Posted by Marc Oromaner on Thursday, May 20th, 2010 at 12:44 am - filed under Lost In Myth - (50) Comments
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In the penultimate episode of Lost, “What They Died For,” Jacob tells the surviving Losties why he chose them as candidates: “I chose you because you were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.” This explanation really resonated with me, on one hand because it provided a mythologically sound answer to the main question I’ve always had about Lost: why do all these characters have major issues? And having that answer provided the other reason I really liked the explanation: I immediately understood that while Jacob was addressing the remaining candidates, he was really speaking to us.

Read the full column at The Layman’s Answers to Everything blog…

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50 Responses to “Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: Understanding “What They Died For””


  1. Rosie says:

    [In the penultimate episode of Lost, “What They Died For,” Jacob tells the surviving Losties why he chose them as candidates: “I chose you because you were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.” ]

    Jacob just described a great number of humans throughout history. Yet, this doesn’t explain why he chose the passengers of Flight 815.

  2. I heard Mark Pellegrino (Jacob) say in an interview that the character “Jacob” is over 2,000 years old. Guess he has been looking for a candidate for a very long time!

    The candidates were chosen because they have always felt “LOST”… makes sense to me. What will happen to Kate, Sawyer, and Hugo now that Jack has the power?! …although I think Desmond has already replaced Jacob but we shall see soon enough.

    – Marc

  3. Ament says:

    Wow Marc I can’t believe Ben manipulated you. When Ben was face to face with the one person who wanted him dead more then anyone he didn’t pull the trigger to save himself, instead he confided his regret to Illana.

    BEN – “I watched my daughter Alex die in front of me. And it was my fault. I had a chance to save her. But I chose the island over her.”

    It’s clear point that not only they reminded us of Alex’s death but to throw MIB’s offer to Ben that he can have the island if he helped MIB, which is setting him up to make that choice again. Ben still needs redemption for killing Jacob, which he did because he was manipulated by MIB. Poetic justice is coming. Ben is back as the manipulative weasel we’ve grown to love, but this time he’s using his evil powers for good. As he did with Illana, Ben will have a last stand and he won’t be pulling the trigger.

    • So, it sounds as though you agree that Ben killed Widmore ultimately for good. Where then is the manipulation? I feel that Ben should be redeemed and hope he will make the right choice. There is no guarantee either way because he is not the hero of the story. That’s what makes him such an interesting character. It’s not clear which way his on-island self will go. If his flash-sideways self is any indication, I think he will certainly make the right choice and Widmore, as he knows, isn’t really dead.

      • Ament says:

        Ben always has a plan. In this case it was a spur of the moment plan where he received an opportunity to get a two for one bargain. By pulling the trigger on Widmore he got his revenge along with regaining trust from MIB. Emerson pulled this part off so perfectly. He may not be the “hero” of the story, but we are going to see a true redemption come about. MIB needs Ben more then Ben needs the island and he has to know this, because of “the rules”.

        Before Widmore was interrupted by his radio he told Ben that he seen Jacob and he has a purpose….specifically he said “Jacob said, THIS is my purpose” Ben asked “what purpose”? (*crickets*) Here it is, to be part of Ben’s final attempt at manipulating for the greater good…the rules are over between them the island is done with Widmore and he is dead, or you are right and “it’s only a flesh wound”.

  4. adam118 says:

    Marc, you said you believe that the Oil Spills and such were caused by Lost. If that’s true, then how come you don’t blame Lost for it and hate the show cause of it?
    Myth helps us understand the world.
    I learned about Lost by reading Entertainment Weekly. Not exactly inspiring. Awesome show, but…Marc, you make it sound like Jack and Sawyer are real people. Please, don’t be like that. It’s not healthy.
    That site you linked to…what the hell was that about?
    Thanks for all the articles, have fun

    • Ament says:

      You interpretations of Marc’s writing maybe off a little bit as if he’s being literal in his analogies. He’s been comparing each episodes relative nature to what we face in the real world. A perfect example is Jacob allowing the candidates “a choice” to be the next protector where he was not given that option and how it was thrust upon him. How many times in your life have you felt something you did was not an option, like working a job you don’t like, but it feeds and houses your family so you continue to do it especially in today’s economy where it may not be wise to take a leap into a new career. Thats my take on his articles at least.

      • Handsome Smitty says:

        What real choice were they given, try to save the world (supposedly, according to a superstitious Jacob) or face certain death? Get real!

        • Ament says:

          We all have a choice, in this case only one out of four stepped up to the plate for the ultimate sacrifice…a life with no ending. Jack stepped up, not only because of his new found faith, but also Jacob threw Kate back into the mix with his “it’s only chalk” speech. Jack stepped up to take the choice away from Kate.

          In reality terms, have you ever come across a scenario where you sacrificed or gave something to better other people’s lives?

    • Adam, it’s not that the oil spill was caused by “Lost.” It’s that the show is giving us a heads up about why things are happening and going to happen in our world.

      As far as Jack and Sawyer being real people, are you saying that you don’t know a Jack and a Sawyer? I do.

      I found the site I linked to when I was searching for a picture. I believe David Icke is a conspiracy theorist with some pretty far-out ideas on what’s really going on in the world. Just thought it was interesting that it had come up, so thought I’d share.

      As far as deciding what is and isn’t healthy, I leave you with this quote by writer/speaker Jiddu Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

      Namaste

      • adam118 says:

        Ok Marc, thankfully I misunderstood what you meant and I did my best to not be disresptful with my comments. We are on the same page with the relation of the Incident as a cautionary tale that we can relate to the oil spills.
        Also, yes, I do understand the idea of Jack, Sawyer, etc. being sort of archtypes for people. Fortunately for me, in my life I’ve never encountered people with those kinds of problems.
        I apologize, I took some of your writings literally.
        Also Marc, as long as you past your physical, you’re ok with me :)
        BTW, that site was weird…connecting the death of Lena Horne to nuke production in Iran? Kind of a “WTF is this?” moment.
        I’m glad this was cleared up.
        Namaste, my friend ^__^

  5. Bakedbob says:

    Sayid should have killed Desmond…

  6. Handsome Smitty says:

    Marc O, I seldom agree with your takes on Lost because it is enveloped in your Buhddist preaching, but I do enjoy reading and the following discussion. Too bad you chose to not post the full article. I realize this site will soon follow the fate of Lost and the Island and you want to entice superstitious followers to your site, but doing so was just as silly as what the true underpinnings of the show has proven to be.

    • If by silly you mean letting readers know that these kind of columns will still continue on another site after “Lost” concludes, and to invite them to try it out while there are still many people interested in the show, then yes, I guess it was silly.

      Glad you enjoy reading them and hope you will continue to be a foil to keep my perspectives from drifting too far away from what people can possibly accept.

  7. Jacob's Revenge says:

    Marc, you seem to look for the best in this series, and elevate the writing staff to Hemingway/Asimov status; you’re practically an apologist for them. You try to eek out meaning and signs of destiny in every scene, and I guess that’s fine since you seem to be wired that way. But there will be rioting in the streets if “The End” does not make good — I’m going to interrupt myself there, just the fact that we’re entertaining the idea that the nut of the series comes down to the series finale is a bad thing. We should’ve already had the majority of payoff for the series by now, the finale should just either be a tidy wrapup or a hint to a spinoff or the such (and C&L have nixed the latter).

    To satisfy fandom’s need for the Big Answers, the plot payoffs, alot of stuff is going to have to be thrown at us in 2-1/2 hrs and that’s not acceptable. The genius and value of LOST up to this season has been its subtle and intricate weaving of subplots and their organic resolutions. But this season, we’re simply getting alot of Deus Ex Machina style resolutions that seem to have taken the writing staff all of ten minutes to devise.

    Look, “The End” will probably be a very entertaining episode but my position is that they’ve already blown it by holding back so much for the finale. And C&L have already hinted that the finale STILL won’t answer everything and there will be a vagueness left for multiple interpretations. There will be rioting in the blogosphere. As Jacob told Kate, “…then this ends very badly.”

    • JR, I agree with you–all except the “apologist” part. Perhaps that’s not the right word. I’ve spoken out against the direction of the show many times, and one of the reasons I wrote “The Myth of Lost” was because I was concerned that the show was slipping off the path during the beginning of the third season and wanted to give an example of how it could remain true to its own mythology.

      In my “Ab Aeterno” review that I referenced in this article, I mentioned how pedestrian the solutions to the big questions had been up until then. Like you, I also brought up my feelings that they were all rather deus ex machina in their resolution. Here, I take another look and wonder if that’s because there is going to be a twist. Perhaps, I am so convinced there will be, it is blinding me to how dependent I am on actually getting one.

      If the show ends with the biggest answer being that the island is a cork to contain the smoke monster and guard the light, and that’s it, I’m sure I’ll feel a pit in my stomach. But “Lost” has given me enough meaning and mythology that I’ll be able to deal with it, and I’m not dependent on an awesome twist for me feeling that I’m a better person for having experienced this show. I’ve learned so much! I mean, it inspired me to write a book which is easily the biggest pain in the ass thing I’ve ever done in my entire life! Anyone who can inspire me to be a better person has my vote, even if they slip up.

      So if “Lost” does end badly, yes, I will be very disappointed. But I will not be regretful.

      • amy says:

        I love your articles and I truly do feel that LOST has had an effect on my life. I know how absolutely dorky that is, but I do not watch TV, I found lost by happen stance a couple years ago and was hooked early on. I always enjoyed the show but it wasn’t till I found this blog and with it your articles that really helped me to dig deeper into the show. My husband and I spend hours evaulating the plots and how we can take from this real life lessons. pathetic? maybe, but so what, it is doing something for me.

        I am also still so hopeful the finale is going to offer a big twist and turn this whole thing upside down. I feel like true to LOST is an ending where you re-evaulate everything you thought you knew. I have had my issues with this season but have remained hopefull that they will pull it all off with this finale. To pull off a big bang boom ending full of twist and turns they would have to hold off till the end, thus creating an entire season of character development and enough answers to keep viewers on the yellow brick road.

        only a few more days to find out….xx crossing my fingers that we are right xx

    • BrianGahan says:

      I completely agree with you here and its even more ridiculous with how much of a snooze some of this season had been, and the fact they save all of the good stuff for one crazy episode (which they cant entirely fit everything considering they are adding an extra twenty minutes onto the dvds for resolved questions)

  8. B.A.Y. says:

    I get a lot of enjoyment from reading posts on this and other sites because, from reading what people write, it becomes very clear that people get what they need from Lost. I’ve enjoyed the philosophical/spiritual elements best, though, certainly, not everyone does. Like you, I’ve always, for 90% of my life, been seeking answers, trying to find meaning to the universe, personal existence, and such. I especially like how the show has mingled science/physics with soul-based themes. In my mind, the two belong together.

    Always, I find it fascinating how some fans on Lost blogs curse other fans or go on about how angry they are with the characters (the Kate haters or the Zoe haters, for example). Most bizarre is how some treat Damon and Carlton, as though the lead writers are the fans’ parents. Bad parents who let them down because they didn’t do everything perfectly.

    Lost sure does bring out everyone’s issues, doesn’t it? I wonder if those who see Jacob as a manipulative bastard are controlling people themselves or have been abused by a parent or spouse.

    All of this reminds me of the Light/Source in the cave. I’m pretty sure Jacob’s brother turned into a monster when he entered the Source because he went into the Energy full of rage. If Desmond walks into that Energy or is tossed into it, he will absolutely come out radiant. Not dark. You get out of life and the Light what you bring to it. I think that’s what Lost is saying, anyway.

    Lost brings out the spiritual in some people and the bloodthirsty in others. Really interesting how some people jumped for joy when Zoe got her throat slashed. These same fans want MIB to die a gruesome death. I’m hoping, on the other hand, that, if he dies, he is freed, and his soul walks with Jacob’s. I hope to see the two boys friends again.

    • The Smoke Monster says:

      “I’m pretty sure Jacob’s brother turned into a monster when he entered the Source because he went into the Energy full of rage.”

      You must’ve been watching an alt-version of that ep, Jacob knocked José (that’s what Mother called him after being stabbed) unconscious/dead on a rock in the water before he floated into the Light. So he was definitely not enraged though Jacob was definitely PO’ed.

      • B.A.Y. says:

        You really think that when you’re unconscious that you stop feeling what you’ve been feeling? If that’s true, then how come you have bad dreams when you’re all pent up frustration and anger? Unconscious is not the same as dead. You still are what you are emotionally and psychologically. So, I stand by my theory.

      • Ament says:

        I understand why you think his name could be Jose, except there was an interview with Darlton after “Across The Sea” aired and they stated they were not going to give him a name because they didn’t feel there was reason to. Also “Lostpedia” transcript of the episode calls it “muttering indistinctly” as she fell. I do agree however that it sounded like Jose.

      • Jackisjack says:

        CC: I think for us to explain why we’re not giving him a name veers too far into the territory of explaining things that we don’t feel the need to explain.

      • Bakedbob says:

        “His mother called hime “Jose””…. ? lol man..
        thats the funniest thing i’ve heard here in a long time.. rofl

  9. BAY, we are definitely on the same wavelength. I’ve also thought about if the light makes you more of what you are (“The Swamp Thing” myth) which I believe is an energy to come in 2012 and beyond. The people who are angry and reactive will become more so, and those who can stay within will become more so as well.

    I also want to see MIB freed! I didn’t understand why Darlton said that they wanted to show how bad he was in “The Candidate” unless they will show him being punished. Then they showed that he was a victim of circumstance. This is one reason why so many fans hated the “Across the Sea” episode. The only sound resolution to this contradiction is the Anakin Skywalker return-to-good scenario. The redemption. Either he will see the light (which I doubt), or, he will be able to have the evil black smoke monster purged from his soul. Doing so of course, would kill him, but at least he’ll get to leave the island like he always wanted. In fact, that’s the best resolution for his character. Perhaps it was no accident that Hurley mentioned Anakin to Sawyer.

    • The Smoke Monster says:

      Marc, see reply-comment just above. José was unconscious or dead when Jacob released him there, and even ahead of that he wasn’t angered, Jacob had just beat him senseless.

  10. heythereyourself says:

    Ok, I’m sure no one read my rant the other day, but i’m glad. I am thinking changing my tag to footinmouth. I think that I can now see the “light” at the end of the tunnel.

    Sideways Reality.
    I have a theory on how the Sideways reality will combine with the Island reality. We now know that Desmond is a Fail/Safe for the Island. The last time we saw a fail/safe was in the hatch. If you remember Desmond turned the fail/safe key when John Locke decided he wanted to see what happened when he stopped pressing the button. The result Desmond stop a major catastrophe by turning the key causing the hatch to implode on itself. Maybe you can see where I’m going here, but if you can’t, don’t worry I will explain. I don’t exactly what will happen but I think it can go a couple of different ways.

    Desmond has we’ve seen through the years has a unique gift to float through time conciously. I think this was all set-up to explain what happens next. I think with out knowing it Desmond has the power to control time using the “light.” It has always before been out of his control when it happened, but I think that will all change.

    Locke/MIB now knows what unique power Desmond posses. From here a couple of things could happen. Locke found out from Widmore (“I always have a plan”), whom could have been lying, not about what Desmond is, but how to use him. So in this instance Locke will kill Desmond to posses his power (body) only this will not work the way Locke wants it to. In this scenerio Locke kills Desmond takes possesion of his body and uses Hume to implode the island at the same time leaving the island and going back in time to the moment the plane is suppose to crash on the island in the original timeline. Only this time it doesn’t and our friend the Smoke Monster/MIB/Locke is now Desmond Hume. I know this might sound crazy, but Desmond said something very peculiar in “What they died for.” When Desmond, Sayid, and Kate where locked up in the police truck, he told them “I can get you out, but if I do you gotta do something for me.” Sound fanilar it is exactly what MIB asked of Richard Alpert when he was chained-up in the Black Rock. However none of this is clear until Charlie show Desmond how to “let go”, then Desmond goes on a mission to show all the people from 815, the ones that need to know at least, how to let go. In letting go, as we’ve seen with Hurley, helps them remember what happened on the island. Well in the end of this theory Desmond is gathering all these people at the concert to show them what their last mission is or what they need to do. Which could be either to kill Desmond who is now smoke monster or something to that effect, but I think this is how the timelines will merge. So what we saw in LA X was the begining of the end and the result of what happens at the end of the Island timeline, if that makes any sense.

    The Happily ever after part of this theory is that there is no more work to be done. They kill the smoke monster. Desmond implodes the island and at the same time moves them back to flight 815 pre-crash and onto the Sideway Reality.

  11. chrstphrtlbt says:

    now people are clinging onto this Epilogue idea, i just want to quickly ask some questions and see what people make of them, or even explain to me how my points agree with this Epilogue theory

    Jack having a son and Ben and Roger talking about the island kind of disagree with this theory i think. it suggests that the island did exist in both timelines, and the Incident destroyed the island whilst also creating another time line. to me, this to me can explain why no-one could have children after the 70’s on the Island. the Island didn’t exist in both timelines creating some sort of rift disabling the chance for people to have children. i say this not fully knowing how to explain what i mean, but it would technically be the only place in the world where the place wouldn’t exist in both timelines, more so explaining some of the strange incidents on the Island

    for example, Desmond would have completed the boat race because he wouldn’t have crashed on the Island, hence why he was Widmore’s right hand man.

    i think i’m making sense but please prove me wrong i’m confusing myself even!

    • heythereyourself says:

      My only question and it’s a big one is why would the island sink because of a nuclear explosion, it would certainly make it a waste land, but I don’t think that it would sink the island.

    • heythereyourself says:

      Also don’t all those events i.e. Desmond and the boat race, have to happen in order to get to the Incident.

      • chrstphrtlbt says:

        true, but then the bomb did go off on one side of the island, and we only see the other side in LA X. completely true tho, it puts a massive hole in my theory ugh

        • heythereyourself says:

          Faraday always said whatever happened happened, until however he gets of the island in the 70’s does some research and came to the conclusion that they could change the future because they were “variables.” I do think that the Incident did change history to create what we are seeing as a “Sideways reality.” In the original timeline there still is an Incident only it means that Radzinsky went to deep in the well and they tried to cover it up with cement and build the Swan around it only the pressure builds up and in order to release it you have to press the button and so on and so forth. As far as not bring able to have kids and the infection, if you remember to get to Jughead, the leaking atomic bomb, our Losties had to swim underwater to a cave and when they got there I think the location of the where Jughead was was right underneath Dharmaville. I Jack and Co. don’t come along Jughead continues to leak eventually leading to radiation posioning(?)(Please forgive my spelling, my editor’s on vacation) which I think is the cause for both the infections and people not being able bare childern. Sorry I have to stop my brain hurts.

          • chrstphrtlbt says:

            regarding the radiation poisoning, the bomb would have been under Dharmaville when Horrace’s wife got pregnant, so surely she wouldn’t have been able to give birth-but did during season 5? the whole infection thing was the time travel flashes was it not? it wasn’t real, it was just what Rousseau called it

    • Dharma Chameleon says:

      “for example, Desmond would have completed the boat race because he wouldn’t have crashed on the Island, hence why he was Widmore’s right hand man.”

      In this instance Desmond was aware of Penny ie. had a relationship prior to his voyage. In the sideways, he had just met her.

  12. heythereyourself says:

    The bomb would have been under Dharmaville, but that however does not rule out radiation poisoning, I assume that bomb was left there in the 50’s, so by the 70’s who knows if the damage is done. With all leaks they start out small and get bigger and cause more damage, maybe it was just progression. Yes there was the infection that Rousseau refered to but there was also the shot that Desmond was to administer to himself in the hatch that was to fight off the “infection.” And that is the infection I was referring to.

  13. milo says:

    “I agree that the Lost writers shouldn’t have built up so much suspense for questions they never planned on answering”

    That’s a great way to put it. There has been some blaming of the fans for wanting to get answers, but the show has always made a big deal of certain things. The writers should have enough common sense to realize that if they put a mystery in the show and particularly if they draw attention to it, they are sending the message to the audience that it’s something important and will be addressed again on the show.

    At this point, it’s hard not to see things like the food drop and Desmond’s vision of Claire and Aaron getting in a chopper as anything but gaping plot holes.

    • Ament says:

      We have 2 1/2 more hours to go, most questions can now be answered with a quick one line dialog from a key character. Thats only if they go that route, or it will be left for our interpretation.

      Regarding the Desmond vision they flashed what he saw on television to us before it happened. The vision he may or may not of had about Claire wasn’t levaing it in our hands to interpret. My interpretation is that it was what Charlie needed to hear for incentive to do the mission.

      Dharma food drop is really good question, but not big loss if not answered. It could of been greatly answered when Daniel was doing his timed ship to shore experiment. Daniel had a package shot from the Freighter to his location and instead of it falling at the proposed time it lingered and took a lot longer, which was moving as fast as a missle. The food drop may of happened 30 years ago and with the parachute it slowed it’s descent to the same degree where that much time passed when it finally landed.

  14. The Magician says:

    “Doesn’t it almost seem as though Lost found you? Most people I’ve spoken to have an interesting anecdote about how they came to start watching. Lost selected us as its candidates. Speaking to viewers, I’ve come to discover a pattern among the most dedicated. We were all a little lost ourselves.”

    I like your posts Marc, but there is an increasing tendancy for them to get a little *too* new-agey/cult leader-y. Perhaps it seems as though the show ‘selected’ you, but I don’t think you can generalise that to apply to everyone.

    I disagree with you about the Polar bears. How would they have gotten a Polar bear through the Orchid, down the ladder into the chamber? Besides, the Wheel chamber was built over. I don’t think DHARMA ever turned the wheel; they harnessed the energy from the site in a more sophisticated way.

    Your mention of Ben/Napoleon was spot on and very astute. I think he may pay in the finale for ‘breaking’ the rules.

    • thelighthappenedgetoverit says:

      LOL. LOST definitely found me. I was sitting watching TV when a commercial for it came on and I though, ‘I might watch that’… THEN I DID.

  15. adam118 says:

    Watch for Ben to double cross Smokey. He turned back into sneaky, connivin Ben once he got to his house.
    Smokey promised the Island, then said he wants to blow it up.

  16. Chip says:

    “As Lost teaches, there ultimately is no right or wrong, only what is true to who you are.”

    Um, no. The Darlton are on record as saying that the sub blowing up shows Locke’s truly evil nature — and evil is wrong. Yes, issues surrounding what is good and what is evil often are complicated, but that in no way undercuts the previous fact. Darlton even said as far back as season two or three that on LOST, people die, and that shows the enormous stakes in the series. (I’m one of those who believes that the Sideways world in no way lessens the importance of the Island deaths. It’s the characters on the Island that we’ve followed for six years, and the characters in the Sideways world are not the same people.)

  17. lostiscrack says:

    dear marc for all the doubters watch hardball today the 2nd interview with a rev..then i dare any of you to challenge marc..he wrote this interview weeks ago now the exact thing he said is being said by a rev i laughed so loud.it wotks no matter what you believe marc is waaay smarter then most and so isw lost

  18. adam118 says:

    all i can say is: Where’s Walt? I won’t accept “he’s in high school” as an answer. The kids better mean something. BTW, I figure Jacob built the Dharma Lighthouse Station. I mean, he already built the LIGHTHOUSE.

  19. Bakedbob says:

    Ok..people, i got a question for you.

    Imagine you are the first person to “land” in the Island.
    And you find the cave-pool of light..

    What do you do?

    Stay back and think “uh oh, this can’t be good”..

    Or do you take a dive?

    Because honestly..i’d take a dive.

    And so..what does that mean for the island-light and what it is supposed to do.

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