week I want to examine the theories revolving around the island's regenerative abilities. The island appears to have the ability to cure paralysis and cancer, stop the aging process, boost sperm count, heal a nasty shot to the gut, and, in the case of Mikhail and possibly Jack's dad, actually resurrect the dead. Can these things be scientifically explained, or do all of these medical miracles ensure that there is a mystical aspect to the island?
Let's start with the idea of electromagnetism. We know from the Swan Orientation Film that such research was being done on the island, and it seems to be the possible key to many of Lost's mysteries.
Magnetic therapy is a practice where certain parts of the body are exposed to weak magnetic fields, which some people claim has a healing effect. Practitioners believe that magnets can alleviate pain, relax muscles, flush out toxins, increase blood flow, raise the oxygen level in the body, and even induce a heightened sense of well being. All of these things are obviously a far cry from healing gunshot wounds and resurrecting the dead, but we can assume that the electromagnetic research on the island went far beyond what's used in a doctor's office.
There's also a technique known as pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, which basically sends a constant pulse of magnetic energy into the body. Some people believe that, when applied correctly, this constant pulse of energy can stimulate cell restoration and enhance the regeneration of bone tissue, thus speeding up the healing process and even slowing down aging. With the magnetic energy present on the island, it's possible this theory could explain why Locke can walk, how the island heals people so quickly, and why Richard Alpert doesn't look a day over 40.
But can electromagnetic therapy cure cancer, boost your sperm count, or bring back the dead? Obviously not, which is why it's hard to point to any one explanation for Lost's many mysteries. My other theory is less scientific and more spiritual: the island heals those it needs or those it deems worthy, and the rest have to fend for themselves.
Though it deserves an entire article of its own, we've been given the impression that the smoke monster judges people before it decides to kill them. Perhaps the island does the same thing, picking and choosing who should be healed and who should suffer. The island gave Locke his legs back, only to temporarily take them away again in "Deus Ex Machina" when it needed Boone to climb into that crashed plane. The island kept Mikhail alive for a very long time, but now it appears that he's fulfilled his purpose of killing Charlie and will now be dead. Does the island need people like Rose and Richard Alpert alive as well? Has the island decided that Sun should die, and therefore guaranteed that she would become pregnant? If so, I have to wonder what criteria the island is judging these people by.
The most interesting character in this theory is Ben, since he's the one the island refused to heal. Ben developed a tumor on his spine years after he arrived on the island, despite the fact that it seemed impossible for anyone living there to get cancer. Why did this happen? My theory is that the island was upset with Ben for his many lies, his attempts to wield power for his own selfish reasons, and for participating in the purge that wiped out the DHARMA Initiative. Ben was not worthy of being saved, and therefore he was punished.
These are just a few of the many theories revolving around the island's regenerative abilities. It could be science, mysticism, magnets, or pure faith that helps heal wounds and cure ailments. I certainly don't know for sure, but I have a feeling we'll have some sort of answer in the next 48 episodes.